bacon + bourbon

Watching foodie TV (Foodography, the Cocktail episode) last night, I was intrigued by a mixologist who whipped up a batch of bacon bourbon. Both ingredients are favorites (as well as being extremely trendy right now), so I loved that someone thought to put them together. With molecular gastronomy all the rage, I envisioned bacon bourbon being a product of distillation involving beakers, siphons, gasses, and who knows what else. Wrong. It was a simple process involving only the two namesake ingredients–both of which I had on hand. I, too, could make bacon bourbon.

Rendered bacon fat was already on my counter, left over from another recipe. (Though it would have been easy enough to fry up a few strips of fresh bacon if needed.) The other ingredient–bourbon–has been a staple in my pantry since a trip to Kentucky last year. The process, called “fat washing” (lovely, yes?), is simply mixing hot bacon drippings with bourbon (1/3 cup drippings to 3 cups bourbon according to Bacon Today website), letting it cool, then refrigerating to solidify the fat. When chilled and separated, the larger fat chunks are removed. Finally, the bourbon is poured through a fine-mesh strainer to clarify. I also gave it a pass through cheesecloth as my fine-mesh strainer didn’t seem fine enough.

I can’t drink bourbon straight, and the same goes for this beverage. It boasts all of bourbon’s raw power and strength, but also adds a layer of not-so-subtle smokiness. Soda water and an orange rind would make good partners, as would maple syrup. I’ve also found a recipe for a Bacon Old-Fashioned I’d like to try. But for now, I’m happy just to have my bottle of homemade bacon bourbon sitting on my counter, catching the sunlight and promising a lovely and warming cocktail as fall eventually gives way to winter.

a beautifully golden and smoky spirit, perfectly suited for fall

food tv, food trucks, and the vanishing photos

When the Food Network debuted in 1993, I didn’t get too excited. I was already living a food-centric life and didn’t care to watch food-based television as well. (Unless the “foodie” in question was Julia Child–then I wanted a front row seat.)

How, then, did I become a Cooking Channel junkie? This FN spinoff launched in 2010 and is described as airing more instructional (read: less reality-based) programming. I don’t necessarily watch for the recipes (though I have found a few–check out Chocolate Diablo Cookies). More often, I enjoy the host’s style and personality or the interaction of a larger cast of characters. The following have been some of my faves:

Extra Virgin – Contemporary and cheeky culinary version of Green Acres.

The Supersizers Go – British co-hosts “visit” different eras of history to reenact the life–and diet–of the time.

Chuck’s Day Off – Chuck Hughes has my vote for best-looking and most charismatic on-air celebrity chef.

Baron Ambrosia’s Culinary Adventures – Crazy food escapades that showcase small mom-and-pop restaurants around the country.

Food Jammers – Three 20-something guys strip food production (frying, brewing beer, making ice cream, etc) down to its most basic. They visit hardware stores and the like to come up with wackadoo contraptions that somehow get the job done. Projects include a taco vending machine, cheese cave, and cityscape made entirely from chocolate.

Eat Street – Likable smart-aleck host tours the country to scope out the food truck scene.

There’s plenty more, and I realize many of these shows got their start on FN, but bringing them all together on Cooking Channel makes sense to me.

When my husband mentioned he had heard that Eat Street was coming to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to film, I was jump-for-joy happy. I could hunt the crew down and possibly watch the filming of a favorite TV show! A quick online search uncovered which food trucks the show would visit and when. Today was my best chance of making the location (Gastrotruck, Rice Park), so I met my husband for a lunchtime stroll through downtown St. Paul.

We found Gastrotruck and saw filming taking place a block or so away from the actual truck. I had meanwhile spotted a new truck, Tiki Tim’s, that I’ve wanted to try, so ordered up their fantastic fish tacos. They were nicely garnished with chili-dusted crema and fresh cabbage, cilantro, and green onions. With lightly battered and freshly fried fish, these tacos were tasty, even more so just because they had been thrown together in the back of a truck. I dutifully snapped photos of my food, the truck, and menu board.

We then wandered over to Potter’s Pasties & Pies where my husband got a beef pasty and I enjoyed an order of their much-lauded banoffee pie. Syrupy caramel, thin and lovely banana slices, rich and slightly sweet marshmallow cream–yum. Again, photos taken of truck and food.

Last stop was circling back to Gastrotruck as the camera crew was finally filming the truck. I had hoped to catch sight of James Cunningham, Eat Street host, but no go. Clearly they keep the star talent at home. The peanut butter bread pudding I wanted to order was Sold Out (dang!); instead, I tried the quinoa salad. (Didn’t want another full entree, though would have managed to find room for that second dessert.) A crew member approached and we chatted, but because I hadn’t ordered one of four menu items they were featuring, I wouldn’t make the filming cut.

If that wasn’t enough of a downer, remember my photos? Stunning fish tacos? Crazy good banoffee pie? Quirky food trucks and their menu boards? When I got around to posting my pix, I could find only the Gastrotruck picture and a message that my SD card had “failed and erased.” Arrrgh. I don’t have photos, I didn’t meet JC, and I wasn’t interviewed on a national television show. Them’s the breaks.

On the up side,  I got a long walk in on a gorgeous day (with my husband, which means I get bonus “date afternoon” points) and enjoyed seeing and even eating from multiple food trucks. In the end, I’ll still call it a good food day.

the only surviving photo of my most delicious day