Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bacon cook-off winner and enough with the bacon!

I mentioned the Baconfest Cook-off awhile back - well, it came and went, and nobody hooked me up with a free ticket. But you can read about the winners, and the entries, in the Reader. They sound pretty tasty - nothing too wild, aside from maybe the vanilla bacon ice cream.

Meanwhile David Tamarkin at Time Out Chicago says enough with the bacon already people!
And look - he's got a point. I am (obviously) a person who likes bacon. I enjoy cooking with it, and particularly exploring its versatility and the unexpected joy it can add to other things. I started this blog mostly to post bacon recipes - I'd been thinking of doing a food blog for awhile (and occasionally regret that I didn't) - and then figuring, hey, there's all kinds of weird bacon-related stuff out there, I can totally keep a blog going on this. But yeah, personally - the t-shirts, the stickers, the paraphenelia - it's pretty over-the-top. Unlike Tamarkin, I'm all for bacon fest and discovering new ways to eat bacon, but the accessorizing is kind of ridiculous. Though come to think of it, I do have bacon band-aids, and they're pretty awesome. Also, Tamarkin is incorrect - bacon and chocolate can be a fantastically delicious combination. You don't need to be a bacon lover to appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

wordle

A friend of mine just sent me a link to wordle.net, which generates word clouds from any source text you give it based on frequency. I put in the url for this blog and it made a very nice one, I think.

(click on it for the full size)

Wordle: Bacon Blog

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

New link, and Bacon and Halibut at Elate

First off, I received an email from Michael, author of The Daily Bacon, asking if I could post a link to his blog. So here it is, The Daily Bacon. Bacon recipes, info on bacon sales at grocery chains in Michigan, and lots of Twitter updates.

Secondly, I never really know if this kind of thing is worth posting about*, but I ate some tasty bacon food last night. My boyfriend and I went to Elate, the new restaurant at Chicago's Hotel Felix. We were a bit agog at the prices, but also tired and hungry and unsure what to do, so, well, we stayed and ordered some food. This is why the good lord made credit cards, right?
Sidegripe - I love tapas and small plates. It's a brilliant concept. At a place like Province, where I had a delicious dinner the other night, it's a way to get a lot of different dishes. However, although Province offers a plethora of different small plates, they also do "Bigger" plates, which are basically entree sized, and run you about $12-$17 - entirely reasonable, I think, and you'll get a proper amount of food. Elate, on the other hand, is the kind of small plates place where you need to order at least 6 of them between two people to get a decent meal. Even the "Plates", ie what are presumably the bigger ones, are pretty effin' small.
ANYWAYS.
Amongst other things, we ordered the Halibut, which the menu described rather provocatively as Halibut: chanterelles / favas / mussels / bacon broth.


Which is pretty much what it was, I guess. Oh, except also: / delicious.





The halibut was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. The chanterelles were juicy and a gorgeous earthy compliment to the delicate fish, nicely balanced with the somewhat woody favas and the chewy, salty bits of bacon. The broth was delicate and wonderful - I seriously deliberated drinking the rest out of the dish. The mussels were also done just right, and a wonderful accompaniment to the whole. All in all - very nice, and an intelligent use of bacon. It added a nice bit of saltiness, but didn't overwhelm the other flavors at all.

* I generally imagine that the most useful thing in this blog are the recipes. I figure that posting pictures and descriptions of bacon-related things I've eaten in restaurants might be nice, in that you could easily be a better cook than I, and could perhaps recreate these delicious things I've eaten (if you do, please post a recipe in the comments!). On the other hand, you may not be such a talented chef, and you may also not live in the city of Chicago, in which case, reading a post like this just makes you an angry, bitter human being. So I dunno.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bacon, Egg and Greens

That title really doesn't do the elegance of this dish justice, but c'est la vie. There are more important things to discuss. Credit for this amazing creation really goes to my friend Harold, who made it himself and told me about it. Oh my god. It is so delicious. The basic concept is fairly simple, though the execution is somewhat tricky - some greens dressed in a light vinaigrette, topped with crispy pork in some form - be it lardon, pork belly, or bacon - and then crowned with - are you ready for this? - a poached egg. Oh, it is a thing of delicious beauty. I had it as a pre-dinner appetizer, but it would really shine on a brunch menu, I think.


The mechanics:

First, cut 2 strips of bacon in half, and roughly chop another one (or more). Set them to work frying over low heat. Next, in a small pot with high sides, pour in water such that it's at least 3 inches deep, and set that to boiling. Now, take a small bowl and prepare your vinaigrette. This can obviously be however you like to do it - I used about 2 gloops of olive oil, 2 gloops of red wine vinegar, the juice of 1/4 lemon, and some garlic salt. Were I doing it again, I'd actually half the oil and double the lemon juice, but do whatever you like. Whisk merrily with a fork.
Now, your bacon should be pretty close to done (you remembered to flip it, right? I know I didn't tell you, but I figured you'd put that together on your own), so pull out a plate and assemble a pile of greens. Your water is boiling, is it not? Turn it down to a simmer. Now, back to the greens. I used a baby arugula blend, because it's what I had lying around (because I LOVE arugula, like the liberal commie I am). Dump the vinaigrette over it and toss carefully (or you could use a bowl, which would require less care with the tossing, but also a somewhat less exciting presentation). Next, remove the bacon from the pan. Toss the chopped bacon in with the salad and lay the strips on top to form a little bed.
Now! Here comes the hard part - the poaching. This was the first time I did it, but it turned out not to be far less daunting than I had anticipated.
Rinse off your egg (because chicken poop is bad for you) and crack it carefully into a bowl (I just used the one from the vinaigrette, because I don't have a dishwasher. And am environmentally conscious.). Your water should be at a very low simmer. Stir it once and slowly slide the egg in. Let it bathe in there for 2-3 minutes, or until it looks like the whites are basically cooked, then turn the heat off and carefully remove it from the pot with a spatula or slotted spoon. Ease it onto its little bacon bed. Mine actually slid off and refused to move thereafter, but whatevs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then, with your fork, lightly scrape the surface of the egg, allowing its tasty little belly to ooze all over your salad.


Oh my gosh. The crisp, slightly sweet bacon, the bitter arugula, the creamy egg yolk, the slightly acidic vinaigrette - it's a symphony in your mouth. It's absolutely incredible. The only thing to add is a slice off good bread to mop up the juices at the end with.