This past Saturday Hormel Sponsored the "Bacon Takedown." I went in not knowing really what to expect other than I'd be consuming LOTS of bacon. For $15, you got a ballot, plate, fork and the chance to taste 16 items from home cooks all revolving around bacon. I have to say I wasn't sure why the word takedown was used? It doesn't exactly ring but by the end of the event I knew exactly what it referred to...more on that in a bit.
In the downstairs main floor of Lincoln Hall, we found the first bites to be had. The first couple items were two bacon popcorns - one had maple syrup. There was an empanada, bacon wrapped date with risotto, English muffin with bacon and gruyere, Ritz with bacon jam and some spicy, bacon hot chocolate.
As I was getting everything on my plate, a couple came up to the English muffin guy and said, "Yours was awesome. We're voting for you." Cheap paper plate getting heavy, I thought I'll get this out of the way quick - down in one. What a MISTAKE? It was pure grease and bacon. My stomach immediately went in to lockdown mode. At defcon 4, I knew I was not going to win.
I then tried the "spicy bacon hot chocolate" as not to walk with a small cup and hot liquid while we looked for a table. Um, it was swiss miss like cocoa and I didn't taste bacon or spice! I sensed a trend... Grabbing a table, I immediately ordered a coke to hopefully settle my stomach. First, I tried the maple bacon popcorn or should I call it GUM. It was sweet and chewy with chunks of bacon lost in all of it. The second bacon popcorn was equally wet. GROSS! I know appreciate when I watch Top Chef and Tom Colicchio spits things out. Next, I tried the bacon wrapped date with balsamic glaze. Shockingly good even if it's not something new it was done correctly! He was just lucky it wasn't a risotto tasting. With trepidation I went for the last of the ground floor bites bacon jam on ritz. At this point, I was tasting not eating the whole thing. Strategy proved out since this too made me suck down half my coke. If it wasn't 2pm I would have ordered the cheapest well vodka to try and sear off the taste left in my mouth.
As I mentally digested what I was subjecting my digestive system to, I thought of a classic lesson that I thought perhaps related only to ice cream. If you don't know and taste a flavor of ice cream, you should know what it is. If not, keep adding flavor until I can taste it with my eyes closed. The lack of bacon flavor was striking and the lack of salt with a bacon dish was even more shocking.
With hesitation, I knew I had to complete the bacon gauntlet and headed upstairs. I loaded up on - brussel sprouts and bacon, Sow-moa cookie with bacon, candied toffee bacon, bacon ginger snap, bacon shortbread, bacon LEEK quiche, applejack and rice krispy treat with bacon and a bacon donut!
The following while good had NOOOOO bacon taste - ginger snap, shortbread and the donut. The donut was good because it was fried. At this point, I'm thinking did ANYONE taste what they had made or had someone else taste it? If so maybe they all smoke so much they have no clue! The bacon brussel sprouts were dry and needed an ocean of salt. Sow-moa had a hint of bacon but came across as too sweet. Candied toffee bacon was ok but with better execution and presentation it may have been better. The quiche while good was overpowering with onion flavor. Finally, the applejack, rice krispy thing wasn't much with bacon flavor and seemed greasy making me think it was dipped in bacon fat.
My stomach continued to churn and the decision for me needed to be made. The group I dragged all went with the bacon wrapped date. As we left, the takedown name became apparent. It took me down till Sunday morning. Pepto once I got home didn't seem to help much either.
I can safely say if there is a second "takedown" I will not be attending. I was hoping for some crazy bacon gear but no just a set of home cooks doing their best. I just checked on line and the "guest" winner was the Bacon English Muffin while the judges chose the Sow-moa Cookies.
I'm not sure what I missed but perhaps it was a munchies thing. Anyway, I was surprised at the amount of sweet items with bacon versus savory. For me I would have gone savory perhaps a sandwich with bacon and a bacon fat mayo.
If you only do one "Bacon" event a summer or year, save up your chits and time and go to Baconfest, sorry takedown. I'd rather spend the dosh eating from professionals then punishing my body. And for all the hate comments, I ask you. Would you rather go to an event sponsored by Hormel or Nueske's?