The off-season is the perfect time to visit the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts – a real-life “Pleasantville,” complete with cobblestone streets, grey-shingled houses and miles of picturesque beaches and conservation land. The island is especially inviting in October, when the water’s still warm, many restaurants are still open, the sea air is crisp and the streets aren’t lined with tourists toting a year’s worth of Nantucket reds home from Murray’s Toggery Shop. Do you need any more reasons to board the ferry?
Make the 30-mile passage out to sea for chef Michael LaScola (of Nantucket’s American Seasons) and chef Matt Jennings’ (of Providence’s Farmstead) Hogtoberfest, a 2-day celebration of all things pig, cooking and beer. The annual event – now in its 4th year – takes place on October 13 and 14.
Start your Saturday on the island by sipping coffee, eating pastries and watching the chefs get down and dirty at a whole-hog butchering demonstration. Learn about the different parts of the hog, where different cuts of meat come from and the best ways to prepare them.
Then, join fellow porkophiles on the American Seasons patio, where people – as chef LaScola describes it — “feed their faces full of charcuterie and beer” – local beer, from Cisco Brewery, of course. The weekend culminates on Sunday with a 7-course nose-to-tail dinner, complete with piggy hors d’oeuvres, wine pairings and pig-inspired cocktails (pork mojitos, vodka with bacon, bourbon with pork consommé, or drinks with crackling rims, anyone?).
Rest assured that the impending bacon shortage will not affect the event – the fat, happy pigs were raised especially for Hogtoberfest on a local farm, where they’ve been filling up on compost from the local restaurants and malts from the local brewery.
So make the journey to Nantucket, and spend the weekend noshing on boudin noir (blood sausage) and apple beignets, roasted pig’s head with maple-bourbon glaze, and lardo ice cream. As Mike LaScola says, it’s really the “last hurrah before it really starts to slow down” on the island. When you make the trip, you’ll see why the fall is chef LaScola’s favorite time of year on Nantucket, along with ours!