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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, April 22

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Contest Sat Sep 18 2010

Bacon Jam -- FTW!

Bacon Jam at Lincoln Hall

Last Saturday, Andrew Huff and I were lucky to participate in the Bacon Takedown thrown at Lincoln Hall. There were 17 contestants, who each received 15 pounds of Hormel's Black Label bacon to turn into tasty items. We were asked to prepare enough food so all 200 attendees could try all the tasty treats and vote on who they thought should win.

We made up a 5 quarts of bacon jam and decided to spread it on Ritz crackers so people could truly taste the goodness of the jam. We felt pretty confident going into the contest, because bacon jam is awesome-sauce. But once we got there and started trying some of the dishes made by our competition, I decided that we might not actually win so I may as well just enjoy being in a room full of people who like bacon well enough to spend $15 to try a bunch of bacon dishes.

We didn't get to sample everything. By the time we made it around, a few people had run out of their dishes. I saw, but didn't get to taste a "Pulled Bacon" sandwich. I smelled it as peopled walked by eating it, and I really wish I'd gotten to eat it.

The AV Clubs "Sow-moa"

I did get to try the tasty "Sow-moa" as made by Marah and Genevieve "Troop 312″ of AVClubChicago. The cookie base was covered in a thick and gooey layer of caramel that had soft and tasty chunks of bacon in it. Drizzled over the top was just a nice squiggle of dark chocolate that really complemented the cookie, the bacon, and the caramel nicely.

There were 2 different categories for the competition. There was the People's Choice awards which were voted on by the attendees. And then they had Chuck Sudo of Chicagoist and Seth Zurer of Baconfest pick three winners, as well.

The Sow-moa cookies took first place in the Judges' Choice category. Second place in the judges' category went to Kendall Bruns and Mandy Duncan who made Bacon Caramel Apples. Third place went to the delightfully smelling Pulled Bacon sandwiches made by Steve and Alanna Cotham.

The People's Choice awards were announced last. Third place went to Elise and Caitlyn of Grok's Science Show. They made a Bacon, Asiago and Onion Quiche that Jacques Pepin would be delighted to eat. Second choice was awarded to Andrew and me for our wickedly awesome and easy to make Bacon Jam.

Andrew Huff and Rafael Lopez

But the supreme prize, wild accolades, and thundering applause was given to Rafael Lopez, who made 240 mini English muffins that were made from bacon fat. He then spread a Bacon and Gruyere Cheese Brandade on top of them. He deserved to win. I took one bite and I knew he was the winner. I loved the bacon jam, but I would have cast my one vote in favor of his dish. And you want to know a secret? He works at Harmony Grill. Which means that if they get enough requests, they may be convinced to place this delicious item on the menu. I think it would be great to have an open-faced English muffin that is lightly toasted with this brandade spread on top of it and then a nicely poached egg placed on top of that. No need for hollandaise sauce. No need for a side of bacon. You get everything you need to cure a Saturday night hangover right there.

Many thanks to Matt Timms who organized the traveling Bacon Takedown (they'll be in New Orleans on Sunday), and many thanks to all of the makers of the delicious entries. If you're interested in sharing your recipe, we'd love to have you post it in the comments section. Hopefully the event was such a success that they'll come back around for another visit.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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