It was pouring rain that was nearing snow in the mountains, and “the city folk” who’d driven up to ReRide Ranch still wanted to go see the pig, joked rancher Lefty Ayers. They insisted, even though his house was plenty warm, with an elk pot roast in the iron pot in the fireplace.
But trudge out to see the pig the guests did. It was, after all, a female Berkshire-Hampshire pig that would go to slaughter the next morning and become part of every one of the many dishes chefs Bruce Kalman and Gavin Mills would make that week to raise money for a cause many chefs had grown fond of: Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which raises funds for childhood cancer research.
Kalman, of Urbano Pizza Bar in downtown Los Angeles, and Mills, executive chef at Wood + Vine in Hollywood, got their pig on Thursday and went to work for a dinner for about 75 people Sunday at Urbano. The event was named “Pig & Beer,” with beers for each course chosen by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, known as the Beer Chicks. It started out with a “Pig-Tail Hour” and ended with chocolate-covered smoked porter bacon with truffle salt.
In between, the dishes included porchetta that cooked five hours in Urbano’s pizza oven; ravioli with red stripes of pig blood pasta and stuffed with ricotta, bacon and greens; “Gavin’s luscious pig cheeks”; a pork roulade stuffed with dates; pizzas with Brussels sprouts, bacon and Parmesan cream; shaved vegetable salad with slices of crispy pig’s ears and Meyer lemon. Dessert included an apple bacon upside down cake with bourbon whipped cream. Mills, who buys a half pig a week from ReRide, is known for his charcuterie and made spleen pâté, head cheese and country pâté.
The staff at Urbano donated its time, and the products were donated too; tickets were $50, and 100% of the proceeds went to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. A couple of hours before the guests arrived, Kalman directed the staff to get wood burning in the ovens. A little later, the charcuterie was sliced, herbs were pulled from stems, sauces heated.