*GUEST BLOG POST BY LINDSAY HARTSOCK
Rejoice in your right to life, liberty and Bacon… they couldn’t have put this any better! The Great American Bacon Festival hosted by Chicago’s premier event production company, Red Frog Events did an amazing job. Held in the famous Daniel Burnham’s beautifully designed Union Station’s Great Hall, with the impressive ionic columns, marble floors, and intricate ceiling, this was a fitting venue to hold a great American festival.
How can you not enjoy a meal, side dish, snack or treat made with Bacon? Not only are Neal and I major bacon lovers, did you know 1.7 billion pounds of bacon are consumed each year.
Neal, my boyfriend and I, were excited to have this opportunity to try and expand our palette for bacon with all this event had to offer. Not only from tasting various dishes with bacon, we also watched a butchering demonstration of how we get each cut of meat. It was unexpectedly interesting…
As we tried to hit up each stand, there were several which kept us going back for 5ths and 6ths. Yes,6ths! Let me give you a little run down on so many of the offerings provided at The Great American Bacon Festival.
Quinoa and Bacon – This was a light, healthier and delicious side dish. For those of you who love quinoa, it can be so simple with fresh cut baby tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, bacon and a touch of pepper. The bacon gave this just the right amount of saltiness. Neal who doesn’t like Quinoa ate the entire dish if that tells you anything. Now you know how I’ll convince him to eat quinoa with me.
Ancho Chili Bacon – Let me say AMAZING. Who doesn’t like meat on a stick? This was so simple which we will definitely be trying to replicate this at home. A mix of Ancho chili and sugar rubbed bacon and cooked to perfection. It was almost like eating jerky, however better, not hard to chew, with just the right flavor. This had a wonderful smoky flavor, but not overpowering with a little sweetness…. Delicious!
Sushi Wrapped Bacon – First of all, let me say one of my most favorite things to eat is sushi! On a regular basis I crave not only Sushi but bacon and chicken wings and when I say regularly, I means every day (yes I have a problem). Using a California roll, instead of rolling this in sesame seeds they rolled this in crispy bacon. Brilliant idea, right? This was an interesting mix with great flavor.
Chicken, Bacon and Swiss Bites – If you love small sammies, you would have enjoyed this sandwich. Start with a warm pretzel bun, add a piece of juicy chicken, crispy bacon, swiss cheese, a slice of tomato and mayo. Simple and delicious!
Candied Bacon Brownies with Walnuts – WOW! So neither Neal nor I are big chocolate eaters. We never have chocolate in the house; Yes some of you might think we’re crazy. This was the best (let me emphasis, THE BEST) brownie we have ever had, hands down! It was smooth, creamy, the chocolate flavor itself wasn’t overpowering but just right and all around, delicious. This was baked perfectly with a hot fudge topping and sprinkled with crispy bacon and walnuts. We went back for… I think 6ths… I lost count. Seriously, unbelievable!
Bacon Bar – A great idea of providing several simple treats with bacon… bacon trail mix, bacon caramel corn, maple glazed bacon, hickory smoked bacon.
Pork Rinds – This was a really wonderful surprise. If you’ve ever had pork rinds out of a bag, this treat put all your previous pork rings to shame. Thick, crunchy, crispy and salty… it was like eating thicker chips with a lot more flavor.
Smoked Gouda and Bacon Mac and Cheese – This amazing little dish was served up in crispy Parmesan cheese bowls. This is an all American dish if I’d say so. The noodles were cooked perfectly, the Gouda gave it such a smooth cheesy flavor and the bacon added a little saltiness that brought this to the next level. The mac and cheese did not disappoint.
Smokey Bacon Chili – This was a flavor explosion! There were 5 different types of meat from chorizo, pancetta, ground pork, bacon (of course) and I believe they included ham. Add a splash of tomatoes, onions, garlic and you get…. “This is by far the best chili I’ve ever had”. It had a touch of a smokey but not overpowering flavor and all the meat was cooked perfectly. This was definite a 3rds and 4ths type of trip to get more.
Elvis Waffle Bites– Using a simple American breakfast staple, waffles topped with a peanut butter mouse and bananas created new twist to breakfast. The sweetness from the peanut butter and banana was well balanced with the saltiness of the bacon to make for a really nice and surprisingly different treat.
The Baconator – Who doesn’t love a juicy cheeseburger? This was one amazing burger topped with really well cooked, crispy bacon. Simple and Delicious.
Bacon S’mores – A light chocolate mousse topped with a marshmallow fluff and lightly torched. All served within a pie crust that was so perfectly presented and topped with bacon. I could have ate 10 of these! They were delightful light, sweet and salty creating a desert all in one bite.
Overall, from the moment we stepped in, there was a multitude of flavors Neal and I loved. From the great atmosphere, music, drink selection and wonderful hosts, this is definitely an event I would recommend to anyone.
I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.