There is nothing so fine as a crisp piece of bacon. Does this beauty not look like translucent quartz lined with veins of glittering jewels?
This my friends, is a piece of Nueske’s smoked bacon, which is to quote RW Apple in the NYT, the beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of rashers. I looked them up online and ordered 8 pounds (well I had to in order to get free shipping). My kitties were very intrigued by the stack of 1 pound packages filled with velvety rich slices of porcine treasure.
Nueske’s has been making their bacon using the same family recipe for nearly a century and a half. They cure fresh slabs of belly in a mixtures of spices and brine it for at least 24 hours, hang for another day to dry, then it’s smoked over glowing Applewood embers for another 24 hours to give it a sweet, rich, smoky flavor. The process renders out a lot of the fat, leaving the bacon very lean and it’s surprising how little it shrinks when cooked. It made my kitchen smell like I have a wood-burning stove after I cooked it in the oven, seriously even Martha recommends cooking it in the oven!
With fortuitous timing, I was contacted last week by BevMo! (Beverages and More) inviting me to join them in celebrating Cabacon Day, the day between International Cabernet Day and National Bacon Day. They created their own new day called Cabacon, Cabernet Day + Bacon Day = most awesome day ever.
I couldn’t resist as I am indeed quite fond of both bacon and cabernet sauvignon and was intrigued to explore this unconventional combination, especially as I fresh from a food and wine pairing experience at Jordan Winery. BevMo! is the leading alcoholic beverage-lifestyle specialty retailer in the western United States, and they sent me three optimum bacon-pairing cabernets chosen by their resident wine expert, Wilifred Wong, along with their favorite BevMo! bacon goods.
I excitedly opened the care package then uncorked the three bottles of cabernet sauvignon to let them breathe. Since I am not very fluent on winespeak, I’m including the tasting notes from BevMo
Main & Geary ’10, ($17.95 at BevMo!) 91 PTS WILFRED WONG. Beautifully designed and elegant, the ultra-rich, yet not over-the-top ’10 Main & Geary Cabernet shows loads of ripe, black currants and cassis flavors. [me: kind of sour, wouldn't buy]
Athenaeum ’10, ($29.95) 91 PTS WILFRED WONG. A formidable red, the stately ’10 Athenaeum Cabernet solidifies the palate with black fruit and sweet tannins; a hint of oak stretches out in the finish. [me: on the sweet side, but I liked it]
Longhand ’11 ($24.95) 93 PTS WILFRED WONG. An absolute stunner, the exotic and enticing ’11 Longhand Cabernet breaks the mold; textured and complex; shows plums, boysenberries and dried orange peel. [me: yummy, I'd buy it over the others]
Then I opened up the two Mo’s milk chocolate and dark chocolate with bacon bar by Vosges and broke off pieces to sample. These chocolate bars are so wickedly addictive, studded with bits of smoky bacon and alder wood smoked salt which add crunchy bursts of salty flavor.
I went to a nearby BevMo! to purchase the Yancey’s Fancy Smoked Gouda with Bacon, with an included giftcard as local health laws prevented them sending me the cheese. It smelled amazing, deliciously smokey and studded with meaty bits of bacon. We were ready to CaBacon!
Nueske’s bacon is an elegant raised pinky kind of snack that is best eaten with your fingers, don’t try to pierce it with a fork or it will shatter. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the Yancy’s bacon studded cheese with all three wines. I liked the bacon studded milk chocolate best with the Long Hand (our favorite wine of the three), and the dark chocolate bar and bites of bacon with the fruity and acidic Main & Geary (which ranked as the lowest wine). Bacon was consumed throughout the tasting, as well as slices of baguette to clear the palate and Mr. K laughed at me saying I would enjoy bacon, cheese and chocolate with anything and I’m abashed to admit it is true…
And if you didn’t know, Nueske’s makes for the best BLT ever!
For next year’s Cabacon day, I’m going to find recipes featuring bacon, rather than bacon slices, which was too intensely flavored to really pair alone with Cabernet Sauvignon. I really enjoyed the wines when paired with the cheese or chocolate and even the BLT. Thanks @bevmo for the hookup!
p.s. Yancey’s Fancys has wine and beer pairing suggestions on their website here to go along with their cheese.