Here’s another of my ideas for amping up Elk Grove: Let’s have a food festival. No, not one of those where scout troops sell baked goods or a service club holds a crab feed (though those are great, too). What I’m proposing is a festival that highlights Elk Grove’s place in the farm-to-table culinary world. Local cooking talent would use locally-sourced ingredients to create some dishes which we, the local residents, would eat.
I got this idea a couple of weeks ago when I went to the inaugural BaconFest Sacramento 2012. It was a three-day event that took place at several venues in Midtown, including Luigi’s Slice Fungarden, Magpie Cafe, Pangaea Two Brews Cafe and The Golden Bear. Each offered customers an experience in which bacon was the star. Luigi’s, for example, made Friday night 'Kevin Bacon Tribute Night' and served a special bacon supreme pizza and "bacon in beer," which basically consists of pieces of the good stuff floating in beer. All of the establishments were, in the words of BaconFest co-organizer Nick Miller, “insanely busy.”
Sunday afternoon the BaconFest moved to Patrick Mulvaney’s B&L Next Door, where for $20 festival goers got to feast on endless trays of bacon finger foods, drink bacon beer and cider and watch the first ever BaconFest Chefs Competition. Local chefs, including Mulvaney, competed for the title King of the Swine. The celebrity judges—Chris Macias of the Sacramento Bee among them—awarded the title to Grange executive sous chef Brad Cecchi for his Bacon Cheddar Biscuit with Canadian Bacon, Brussel Sprout Slaw with Bacon Fat dressing and Bacon Jam. (Chef Brad was gracious enough to share his recipe for the Bacon Jam, which was good enough to eat on its own with a spoon, with Elk Grove Patch.)
What, you may ask, is with all this bacon? The short answer is: Who doesn’t love bacon? The long answer is: Bacon in all its forms is currently the star of the culinary world. It’s all part of the farm-to-table movement, which promotes locally-sourced, independently-produced ingredients. That Sacramento has such a wealth of these ingredients is what led to BaconFest.
Brian Guido, who along with Nick Miller came up with the idea, talks about the abundance of natural resources in the Sacramento area. “I’m a social butterfly,” he says, explaining his knowledge of the local food scene, “and I like to eat.” He heard about bacon festivals in the midwest and thought it was definitely something that could be done in Sacramento. “We have a lot of local [culinary] talent here and a lot of them make their own bacon,” Guido says.
The two men, who hatched the plan hanging out over beers at a rock show, are proud that their only out-of-pocket cost was the $13 for the King of the Swine trophy. The success of the event is “a testament to Facebook and Twitter,” Miller said. Social media was responsible for the huge crowds that made each event of the BaconFest a standout. Luigi’s sold out of all their bacon pizza, and Pangaea had their biggest night ever.
So, could we do something similar here in Elk Grove? Why not? We have the culinary talent and we certainly have a wealth of locally-sourced ingredients. All it takes is someone to organize it. Any volunteers?
Brad’s Award-Winning Bacon Jam
1 pound bacon - Brad cures his own but he says any bacon will do
1 pound yellow onions
1 quart chicken stock
1 C brown sugar
Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook it in a heavy skillet over a low fire so that the fat starts to melt. Slice the onions and cook along with the bacon until the onions are carmelized. Add the chicken stock. Stir in the brown sugar. Cook mixture slowly, stirring occasionally, until it has been reduced by half. Allow to cool and then puree the mixture in a blender. Voila! Bacon Jam to serve on bread or biscuits.