"The Three Little Pigs" at The Piggery

FOR THIS FARMERS-MARKET-STAND-TURNED-DELI, it is a surprise to step into a daffodil yellow, oak- floored establishment packed with customers along Route 13 in Ithaca. A colorfully chalked menu sign with mouth-watering menu options hangs above the counter. To the left, a black wall adorned with names of local farms tells where they sourced their meats, dairy, and produce. The neighboring hand-drawn map of a pig shows me exactly what a “hock” and a “butt” are (it’s not even close to the butt). Little pig ornaments pepper the counter top, from furry stuffed piglets to a piggy-handled whisk.
The bloody flanks I was expecting to find hanging from the ceiling are actually stored in a glass meat case in the back of the room. Amongst your typical charcuterie of sausages, beef patties, and shoulders are T-burg dogs, Boston butts, pâtés, lards, and even whole chickens. The Piggery will only offer what local farms can offer, so the selection of products available changes almost daily. Like the name of the restaurant, the dishes The Piggery have to offer are exactly what they say they are without much embellishment at all, but they defy expectations.
My friend and I quickly nab a table under the orange-tiled ceiling, armed with our coffee, hot cider, breakfast burrito, and “The Three Little Pigs” (a taco, hot dog, and slider). I start with the hot dog and go nuts with the condiments: ketchup with far more texture interest than the creepy smoothness of Heinz, Dijon mustard, sweet relish, and some amazing picked red onions with the perfect amount of vinegar. Yet, I quickly realize that there is absolutely no need to layer all of this stuff on; there is no artificial hot-doggy meatiness to cover up at all. On the contrary, if you can imagine what a real hot dog would taste like made from real quality pork, then this is it.
Next, the pulled pork slider. The pulled pork is moist and flavorful, spiced just enough to let the pork speak for itself. It is topped with cabbage slaw, which adds a beautiful purple color, crunch, and freshness to contrast the sumptuous meat. The mini-bun, with a nice egg shine on top, is simply the perfect carrier for these flavors and textures.
To complete “The Three Little Pigs” trilogy, there is the carnitas taco. Filled with pork, cabbage, carrots, and a delightfully tangy and zingy green sauce, this taco is the third standout in this meal. The simple yet delicious corn tortilla holds up perfectly beneath the mound of ingredients it carries. Think of your imaginary (or real) Mexican grandmother kneading together corn flour straight from the farm and water. Think of the heat from the burner as she toasts them, the authenticity of the whole process. That’s what this tasted like. And the best part? You can smell them on the pan as you wait in line.
Any breakfast burrito sold in the Ithaca area has some tough competition to live up to with famous competitors such Solaz at the Farmer’s Market and Mexeo in Collegetown. The Piggery’s version is packed full to the brim with their signature pulled pork, local black beans, and egg. As someone who likes a lot of stuff in my burrito like veggies, salsa, and even a nice helping of guacamole, this burrito was lacking in the area of salsa, but nevertheless it is quite an enjoyable burrito to wake up to in the morning.
I would like to argue that The Piggery is serving up some of the best cider in the world. Unlike that dark brown whipped cream-covered stuff popular these days, Indian Creek Farm’s cider is a light golden colored drink that tastes exactly like fresh apples. Refreshing, tart, and spiced ever so slightly, this is probably the best cider of my life.
The cooks at The Piggery prove their ability to let the best of ingredients just be themselves, pairing high quality meats cooked to perfection with simple yet creative complements. As a college student too cheap to buy her own meat and too afraid to over or underdo it, The Piggery is the perfect niche for my dose of delicious free-range protein. No frills, no fuss, reasonable prices, and environmentally friendly without being pretentious, The Piggery is an indulgent change of pace.

This is article was written by Iona Machado and will appear in the Crème de Cornell Fall 2011 magazine to be released DECEMBER 2nd, 2011. Look for the magazine at many locations around the Cornell Campus!


Last week I had the incredible good fortune to trek through rain and fog and treachery to see the always charming and insightful Michael Pollan speak in Syracuse. For those of you uninitiated in his teachings Michael Pollan is the de-facto voice of a generation of food conscious eaters and activists. Google “locavore” and you’ll probably find him or one of his many articles, interviews, or books.

Mr. Pollan became (most) famous for his excellent treatment of modern food and eating in the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” in which he confronted a question that seems so basic at face value but requires serious consideration: what should we eat? When confronted with so many choices and so many poor stand-ins for food, how do we navigate a largely inhospitable food landscape? It’s a seriously worthwhile book and the best introduction to foodie-intellectualism (yes, this a real thing) that you’ll come across.

Once you read it, move on to “In Defense of Food.” In it, Michael Pollan defends his now-famous mantra “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The hard part, he claims, is determining what constitutes Food and how to create a culture where people have access to healthy, wholesome foods.

At the talk Pollan basically restated the ideas he’s written extensively about. Having read his books I was hoping for more development of ways forward for the American food system. But Mr. Pollan was certainly catering to his audience, comprising largely people over 50 who seemed shocked by stats on sugar consumption and childhood obesity. Old hat for a seasoned Pollan veteran like myself. All was not lost, however, the speech was inspiring and gave me some new ammo to defend my eating and buying choices, not that I was particularly concerned to begin with.

If you don’t know him already, read this article (and check out his website here) by Michael Pollan from the NY Times Magazine, it summarizes his research, writings, and thoughts on the future. He’s also quite funny and quite potentially me hero…

Why not, for my first post of substance on this blog, write about someone who hasn’t eaten a bite of food in four years? Roger Ebert (of Siskel and Ebert, Ebert and Roeper fame) has no jaw after a bout with cancer and feeds himself through a tube directly into his stomach. He cannot taste or smell, or talk.

Somehow, miraculously, Mr. Ebert recently published a cookbook documenting myriad experiments with his favorite kitchen tool, the humble rice cooker. Yes, Roger Ebert cooks often, for his family and friends and despite his affliction claims that he knows how his dishes taste and smell by the reactions and descriptions of those who enjoy it.

Certainly an inspiration and a damn good food writer, after all the man did win a Pulitzer for his decades of service to those who watch and read about movies and the film industry. Check out the article on the NYTimes website.