"Awesome!" A Blog.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bedding and Breakfasting with the Bohemians

The woman on the telephone returned from her revels in the ether long enough to affirm that yes, they did serve hot breakfast in the lobby of their beach town B&B, although it wasn’t, in spite of the place’s Germanic title, a proper German breakfast. To hear her tell it, their “all-American” breakfast was actually quite popular with the Europeans who were attracted to the place by its multilingual website.

So, hard-boiled eggs, cheeses, and great fanned trays of sliced leberkäse would not be mine, but at least I would be fed and offered coffee within twenty feet of my pillow the morning after the wedding we would be attending, which meant the residents of this hidden seaside community would be spared my chartreuse visage at least until checkout.

Feeling tentatively alive on the morning after my old friend’s nuptial bash, I slipped downstairs and surveyed the promised buffet. A cereal bowl of scrambled eggs, a picked-over Pyrex brownie pan with a few cubes of unctuous home fries, and a suspiciously full crock of sautéed hot dog slices (cool to the touch) seemed to apologize for themselves from a sideboard which also featured a disused toaster and a photograph of an Italian.

I lifted a red disposable Dixie cup off the stack by the coffee urn, and then jumped a little when I saw a name Sharpied on it. Upon closer inspection, all of the Dixie cups revealed the telltale droplets of having been run through a dishwasher.

My wife wasn’t having any of my leaving-the-room shenanigans, so I wandered out into the bright morning sun alone. A strong, handsome white pit bull sat in the middle of the quiet road and gave me a sleepy smile that seemed to suggest he’d been out late at a little doggie wedding of his own the night before. A block further was a café offering a Bellini for four dollars, so I strode in, placed my order, and appreciated the funky little town for being exactly what it was: the sort of place where a tired man can afford to buy a dog a drink on a Sunday morning.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bacon No. 8 (Retrofill Comes Later)

Bacon no. 8 is "North Country Cob Smoked Bacon," and it's a welcome throwback to my first and favorite shipment, Father's, in that it is a thick, smoky, down and dirty slice of meat. To touch it raw with your fingertip and then bring the digit slowly to your nose is to be wrestling in a dusty logging camp alongside a buried row of ember-lidded Dutch ovens. Grizzled lumberjacks clap and holler, and great gallon growlers of forest-temperature steam beer are hoisted and drained in a minute by groups of three, as you and your opponent plant your worn jack boots against each new body blow. North Country is every bit as American as Tom Sawyer lighting a corncob pipe off a tightly rolled Indian treaty, with a flavor depth you'll never find in the supermarket. To discover these smoky climes, unfortunately, requires aggressive consumer action. Again, please refer to the Grateful Palate if in search of exceptional bacon.

We'll talk more about what I've done with North Country in a later post. It's time to come clean with my most consistent bacon epiphany, if I can even call it that any more:

Bacon is at its best by itself, eaten like a long potato chip, while standing over whatever you used to drain it. It doesn't seem to take or want help from other ingredients.

Think about it: the product hits on almost all cylinders when simply rendered and left to rest a minute or less. Sweet, salty, smoky, rich, fatty, chewy, warm, multi-textural...a symphony to everything that our palates know to be right. What's going to do anything other than dilute that perfect experience? Is there any other foodstuff so well rounded? Put some seared foie gras on brioche next to a slice of properly smoked and seasoned bacon, and the liver will lose every time. We like chew, we like depth. We don't just want to eat meat butter. Anyone with an honest palate knows that we eat foie gras in front of people, but we want bacon when we are alone.

I've seen my dog growl and get nasty when we try to tickle her after we set down her bowl of manure pellets (or whatever it is we feed her) — but try pulling a piece of bacon out of my hand as I lift it to my mouth. I'd give my own mother a sharp elbow in the solar plexus, and I love her as much as any good son. This raises unpleasant questions about primacy and my character in general, but those among you who didn't feel a pang of sympathy just now, rise up and shuffle off. Bacon is as close as food gets to a narcotic, and, like marijuana, it's the sort of thing you really won't appreciate until you order special versions through the mail.