Good Food Revolution’s Jamie Drummond getting down to some serious bacon judging with Trevor Benson of OCTA.
What’s better than eating bacon on a Sunday morning? I’ll tell you what is… Eating 16 bacon dishes on a Sunday morning in the environs of one of the best Farmers’ markets in the city.
Last Sunday I was honoured to be be invited to judge the third annual Leslieville Farmers’ Market Baconfest: The Return Of The Brined Pork Belly.
Alongside Trevor Benson of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, Shucker extraordinaire Patrick McMurray of The Ceili Cottage, and culinary travel blogger Ayngelina Brogan of Bacon Is Magic, I spent a delightful couple of hours tasting bacon themed dishes from Mr. Spinners Functional Foods, Waffle Bar, Ying Ying Soy Foods, Hooked Inc, Le Papillon On the Park, The County General Riverside, Voulez Vous Cafe, Eastside Social, Rashers, Glas Wine Bar, Skin + Bones Wine Bar, Be Good Gelato, Sweet Sammies, and Earth and City.
Below you’ll find a pictorial account of the day’s extremely bacony proceedings.
Pulled Pork in a Bun with Coleslaw and Crumbled Bacon came in as the first contender courtesy of Le Papillon on The Park, and it was most satisfying for this hungry judge, although the bun was a wee bit soggy, and the coleslaw could have done with some more bite.
A real winner from the County General Riverside, smoked pork belly with bacon-onion jam, drunken sour cherries and triple-crunch mustard… really rather good and took second place. I could have eaten a few more of these…
Rashers presented a simple bacon sarnie, with British style bacon and a homemade brown sauce… a bit of a pity they put it on a generic Ace Bakery bun, but it was still extremely tasty. The queue at their Farmers’ Market booth was crazy! The best bacon sarnie I have had in a long time.
This chowder from the Eastside Social was a bit of a let down for me, and it didn’t really look too appealing either… despite the fact that they had brought in a smoker especially for this event to make the bacon. The bacon was good, but the soup itself a little lacklustre. Not my favourite.
Now this was amazing looking… seriously so. It was a pumpkin/squash stuff with what tasted like a bacon quiche… inventive that is for sure, but I did find it lacking in flavour a little. What a beauty though. Congrats to Mr Spinners Functional foods for such a pretty dish.
Waffle Bar served us up… yes, you guessed it, a waffle… but it was pretty delicious, it has to be said. We all admired the way that the bacon was cooked within the waffle itself. Even although I was getting full at this point I managed to eat the whole thing! Tasty, tasty, tasty.
Hmmmmm… Vegan Bacon from Earth and City? Well, it was a lot better than one would have imagined, made from dried eggplant. The texture of this little dish was superb, but the flavours just didn’t cut it for me.
Chef Kai from City Gourmet served up this really delicious corn chowder that got the day off to a cracking start. There were some seriously deep flavours in this. Most impressive. I marked this rather highly but unfortunately my fellow judges didn’t feel the same way.
Not having much of a sweet tooth I was actually surprised just how highly I scored this delightful offering from Sweet Sammies of Maple Bacon Ice Cream Sandwiched between two Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wow, was this bacony! Upon consulting with the other three judges it transpired that we had all scored this entry head and shoulders above the rest, and that is why Sweet Sammies took the first prize.
Voulez Vous Cafe were the second last entry that we had the pleasure to taste, and their take on the bacon sandwich was really rather good… with smoked pork belly with bacon-onion jam, drunken sour cherries and triple-crunch mustard. Yes please! And at the end of the day they came in with third place.
Yes, this does look like a couple of used Band Aids on a stick, but the flavour of Ying Ying Soy Foods’ tofu bacon was exquisite… and surprisingly bacon-like, especially with the filling of white mushroom that added a “fatty” texture to the stuff. We all scored this pretty damn highly, but for fear of upsetting the other competitors we decided to give this an honourable mention.
I really don’t know what to say about this… even the word Dorito makes me feel a little nauseous, and so this in-bag taco from Glas Wine Bar made me feel ill. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way… Sorry lads! Even looking at this picture after the fact makes me feel a bit queasy.
Now this Bacon Croquette from Skin + Bones was actually rather good, and really nicely Bacony. I could have crunched my way through a stack of these. Unfortunately my fellow judge Ayngelina Brogan wasn’t having any of it as she found the peach chutney a bit flat, and so consensus to push this forward was never formed. Ah well…
So the super-talented Chef Alex Molix (ex of Toronto’s Farmhouse Tavern) is now the Chef-In-Residence at Stouffville’s Meadowsweet Farms, and he served up this smoked pork chop on top of some of the freshest and most vibrant herbs and greens that I have tasted in quite some time. Taste-wise this entry really did it for me, but as it fell short in the bacon side of things it lost a few points from all the judges. Really bloody good!
Hooked served us up some wonderful little bites of deep-fried goodness with their All Ontario Bacon & Fish Fritter with Bacon Mayonnaise. I was a fan of this but the deep fried entries were not so popular with the other judges. Must be my Scottish heritage, I suppose.
Be Good Gelato gave us all a sample of their Bacon and Maple gelato… which was actually a lot better than it sounds on paper, and EXTREMELY bacony. The maple syrup bits were a bit too big and crunchy for my liking though and I feared for my teeth afterwards.
What a simply superb way to spend a Sunday, at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market.
The organisers told me that this had been one of their busiest days to date.
Must. Eat. More. Bacon. – The judges.
Concentration was key when one is tasting so many dishes.
“So how many more dishes do we have to go?”
Everyone enjoying the baconfest.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was a hell of a lot of bacon.