What happens when two inventive Brits combine bacon and rocketry?

Windows beware.

Rathergoodstuff, you rule.

Okay, after yesterday’s post I got an email with the following photo which, in my opinion, totally kicks the meat manger scene’s ass. I mean, the manger scene is hilarious, but would you check out the artistry on this thing? Sliced cheese doors and windows? Rosemary evergreens?! I’m dumbfounded.

This work of art was created by Chantelle, one of the friendly employees at my favorite Santa Barbara shop, C’est Cheese. I’ve been fortunate to get to know the owners, Kathryn and Michael, over the past year while also getting cozy with some of my favorite cheeses. In some ways, these guys are living my dream. I know you know I love bacon, but you just can’t imagine how I feel about cheese. The only reason I don’t write for a cheese blog is that cheese is pretty much sacrosanct to me. I wouldn’t want to ruin it with my feeble writing abilities. I’ve always said that if I won the lottery I’d spend months on end in Europe becoming a cheese and wine connoisseur. And here they are, experts in my own town. I often go in with a quandary about which cheese to buy for a certain occasion, and no matter who’s helping me, they patiently walk me through my questions, offering me samples and ideas until we find just the right thing.

Another area of their expertise is cured meats. I literally will not buy prosciutto anywhere else. They make their own pancetta. They have more salami than I would ever know what to do with, not to mention pate, foie gras and duck confit. Their passion for the world’s charcuterie is so great, in fact, that Michael developed an iPhone app to help you navigate any tricky menu. It’s called Salumi, and features nearly 100 different sausages, salamis, hams and more. And yes, that includes bacon in it’s multi-cultural forms. From pork and beef to fish and fowl, he’s really thought of everything. Most of the items I’ve never even heard of, but the next time I’m at a fancy restaurant and need to know the difference between soppresata and Serrano ham, I’ve got an app for that.

If you live in Santa Barbara, or just happen to pass through some day, I cannot recommend C’est Cheese enough. They do great cheese tastings every month with a variety of companion flavors like honey (my favorite) or champagne. They’ll get you set up before your trip up to wine country or your picnic at the beach. If it’s cold outside, try their signature grilled cheese with a cup of tomato soup! I really have to stop now before my salivary glands explode. Guess what I’m having for lunch today!

My favorite comment is the last. Sacrilicious will now be an active part of my vocabulary. Merry Porking Christmas!!

Thank you, Holly! And thank you Failbook.

bacon plush at thinkgeek.com

First things first, you may have noticed that we’ve updated the site! My never-ending thanks to Naseem, the brainiac behind the design. I can’t even tell you guys how much time she spends thinking about the look and functionality of RBS. And now her work is done… uh, you know, for now. Huzzah! You’ll also find that the store has been updated, and all the links (we’re pretty sure) work! Shoot us an email if you run into any problems.

And speaking of the store, ThinkGeek has come up with another fun and awesomely nerdy product, just in time for your holiday shopping. The “My First Bacon” talking plush is incredible for so many reasons: 1) It’s bacon. 2) It tells you it’s bacon with it’s mechanically operated mouth! That’s right, robot bacon. 3) It’s surprisingly large and huggable. 4) Did I mention it’s bacon?

So maybe your five-year-old nephew won’t get it. Or maybe he’ll now think of you as his weird aunt/uncle, but his parents are going to think you’re hilarious. And let’s face it, the parents of a precocious five-year-old who goes around judging his relatives could use a laugh. Trust me, Santa couldn’t do it better himself. Huggable bacon: shopping done.

A representative of Wendy’s contacted us recently and asked if we’d like to try some of their menu items, particularly their new “Pick Two” promotion, where you get two items for $4.99. Neither Naseem nor I had been to Wendy’s in years, so we decided to give it a go.

wendys-006I decided to try their half BLT Cobb salad and a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. I’ll start with the burger and keep it brief, as the less said, the better. I understand this is a “junior” burger, probably made with small children in mind. However, that was one seriously small, flat bun with an even smaller beef patty. The veggies were unimpressive and the flavor was bland. The one good thing I can say about this burger is that the bacon was crispy, and therefore stood out in texture and flavor on the sandwich. More often than not, fast food bacon is sort of limp and greasy; this bacon was an exception. However, that’s where the compliments end.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the salad. The greens were fresh and plentiful, as were most of the other ingredients. The chicken breast was fairly moist and flavorful, and the bacon, again, was crisp. Sadly, there was only one small slice of bacon. For a salad claiming to have its roots in the noble BLT, bacon should probably get a more prominent role. That said, this was an overall good salad, especially for a fast food restaurant.

wendys-009Naseem went a different route and ordered the fabled Baconator. Her burger experience was much better than mine. First of all, the Baconator comes on a Kaiser bun, which was a nice touch. The beef  patty was actually larger than the bun, and there were three (crispy!) slices of bacon. Point and point. The only real drawback here was the condiment mixture of ketchup and mayo, but I’ll admit that’s a matter of preference. Neither of us likes the two mixed, especially on a burger with no veggies. I’m sure if ordered without the condiments, she would have liked it even better. I’m not sure this burger really deserves the name Baconator, but maybe if you added a few slices like some have done at Burger King

So I know this here blog is supposed to be all about bacon, but let’s be honest. There’s a whole lot more to the proud pig than his delicious belly. One of the most versatile cuts (and my second favorite) is the Boston butt which, oddly, is not from the posterior at all, but is actually a shoulder cut. Butchers! Bunch a jokers, those guys. The butt roast is my first choice for posole and chile verde, and my second choice for carnitas.

Recently my friend Sarah sent me a link to a great gluten-free food blog, Wasabimon! Within a day or two of bookmarking the site, the amazing Stephanie posted a recipe for Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder, and I knew I was hooked. I’m an omnivore, but I definitely have a passion for beautifully cooked meats, and this recipe just screamed my name.

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Cut to last Friday evening. I came home from work and began the process of grinding and mixing spices for my 7-pound roast. I didn’t have absolutely every spice in my cupboard (never a star anise on hand when I want one), but I made substitutions as needed and still ended up with a wildly aromatic concoction. I followed the slathering, high-heat roasting, rotating and re-slathering instructions, then turned the temperature to 225 and walked away. It didn’t take long for the savory-sweet smell of roasting pork and asian spices to fill the entire house. In fact, I woke up several times during the night, lured from my dreams by the incredible aroma.

I will admit I had a crisis of faith when I woke up in the morning. The exterior of the roast was nearly black, and when I poked it, the outer crispiness worried me. I’d never roasted meat for so long, and I had my doubts about the crust of skin, fat and spices keeping the meat moist. But I knew that Stephanie was a much wiser and more experienced cook than me, and I plowed forward.
Finally at around 4 pm on Saturday, after 22 hours of roasting, I turned the oven back to 450 for a final crisping, then took the roast out. Naseem was coming over for an early dinner, and I was DYING to find out if I would find success under the top rind. Finally, I sneaked a peak by lifing the top layer, and oh…my salivary glands almost exploded at the sight of all that tender juiciness. I don’t have the photographic skills to do it justice.

pork-roast-008After the roast sat for about an hour, I finally pulled the rind layer off and pulled apart the meat. As suggested, I served it with my favorite mashed potatoes. What can I say about this roast? It was  beyond tender. Every bite was moist and salty, with a beautifully contrasting sweet and slightly crispy crust on the edges. Naseem likened it to the Kahlua pork she had in several places in Hawaii. And indeed it was very much like the meat you’d get at a luau, lovingly cooked all day in a killer spice blend until meltingly tender. Just YUM! I will definitely be making this recipe again and again, trying new spice combinations and roasting times. And I’ll be checking Wasabimon! daily for great ideas on how to make gluten-free living more exciting!

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Just a quick note to tell you that TEAM BACON (aka Naseem and I) are running a 5K for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara this weekend. It’s our first “race” but certainly won’t be our last. We’ll be out there flying the RBS flag…eh, well, wearing our RBS t-shirts. We also recently received a Flip Ultra Video Camera from our friends over at Foodbuzz, so look for some fun if not entirely educational bacon videos in the coming months.

If any of our Santa Barbara readers is interested in joining Team Bacon for upcoming runs, send us an email and let us know! We’ll provide the t-shirts, and you’ll get some excercise and raise funds for great local causes. Join us!

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Now that I’m coming out of my sugar coma, I can tell you all about our delightful, delicious fundraiser, Sweet Sunday! Royal Bacon Society sponsored this event to benefit Genesis West, our favorite cutting edge, contemporary theater company here in Santa Barbara. And, because we missed our annual Bacon Day celebration, we made some bacon treats to boot.

I started with Bacon Rice Krispies Treats, as there was a “cereal bar” section for the event. This year we made all our treats with Oscar Mayer Hearty Thick Cut bacon which, for the most part, cooked nicely…although there were a few not-so-thick slices in each pack. I had to eat those. You know, for consistency sake. And this is what 3 pounds of thick-cut bacon looks like. Not as impressive as one would think.

dsc_0137I chopped up the bacon and pre-mixed it with the cereal to ensure that it was evenly spread throughout the treats.

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And voila! A sticky panful of marshmallowey, bacon-enhanced goodness. My husband gave it the thumbs up and I was off to my next project.

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I’ve been dreaming about my grandmother’s caramels for years. They’re soft and chewy and taste better than any store-bought caramel I’ve ever had. And for some reason, I’ve left them in the archives of my childhood memories, until now. I don’t know why I’ve not tried making them before, but now that I’ve done it I plan to make them a renewed part of my holiday traditions.

dsc_0156Sugar, Karo syrup, butter, condensed milk and vanilla. So simple, and with the addition of a little bacon “sea salt,” you’ve got a new twist on an old favorite. I got the idea because I love all the salted caramels and chocolates you can find in gourmet candy stores. I ground the bacon in my cuisinart to a fine consistency and, once the caramels had set for about 10 minutes, I sprinkled it on top.

Naseem made the classic chocolate-dipped bacon, and I have to tell you it was the hit of the event. There were more sweets than you could shake a Pixy Stix at, and her bacon was the only one to get completely demolished. Not a single piece left. Apparently you really can’t go wrong with chocolate. Or bacon.

The event was a ton of fun and people made amazing, inventive treats. Dana’s homemade Whoopie Pies completely knocked my socks off. And Holly’s donut trees created even more whimsy at what was already a carnival of sugary delights. I could go on and on; you really had to be there to appreciate the full effect of this mountain of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, candies and creativity. Although by the end, we were contemplating a Salad Bar fundraiser next year…Veggie Vednesday, anyone?

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