A festival, but not any festival. A festival dedicated to pork, but not any pork - Makkari herb pork. Yah, a Makkari herb pork festival. Be still my racing heart, and someone get me a napkin for my drool. No Seriously. Makkari herb pork is made by feeding the pigs a diet of herbs and spice in the last few months of their glorious lives, giving a delicate herb flavor to the flesh.
To celebrate this wonderful product once a year people gather to sit around drink and snack on different forms of the herb pork. We had heard in everyones disscussion of the festival "don't miss the katsu sando" over and over. So when we turned up it was straight off to find that sando stand only to be told the Katsu stall only sets up at 6 o'clock so we we forced to sit and eat and drink various other forms of deliciousness until the katsu stall was up and running. Tough!
We started off with a few succelent slices of herb pork draped over salad vegetables with an almond dressing. The pork soft and juicy, the veg fresh, yum.
Next we had a a treat from our favourite local bakery, Jin (who has kindly asked us not not to blog the bakery as they are already to busy so this peek at the festival food is all you'll get), two thick slices of pork chunky pate baked into a rich buttery pastry sided with slices of the fantstic Jin baked bread and pickled purple cauliflower. So TASTY!!! And that's all we'll not say about Boulangerie Jin.
By now we were a good way through a bottle of Rica Kerner (a Hokkaido white wine) and feeling pretty good, so we headed back into the fray to pick up a bowl of pork miso soup and a plate of grilled pork.
The Miso soup with two kinds of pork, one long simmered and one just cooked lets me use the not oft used word untuous, nice.
The grilled pork also two types, one with salt and pepper the other marinated, along with a mound of grated diakon to smooth it all down is all smokey and delicious.
Still killing time waiting for the katsu sando we pick up a bowl of pork shabu shabu. Quickly blanched in stock and topped with toasted sesame seeds it's a nice snack.
By now we notice the whole crowd seems to be on edge, furtive glances re being thrown in the direction of the katsu stand where activity is finally being seen. It seems everyone here is waiting for the katsu .. Kat and Michi nochalanty wander over to see how long before the sando will be ready, and this is all it takes to tip an avalanche of people piling towards the stand. There's no woman and children first here, it was thrown chairs, pushing and shoving all the way. Sweet delicious food driven rioting.!
After the dust had settled there's Kat and Michi standing at the head of a several hundred person queue.
Madness. We wander and once you pay your monies your given a small card with a picture of a pig being propelled by a gaseous stomach, you then hand the card over at the sando construction site to recieve your much coverted prize. There is even a one sandwich per person limit ....
The sando consists of two slices of brown bread lighty toasted and filled with shredded cabbage the katsu and the most delicious japanese bbq sauce with a hint of miso. The katsu in question is a one thick slice of juicy pork crumbed and fried. This is the king of all katsu sandos, all others shall fall before it's mighty mightyness.
As we sat back in a food induced eyes glazed state, we see the line of hopefulls shuffle forward one by one untill, thats it, no more - sold out till next year, better luck next time. And just like that the stand is packed up and gone. Magic.
Having experienced the mayhem first hand I'll be sharpening up my elbows and practicing my "slip between the crowd" technique for next year.