Turkey on whole-wheat bread is so passé nowadays. What the public really wants is bacon.
Juicy, greasy slabs of cured pork belly, by the pounds; in as many preparations as possible and dipped in and/or wrapped around as many highly caloric food items-- such as chocolate and chicken wings,--imaginable. That is the central idea behind BaconFest, a hedonistic, triglyceride inducing, throw-the-weight-scale-aside, hog-lovers event that took Chicago and New York by storm and then moved towards us. On Saturday night, South Florida had its share of this beastly bacon affair.
A sellout for several weeks, this pig pantheon was a resounding success at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. South Florida evidently loves its swine just about as much as the rest of the country.
Chef Todd Fisher, from Discovery's Destination America network show, United States of Bacon, hosted what we called our own pork-a-palooza. The lines were long and the bellies were bursting all night long as the packed crowd sampled bacon-inspired items from local eateries like Big City Tavern and Caffe Luna Rosa and savored bacon infused delights from La Marquise Desserts and Susy Pops.
We loaded up on Lipitor, braved the hungered mega-carnivorous masses and prepared to pig out (pun all the way) on all the creative offerings incorporating the other white meat.
Best Drinkable Bacon
The bacon milkshake from The Melting Pot of Coral Springs.
We didn't know what to expect when we sipped on this concoction from the Melting Pot, but it was one of the most savory items we sampled all night long. Imagine a cookies & cream milkshake, but instead of the cookie chunks, what you have is bacon. But the bacon was not overbearing. It was a perfect mesh of salty and sweet. The bacon bits in this primarily vanilla milkshake were diminutive but still exquisitely noticeable on the palate upon sipping. Once the refreshing malty ice cream start completed, the tiny portions of bacon were still engaging our taste buds on the finish.
Best Gut-Busting Use of Bacon as a Dessert
Big City Tavern's bacon crusted cider donuts with maple glaze
The long lines for this popular stand at BaconFest were well deserved, garnished with powdered sugar these bacon crusted cider donuts were a succulent treat. The best part was they were warm too, just like grabbing a donut right from the oven at Krispy Kreme. The maple glaze made for fantastic lip licking when we finished these indulgent deep-fried, well-balanced goodies. The bacon was infused seamlessly, lending a sharp pork taste that blended effortlessly with the sweet dough.
Best Use of Bacon in Comfort Food with a Twist
Gimme a Burger's coffee-infused bacon burger with coffee and brown sugar rub.
The tart taste that greeted our taste buds as we bit into this burger was an unfamiliar, but not unwelcoming delight. That tart tang was the coffee that was infused in Gimme a Burger's juicy, tender offering. The injection of coffee made for a fantastic lingering bitter taste on our tongues as we digested the sliced red onion and cheddar cheese that garnished this perfect mélange of sweet and salty.
Best Use of Bacon as Super Bowl Entree
Bru's Room's Triple Colossal Bacon Threat Wings
These mouthwatering wings from Bru's Room came wrapped in the crispiest bacon of the night. Smothered in Bru's Triple Threat Sauce they effused hints of tangy BBQ sauce and sweet honey. The wings were exquisitely tender to bite and the bacon offered a crunchy finish. We only wish Bru's Room made these well-proportion finger treats available permanently on its menu.
Best Use of Bacon as Movie Snack
Bacon maple buttered popcorn topped with jalapeno bacon salt from Cafe Luna Rosa
Although the bacon was drenched in butter used on these kernels, this offering from Cafe Lune was not overbearingly greasy. Yes, its hard to believe that a dish with tons of butter and topped with bacon did not have us rushing for napkins, but it was not the case here. These kernels were popped to the tee, nice and fluffy and not moist. The jalapeno bacon salt added a slight kick, but was not painfully hot either. This dish makes us wonder why we never topped our popcorn with bacon before.
Best Inebriating Use of Bacon
Cafe Luna's jalapeno bacon salted Bloody Mary.
The jalapeno bacon salt on the rim of this beverage made us regret we did not bring our trusty flask along for the ride to BaconFest. Oh what an ideal compliment this tingly, salty and peppery concoction would have been with a nice shot of Belvedere. Alas, Cafe Luna did not use any booze in this sampling, but with our imagination we achieved a pleasant placebo buzz for the rest of the night. This saline solution left our lips prickling with flavor for many minutes after guzzling down this brackish drink.
Best Looking Use of Bacon on a Confectionery Treat
Susy Pop's Apple-Caramel Bacon Cake Pops
Susy Pops had such an alluring presentation Saturday night that we felt remorse when biting into their delectable cake pops. The sense of guilt was fleeting though once the moist butter maple cake filling hit our tongues. Oh what a heavenly, toothsome treat these Cake Pops were. So they were cute? The cake pops were three times as alluring to our taste buds as they were to our eyes, so this carnage was well worth it. And we haven't even mentioned the bacon sprinkled on top, it added a slight briny sensation to this honeyed delight.
Best Cavity-Inducing Use of Bacon in Highly Caloric Finger Food
Flavored Bacon Twists from The Gypsy Horse
"Some people got lollipops, others cupcakes, I've got bacon!," said Gypsy Horse chef Jorge Nickle of his unabashed bacon-loving treats served at his Wellington Irish Pub. Nickle really captured the hog ethos of the night. The Western Palm Beach haunt has the only bacon happy hour in South Florida, according to Nickle. His Cracker Jack bacon twists were succulent, crispy and syrupy treats. They had us licking our fingers and craving more. Nickle made us realize, you don't really need baked good, when you can just dip and deep fry bacon in basically anything sweet and the end result will be worth all the endless trips to dentist.
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