When Pigs Fly: Bacon Tasting

My friend Ellen’s underground restaurant took an interesting turn last week. Instead of dinner, the meal served was brunch and, instead of Ellen being the sole cook and bottle washer, we partnered up on the menu, with the invaluable help of Leila for shopping, prep and clean-up duties.

The goal of the brunch was to finally give people enough damn bacon. You know what I mean. No matter how many slices of bacon are on your plate, one more is always better. So we set out to make sure nobody left feeling deprived of porky goodness.

Besides pigging out on bacon, our other mission was to taste the offerings of our excellent local bacon producers side-by-side and find out how the slices stack up. Yes, we served bacon flights. The results were, if not exactly surprising, interesting and porkalicious.

The 4 Contenders:

Highland Hills

Prather Ranch

Marin Sun Farms

Fatted Calf

The guests were split down the middle between choosing Marin Sun Farms and Fatted Calf as their favorite.

Us kitchen folk unanimously liked Marin Sun the best for its perfectly fatty mouthfeel and appealing subtle smokiness.

All three of us have commented in the past that the Prather Ranch bacon is too sweet…tasting mostly of maple syrup. This tasting didn’t exactly change our minds but, to me, the bacon seemed less sweet and overall more appealing than I remember.

The Highland Hills….well, it was just wrong. As in, something went wrong with the batch. It was blackish-gray in color with a hard, unyielding texture and completely devoid of the succulence and crispy fat one expects in bacon. There was absolutely no flavor of salt, curing, spices, or anything. To be fair, we tried another package of Highland Hills that had better color, but the flavor was still lacking. There’s definitely a consistency problem there, but if the better package is the best they can do, it’s still not good.

The menu—all vegetables and eggs purchased from local producers


Smoked Salmon with Homemade Crème Fraîche on Anna’s Daughter’s Bread

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Blue Bottle Three Africans

Black Tea

nice looking table eh?

First Course:

Winter Greens Salad with Spiced Pecans and Persimmons

Second Course:

Frittata with Chard, Dry Farmed Tomatoes and Homemade Goat Feta

Potatoes Roasted in Duck Fat

Bacon Flight accompanied by palate cleansing Homemade Sour Plum Sorbet

Main Course:

Oat and Rice Flour Pancakes with Homemade Crème Fraîche and Temescal Foraged Plum Sauce

Platters of Plenty of Bacon, Bacon, Bacon


Raw Truffles from Coracao Confections

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This entry was posted in Food and Drink, breakfast, community, entertaining, from the market and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect – and MUCH is due! – I humbly submit that Fatted Calf is the best bacon I’ve ever had. Ever. I can’t remember whether I’ve ever had bacon from Marin Sun Farms. I’m going to have to try it now. :-) When do I get to attend one of these underground dinners, anyway? I want to judge bacon!

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  1. [...] activity that has captured the imagination of cooks is food bartering. A couple weeks ago my friend Ellen emailed me with a full-blown plan for a barter market in which everyone would bring “lots” of [...]

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