I Really Ate That: Bacon Ice Cream

Yes, it sounds pretty disgusting – right up there with bacon mints or bacon toothpicks. And yet… I attended a special “Bourbon & Bacon” dinner at the new San Francisco restaurant, Orson. The meal started with diminutive bologna sliders (“My baloney has a first name, it’s O-R-S-O-N!”), then detoured around pork terrine, lardo with crawfish, pork belly (served with an amazing smoked and deep-fried egg) and suckling pig – before landing squarely in Baconville for dessert. What first arrived was the Pigwich: a scoop of bacon-maple ice cream, topped by a thin, crispy pizzelle-style wafer, with tiny cubes of candied sweet potatoes on the side in a zingy vinegar glaze. While the other courses had each been served with an intriguing cocktail, the Pigwich arrived with a straight-up slug of Knob Creek – evocative of the booze bribe that’s usually served beside an order of haggis. But the Pigwich looked remarkably unthreatening, and tasted divine – sweet, smoky, salty, mapley, tart. “Are there actually customers who don’t like it?” I asked our server. “It’s about fifty-fifty,” she replied. “I tell people it’s just like having pancakes with maple syrup and bacon.” Well, sort of. The textures are far more distinctive – and no, there aren’t bacon bits in the benign-looking vanilla-colored ice cream. The chocolate chip cookies that followed were another story. The warm, chewy disks were punctuated by savory morsels of bacon, their crunch effectively replacing the usual walnuts. But the sweet-salty combo wouldn’t be disconcerting to anyone who ever munched a handful of honey-roasted peanuts. If all this nouveau bacon cuisine leaves you a bit unsure of whether to risk it or not, try asking yourself, “What would bacon do?” – or rather, try asking the spinner game of the same name. And while you’re at it, why not pay for the meal with some greenbacks pulled from your bacon wallet. This special dinner was part of the second annual San Francisco Cocktail Week, a series of events celebrating the cocktail…followed by a series of hangovers.
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