Everyone enjoys a little stalking, right? So when I saw on Facebook that my NYC-based friend Kyra (of the dating blog Gotard City) had posted pictures of a Bacon Dinner Club, I immediately demanded the story. So here goes the first ever Stalking Sarah guest post! Thanks, Kyra!
A little over a year ago, my friends and I decided to start a Dinner Club based on our mutual love of the Food Network, cooking, and most importantly, eating. We choose a new theme or key ingredient (basil, citrus, the color white, tapas, desserts, etc) and we get together once a month to cook and eat together. It’s usually an all-day affair.
Dinner Club’s important to me for a number of reasons: It’s an opportunity to make socially acceptable bad decisions in the form of food. I like to eat. I love to eat. Tasting delicious food is one of the best pleasures in life. It’s fun to see all my friends together. We get to play board games and catch up. I get to play hostess and show off all my materialistic crap that I’ve acquired from Crate & Barrel. And, I get to learn more about cooking and try new foods.
A few years ago, I started dating someone named Movies. After a while, he got to be a part of Dinner Club, too. None of my friends were particularly amazed by him, but none of them really disliked him either. And at the end of the day, though, I’m the Kim Jong Il of Dinner Club, so if I wanted my boyfriend there, he was gonna be included.
Unfortunately, Movies’ picky eating habits had never been squashed by his parents, so he often violated the “try new foods” mandate of dinner club. On numerous occasions, he’d make a passing comment about not wanting to try someone’s dish. Whenever we circulated the tentative menu before the actual Dinner Club date, Movies would send a note reminding us that he didn’t like certain foods.
The biggest point of contention among us Dinner Clubbers was bacon. All of us, except for Movies, LOVED bacon in all of its iterations. He couldn’t stand it and made sure we knew at every possible moment (even though he eats pork in other forms, just not the sweet goodness that is bacon).
After about two years of dating, Movies and I broke up. Although he stayed a part of Dinner Club, I stopped helping facilitate social interactions at the dinner table. He was on his own. Of course, my friends (being MY friends), also sided with me when we broke up, so while no one was ever rude to his face, no one really felt comfortable with his continued presence post-break-up.
Then came the NY Times article on the Bacon Explosion. It was fate. We had to try our hand at a bevy of bacon dishes. The only thing standing in our way from a love fest with bacon was Movies. I kicked him out of Dinner Club. Harsh times, I know. But, don’t ask me to choose between you and bacon, because you will always lose. We promptly decided that our next theme would be Bacon. Although The Bacon Explosion had inspired us to greatness, we were not man enough to handle that much meat in our mouths. We instead decided to just focus on a series of dishes, broken up into courses.
We started with the following:
Giant Cheese Ball with Nuts and Bacon and All That Kinda Love (This was literally a ball full of love. It had Craisins, turkey bacon (it crumbles easier), pecans, cream cheese, just… so much love in it. Major points for presentation, too, because Caroline had managed to expertly mold that sucker into a perfectly shaped ball.)
Mozzarella & Bacon-topped Ritz Crackers
Warm Bacon, Cheddar, and Sour Cream Dip
Cheddar, Potato & Leek Soup with Bacon (If you try this, make the soup the night before or early the morning-of because the flavors only get better.)
Goat Cheese, Spinach, & Bacon Salad (A word of warning: if you’re looking for fancy cheeses, Queens is not the borough that will have them. Buy that goat cheese in Manhattan or NJ because it ain’t coming from the Bravo in Elmhurst.)
Chili Powder Pasta with Bacon (Spicy good but the chili ALMOST overpowered the bacon flavor!)
Bacon & Cheese Cornbread (Incredibly moist! Btdubs, sometimes, it’s okay to cheat Sandra Lee style and use the cornbread mix. Making it from scratch can produce very mixed results.)
Crustless Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Swiss, & Bacon Quiche (Quiche is awesome because you can literally throw just about any ingredient into that baby and it will still taste oh so good.)
Pork Bacon-Wrapped Beef Hot Dogs (This was the closest dish we had to the Bacon Explosion. Served two ways: The first way you added scallions, mustard, and pineapple. The second was with BBQ sauce and cole slaw. The cole slaw wasn’t very mayo-y and def helped cut through some of that greasey meat with its crunchtasticness.)
After an hour break, we were ready to tackle dessert:
Pina Coladas with Candied Bacon Crumbles (Candied bacon is easy! We did it by coating bacon slices in brown sugar then baking them up in a hot oven. Be sure to keep an eye on them and turn them periodically so all sides get toasty love!).
Brown Sugar & Bacon Ice Cream with Chocolate Chip & Candied Bacon Bits Cookies (One of our members has an ice-cream maker and never fails to come up with amazing ways to incorporate our key ingredient into ice cream. The bacon fat (in my opinion) made the ice cream that much richer, smoother. For the cookies, just find a great Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as your base and just throw in those candied bacon suckers. The bacon won’t permeate the entire cookie’s flavor, but you’ll get little surprises with each bite!)
Advice & Caution for your own Dinner Club: BACON event.
1. Not everyone needs to buy their own bacon. Seriously. Share them packages of meat, otherwise you’ll end up with 8 different half-opened packages of bacon slices.
2. Bacon is not just a breakfast food. It can apparently taste delicious in sweet and savory dishes, as well as beverages.
3. When pouring bacon grease out of the pan, run very hot water in the sink to help facilitate it going down easy (assuming that you’re not going to save and store the fat for later use).
4. You may have to empty the pan of the grease multiple times when cooking bacon in mass quantities. Otherwise, the bacon doesn’t cook, it just simmers in its fatty juices, which is as bad as it sounds.
5. Your kitchen will have a sheen of grease for the week afterwards even after you clean it.
6. Your heart might stop.
7. Have lots and lots of water nearby while you’re eating.
8. Serving the meal in courses will help your stomach to handle all that meat.
9. Prepare a spot on the floor for each person to lay down and attempt to digest post-meal.
10. Get ready for the best tasting meat that your mouth has never known.