I dig The Pig. That's also what the t-shirt I wanted to buy said.
I just got back from having a nice meal at "The Pig" in Chapel Hill, NC. I had read about it in Southern Living, and when I happened to pick up a copy of Chapel Hill Magazine in my hotel room and saw the nice write-up in there of the place, I knew this was where's had to go for supper.
The Pig takes pride in whole-hog cooking an in sourcing it's food from the area. In fact, they get their meat from happy, "antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-raised piggies" raised by the good folks from the NC Natural Hog Farmers Association coöp. I think that's great.
In the CHM article, we get some insight into some of the owner's background and philosophy that is evident in the restaurant's own philosophy. (He was born in Boston, by the way, and is a former vegetarian/vegan.) Quoting CHM quoting him, he says, "[Being vegan], you need to be more aware of what's in food...That food knowledge is still super-helpful." (pg. 58). I agree: that knowledge is super helpful--especially if you want to know what it is, exactly, that you happen to be eating.
Anyway. While I was waiting on my food to arrive, I started out with that Southern elixir: Sweet Tea. I was truly in hog's heaven. I LOVE tea and miss it so much. (It was really good tea, too!!!)
My food came out quickly. I got a small BBQ plate, which came with the choice of two sides. Having read the article, I knew the whole former-vegetarian thing about the owner and the fried green tomatoes and "sprouts-n-shrooms" caught my eye. Honestly, these two sides were my favorite thing. The meat was good and flavorful, and they had a nice eastern-style vinegar sauce; but, for me, those sides were just so damn good I could have had a plate full of them and left a happy camper. The superlative green tomatoes were nice and crispy and had an almost citrusy hint to them (lemon thyme?). I'm a sucker for good breading; these were done with cornmeal. Fantastic. The [Brussels] sprouts-n-shrooms we're also great, sautéed with a whisper of cumin. (Do try this at home!)
Oh! And as I was finishing up, the owner came in and I overheard him telling a customer that he was just coming back from the farmers' market in Carrboro, NC, where he was selling their house-made hotdogs (from those same piggies). Cool.
If you are ever in Chapel Hill and are looking for some good, local (in both the locally sourced and regionally inspired senses) food, you must seek out The Pig.
Smithson-Stanley, Lynsy. "The Whole Hog". Chapel Hill Magazine. September/October 2011, pp. 55, 58-59.