Today is International Bacon Day, and what better way to celebrate than to go on a bacon tour of New York in a car wrapped in bacon? There were four stops, a billion milligrams of sodium, and way too many bacon-topped cupcakes, but it was just OH SO DELICIOUS.
(Full Disclosure: Ford wanted me to see their bacon-wrapped Fiesta so bad that they took me on a bacon tour of New York. I wasn't joking when I said it was delicious. They fed me bacon from Crif Dogs, Prohibition Bakery, Mission Chinese, and The Wayland. Did I mention it was delicious? Also, I wasn't allowed to drive the car because it was a pre-production model, and thus not representative of the offerings that will be on sale, as something was off with the transmission. So there's that. I really wanted to drive that car.)
The purpose of the tour was ostensibly to promote Ford's new vinyl wrapping program. Ford, in partnership with 3M, will basically wrap your Fiesta in anything you want. Dan Mazei, the Ford PR guy that took me on the Bacon Tour, said that Ford came up with the bacon idea because who doesn't love bacon, and the company expects most people to actually just go with some bacon racing stripes or some bacon strips on the side and call it a day.
Oh, and to fully wrap your 2014 Ford Fiesta in bacon will set you back about $3,000, so there's that.
But anyways. When someone asks you if you want to go on a crazy bacon tour, you go on a crazy bacon tour. Also along for the ride was Josh Petri from Digg, and he seemed to know his bacon as well. And with four stops featuring many different wonderful flavors of bacon, who was I to say no?
Stop #1: Crif Dogs
For those caught unawares, Crif Dogs is a bit of a hot dog sensation. They don't specialize in the weird pink sausage floating in dirty water that New York is known for, so much as a celebration of all that is the Frankfurter. Also, they have their own speakeasy, called Please Don't Tell, which you have to access through a phone booth. So there's that. Oh, and I just told you. So there's that, too.
I had the Good Morning, which is a bacon-wrapped hot dog, with melted cheese and a fried egg. It's basically like breakfast, if your breakfast was trying to give you a heart attack.
Tasting notes: Lean, crispy, with a really tight snap, the Good Morning gives an overwhelming nose of what can only be described as "deep-fried smoke." The bun could have used a bit more toasting as it kind of fell apart, and the saltiness of the bacon combined with the saltiness of the cheese, which was a bit overwhelming of the other glorious flavors contained within. If I could've had the hot dog, bacon, and egg, and left the bread and cheese on the plate, I would do that the second time around. Still, the Arnold Palmer served with it more than made up for any thirst issues.
Stop #2: Prohibition Bakery
Prohibition Bakery bills itself as "The Boozy Cupcakery," and specializes in attempts at getting you drunk through the joys of cupcakes, which is two kinds of irresponsibility. Luckily, bacon is representative of the highest irresponsibility, and in pursuit of our goal of bacon we went with their "For The Love Of Bacon" cupcake. There's no alcohol in this one, just bacon, bittersweet chocolate, and toffee.
Tasting notes: Oh my word, joy of joys, this was fantastic. The very first bite brings an explosion of salt and smoke and chocolate and sweetness. The texture here is killer as well, with the crunch of a well-cooked rasher combining with the chewiness of what happens to bacon when you dunk it on top of chocolate. There are no complaints about this one, except for the fact that maybe the mini-cupcake itself was too small. If you're going to create a piece of the heavens, why limit yourself? This is America. America.
Stop #3: Mission Chinese Food
Mission Chinese, like many Lower East Side hipster-y food-y places, is a font of fusion weirdness. Kung Pao Pastrami? They've got you covered. Stir fried pork jowl? They've got that, too. As were were celebrating International Bacon Day, though, and this tour was strictly for business purposes only, we got down to brass tacks and ordered the Thrice Cooked Bacon and Rice Cakes with Tofu Skin and Bitter Melon.
Tasting notes: I was served a plate of what was ostensibly a plate of bacon, cooked three times because why cook once when you can do it three times or something, and what I got was a plate of confusion. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It was kind of like the confusion you get when you order Fried Ice Cream for the first time and you get ice cream sort of covered in maybe granola or whatever it is they actually put on top of it and you're like hey this isn't ice cream in a sizzling skillet like I ordered but screw it I'm gonna eat this because I'm in the kind of healthy mood that leads you to ordering an item called "fried ice cream" off the menu and then you take a bite and it's delicious.
So yeah. In terms of pure taste, there was definitely a bacon explosion, followed by an intense amount of heat. The mixed-in cilantro provided a brief respite from the spice, but watch out for the Big Red Peppers of Doom, as you'll definitely be feeling those. The bitter melon reminded me of fennel or black licorice, and it was an interesting accoutrement but black licorice was never really my thing, so I can't fault the restaurant. Spice was also offset to a degree by an underlying sweetness, which was a caravel to Tastytown in its own right.
The confusion came from the texture of the thing, as the bacon was so thick-cut as to almost qualify outright as just smoked pork belly. To be honest, I almost expected a bit of crunch, especially if something is being cooked three times. I'm not saying it wasn't incredible, just a bit like that fried ice cream. Also, we had some salt cod fried rice and some cumin lamb, and I can't recommend those enough. But we're here for the bacon – and we will not let anything keep our eyes off the prize.
Stop #4: The Wayland
Alright, so we may have let ourselves drop our eyes off the prize, but the original intention of going to The Wayland was in order to sample a proper BLT and potentially some chopped liver with bacon. We were a bit baconed out, though, so we decided to consume our bacony flavors in liquid form instead. We decided to get a round of the "I Hear Banjos – Encore!" cocktail. Featuring apple pie moonshine, rye whiskey, house apple-spice bitters, and applewood smoke, the Banjos presents itself as an applewood-smoked drink of yore. It comes served in highball glass, with a brandy snifter of actual smoke turned upside down and placed on top to preserve the slightly burnt flavors.
Tasting notes: Hints of cinnamon, spice, and everything nice, but above all a heady aroma of applewood smoke. It was incredibly smooth, and yet it almost felt like you were drinking a liquid form of a truly great bacon, one crafted with care and conscience, that left you feeling not drunk with booze, but drunk with bacony goodness. My only possible complaint is that maybe they could have switched out the apple pie moonshine out for a nice smoky rye to balance out the actual smoke contained within, but I'll take it as-is. Now I just have to find a way to make smoke pour out into my drinks at home.
Overall score for the Bacon Car and the Bacon Tour then?