The First Ever Monger Games At DiBruno Bros
“Kraft. Terrible Kraft. A single slice of processed cheese product individually wrapped in plastic. Seven districts rebelled against the mass-produced, imitation yellow squares of government-mandated disgustingness. Grocer warred against grocer in an all-out battle for cheese supremacy until, from the ashes rose a new era. We swore as a company of mongers we would never forget the tragedy of yesterday’s cheese. And so it is decreed that every month, one young monger and one member of the Philadelphia food community will offer up their culinary delights to the fine people of this city in tribute, as a reminder of our delicious generosity. This is how we remember our craft. This is how we feed you darn good food”
Swathed in sequins and delivering this half-somber monologue, cheesemonger Leslie Uhl stole the show on Sunday as DiBruno Brother’s answer to Effie Trinket, mistress of ceremonies at the first ever Monger Games. Inspired by Suzanne Collins’ series of books-become-blockbusters, The Hunger Games, the event was filled, to the delight of fans (myself included) with clever references to the books.
A spread of snacks labeled The Cornucopia invited guests to “prepare for battle with delicious prepared food,” but there were two separate platters. Naturally, The Capitol spread included the high-brow: prosciutto di Parma, grilled asparagus, artichoke, and delicate little mozzarella ciliegine, whereas the Panem platter consisted the more rustic olives, feta, roasted peppers, cucumber, hummus, and pita.
The theme of the arena on this particular evening was fondue, so each tribute was paired with a brewery, challenged to offer a rich fondue matched with a sudsy brew. The tributes themselves were all careers. From District 1, Rocco Rainone and Iron Hill Brewery. His weaponry? A sophisticated fondue of Piave, Raclette, Comté, and New York cheddar paired with a warm salsa of bacon, roasted peppers, cayenne, and pineapple. To scoop it up? A warm tortilla.
Unfortunately, it took the flat-top on which Rainone was heating tortillas a little while to warm up, so the other two tributes got a bit of a head start, garnering them more early votes. Hunter Fike represented District 3, and offered the eager crowd a sweet fondue dipping dried fig and strawberry into a bath of gorgonzola dolce and chocolate, all washed down with Victory Brewing’s Storm King Stout.
Jeff DiMaio, representing District 2, offered guests a mouthful; a pickled sweet pepper stuffed with Smoking Goose’s Pig & Fig Pate, all dunked into a smoky, cheesy bath and accompanied by Tavern Ale from Yards.
Upon arrival to the sold out event ($10 bucks per ticket is tough to beat), spectators were invited to write their name on a slip of paper and drop it into an enormous fish bowl. Since the cheesemongers had already volunteered as tribute, these names, drawn at regular intervals throughout the night, were drawn as a raffle instead of a reaping. Turns out that free cheese swag is way better than fighting to the death!
In the end, Rainone caught up, edging out his competitors and claiming his prize – a golden Monger Games cowbell. Which means he’s safe, at least until next month and the next edition of…The Monger Games!
Claim your tickets for the next Monger Games below.
The Monger Games, Part 2 [DiBruno Bros]