Monday, February 18, 2013

The Bacon & Bourbon Expo NYC 2013


So how did you spend your Valentine’s Day this year?  Enjoy a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant?   Go out to see a romantic movie?  Spend an evening for two at home with your partner?  Well, I spent my Valentine’s Day with not one but two of my loves – bacon and bourbon at The Astor Center of New York City!

FrontYes, the annual Bacon & Bourbon Expo was held on Valentines Day at The Astor Center this year – and while some of you may think that the scheduling was a mistake, many of us thought that the timing was nothing short of perfect (in fact, the event sold out rather quickly – the VIP tickets were gone literally in a matter of hours). 

BackLet’s start off by talking about all of that delicious bacon …

The above graphic shows you something of a map of an Artisanal Bacon Tasting plate attendees were offered on that evening.  I’ve tried to somewhat reproduce it below so you could get something of an idea what the cooked product looked like before I shoveled it down my quivering gob. 

Bacon1My favorites on the evening were  Benton’s Hickory Smoked Bacon from Madisonville, TN (B) and Petit Jean Meats Peppered Bacon out of Morrilton, AK (E).  Benton’s was cooked to a crispy crunch and made its texture stand out far beyond all of the others.  As for Petit Jean, the peppered flavor really hits you on the back of the palate and adds considerably to its savory taste.  If you can find these either at a store or online, I highly recommend you invest in a purchase and cook them up for yourself. 


We were also offered a bacon hotdog, but I was considerably less enthusiastic about that; smothered in lettuce and tomato, I personally found both the hotdog and the bacon to be undercooked – the bacon I thought was somewhat gummy and the hotdog had no snap to its bite.  Almost like trying to chew into taffy, I found my teeth pulling onto the bacon in order to snap off a piece.  Also, the bacon and the hotdog appeared to be cooked separately and the strip merely laid on top of the frankfurter; it would have been much better if the bacon had been wrapped around the frank and have the both of them cooked together, preferably by grilling. 


And now, on to the bourbon …

4RosesA25 Among the more pleasant surprises of the evening was  Four Roses, who displayed three expressions of their bourbon, all of them quite unique and tasty.  One of the things I found rather refreshing about this manufacturer was the fact that they were quite open about their recipes, unlike some other companies. 

4RosesB25At other bourbon tastings I’ve attended, I found quite a few manufacturers to be unreasonably clandestine with respect to their recipes; not so with Four Roses – in fact, they proudly provided a recipe card so tasters could follow along with each sample they tried, which I appreciated considerably.

The other bourbon that was a highlight of the evening was Jim Beam’s Red Stag – both their Honey Tea and Spiced – as well as their Devil’s Cut.

Beam25Although they served these bourbons in cocktails, they are absolutely worth trying on their own.   Devil’s Cut has the highest alcohol content and is definitely a good sipping bourbon.  The Red Stag Spiced is infused with cinnamon flavor and was certainly a welcome comfort on this chilly night.  Lastly, the Honey Tea should not be mistaken as being a liqueur – infused with honey, its alcohol content is a rather respectable 80 proof. 

One final noteworthy point:  Makers Mark had a rather nice and expansive setup with multiple bartenders mixing cocktails, but I intentionally boycotted their table because of the fact they had previously announced they would be watering down their bourbon which would lower its alcohol content.  At the time of this writing, however, they have announced that they are rescinding their previous statement and will continue to make their spirit 90 proof.  Just as The Good Lord intended it to be. 



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