Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bacon Cupcakes

I woke up this morning to find a very exciting email from my inbox. VERY exciting. 
Seems the folks over at Endless Simmer had somehow stumbled across this blog and thought I might be interested in one of their recent posts on BACON CUPCAKES. Holy crap-town. Cupcakes are probably my favoritest thing ever, so wow. The possibilities! Three of 'em! 
My nameday is tommorrow. I might just have to make a batch of these to celebrate.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Vosges Bacon Chocolate Bar

The bacon bar has made quite a name for itself, and broadened a lot of people's horizons in terms of bacon's versatility. Pleased as I am about that, I must say, the bar itself is somewhat disappointing.

The chocolate is delicious - Vosges is a first-rate chocolatier, and their goods are always wonderfully rich and luxurious. They're generally known for adventurous combinations, especially sweet-spicy or sweet-salty pairings. In my experience, however, these tend to be less exciting than one would hope, and not nearly so delicious as their more traditional offerings - my dear friend Max had a box of the caramel marshmallows sent to me when I was recovering from knee surgery, and they rocked my world. 

Anyhow, so the bacon bar. Like I said, the chocolate is marvelous, not too sweet but with a deep, lush cocoa flavor and a perfect texture - each bite snaps off with just a hint of resistance, but melts obligingly in your mouth. As it does, there's a faint, subtle flavor of bacon. Which is marvelous, but a bit too timid for me. Ultimately, what stands out isn't the bacon, it's the smoked salt, which definitely packs a punch, though not necessarily an unpleasant one. 

It's a tasty chocolate, yes, but it's not quite the bacon bar I'm looking for. Though it does make me think that a romantic picnic could be well served with bacon strips dipped in chocolate instead of those cliche strawberries.

Maple-bacon lollipops

The Onion A.V. club reviews Lollyphile's Maple-Bacon lollipops.

I haven't tried them yet, but I just ordered some, so stay tuned. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

and another one...

Remember that rant about Orange the other day? Well, don't worry. There won't be any more of those. From now on, all my brekkies related rants can be found here, in me and Jen's new blog. Yes, I do feel kind of silly about starting another blog. But to quote Talib Kweli,

I do it for the seeds y'all, in they formative years when they need y'all
we gotta believe, in what we conceive y'all, it's deep y'all
I give them the truth, so they approach the situation, with ammunition
I keep nothing away, they hear everything, cause they know how to listen
Teach them the game, so they know they position, so they can grow
and make decisions, that change the world, and break old tradition

Or something. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Pierogi are starting to come into their own as convenient ready-made meal option. Or maybe it just seems that way because I live in Chicago. But even if you don't, I bet you can find 'em in the frozen section of your local hippy grocery store. Anyhow, if you choose to buy some frozen pierogi, please, treat yourself and cook them properly. Don't boil them into soggy dumplings. They're not won-tons. They don't belong in liquid. That's why you bought them pre-made, stupid. No no, they are meant to be fried, and served with skwarki. 

Skwarki are bits of fried bacon and onion. Your pierogi will come out best if you fry them IN the bacon grease with the onion, so they can absorb some of the amazing flavors. 

It's quite simple - chop up some bacon and some onion, drop 'em in a pan and fry them over medium heat. Drop in the (at least partly) thawed pierogi*, adding extra bacon grease if needed. Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through and, you know, fried looking. Transfer to a plate or a bowl and enjoy - the skwarki are an amazing compliment to beef pierogi in particular, but are also a great compliment to the more mundane varieties, like potato. 

Burning the ever-lovin crap out of the skwarki is optional. But tasty.

*I really like the ones from Kasia's Deli, which can be found in some Chicago supermarkets (or purchased from their store on Chicago and Hoyne). Their webpage (which is kind of charming in a Mom and Pop, nothing-but-the-basics kind of way. They've posted letters from their fans. Actual pictures of the letters. And not just from famous people, either. It's great.) seems to imply that one can perhaps order them from out-of-state as well. If you can, go for it, because Kasia makes damn tasty pierogi.

The Bacon Bra

I've been a total slacker. Multiple people forwarded this to me, to the point that I thought, tcha, why even make a post, everyone knows about it. But in case you missed it, I give you... the bacon bra. It was quite a hit on the ol' internetz, like, two weeks ago. 

And no pesky underwire!

The full story can be found here

On a more contemplative note, I'm somewhat surprised by the range of reactions I've seen to this image, from amusement to desire to repulsion. Some people seem to find the idea of raw meat on bare skin distinctly unsettling. For others, it taps into some kind of primal food-sex instinct. Others just see it as an amusing gimmick. I will say there's something about the combination of naked breasts and meat that is appealing - back when I lived in Portland, OR, I was a big fan of The Acropolis (8325 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Portland. OR 97202), a strip club steakhouse. All the same though, while I do like the picture and the idea here, I'm not particularly, you know, aroused by it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Omelet Number 11.5, at Orange

Today I had breakfast at Orange (75 W Harrison, Chicago, IL 60605), which might be one of Chicago's most over-rated breakfast establishments. I got omelet #11.5. It was supposed to be chunks of bacon and sliced leeks enfolded in brie, encased in omelet, and topped with avocado cream puree. I'm not a fan of brie, so I tried to swap some other cheese in, but no. There will be none of that, apparently. You eat the goddamn brie or you get no brie, but there'll be no improvisation. (Jen: "It's the fork-napkin thing again. You don't get to be stuck-up about your brie if you're serving toast made with store-bought sliced bread." Touche!). Anyhow, perhaps the missing brie is to blame, but the omelet was unremarkable. Overly salty and somewhat dry, and the avocado topping was just... strange. I'm a fan of bacon in omelets (big surprise) but this one was decidedly disappointing. I dunno though, maybe some cheese would have really pulled it together.

Meanwhile, Orange - it's a long wait. The interior is actually fairly well designed for such things, but still, if you wait that long, you expect to be rewarded at the end. My gripes:

*Orange's menu, lauded as diverse, is mostly composed of things that may have been conceived by a demented 5 year old. I'm all for whimsy and eating outside the box, but I don't want pancakes coated in melted lollipop syrup and topped with crushed lollipop. I might love it for three bites, but when the sugar rush fades I will be CRANKY. And there's something that just pisses me off about it. I ate ice cream for breakfast from age 7 to age 9. I have no problem with dessert for breakfast. But this is ridiculous. Does anyone really want that much sugar, that early in the day? Seriously. Even their more mellow-seeming choices, like the chai-infused french toast, are just too much. It frustrates me when something that ought to be a lovely treat is just totally overdone.

*Home fries should not be a cylinder of tasteless mush. Home fries are one of the best parts of breakfast. They are capable of great things. Do not reduce them to pretentious decoration.  

*Frushi. Everyone is soooo excited about the frushi. Ok, the frushi ain't bad. It's clever, it actually looks like sushi but it's made of fruit! The fruit-infused sushi rice - it's interesting, but I don't think it's ever met a fruit. It met a bottle of flavoured syrup, they had a good conversation, it's fine, but yeah. Also - if you're gonna tout that as your specialty, make it an actual meal option. The way it works is, they have a frushi special of the day. It involves 4 pieces, of two different varieties. It's not even on the menu - you have to ask about it. Basically, it's an obscure side-order that somehow got a lot of attention. 

*Overall, there's something about the place that makes me cranky. Everything on the menu annoys me. It's all stuff that would either only be good for a few bites, or would be great if it didn't have one specific ingredient (and we now know, they aren't exactly amenable to compromise). The quirky good-natured frivolity of the place conceals a strange rigid adherence to arbitrary rules that brings out the worst in me (the build-your-own-juice feature has the same problem. You WILL pick something from these columns, or no juice for you! I understand that this is partly about logistics of juice creation. But it's also about RULES). The sugar bombed, LET'S HAVE DESSERT FOR BREAKFAST! AND RIDE BIKES!, reconnect-with-your-inner-child-now-that-you're-a-grown-up-and-can-do-it-properly feel to the place turns me into a grouch, I dunno. The ORANGE everything, sweet christ. Orange infused coffee just isn't tasty! Seriously, the place brings out the worst in me. I find myself getting annoyed about the  piece of string used to tie the silverware together (it's not elegant! it's a stupid waste of string!). 
  Because ultimately, it's like a bunch of super-rigid stuffy adults decided to go a little crazy and be like kids again. But they do it in this really obnoxious way, where they actually miss the good part of it, and do it all wrong. But you still feel like some kind of uptight jerk for not being into it. Now me, I'm kind of like a large, hyper-analytical 6 year old. So places like this ought to be right up my alley. Instead, I find myself thinking, GAWD would you please just GROW UP. 

Anyways, this has not really been a proper entry about bacon. Really, it's been a long rant that is only tangentially related to bacon, and a long overdue post, at that. Sorry. I will be better guys. I promise.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I've been somewhat skeptical of this bacon cocktail craze, but recently I found myself at Osteria via Stato (located at 620 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610), home of the famous baconcello, and of course I had to try it.

The baconcello is made with a granny smith apple and bacon infused vodka, mixed with fresh lemon juice and maple syrup. And I tell you what - it's effin' delicious.

Although online reviews claim that it features an extravagant garnish (some claim it's a crispy bacon wheel, others that it's a bacon swizzle stick), mine arrived rather bare, a pale yellow liquid in a small glass receptacle that was actually somewhat disappointingly plain. I'm generally a whiskey drinker, so I don't really expect anything fancy, but this glass seemed a bit too froofy to be so plain. If you're going for a straight drink sort of look, serve it in a more robust looking glass, eh? 

But any sense of dismay over presentation is quickly allayed by the drink's heavenly odor, which is distinctly bacon-y. The flavor is marvelous, a strong, but not overwhelming, bacon taste that's well complemented by the hint of apple. The lemon juice and maple syrup combine beautifully for a robust briskness that is neither too sweet nor too tart, and off-sets the saltiness of the bacon quite well. A rich and almost creamy texture make the drink a real pleasure. Highly recommended.

(If you're curious, the food at Osteria was good, but not incredible. We went for the Italian Dinner option, where everyone picks an entree and the shares various appetizers, with the caveat that anything you like, they'll bring more of. The appetizers were mostly lovely - the parmesan encrusted onions were especially tasty - and the entrees were good though not incredible. The weakest link, to me, was the pasta course, which was nice but rather bland, as was the veal meatball appetizer. All in all, it seemed to me that the food was good but not quite as complex, in terms of flavor, as I might have hoped, especially at the price.)