Confessions of a Gastronaut

By Erin Day | August 12, 2013

I have a confession to make: I used to be a pork-a-phobe. Yes, one of the time-honored, classic Hoosier meats was not my favorite for a long time.

Ok, I have always loved bacon, but for a long time, I had a distinct distaste for other pork cuts because of the thin cut pork chops I often ate as a child. Now I realize that part of it was the cooks involved (my older sister and I). When my parents had late work/school schedules growing up, my sister and I often cooked our own dinner and these chops were a regular staple. My memory of them? They were thin, overcooked and fairly flavorless save for the BBQ sauce we slathered on top.

For a long time I avoided pork on menus because I thought it was just that—dry and flavorless. Then, particularly after moving back to Indiana, I started to become more open-minded and realized how great pork could be.

My mother-in-law makes a mean pork tenderloin roast. Chefs started using pork belly in everything. Fried tenderloin sandwiches? Yes please. You can’t go wrong with barbecued pulled pork. Heck, I have even had some amazing fried pig’s ears. And just think of all the charcuterous wonders being made with pork by lots of local producers like Smoking Goose. Ok, yes, I have even had bites of really good pork chops as well, but I will admit, you will probably still never see me order one in a restaurant.

Thank goodness I’m over this because there will certainly be some great pork dishes at Dig IN. Between the impressive line up of chefs this year, and the local producers of pork and pork products, I am excited to see what’s in store.

So far, it looks like Craig Baker of The Local is doing country style pork torchon, Brenden Cheney of the JW Marriott is planning some sort of pork surprise, Indiana barbecued pork is on Greg Schiesser of Indiana Downs’ menu, and Kelly and Jeff Ford of J. Ford’s Black Angus have me intrigued with their duck confit spring roll with pork belly and “duck” sauce. And like I said, you can’t go wrong with pulled pork – Vincent Russo of the Severin Bar is planning to serve a pulled pork fritter and watermelon gastrique shooter. And Cory Muro of the Valley Kitchen and Bar will be serving up bacon and white cheddar grits. I can’t wait to try them all.

But fear not, even if you are a pork-a-phobe, there will be plenty of other options to choose from—things like Indiana bison, duck, beef, and of course lots of fresh local produce such as corn and tomatoes. This a great chance to sample all the bounty that our state has to offer cooked by some of the best chefs in Indiana. I will see you on the August 25 and we can “pig out” together!

Erin Day has attended Dig IN since its inception and has the glasses (both pint and wine) to prove it. She writes a blog about Indianapolis restaurants (www.indyrestaurantscene.com) and is always looking for her next good meal. She’s is a member of the #DigIN Gastronauts and she’ll be tweeting away on Aug. 25. Follow her @indyrestscene.

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