I have a special What I Ate Wednesday. On Saturday, I got to go again to BaconFest Chicago. Yup, you read that correctly. An entire festival on bacon. Local chefs prepare and serve small plates that have to feature bacon. There are even cocktails, wines and beers that are bacon based (like the Bakon Margarita with a Baconsalt rim made by The Drum and Monkey, which everyone said was awesome but I somehow missed). If I counted correctly, there were about 82 different booths in total. It’s an absolutely wonderful event, super well organized, although you will go home feeling so full that you might be sick.
Last year I also wrote up a post with a few pictures of some of my favorite (and least favorite) dishes. This year I was more prepared. Managed to take decent photos of everything I tasted. And tried to take notes. Although I still don’t know how food critics do it. Trying to take photos, take notes, AND eat everything within the few hours you have is really challenging.
Thanks Jenn for hosting What I Ate Wednesday. If anyone lives in San Francisco or Washington,DC I highly recommend checking out the BaconFest in your city.
OK so where to begin? Probably with Belly Q which was one of my (and Jake’s) favorites. Belly Q is a “modern Asian barbecue” place on the near west side of Chicago. Chef Bill Kim made a bacon Kimchi Dumpling.
Jake and I decided to walk through the tables left to right, so this was actually one of the last dishes I tried. And I almost didn’t even bother. Until Jake told me that I had to make room. So happy that I did. Sad part is, it was so good, that all I managed to write down in my notes was “good!” Oops #bloggerfail. But I did read that Belly Q has a Double Smoked Bacon & Kimchi Hot Pot on their dinner menu that I am very excited to try in the future.
Small Bar actually has a couple locations. The one on Division was the one at BaconFest. They did a small “bacon cookie and parsnip fluff ‘moon pie’ with salt chocolate.” I did appreciate that it was just a bite. So many booths had ridiculously large portions and it’s imposible to get through all of them. However, I just wasn’t that impressed with the taste. I love dark chocolate but I felt like their moon pie was missing either salt or something sweet. Was just a bit too dark /heavy for me.
Firecakes is a donut place on the north side. Originally I was going to pass on their dish but ended up having half of Jake’s. Definitely took me by surprise. They made a maple glazed pineapple and bacon donut. I honestly was expecting it to be too sweet and/or stale. Boy was I wrong. It was light and fluffy, sweet but super subtle. And the good news is you can get this donut at Fireakes daily. So if you want something a lot better than Dunkin’, go check them out.
It was a little tricky trying to take a photo of J Lafayette Catering Company’s plate. They offered a “New Orleans style bacon bread pudding – sweet cayenne gastric bacon and drageed pecans, with a shot bacon horchata with micro mint.” Whoa. Just whoa. First off, that’s a pretty impressive name they gave it. Second, it definitely deserves an impressive name. So many flavors hit my mouth at the same time. It was spicy and sweet all at once. The only thing I could have done without was the horchata. To me it just tasted like milk and I didn’t even bother finishing it.
Another one that I appreciated was only a bite. One North Kitchen and Bar gave a Pork Belly Adobe. Sadly, this one was way over salted. I get that it’s pork belly and a lot of times that can be salty, but I’m almost positive it was actually from the peas on the bottom. Kind of not surprised considering their yelp reviews aren’t that great…
N9NE Steakhouse was one that I actually circled ahead of time as wanting to try. They offered a “topless bacon & steak slider on brioche with picked pepper horseradish cream sauce and microgreens.” Anything that says horseradish or cream sauce and I’m there. But what impressed me the most was just how tender the steak was. I’ve never been to their restaurant and this might have convinced me I need to head over there.
Uncle Bub’s BBQ decided to go a different route. They had “thick-cut bacon candied with a secret blend of sugars and spices, then topped with a salted caramel sauce.” To be completely honest, I’m so not a fan of candied bacon. It’s nearly always way too sweet. But I decided to give it a try anyway. Wow. Seriously. It was sweet but wasn’t overpowering at all. And they were giving out temporary tattoos, which Jake immediately put on. Well played Uncle Bub’s.
OK last one for now. Lockwood Restaurant at The Palmer House Hilter won “Most Creative Use of Bacon” for their “slow poached egg with bacon ragout, bacon dashi and nori.” And honestly, I wasn’t surprised at all. That was exactly what I told Jake when we were tasting it. With the spoon, you broke up the egg yolk and mixed it with the other ingredients. I loved how fun it was.
Alright so I’m doing some counting and I think I’m going to have to continue this in a BaconFest Chicago Recap Part Two tomorrow. I promise I didn’t review all 82, but I do still want to mention two of my top favorites of the day. Saving them for tomorrow.