By Angel Johnston
When I sat down to write this article about the Bacon & Beer Festival I was thinking it wasn’t going to be hard. It’s bacon and beer after all, it’s the easiest thing in the food world to write about, but then I started thinking about all the vendors and what a difficult road lay ahead of me deciding which ones to feature. Contenders brought the business this year with their bacon melodies, but there were only a few serving up originality that won me over most.
I had to start with No Va Kitchen & Bar because they incorporated both the bacon and beer in the theme of the dish and that scores huge with me. They served up a bacon and beer bread, toasted oh so perfectly, with a beer & bacon cheese fondu. You’d think it would be too much on the bacon side of things, but you’d be wrong. They told me they change their menu seasonally and were thinking about serving the bacon and beer bread and I vote hands down they do that. Soon.
Frank is next up on my list of favorite bacon medleys. Their tiny bacon wrapped weenie was an obvious favorite, but I fell in love with the pork belly jam served on top. It was this sweet and savory addition that really balanced the saltiness of the dish. Washed down with the very tasty Envy from Circle Brewing Co, it was incredibly satisfying.
Last on my list, I’d like to highlight the amazing contribution from Greenhouse Craft Food. Their bacon chowder was creamy, palatable and hearty and scored high points for originality. There just wasn’t anything else like it. Words are failing me as I fantasize about eating another cup of that crazy amalgam. Paired with Independence Brewery’s newest pilsner, it was a perfect combo.
It’s crazy to find myself admitting the desserts were yummy. The market has been over saturated with salty, sometimes gross, bacon desserts, but the treats they served at the festival were what I found myself going back for time and again.
Amy’s stuck with the tried and true stout ice cream alongside the caramel bacon swirl, which was good, but I was hunting for something new and exciting. Like a bird of prey, my talons hooked into the bacon graham cracker s’mores from Snack Bar with house made toasted marshmallows, it was absolutely divine, and the stout ice cream sandwich from St. Philip.
The latter dessert was the winner in my heart and my belly! I had the chefs quirking their eyebrows at me as if to say, “Again? Really?” With absolutely no shame I gobbled another one of those creamy stout ice creams, drizzled with bacon caramel and sandwiched between a double chocolate bacon cookie. They paired so well with the Sputnik from Austin Beerworks and I couldn’t stop eating them. St. Philip, which has been open just shy of three months, has got me excited to try more of their menu by the genius of that dessert alone
I left the bacon and beer festival, satisfied in my resolve to never eat salt again. Who am I kidding? It was bacon again the next morning, right away, because I am a beast.