A Plethora of Bacon

Makin' Bacon class

Bacon makes everything better. But what is better than learning *how* to make bacon?

Last month at a wonderful dinner attended by many local food writers (of which I shall expound upon soon), our delightful hostess Rebecca Alon (@bookasf) of Slow Food fame mentioned she was holding a Makin’ Bacon class in January. Four of the attendees, including myself, hopped on the ‘puter as soon as we got home that night to secure our tickets.

Much excitement ensued and finally the day arrived.

Luna (@lunaraven13) and I met in Sunday morning  in the Mission with the aspiration of completely filling our day with as much bacon as possible. We strolled to Dynamo Donuts to try their famed apple bacon donuts with a bacon fat maple glaze.

Joining us there was Michael, a god to all fans of caramel and chocolate. He kindly brought a few treats to try, the most sumptuous caramels I have ever tasted. Happily, Michael scored the very last bacon donut for the week, but very tragically for a compadre in the bacon class who arrived after our departure.

We nibbled on vanilla bean glazed donuts, lemon Sichuan lemon curd filled pillows, fleur de sel caramel topped cake donuts and the long-awaited bacon ones. We all agreed the bacon donuts were worth their hype. The fruit filled yeast batter was generously drizzled with a sweet and tangy glaze and then chopped bacon pieces were dotted on top. The rich fried dough yielded to our teeth with a delightful squish of apple chunks, and then the glaze surrounded our tongues with a mellow punctuation of the salty bacon. There can be no more perfect food. The lemon Sichuan donuts were also amazing with their tart spurt of creamy curd at the center, dusted with sugar mixed with ground Sichuan peppercorns, which added a seductive bite and heat. My fleur de sel caramel donut was excellent, I was particularly fond of the way the thick caramel topping stuck to the roof of my mouth, slowly yielding as I chewed the plump cake donut.

Behold, the bacon donut

Pretty latte
(pretty pretty latte)

Of course we all felt obliged to take a few additional donuts home to our loved ones.
A little souvenir for the day
(pictured L-R: bacon, lemon Sicuan, chocolate, vanilla bean, chocolate glaze)

If I Could Be A Doughnut
(cute books like this dotted the seating area of the cafe, so charming!)

Onward to our next stop, and Michael back to his kitchen, Luna and I waved to Humphry Slocombe and to Sour Flour founder Danny’s home, we sensed our way to the bacon class. Had Pirate Cat not had a staff meeting we would have stopped there for a maple bacon latte but, alas, another visit shall be necessary.

The class was held in one of the vacant modern loft-style condos at the newly opened SF-Union. We joined up with Arnold (@inuyaki), Susan (@smfierro) and Heidi and toured a few vacant units. Without hesitation we could easily move in there but only if a space would be granted in the CCNRs for a grill! The bathtub alone in the second upstairs bathroom would make up for the small bedrooms. Most of the kitchens were quite fabulous though and the open floor plan for the main floor lent itself to many fun decorating ideas.

At the start of the sold out class I was happy to see Dayra (@summertomato), whom I met at BlogHer Food ’09 and to meet more wonderful local food writers:  Allison (@LocalLemons) and Denise (half of @ChezUs).

Rebecca and her colleague Rick became acquainted at last year’s Bacon Camp, an event I sadly missed because it coincided with the International Chocolate Salon. They held an excellent class. It covered the art of curing and smoking bacon and sausage making. They provided copious samples of sweet cured and savory cured bacon as well as a most welcome glass of Woop Woop Shiraz to sip while absorbing the art of bacon. Each attendee received a cool vial filled with enough dry cure base to start our own batch of bacon curing immediately. All of my fears and hesitation towards curing bacon at home were allayed. Making bacon at home is surprisingly simple, and with a few inexpensive gadgets anyone can smoke bacon or other meats. It was particularly helpful of their colleague Dario to give me a sidebar about guacinale and pancetta making.

After a break Rick began the sausage making process including how to butcher and season the meat before grinding, proper chilling techniques, the proportion and preparation of fat back, how to grind, and to stuff or not to stuff the sausage into casings. We tasted a total of four of Rick’s sausages and he thoughtfully provided us with recipes. My favorite was the sage seasoned pork sausage; it had just the perfect levels of seasonings and earthy sage.

The class was informal so that all of our questions were answered and we really got a hands-on feel of what to do to cure our own meats. The topics were well covered and they provided excellent tips on equipment for the home cook and the best sources in the City and online for raw ingredients.

Happily, if you did not attend, there are future classes are planned, the next will be held on Valentines Day. Make a note to get a ticket! Even if you don’t want to try making bacon or sausage at home, after this class you might change your mind and the bountiful samples provided are alone worth the modest class fee.

After the class concluded Arnold sweetly gave Luna and I a lift to 16th Street, where we stopped in at Fritz for a little nosh of moules et frites, crepes and a refreshing beverage.

Then, we sauntered to Luna Park for yet another refreshing beverage and fabulous deconstructed S’mores.
Ahhh a cocktail time. And smores!Deconstructed Smores, Part 1Deconstructed Smores, Part 2The Icebreaker with a side of camel

Thus sated, after a short bus ride home, I pulled my acorn finished Mangalitsa pork jowl from the freezer to thaw in anticipation of curing it bacon-style later on this week.  I am so excited!   And you can be sure I will be making up a batch of sausage sometime soon.

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6 responses to “A Plethora of Bacon

  1. What an amazing post, and experience, Heather … I don’t even know where to start! Its all so fabulous!

    This much, I do know – if someone were to combine the fleur de sel caramel and the bacon doughnut, I’d probably die of joy! 😉

    • Oh Diva. You just made me speechless! what a brilliant idea!! I wonder just how they make that amazing caramel topping. to. die. for…..

  2. Oh. my. god. Those donuts. Wow. Wow. I don’t even really like donuts but I have to try these!

  3. unplannedcooking

    What a fantastic event! So wish I could have attended.

  4. I had planned to go to that event but sadly misplaced Rebecca’s card during our move – I’d have loved to have connected in person finally. Rebecca has me down for the February event and I cannot wait to participate. Sounds like you all had an incredible time.

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