Co-owner and Pastry-Conceptualist at All The Best Fine Foods, Sue Merry says the idea came upon her in a flash of December seasonal affective disorder one morning last week: bacon butter tarts. Who can argue with that?
Merry quickly got in touch with ATB pastry chef Mario Totaro, who brought on board head chef Nicole Rumball, and soon large amounts of sugar were being baked with double-smoked Berkshire pork belly.
There are no raisins in the bacon butter tarts at All The Best. The filling is smooth and sugary. The pastry, which is shaped as a square (perhaps to distinguish it from regular, baconless versions) is light and crumbly. The palate is hit first with familiar sweetness. One thinks, aha a delicious butter tart. Then, things get weird. A chewy, meaty morsel presents itself to a molar. Rippling through the butter and sucrose comes a wave of salt, then smoke and finally porcine umami. It’s bad, but it’s good.
Where the bacon butter tart sits in gastronomic schedule is unclear. Is it too salty for desert? It’s too sweet for anything but the end of a meal, I think. So, maybe it’s own thing: a snack. Or, bacon has the distinction of being one of the few meats that pairs well (at least by convention) with coffee, so its place might be at the breakfast table. It could also be something one eats alone, secretly and away from judging eyes. Experiments must be made, and the results shared…
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
The baker at 13th Street winery has been doing this for a while and has a local following as I found out when I visited at the end of November. Said locals turning up to pick up their pies and killer bacon butter tarts.