Shadyside's Harris Grill, infamous for its Tuesday Bacon Nights (free or cheap bacon as an appetizer/thirstizer) is pulling out all the stops Saturday when it brings in the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour.
This porkbellyapalooza will be hosted by Pittsburgh's own bacon blogger, Mr. Baconpants (at mrbaconpants.com), also known as Jason Mosley, plus BaconUnwrapped.com's Heather Lauer, author of the new book, "Bacon: A Love Story" (William Morrow, $17.99). The book, subtitled "A Salty Survey of Everybody's Favorite Meat," will be for sale and for signing, of course.
Bringing home the bacon -- artisan dry-cured bacon, no less -- will be sponsoring Vande Rose Farms, an acclaimed Iowa producer that is part of Des Moines' Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival that inspired this road-show version.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for the price of $30 and perhaps a few years off your lifespan, you can partake of this salty "celebration of all things bacon."
You get to eat a lot of bacon, straight up or cooked into an array of treats: Bacon Pierogi, Bacon Wrapped Shimp, Bacon Brittle, Bacon Wings, Bacon Sushi, Chicken Fried Bacon. And CoCo's Cupcake Cafe will be serving bacon cupcakes. You can even get in on a bacon-eating contest, in the afternoon. The person who can eat the most of 3 pounds of bacon in three minutes wins a Bacon Explosion, the product that Mr. Mosley describes as the peak of bacon's recent pop cultural ascendancy.
The sauced bomb of sausage (2 pounds) stuffed with and wrapped in bacon (2 pounds), the creation of the folks at bbqaddicts.com, early this year became an Internet sensation covered by just about every media outlet. The thing earned Jason Day and Aaron Chronister a six-figure book deal. (They're now selling a pre-cooked Explosion for $29.99 plus shipping.)
"They're trying to get it in stores," says Mr. Mosley, 27, who has been blogging about bacon now for seven years. He makes money on it now, too, via advertising, although he also has a day job doing Web and graphic design for a local nonprofit.
His nickname was inspired by a salad he once was served that was topped with two strips of bacon that looked like a little pair of pants. He does have a pair of bacon pants that he made himself -- and yes, he'll be wearing them Saturday.
Mr. Mosley, of Bellevue, also runs StartupPittsburgh.com, which chronicles the local entrepreneurial scene, and just this month launched the local news and culture site pittsburghobserver.com, an "alt daily" he does with more than a dozen writer friends.
But his heart is really into ... well, you know. He and his friend Sean Brett are working on a documentary on the Des Moines bacon fest, which this summer also went on the road to Phoenix and Nampa, Idaho. Here, Mr. Mosley is co-emcee. "It's really just a celebration of the food. I'm not the center of attention. The bacon is."
He says some attendees -- 30 or 40 are expected -- are bringing their own bacon recipes, such as Elvis Cookies (with peanut butter, banana and -- yep).
"Bacon lovers are kinda weird," he says. "They want to share their love."
The Harris Grill expects to make a killing by quadrupling its drink prices for the thirsty throng.
Not really, but it's a good idea, don't you think?
Your ticket -- available at BaconNation.net -- includes two domestic beers or well drinks. Plus, this just in: the Three Rivers Underground Brewers, or TRUB, will offer samples of their home brew.
Harris Grill is at 5747 Ellsworth Ave. (412-362-5273 and harrisgrill.com).
Read more on the tour at blueribbonbaconfestival.com.
This appetizer comes from the forthcoming "Cooking the Cowboy Way: Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons and Ranch Kitchens" by Grady Spears with June Naylor (Andrews McMeel, $29.99). Maybe goat cheese doesn't sound so cowboy-y, but the Texas restaurateur says he rustled these up for a Calgary, Alberta, Canada rancher couple's housewarming party "and their guests went crazy over it."
-- Bob Batz Jr.
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 20 strips good-quality, thick-cut slab bacon
- 1/2 cup goat cheese at room temperature
In a medium bowl, combine the sugars with the pepper, mixing until well blended. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or quick-release foil and spread the sugar mixture over the sheets. Press one strip of bacon at a time into the sugar mixture, then flip it over to coat the other side. Place the bacon strips side by side on the sugar as you finish, to form a single layer in the pan.
Repeat with the remaining bacon on the other cookie sheet. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is darkened and cooked through. Remove sheets from oven and let cool for 5 to 7 minutes.
Once the bacon has cooled and hardened, cut the strips in half and top each with a dollop of goat cheese.
-- "Cooking the Cowboy Way" by Grady Spears with June Naylor (Andrews McMeel,($29.99)
Bob Batz Jr. can be reached at email@example.com and 412-263-1930.