This weekend I experienced New York’s #1 reason NOT to be a vegetarian:
This is not a joke. This is a real event. Bacon and picnics would feature prevalently in my personal rendition of “My Favorite Things”, bacon and picnics and whiskers on kittens, so I was super excited when this event was announced.
Even more excited to attend the first ever Great Big Bacon Picnic this past weekend in Williamsburg. This “gourmet celebration of the most amazing food item ever created” featured over 100 chefs, all local to New York, all serving bacon inspired dishes. No turkey bacon allowed, no soy, no, no, this was a big pig deal.
I could smell the bacon as I walked down the block of The Old Pfizer Factory where the event was being held. A perfect ushering in of the deliciousness to come. But oh I was so simple, so naive. There was so much about bacon I didn’t know and was about to learn.
Crispy, slightly chewy, limp, too fatty, and Canadian. That used to be my bacon wheel house. Now it’s exploded. Thin cut, thick cut, Canadian, hickory smoked, applewood smoked, cherrywood smoked, black pepper, maple, uncured. I stood in front of the festival’s famed Bacon Bar taking in the piles of nine different kinds of bacon. In a remarkable feat of restraint, I tried only one piece of each.
Cherrywood smoked thick cut won over my taste buds. With the ever so slight hint of tart cherry and the perfect combo of crisp and chew, I had to quickly back away from the bar after trying a piece. I was determined to try EVERYTHING at this festival despite my stupid small stomach!
I’m seriously proud of how successful I was though! At the session I attended on Saturday evening, 37 restaurants served their dishes. I hardly passed up a single one! Here are some of my favorites. Get ready for a ton of variety!
BBD’s Vietnamese Bacon Sliders with soy marinated double press bacon, pickled sprouts, and tai basil
There was plenty going on in these sliders and somehow it all worked together and beautifully highlighted the bacon. With crunchy bean sprouts, peppers, and a warm steamed bun, the bacon could have gotten lost. Instead the double-pressed pieces were complemented perfectly. I enjoyed this so much I’m tempted to trek out to BBD’s Long Island location to eat another!
Most Decadent Bacon
Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table Panko/Bacon Encrusted Lobster Bacon Spring Rolls and Tomato Bacon Chutney
After that description, need I say more? The line after
Bacon and picnics and whiskers on kittens in my version of “My Favorite Things” is of course
Lobster and postcards and blog posts I’ve written
a crispy fried spring roll added to the mix just made it even better.
Most Unexpected Bacon
Cherry Izakaya Bacon Caesar Roll with avocado and Tuscan kale
Bacon in sushi? If I saw this on a menu there is no way I’d have order it. So thank goodness for tasting events! Smoked bacon, avocado, and Tuscan kale tossed in a light caesar dressing: the combination of textures and tastes was really awesome. I’m inspired to get more adventurous with what I think of when I think sushi!
Biggest Bacon Risk
Pig Guy NYC S’mores Bacon on a Stick
This was the first thing I saw and the first thing I tried at the event! I was taken aback and wondered if everything would be this outside the box. The bacon was in very thick cuts, then dipped in a chocolate and marshmallow sauce and coated with graham cracker crumbs. The flavors all worked surprisingly well together, especially because thick cuts are on the more mellow side of bacon spectrum. The Pig Guy himself, Chef Thomas Perone, was on site serving. He was as sweet as his dish!
Bricks Bars Grass Fed Beef, Uncured Bacon, Cranberry, and Sunflower Seed Bar
Bricks Bars were unlike anything else at this event. I couldn’t figure them out at first but a quick chat with the company founder changed that. He started the company only 6 months ago, making whole food energy bars. I was a little weirded out at first, but it’s kind of like beef jerky in bar form. Packed with protein from simple, quality ingredients. Pretty cool I thought. These you could order online and actually try even if you’re no where near NYC!
Biggest Comfort Bacon
Tip of the Tongue Bacon and Gruyere Scones
At this session of the event, billed as the “Happy Hour” session, this was one of the few tables focusing on the breakfast side. Which is funny because that’s often the meal one associates bacon with. These scones were delicious. Chock-a-block full of bacon pieces and the cheese was a perfect complement. I love grabbing an pastry for breakfast, that usually means no protein, but not with these scones! If I lived near Prospect Park where this cafe is located, this would be my morning go-to.
There were many bacon desserts- bacon ice cream, bacon topped cheese cake, bacon and banana whoopie pies. The bacon was interesting in all these but there wasn’t one where I felt the dish was truly enhanced by the addition of bacon.
These of course, are just my opinions. I did say I’m a relative Bacon Ignoramus, if you want to know what the experts thought, check out the winners as decided by the judging panel.
High and Mighty Brass Band provided entertainment with several super fun, super high-energy sets. And I can’t forget drinks! There were so many awesome drinks to sample! My favorites, hands down, were both liqueurs. Sorel hibiscus liqueur was so refreshing just mixed with ginger beer and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur also made a perfect summer drink splashed in with lemonade. I suggest you add trying each to your summer bucket list!
Are you feeling sad you missed this awesome event? Don’t worry! NYC has a ton of awesome foodie festivals coming up this summer. Plus you can click on any restaurant I mentioned and find where to visit them in town (BBD’s is the only one not in NYC proper, and even that one’s pretty close! A perfect place to stop if you vacation on Long Island.) Best of all, I think this event was so successful we can expect a 2nd Annual Great Big Bacon Picnic next year!
In the mean time, what’s your favorite kind of bacon? Or are you a vegetarian who hated this post?