I just needed to hear pig roast in order to be there. The Queens Dinner Club would be holding a pig roast at the Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill in Long Island City with proceeds going to Immigrant Families Together, an organization committed to the reunification of families separated at the US/Mexico border. Don Rodrigo Duarte, famous for his prize-winning Portuguese Alentejano hogs, originally imported from Portugal and that he raised in New Jersey. He has 300 pigs on his farm, all of which are already sold. We would also be feasting on pata negra (Spanish Ibérico ham – the pigs have black hooves), side dishes from Chef’s Consortium/Rocket Fuel Foods and desserts from Brooklyn’s Betty Bakery.
I got up late that morning and took a Lyft to LIC and was one of the first to arrive. It was a beautiful day and I sat at a picnic table near the water and watched as they roasted the pig and then revealed the side dishes. Don Rodrigo was basting the pig with a brush made out of parsley that was dipped in a rub made of spices, lemon, and apple juice.
The sausages and hams were delicious as were the cheeses. One was made from recipe that was over 2000 years old that used raw wine and you could taste the wine in the cheese. There were also candied almonds spread around the table and I have always loved Portuguese bread.
Don Rodrigo started cutting off the crackling – the skin of the pig for us to enjoy. People were impatient for the pig to be done but that would take longer. At times the pig came off the spit and some of it was sliced. People would line up. I waited since I had already eaten the ham, sausages, cheese, and the two salads – one of peppers and cucumbers and the other a slaw with apples. What looks like Styrofoam peanuts is actually pork belly/fat. It had a Styrofoam texture in your mouth but was salty and delicious.
I finally got on line and was there for a long time. Just as I got to the front of the line, they put the pig back on the spit (as they had been doing all afternoon – on and off the spit). Don Rodrigo told us it needed more smoke and flavor and that because we had waited so long, we were getting the best part of the pig. The other people had been in too much of rush. The pork was salty. There was no garlic, which I was expecting having grown up with roast pork. It was spicy but not very hot spicy. You could also taste the smoke.
For dessert there was carrot cake and red velvet cake and I had a slice of each.
By Carene Lydia Lopez