Sunday, April 25, 2010

Boston Bacon and Beer Festival '10

Who doesn't love bacon and beer? Ok, to be honest, me. I only like half of the equation that made up @eatboston and SoWa Sunday's Boston Bacon and Beer Festival, but that didn't stop me from loving every minute of the event.

The event was held at the fantastic SoWa Power Station, a giant shell of a building with towering ceilings - I wouldn't want to be anywhere near this place when the zombie apocalypse happens, but it's definitely a great spot for an event. The line curved down the street, but it progressed fairly quickly - nothing could keep me away from the bacon.

Inside, there were dozens of restaurants and beer breweries set up on folding tables. It was odd to see which tables had huge lines and which had no wait at all. I ignored the beer tables all together - in fact, I think I lost my cup in my bag within only a few minutes - and focused on the food.

  • The Symphony branch of Whole Foods Market was serving up a crispy piece of thick-cut bacon topped with homemade pimento cheese. The bacon was perfectly cooked, and the cheese - oh the cheese. I'd make it at home to go on my homemade pretzels.

  • The Gallows, a restaurant that is soon to open in the former Sage space on Washington Street, had my favorite item of the day - bacon chex mix (above and here). Popcorn popped in bacon fat, chex cereal, pretzels, peanuts, and bacon pieces tossed in a sweet and salty glaze. I could (and probably would) eat a whole bowl of this stuff. Pure heaven. I can't wait to see what their kitchen can turn out once they open.

  • I can't remember where I grabbed this little BLT from, but it was decent if not terribly special.

  • Chocolate-covered bacon from Trina's Starlite Lounge left me wanting. The chocolate to bacon ratio was way off. It left me wanting some candied bacon.

  • Turner Fisheries had a beautiful display of fresh scallops with bacon, parsley, and tomatoes. I loved seeing all the open scallop shells as the chef took the lid off the pot. I thought the bacon flavor got a little lost, though - not my favorite.

  • The South End Buttery's display was filled with pictures of dogs (the theme of their restaurant), so it took me a minute to figure out what they were serving. I was handed a beautiful bacon stout mini cupcake, though, and was thoroughly impressed. Like I said, I don't like beer, but I found that the stout was in perfect balance with the chocolate and bacon, and it was actually moist(!) and had the right amount of salty and sweet.

  • Happy Pig Salumi, a local artisanal sausage maker, served up pieces of gin-infused bacon, one of their many speciality flavors. There's no liquor in the bacon, but it is infused with the same botanicals as gin, like juniper and anise. So tasty.

  • Myers + Chang had a bacon version of a dish that is often found on their menu - the banh mi. The soy-glazed bacon was thick cut and both crunchy and chewy. As with typical banh mi, there were pickled carrots (daikon too?), cilantro, a light mayo spread, and a whole ton of spicy peppers. It's hard to order a banh mi when it costs more than $3 (like the ones at Pho Viet), but I'd be willing to try one on my next visit to M+C.

  • The milkshake cart from b.good was in attendance, whipping up bacon chocolate milkshakes. Read that again - bacon chocolate milkshakes. These things were magical. Clearly, bacon plus chocolate equals LOVE.

  • Atwood's Tavern had a bit of a line, and it was clear why. Their maple-glazed breakfast buns were fantastic and would probably be the best cure ever for a hangover. The light and fluffy bun itself tasted a lot like pancakes with their maple glaze, and they were stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese. Definitely not your typical egg and bacon sandwich.

  • Bacon-stuffed pretzel bites from a place that I can't remember now were good but not amazing. Maybe the next time I make pretzels, I should stuff them with bacon? And serve them with the homemade pimento cheese from Whole Foods?

  • Gaslight, which shares a parking lot with the event's location, served up beignets in a mustard dipping sauce. I wasn't entirely sure where the bacon was - I'm assuming it was in the fried dough, but I wasn't really reading it. It was a good beignet nonetheless.

  • I found the bacon and bourbon brownie sundae from Union to be almost inedible. The brownie was dry and tasted only of nuts - I'm assuming there was bacon in there somewhere...

  • Rocca, with new chef Tiffani Faison of Top Chef fame, served up bacon chips with hot sauce. This bacon was fried within an inch of its life, but it was even better for it. "Chip" is definitely the right word for these things - if they sold them in bags at the supermarket, we'd all be 20 pounds heavier.

  • This bacon and cheddar scone from I-can't-remember-where was alright, but it was ruined by a liberal dousing in warm apple sauce. Why?!

There were a few more places that I didn't try because the lines were too long or they just didn't sound good to me, but I was still full when I left. I even went back for seconds from the Gallows and b.good (the second mini shake might have put me over the edge). I thankfully left before it became too rowdy, as the food was running out but there seemed to be plenty of beer.

Overall, the event was a great success. I'm already looking forward to next year...


Boston Food Diary said...

I am right there with you! I didnt even take a beer cup! Great review- Im sorry I missed you!

Sarah said...

Great rundown! We had to miss this b/c we were on a Chocolate Tour of the South End (that didn't suck) but we got to taste the Buttery's contribution and I agree, they were scrumptious.

Anonymous said...

Awesome recap! And I agree - great event, although I must say I loved the chocolate covered bacon! That little BLT is from Stoddard's - that was one of the best things I ate that day.

Pam said...

Sorry to miss you too, Fiona!

Sarah, a chocolate tour doesn't sound like such a bad thing :) At least you got some bacon!

Thanks, Michelle. It's not that the BLT was bad, it just wasn't interesting enough to me. There were some very creative dishes there. And the chocolate-covered bacon is a great idea, my piece was just very heavy-handed with the chocolate - I could barely taste the bacon! I heard Taza also had chocolate-covered bacon (early on) - I would have liked to try theirs.