Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 2013 Labor Day Friday

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues, and on this great Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of new people.  I'm going to be doing some work with a new friend, Brad, and we had lunch at the wonderful McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks restaurant in Rosemont, IL.  It's one of my favorite places to eat, albeit the downtown NYC and Chicago locations are preferred (not because of quality - it's extremely high in all locations - but because I love the downtown).

The chain has an interesting history; and according to one of my favorite information sources,

"The company dates its roots back to the 1970s, with Bill McCormick's purchase of Jake's Famous Crawfish, a 100-plus year-old restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  McCormick hired Douglas Schmick for management, and the two formed Traditional Concepts in 1974, the precursor to the McCormick & Schmick's restaurants.

The original McCormick & Schmick's restaurant was opened in 1979 in Portland. This 9,400-square-foot (870 m2) location in downtown was located in the Henry Failing Building. In 2004, the company became a publicly traded company after an initial public offering. As of 2009, there are almost 100 restaurants and catering locations in the United States and Canada. In June 2009, the company closed the original location in Portland. The chain is famous for its generous happy hour, and its landmark $1.95 half-pound cheeseburger. The price was changed to $2.95 in the spring of 2009."
They hire pleasant wait staff, and today was no exception.  The lovely and gracious Ana helped Brad and I navigate the menu, and she offered a special appetizer.  Guess what?  It featured BACON.

You can see from the picture how scrumptious the bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp were.  What you can't see is how they tasted.  The taste certainly rivaled the picture - outstanding.  For a business lunch or dinner, you can't go wrong at M&S.  Highly recommended.  I am an unpaid non-spokesperson with no "dog in the hunt," so to speak. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 28, 2013: Niman Ranch Uncured Applewood smoked, and news

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a review of Niman Ranch bacon, purchased at The Fresh Market in Lake Forest, Illinois.

But first, a bit of news!


The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED for short) Virus is on the rampage, killing new piglet litters very quickly.  Scientists think it has to run it's course before things get back to normal.   They think the virus is spreading on transport vehicles; they are recommending that truckers thoroughly clean their trucks after transporting pigs: "You should always follow very strict biosecurity steps," said Dr. Bruce Broderson, assistant professor at U of Nebraska.  The virus hasn't hit Nebraska yet.

Bacon Painted Ford Fiesta.  Seriously now, this bacon craze has gotten out of hand when you can customize your Ford with a bacon finish.  But it is absolutely true.  check it out.

In other news,

ON TO THE BACON.  This time, I'm evaluating only one bacon.

NIMAN RANCH is actually in Alameda, California.  So the bacon has to travel half way across the country.  They have a nice looking, professional website with an online store.   I like the button on their site: "Discover what it takes to produce livestock sustainably." Their definition is: "We believe sustainable agriculture is best described as livestock raising and production practices which balance current resource demands without compromising the future of these resources, from an environmental, economic and human perspective."

The intro to their site says a lot about the way that they look at food production:
 Compassionate family farmers raising animals with respect for the land.
At Niman Ranch we believe that in order to produce the finest tasting all-natural meat in the world you must begin with the strictest protocols. That means working with small U.S. family farmers who are committed to raising the highest quality breeds and are dedicated to caring for their livestock traditionally. These guiding philosophies, from the genetics we source, to the feeds we use, to the humane animal raising standards contribute to the consistently, best tasting, all-natural beef, pork, lamb and smoked and prepared meats.
The packaging is clean, not loaded with pizzaz or marketing fluff.  It's telling me: "hey, I'm old school bacon, check me out."  The brown is faintly reminiscent of kraft paper in old-school butchers; it works for me!  Interesting to check in on the history of kraft paper - it's from the German word which elicits 'craft' and 'strength'.  Not the food company.

Well stated; now, let's see how their commercial bacon tastes!  

Opening the package results in a strong Applewood scent - very nice.  The slices are thick and easy to pull apart, and very uniform in thickness and length.  Easy enough to place on the cold pan before going on the grill (without grates).

Cooking slowly, and draining off the bacon drippings occasionally, the bacon did reach classic coloration and crispness, as you can see.  Net wt 12 oz, pre cooked 12 oz, post 2.9 oz with 175 ml of bacon drippings. 

Flavor: excellent, 3.5 our of 5.  Classic bacon flavor without any sense of additives or salt.  Remember, this was uncured.

Crispness: not strong in this area, but above average, 3 out of 5.  This is only natural due to the thickness of the slices.

Succulence: well above average, 3.5 out of 5.  The fatty areas are nice and juicy, but the bacon didn't produce a ton of grease

All in all, an excellent bacon.  It went quickly, and I had to make a package of my old standby for the week:  Oscar.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7, 2013: Uh-Oh - Pork Virus Threatening Pig Supply

Check out this link.  Bad news - some pig farmers indicating that up to 20% of their pigs could be affected.  Let's hope it doesn't spread!

August 1, 2013: Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a look at lifehacker's ultimate burger, an interesting San Fran vote for the best food cart,

THE ULTIMATE BACON CHEESEBURGER is featured at lifehacker.  I will most definitely be trying the weave pattern:

IN BACON IN THE NEWS, unfortunately, the BACON BACON food truck lost in the semifinals of voting for San Francisco's best food cart.  The site for voting is here; voting ends on August 2nd with the two finalists: The Creme Brulee Cart vs. Sam's Chowder Mobile.  Much like visiting all major league ballparks in the country, it would be a cool thing to eat from each of these mobile restaurants!

The Huffington Post blasted the Bacon Bowl (mentioned recently here in this blog) as one of the most useless inventions ever.  They say that all you have to do is turn a cupcake tin upside down and it does the same thing.  Sure it will, but it wouldn't be a dedicated tool, and cleanup for the cupcake tin would be much messier, I think. And they are neglecting the I-heart-bacon pin, and the novelty aspect of the gadget!  OK, I'm trying to justify my purchase.  When it arrives, I'll review it here.