Bacon Week: Bacon vs. Fake Bacon

Bacon Week Logo

I have several vegan/vegetarian friends. No, really. I do.

Without fail, the thing they tell me they miss the most about the meat-eating lifestyle is one thing: bacon. When people come back to the fold (and by fold, I mean love handles), they invariably head straight for the porcine party, with bacon first on the list. But, these friends of mine, they’re not trendy veg-o-philes, following the latest trends. They’re lifers, and I care for them. I know they’re missing something wonderful, but I want to know they’re satisfied beyond the self-righteous, sleeping peacefully at night level. So I decided to walk a mile in their shoes, and give fake bacon a try. I know. I care too much.

Beeler’s Bacon vs. Fake ‘Smart’ Bacon

I went to Whole Foods at lunch and purchased Smart Bacon , which seems to be a widely available bacon substitute (oxymoron), and a pound of Beeler’s Hickory Smoked, Uncured, Thick-Sliced Bacon.

Bacon vs. Fake Bacon Cooking

Here’s the rundown.

  1. Bacon smells like bacon.
    Fake bacon smells like dog treats (specifically “Beggin’ Strips”)
  2. Bacon separates from other strips easily.
    Fake bacon crumbles into pieces and must be carefully pried apart.
  3. Fake Bacon Texture
  4. Bacon wrinkles as it cooks.
    Fake bacon remains flat.
  5. Bacon looks like bacon.
    Fake bacon looks like pepperoni.
  6. Bacon is made of pigs.
    Fake bacon is made of water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, textured soy protein concentrate, textured wheat gluten, and less than 2% of natural smoke flavor (uhh, what?), natural flavor (of …?), grill flavor (I hope it was a meatless grill, but then it would be flavorless …), carrageenan, evaporated cane juice, paprika oleoresin (also used in the thriving Hungarian canoe industry), potassium chloride, sesame oil, spice extractives, fermented rice flour (sake!) tapioca dextrin, citric acid and salt. Wow.
  7. Bacon has 9 grams of fat per serving.
    Fake bacon has 2 grams of fat per serving.
  8. Bacon cooks in 10 minutes.
    Fake bacon cooks in 3 – 4 minutes.
  9. Bacon tastes like bacon.
    Fake bacon tastes like a dry, salty sponge.
Dog Eating Fake Bacon

Conclusion: go with real bacon. The Smart Bacon was, frankly, not. A complete waste of $4, as I couldn’t finish more than a tiny bite – it had a weirdly over-processed texture and a single dimension of flavor: salt. But the dog was beggin’ for it.

I went with the real bacon and it was magical.


Bacon Week: Mo’s Bacon Bar

Bacon Week Logo

What’s the perfect afternoon snack for Bacon Week? Why, Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges Haut-Chocolate, of course. It’s delicious milk chocolate, with teensy weensy bits of applewood smoked bacon and alder wood smoked salt inside. It’s maybe the most delicious chocolate bar I’ve ever had, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges Haut-Chocolate

Here’s what my co-workers had to say:

  • Mark: Salty, crunchy, and a bit repulsive. should I have more?
  • Anton: I think I want more – but it could be the bacon chocolate talking.
  • Kevin: Sweet front, but with a lingering hint of bacon on the end. A delicate balance of sweet milk chocolate and salty pork belly.
  • Thom: I can feel my arteries hardening with delight.

Dennis Leary had this routine about crack cocaine. I’m probably butchering it, but it went something like, “Only in America would a guy invent crack. Only in America would there be a guy that cocaine wasn’t good enough for…”

Mo’s Bacon Bar is kind of like that. It’s really, really good. Frankly, it’s probably too good. Like crack cocaine. Like Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayek in bed together. It can only lead to … more bacon-covered chocolate.

Bacon Week: Russian Dumplings + Bacon Salt

Bacon Week Logo

Editor’s Note: I got off to a bit of a slow start this morning with my bacon week plans … turns out my breakfast joint of choice is closed for the next 3 days for cleaning. As Thom says, “kinda makes you wonder how dirty it is if it takes three days to clean it.” Indeed. Thankfully, they have a second location on the east side of Portland, so I’ll hit it up tomorrow. First bacon opportunity of the day, then … lunch.

Several months ago, a friend sent me a link that I thought must be nonsense: An entire web site devoted to the sale of a mythical-sounding product in three flavors: original, peppered and hickory. Knowing what a crazy internet meme bacon has become (more on that later), I assumed it must be some kind of hoax. But, the little smoked piggy on my shoulder won out, and before I knew it, I was requesting some product to sample. A week later, I was the proud owner of 7.5 ounces of Bacon Salt. I’ll be trying it out all week, doing a little “before and after” with some of my favorite foods.

I work downtown, and typically avail myself of cart food whenever possible. It’s cheap, fast, and you can eat your way around the world, with offerings from Japan, Thailand, Yugoslavia, Mexico, Greece … It’s the United Nations of Food. There used to be a Russian cart nearby that used bacon as a condiment. Unfortunately, (and this is bacon fail number two, if you’re playing from home) it’s closed and gone the way of dodo bacon (mmm, extinct bacon). There is a replacement Russian cart, though, and one with deliciously bland dumplings. That is, until you add … Bacon Salt.

Dumplings Before Bacon Salt

Before Bacon Salt: doughy, meat-filled pasta with sour cream and green onions. Hot and slimy delicious, in an inoffensive way.

After Bacon Salt (Original Flavor): Mmm, bacony. Russian food needs bacon like Putin needs vodka. The smoky, savoriness really rounds out the dumplings, and the salt’s bite brings out the contrast of the sweet, fresh-tasting scallions.

Verdict: Russian dumplings are much improved with Bacon Salt.

Stay tuned for more Bacon Salt tests as the week cures … er … develops …

Bacon Week Begins!

Just in time for BLT season here in Portland, the BS Brewing crew will be bringing you all the sweet porky goodness you can handle beginning tomorrow. We’ll be sharing some new recipes for making your own homemade bacon based on our popular post, trying some bacon-based products, reviewing several varieties of bacon, indulging in some liquid bacon, and just generally celebrating the cured-pork lifestyle. It’s a week you won’t want to miss, unless you have high cholesterol or a fear of teated meat.

Help us spread the word – use the below image on your favorite social networking site and help us spread the word!

BS Brewing Bacon Week Logo

The Bacon Week logo uses “Bring Home the Bacon” font created by something called “Font Nook.” The link for Font Nook seems to be expired, so if you’re the owner of this font, please let me know and I’ll credit you appropriately (and deliciously).