Today I’m celebrating the fact that, despite all signs pointing to an early Death by Pork, I’ve officially lived to see
Not for lack of trying, mind you.
I just returned to New Jersey after attending the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever witnessed:
That’s right. Baconfest Chicago 2014. On April 26, hundreds of like-minded souls gathered to pay tribute to the almighty bacon gods.
The Midwest air outside was as crisp as the bacon that awaited us. You could smell it from blocks away. Everyone was in high spirits as they entered the UIC Forum. Speaking of spirits – your admission included 7 drink tickets! Seven! Yes. I truly was among my people.
My BaconFest partner-in-binge-eating prefers to remain anonymous. I think you can see why.
Once inside, I had no idea where to start, so I got in line at the first station and just worked my way around. (In case you’re wondering, yes, my jeans and I did eventually regret this plan.)
Halfway through my trek, I saw Carriage House was serving Bacon Crispie Treats: Fried pork rinds (yeah, you heard me) in place of rice crispies, bacon marshmallow, and bourbon bacon caramel glaze, served with a side of bacon chocolate milk for dipping.
They looked a lot like this (okay, you seriously expected me to stop eating long enough to take my own pictures?). Photo credit: http://nutmegnotebook.com/
When I went to pick up a little square treat from the oh-so-tempting tray, 5 came along with it. I glanced up sheepishly, and the guy manning the table said,
“Take them all! There are no rules at BaconFest!”
And he was right. It was succulent lawlessness at every turn, dozens of people elbowing their way towards things like this:
Holy mother of bloody bacon Marys.
Another highlight was Pigs in Mud from Farmhouse: A cup of rich, chocolate bacon custard, crispy bacon soil, topped with a sugar-coated gummy pig. This adorable concoction even earned them the “Most Creative Use of Bacon” prize.
The top 2 winners in my book?
1) Bacon balls courtesy of Mark Hemmer from Bridge House Tavern: A rich yet delicate blend of Nueske’s bacon, veal and foie gras with a Luxardo cherry in the middle, served with a cherry maple glaze over apple-jicama slaw.
(I scarfed this too quickly to get a picture.)
2) The BSLT courtesy of chef Andre Christopher from Bistro Dre: Bacon crusted salmon sashimi with bacon tempura crunch, bacon mayo, bacon ponzu, micro lettuce, baby tomatoes and caramelized bacon red onions.
The line in front of the Bistro Dre stand proved I wasn’t the only one loving this creation.
The tender raw salmon and light greens snuck into BaconFest thanks to tempura flakes and bacon mayo.
I’d suffer bacon-less nightmares if I didn’t include a couple of honorary mentions:
1) Bacon Infused Scotch Egg from The Gage – bacon yolk, bacon bread crumbs, with smoked pork belly, petite greens with bacon vinaigrette, smoky-bacony kimchi broth:
2) Bacon Wrapped Dates from the Municipal Bar & Dining Co – jumbo date stuffed with brie cheese wrapped in applewood smoked bacon:
My only regret? I somehow managed to wind up with a leftover drink ticket.
I’ve never been more ashamed.
What other food would you like to see celebrated, festival-style? Leave a comment by 12pm midnight EST on Sunday, May 4, 2014, and I’ll randomly pick a winner to receive a Vosges Mo’s milk chocolate bacon bar!
Tasting is believing.