Bacon Shaving Cream, Tony Baker's Insane Bacon and Why Monterey Is Bacon Capital of the U.S.A.
December 18, 2012
Glorious is the morning when you can wake up, shower, shave and—thanks to the country's latest bacon craze breakthrough—smell like you just worked a double at a pork processing plant.
The jar of J&D's Bacon Shaving Cream ($14.99) itself smells less like the workers at such a plant than it does the factory's skankiest exhaust. Fortunately it mellows on the skin (and is surprisingly silky, even given the sad absence bacon fat in the formula).
The instructions on the squat jar of cream: "Inhale the crisp, porky scent and prepare to be loved, admired and potentially eaten by bears."
My results were close: A cheek-sniffing female colleague-in-bacon decided, "You smell super manly."
I decided the cream, which you combine with water to work into a thin, oily lather that provides ample glide, gives new meaning to the "flavor saver" on my chin. (Flavor savior? Flavor savor?) And makes holding out for a bacon breakfast that much more manageable.
More from its bacon-fat-on-the-brain promoters, the same meatheads behind Baconaisse and Bacon Salt: "Bacon Shaving Cream is a high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream for all skin types. It is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with. Our rich creamy moisturizers and hearty essential oils ensure a high-performance, velvety smooth shaving experience. Our advanced heat-activated aromatic technology lasts for hours and delivers maximum bacon scent when you need it most."
Following the cream, and just because I've always maintained—long before any trendiness took over—that the two best foodstuffs in existence are bacon and hot sauce, I applied some of J&D's Sriracha Rooster Sauce Lip Balm ($3.99) too.
Another work in progress, though, because as fun as it can be to surprise with a slightly spicier smooch than normal—“Tomato? Garlic? What did you just eat?”—one coating of Rooster Balm brings all of the equivalent enjoyment of smearing a habanero all over your lips, with none of the excitement on the tongue. (Quick question to self: How many veteran spice lovers actually like it on their lips?)
At least, at SPF 15, the burn does prevent sunburn.
In all the bacon madness, the Weekly has been a pork pioneer. For years we've reported on everything from the debut of My First Bacon stuffed animals and meat-free bacon hot sauce and shared pictures of a life-sized bacon mannequin (for lack of a better word).
But that's only appropriate because, even as this bacon boom has gone global—at one point triggering fear of pork drought in Europe—Monterey, Calif., is arguably the Bacon Capital of the Country.
After all, Pebble Beach Food & Wine is the place where bacon-wrapped bacon first debuted.
Bacon, Blues and Brews launched at the Fairgrounds this fall.
Our own Todd Fisher of Sticks (647-7470) in Spanish Bay (check out this week's Feast profile of his sports bar and grill) is traveling the country in search of its best bacon on Discovery's United States of Bacon.
And Tony Baker, longtime chef of landmark Montrio Bistro (648-8880), has transformed his passion for pig into a full-blown side business that deserves particular attention this week.
Apparently it wasn't enough for him to chef divine porcine like his bacon-and-egg salad (with pasture-raised eggs poached in double-smoked bacon fat, $11.50) and his "pork trio" (a pork tenderloin stuffed with sweet dates and shredded pork then sealed tightly in thinly sliced ribbons of bacon, $23.50). He's a good couple of years into his Baker's Bacon project, now offering not just his beloved English-style back bacon but applewood-smoked and double applewood-smoked too ($10.99-$12.99/pound).
Tomorrow and Thursday 10am-6pm his Sand City headquarters at 740 Redwood Ave. is distributing orders filed by way of 886-2572 or email@example.com—while supplies last (400 pounds goes more quickly than you think). Or folks can also place a shipment at www.bakersbacon.com that comes with custom gift card, Christmas ribbon and recyclable packaging—and Bacon! T-shirts and autographed Ove-Gloves too.
Last week his oink army dropped off a three-pound box. I immediately called a pork party and even among just a handful of us, the bacon—so hearty it was more like thin filets than thick strips—barely made it to the main course.
We poured bacon bits and shrimp marinade into figs stuffed with melty Oaxacan cheese, then wrapped them with luxurious lengths of BB. (Frying the thick strips half-way before wrapping is crucial to get it fully cooked.) We wrapped white shrimp too, piling the succulent pork-seafood combo into po’ boys with garlic-red pepper sauce on bacon-grease toast. For the featured event, we stacked it in BLATs (bacon-lettuce-avocado-tomato) with indulgent heirlooms—at least until the bacon, dented mightily during the frying process by loose hands in the kitchen, ran out after, oh, three sandwiches.
If there's a bacon that matches the gerth, salt balance, smokiness and flavor of Baker's double applewood—which is smoked over maple after the applewood—I've yet to find it. Baker dry cures his natural heritage breed pork for more than a week, with no water added, and the capital of bacon has its gold standard.
"Between the amazing smell as it's cooking, the thick, meaty chew to the bacon—not overly sweet, thin, waterlogged, or slimy stuff," he says. "It's a labor of love."
That night we felt like we won some kind of local bacon lottery. The smell that glued us in the kitchen is what J&D's should be looking to bottle. Chief chef and Weekly food contributor Hanif Wondir couldn’t stop saying, “Wow.”
Today, meanwhile, I sit here feeling freshly shaven and smooth. And feeling like I spent the night at a luau tending the spit roast. (If it ever feels like it's wearing off, I just open the jar.)
In other words, if you aim to satiate a bacon lover this Christmas, steer toward the pan and the pork…rather than the razor and flavor saver.