Baby-baconfest

As the time came around for this year’s baconfest, we were really struggling to find a weekend to make it work. As much fun as eating a metric ton of bacon is, it actually does take a lot of preparation work: designing the shirts, buying the bacon, doing all the cooking, etc. With a newborn, the whole thing seemed like too much.

On the other hand, I WILL NOT LET THE TRADITION DIE, even if it kills me (and, since we’re talking about eating pounds and pounds of bacon, let’s be clear: it will kill me).

So we did a baby baconfest. Baconfest lite. No taste test, no orgy of bacon recipes, just one meal (prepared by Nate and Amanda), a little bacon with breakfast, and (naturally) some bacon soda.

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“Y’all get yer fixins!”

Alex says, “What the crap is this nonsense? Is this seriously the family I was born into??”

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Some of us didn’t think it was all that bad (Sara said it tasted like grape soda). I mean, I wouldn’t want to drink a whole bottle of the stuff, but, you know. I took more than one drink (for science!)

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On the other hand, most people’s reaction to the smoky flavor of the bacon soda can best be summed up as:

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I was also the proud recipient of an “I Heart Bacon” wall calendar, which is now at work.

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Sorry I don’t have more posts this year, but the best I could handle was to keep the chain of baconfests unbroken (six down, one hundred more to go).

(Not for nothing, I did wear my “high five if you like bacon” shirt from last year and did get two high fives from strangers!)

Baconfest 2015, in pictures

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Baconfest 2015, Taste Test

I was pretty excited about the spread of this year’s bacon. I drove in to the meatpacking district, and grabbed two from Publican Quality Meats, grabbed a curry bacon from the deli at Whole Foods, and then had two of the “fancier” store-bought bacons. I thought we had a pretty good spread, however, after tasting them all they were (surprisingly!) all somewhat similar. So I didn’t feel like we really covered the “range” of bacon after all.

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Although the curry bacon was a bit odd (though not nearly as odd as you might expect!), the strangest bacon was the “Pub” bacon from Publican Meats. Talk about a slab of bacon! It was about 1/2 an inch thick (it’s the second bacon in the picture above). Everyone was a little nervous to try it, but it was much better than expected. Still, we all agreed it was more “ham” than “bacon” and it didn’t do very well in the taste test. However, the next day we chopped some into a charred brussels sprouts carbonara, and it was absolutely perfect.

You know, it seems like we always get these fancy butcher shop bacons, and they always lose to some regular old store-bacon. I don’t know if it’s because the butcher-bacons tend to highlight the meat flavor, and thus downplay the seasoning, or if the fault is mine: maybe my tastes run more towards the bacon I grew up with, so bacons that taste more like that are subconsciously more appealing to me.

Anyway, on to the results:

Nathan:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  8  Very crispy, good flavor – solid everyday bacon
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  5  Thick! ery very good ham. Pretty good bacon.
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  7  Crispy with good flavor. The “pepper” or spice flavor overpowered the meat flavor
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  7  Flat. A lot of meat per slice. Nothing outstanding but nothing negative either
 Whole Foods Curry Bacon  5  A little tough. Unusual after taste. Extra smokey. Tastes less “piggy” more “beefy”.

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Amanda:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  9  Crispy – good flavor w/pepper thing + melt-in-your-mouthy
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  3  This is ham. Not as bad as I thought.
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  5  Salty + chewy. Meh flavor.
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  4  “Smokey” flavor has taste potential. Good flavor.
 Whole Foods Curry Bacon  7  Super thick (yet not ham). Salty + not ver smokey

Sara:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  8!  Good everyday bacon – I really liked it.
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  4  This is like eating the fat of ham. Non-gristly fat, but still fat. Somewhat aromatic flavor. Would not choose for anything but novelty.
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  6  Hammy flavor. Okay.
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  7  Flat. More melt in your mouth. Tastes a little burnt even though it isn’t. A little sweet aftertaste.
 Whole Foods Curry Bacon  3  Very sweet. Don’t really care for it. Texture also unappealing.

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Shane:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  6  Melts in your mouth, very salty. Nice appearance – wrinkly, not too flat, looked “real”
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  4  Obviously this is the weird one. V. unusual appearance, more like pork belly, but good. Fatty, but not too fatty. Surprisingly bacony. Not for just eating bacon, though.
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  7  Similar in appearance to #1. Very good flavor, a good solid bacon, if nothing too special. Barely edged out #1, not quite as salty, not as “melty”
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  5  Flat, crisp, maybe overdone. Meh.
 Whole Foods Curry Bacon  5  Tough, flavor is…unusual. Dont’ know if I’d want more than that half piece, but it was interesting.

Evie:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  9  not sweet, spicey!
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  1  not going to try it again
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  4  soft and chewy
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  5  opposite of 3.
 Whole Foods Curry Bacon  2  crunchy!

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Ollie:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered

 ⇅

 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon

 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked

 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon

 Whole Foods Curry Bacon

Overall Results:

Brand Average Rating
 Wellshire – dry rubbed, peppered  8.0
 Publican Meats – Pub Bacon  3.4
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  5.8
 Publican Meats – Slab Bacon  5.6
 Nature’s Rancher – hickory smoked  4.4

Baconfest 2015

Baconfest 5 logo

Well, another baconfest has come and gone.

I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 5 years already. It seems like just the other day we started doing this. Can I just say that I’m *so* not tired of this yet? Best. Tradition. Ever.

Like all good traditions, some parts have fallen by the wayside (e.g. The Watching of the Kevin Bacon Movie), and other traditions have sprung up (e.g. The Waking of Guests With the Talking Bacon — seriously, this is the part the kids look forward to the most!)

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It is, however, a mega-ton of work. From planning the menu, to running around buying the bacon for the taste test, to cooking everything for days beforehand, to the smell of bacon leaking into every nook and cranny of your house, your clothes, your very nostrils…yeah, I was a little stressed out.

This year was particularly bad. Not only did the kids have their big ballet performance during baconfest on Saturday, but we also went to see Welcome to Nightvale on Friday night (post to come; I’m a little behind!). Add in the ballet dress rehearsal / costume fitting on Thursday, swim class, etc. and it was just a little much for the week.

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Because of all that, the menu was a little light this year. Most of the meals had to be quick ones, so we didn’t overdo it on the bacon this year. I think this might have been the first year that I didn’t feel like I ate a whole pig by the end of the day, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

On the flipside, my heart hardly had to struggle to pump blood through my bacon-clogged arteries, which means it didn’t get any exercise this year and is probably going to grow weak.

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For breakfast this year, we basically just had scones. They didn’t even have bacon in them! But we had the taste test as part of breakfast, so that was bacon enough.

For lunch, we had a Bacon Chopped Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette (see above), and it was just about perfect. Really hit the spot. We also had a Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Spinach and Goat Cheese (see below), and followed that up with Oatmeal Cookies with Molasses & Bacon Fat. The cookies were actually really, really amazing, though not particularly bacon tasting (which actually was okay with me).

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Finally, for dinner we needed something simple, since we were coming from ballet, so we just had two dips, with veggies and crackers. The first, the Bacon Cheddar Ale Cheese Spread, pretty much stole the show for the weekend, but the Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip wasn’t bad either. And then more cookies, natch.

Finally, we ended on a game of Agricola, the most bacony of games, which — what’s that? Oh, I won? Oh, oh, I see. I believe that’s 3 in a row for me, which is an unprecedented win streak for anyone not named Sara. I’m like the Sara of Agricola.

2015_05_09_1785Stay tuned for more baconfest posts this week. Here on the Halbach channel, it’s all bacon, all the time.

 

The Quotes of Baconfest

No context provided:

Nathan: “Amanda is out of control when it comes to men’s underwear.”

Me: “Yeah, well. She’s not the boss of the bathroom.”

Nathan: “I’m going to eat all of MY number two!”

Ollie: “Aunt Rachael’s skin is the color of sausage.”

Makin’ Bacon Pancakes

Do you know what today is? BACONFEST DAY.

And you know what that means. Well, Hugh Jackman, at least, knows what that means:

Good morning….

A post shared by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on

Don’t mind me, I’ll be watching this in a loop all. day. long.

Baconfest 2014, Taste Test

And the nominees are:

taste test 1 and 2taste test 3 and 4

For the 3rd year in a row, there was a “trick” bacon in the mix. This year it was venison bacon. It’s a blind taste test, but from appearance alone, you could tell something was not quite right…

deer bacon

..and not everybody was fooled.

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I’m always glad when the “trick” bacon scores low. Honestly, it wasn’t bad. We all agreed that it would be good on a sandwich. As a true competitor in the bacon taste test? Just, no.

Additionally, the texture of the Berkshire pork bacon really creeped people out, garnering comments of “texture was off”, “What animal is this?”, and “i DONT NO WAT IS WRONG WITH IT”.

Anyway, on to the results!

Nathan:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  7  Great flavor – lots of crunch but oddly soft too, texture was off
Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  9  Giant pieces – looked like a lot of fat but didn’t taste fatty; thicker cut; what I would classify as eggs and bacon bacon. Clearly whole meat cut.
Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  2  Very lean and does not have the CRUNCH; clearly not whole cut meat; tastes like jerky
D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8  Solid. Good, every day bacon (grocery store type) – nothing bad / nothing good, but the flavor couldn’t put it in the next level

Amanda:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  6  Looked the worst. Smokey, salty. Didn’t like the first bite, but 2 & 3rd bites were better
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  5  Looked the best. Not much flavor. A little thick & leathery. Boring.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  -1 (0)  EEw. I know what this is. Deer != bacon.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  9  NOM NOM NOM NOM! Perfectly balanced, not overly salty. Slightly smokey. perfect thickness. Looked good too. This is my jam.
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Sara:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  4  Airy, greasy, tasteless. What animal is this?
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  7  Hammy flavor, nice, wide appearance, a little chewy.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  8  Looks like jerky, tastes like sausage, maybe I like this.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8  Very traditional and crispy. Might be Hormel, but I still like it. (salty)

Shane:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  7  Nice texture, crisp, crumbly, nice fat. Appearance was a little off. Looked thin and off-colored.
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  8  Best appearance, wide flat pieces, chewier, more flavor. More what I expect bacon to taste like.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  4  Strange looking, more like thin ham. Too uniform, would be good on a sandwich, but not to eat for breakfast.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  5  Decent appearance, 2nd best looking, very crunchy. Too crunchy. And too salty, only all right.

Evie:

Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  2  i DONT NO WAT IS WRONG WITH IT
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  9  GOOD BUT i DiDiNT LikE iT AS MUCH AS 10
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  2  iT TAST LikE SALOME
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  10  iT WAS GOOD Lik LAST YER

Ollie:

Ollie gave everything a smiley face. His only comment was on bacon #2: “Can we make this greasier?”

Overall Results:

Brand Average Rating
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  5.2
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  7.6
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  3.2
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8.0