There is a special kind of shame that comes when you tell someone that you have a food blog and the last time you posted anything was almost a month ago. This has not been by choice, but rather necessity. As many of my friends know, my teaching load this semester has been a particularly brutal one. Not so much in terms of how my students are (they are truly lovely this semester), but in terms of how many of them there are (about 100). With class planning, grading, emails, and other assorted administrative tasks, I have hardly had any time for my friends. Let’s be honest: I have barely had time to feed myself properly. Currently, my fridge has only two things in it: booze and soy sauce. Sadly, the soy sauce has been untouched for so long that it probably has become booze — a stomach-churning yet strangely intriguing thought…
What did I make?
I had big dreams for the Takedown. Starting last year, I had this marvelous idea of doing mini bacon éclairs stuffed with Velveeta crème. Disgusting you say? Well, I didn’t try to make them so I don’t know, but I suspect that they would have been AMAZING! I was so obsessed with the thought that I even did some bicoastal brainstorming with Paul over at That Other Cooking Blog who suggested that maybe hand-piping 250 mini-éclairs wouldn’t be such a chore if I froze the choux pastry ahead of time.
Well, that idea evaporated when time got away from me. I thus turned to thinking about things that wouldn’t need any cooking at all — like bacon “Napoléons” created entirely out of smashed Twinkies, potato chips, and bacon bits.
Earlier in the summer, I had the privilege to see the artist Émilie Baltz talk about food at a Creative Mornings event. That morning, she spoke about her book Junk Foodie, a tome dedicated to reproducing classic French dishes using only American junk food. She described in loving detail how she recreated a Napoléon using Twinkies and crushed potato chips (she scooped out the filling, reserved it, rolled out the cake, cut it into rectangles, and reassembled the whole thing with layers of crushed chips and smears of the reserved cream).
Equally disgusting you say? She claimed it tasted just like a real Napoléon and I believe her. Unfortunately, there was no way that I could ensure that the chips would stay crispy layered under all that moist Twinkie cake and cream for the duration of the event. Sadly, that idea got scrapped as well.
Finally, while texting back and forth with another Paul about Breaking Bad, he threw out the name “Bacon Bad,” and I found the name so irresistible that I had to use it.
For those of you who have not seen Breaking Bad, the series ostensibly tracks the evolution of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking crystal meth in order to secure a financial future for his family following his diagnosis with Stage III lung cancer. Being the careful man of science that he is, he produces a potent and chemically pure form of methamphetamine that is also blue.
With my teaching schedule, I knew that cooking something elaborate was going to be out of the question. But cooking several pounds of blue bacon rock candy was absolutely doable, especially with the help of my professional candy-making neighbor downstairs.
Did I win?
To my utter shock and surprise, I won Honorable Mention from the judges which netted me a T-Shirt, a Microplane grater, and a wallet printed with bacon strips.
That’s not all: I also won Best Booth which means that my table decorations scored me A YEAR’S WORTH OF BACON!
That’s 52 pounds of bacon, yo!
None of this would have been possible without the help of my friends. Thank you all for coming out and supporting me! And many thanks to everyone who voted!
Special thanks go out . . .
To Niki at Sweetniks NYC, none of this would have been possible without you! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your kitchen, and your equipment. I am so thankful to have you as my neighbor and my friend! FYI, we have also been making last year’s Bacon Takedown entry for sale on her website. Candied Bacon Spiced Pecan Nougat makes a great gift for the holidays, I’m just sayin’ :-)
To Kalay, many thanks and hugs for coming over early, feeding me, helping me get everything to Brooklyn, helping me throughout the event, and keeping me sane! I could not have pulled it off without you. Thank you for your friendship and support!
Thank you to the incredibly talented art director-extraordinaire Sharon for re-creating the Breaking Bad logo for the Bacon Takedown! It looked absolutely AMAZING; you nailed every single detail to a T. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Another heartfelt thanks goes out to Kelly O. for lending me the “lab equipment.” It pays to have scientists as friends :-) And I think you can continue to use those flasks for cocktails and for other off-label uses without fear :-)
A big thank you to Paul, without whom I would probably have been serving reconstituted Twinkie mush. Thank you for the name, the fantastic idea, and the inspiration. You’re brilliant! And thank you for helping me get everything home!
A final thank you to Matt Timms for being such an amazing organizer, host, and friend. It is always a pleasure to be a part of your events and always an even bigger pleasure to share a beer afterwards. Here’s to next time!
For another write-up about the event, I direct you to Brooklyn Exposed’s photo gallery here.
Recipe forthcoming. I promise!