Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baconfest: The Vendors

We arrived at the Stan Mansion (2408 N. Kedzie) shortly after 11:00 for the artery-cloggingest day of the year, Baconfest!!! (at least until they invent Butterfest).  As soon as we strolled into the front entrance, we were overtaken by the intense aroma of smoked bacon, it was wonderous.  The Head Bacon Man (a title I hope one day to attain) told us that the restaurants were upstairs and the vendors were downstairs, and he recommended starting with the vendors.  We heeded his advice and went to the basement.  What we saw in that basement may have altered my life forever.  In short, it was bacon everything (smoked bacon of all varieties, bacon shirts, bacon candy, bacon cupcakes, bacon lipbalm, bacon dog food, bacon chocolate, etc.).  I imagine that basement is what heaven looks like.

Anyway, we sauntered around the room sampling each vendors wares and deciding what we were going to come back to purchase.  The first actual bacon we had was from Nueske's Meat Products.  Before we ate it, they told us it was applewood smoked.  I bit into my inaugural piece of Baconfest 2010, and we were off.  The bacon was delightfully salty and sweet, with lots of smoky flavor too it.  It was some spectacular bacon, but I thought it was too heavily smoked for me, which is weird because it was applewood (and not hickory) smoked, and applewood is not a terribly assertive smoke.  Either way, I was glad to kick off Bacon Day with some excellent bacon.  Apparently the blood flowed out of my brain in a fit of excitement, so I forgot to take a picture of the good people at Nueske's, but in any event, it was awesome, and its website is  If you like really smokey bacon, this is the place to be.

The next place on our path also doubled as the strangest thing I ate during Baconfest (and possibly in my entire life, which is really saying something).  It was Torani Bacon Syrup.  Today they were sampling Bacon Pepsi and Bacon chocolate milk.  I began with the Pepsi.  I took a big sip to start off and it tasted like Pepsi, only with the distinct smack of bacon.  I probably should have expected that since it was bacon syrup and all, but I'm pretty sure no one could accurately anticipate what Pepsi and bacon would taste like.  No matter how much bacon Pepsi I drank, I could not get my mind around it, so I'm pretty sure I didn't like it.  On the other hand, the Bacon chocolate milk was amazing, like nothing you could imagine unless you have been stirring your chocolate milk with a bacon strip for your whole life.  The creaminess of the milk and chocolate went oddly well with the fattiness and smokiness of the bacon syrup.  I could definitely imagine myself drinking more bacon chocolate milk and also having a heart attack by the time I was 35.  Anyway, if you want to get some bacon syrup (or any other of their many syrups), the website is

Next on our epic journey was my personal favorite regular bacon (as in, not from a restaurant) from Dreymiller and Kray.  Like the Nueske's bacon, Dreymiller's was applewood smoked; however, this bacon did not have the same overly assertive smoked taste that I wasn't particularly fond of with Nueske's.  Rather this one, the applewood smoke taste blended in the background and really let the delicious (and it is delicious) bacon flavor shine through.  For those of you who do like a more asssertive smoke, they also make a hickory smoked bacon (although they didn't have any with them).  I also don't think that this one was quite as salty as Nueske's which was kind of nice.  The guy working the stand was awesome, and he even invited us out on a tour of their bacon making facilities (out near Elgin) because of Michelle's quest to get as much possible free stuff.  Although both bacons that I had from the vendors were great, to my taste, I give the edge to Dreymiller's and Kray (in fact, I bought some of their bacon when I returned).  Dreymiller's website is (but it is currently under construction) and their phone number is 847.683.2271.  I may be taking him up on h is offer after finals in May since I've always wanted to know how to make bacon (maybe a special treat for Canoe-a-palooza?).

Next on the Bypass Surgery Express was More Bakery, which was serving three types of cupcakes: bacon-maple, bacon-bacon-bacon, and BLT (which did, in fact, have a tomato on top).  I, of course, opted for the bacon-bacon-bacon and Michelle went with the bacon-maple.  The bacon-bacon-bacon was a piece of candied bacon, bacon frosting, and bacon batter.  It sounds, and is, extremely bacony, and hence delicious.  It did have a fair bit of sugar on/in it (as it was a cupcake) which made it a nice break from the saltiness of the other vendors.  Michelle ended up buying something called bacon brittle, which we have yet to eat.  I want to go back and check out more of More Bakery.  More Bakery is located at 1 E. Delaware Place and its website is

Our next stop brought us to a butcher that I didn't even know existed that is within 5 minutes from our house, Holzkopf Butcher.  They were sampling one of their varieties of barbeque sauce, of which they have several.  It was sweeter than the sauce that I make, but not so sweet as to be like one of the grocery store brands (KC Masterpiece (if it still exists), Sweet Baby Ray', etc.).  I think that this would be very good on ribs, which aren't as sweet as something like pork shoulder.  I definitely want to check this place out (I mean, it's 5 minutes from my house!) so that I don't have to drive all the way down into Lincoln Park every time I want good meat.  I may have a hard time getting over Geppetto's (really named Gepperth's), but I'm hoping Holzkopf can really wow me.  As an added bonus, they sell Dreymiller & Kray bacon.  They are located at 6155 N. Broadway and they apparently do not have a website.
The next stand was for Provenance Food & Wine, which is a small, high-end grocery store.  They were serving something called bacon cheddar and black truffle salami.  The cheddar was very tasty as far as cheddar goes, but it somewhat overwhelmed the bacon flavor, so I didn't really see the point of the bacon being in it.  However, the black truffle salami was absolutely splendid.  For lack of a better way to describe it, it tasted like very good salami except with a strong hint of black truffles.  I absolutely love black truffles, and, in my opinion, you can pretty much improve anything by adding black truffles to it.  This salami was no exception.  This was another one of the products that I purchased.  Provenance has two locations in Chicago, so look them up!  Their website is
We chugged along to the next stand which was selling Baconnaise.  Baconnaise is exactly what you think something called Baconnaise would be: bacon mixed with mayonnaise.  The guy, who was also wearing a bacon suit, told us that all the proceeds were going to charity; however, in a strange twist, he was giving away jars of the Baconnaise.  Unless he really dislikes charity, I couldn't understand the free products.  On the other hand, I didn't really care, I got more free stuff!  I tried some of the Baconnaise on some pretzels.  It would be difficult to mess up a combination of bacon and mayonnaise, and the good people at Baconnaise surely did not mess it up.  I can't wait to put out a big bowl of Baconnaise at my next party.  Their website is
The following stand was serving chocolate dipped bacon.  They had both milk chocolate and dark chocolate, so I, of course, tried both of them.  I felt that the bacon dominated the milk chocolate, so beyond a bit of added sweetness, it didn't do much for me.  The dark chocolate, contrarily, asserted itself from the beginning, and right when I was going to complain that the chocolate was too strong for the bacon, the bacon made a stunning comeback and exploded with flavor.  They were selling some bacon I was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of the dark chocolate bacon.  This may have been Bleeding Heart Bakery, but I'm not totally sure.
After the anonymous vendor, we went to something called Bacon Hot Sauce.  Hot sauce has a special place in my heart since me and Urgo mapped out Horse Skull Fire based on a sleep-deprived vision I had while on an airplane.  Unfortunately, we were both pretty busy, so Horse Skull Fire has yet to get off the ground, look for it at specialty retailers near you in the future (around 2020).  Now that I'm done with that tangent, I can get back to an actual hot sauce.  Bacon Hot Sauce keeps the name simple and leaves no doubt about what you are going to eat.  Bacon.  Hot Sauce.  That is all.  Unlike some of the other products here, the bacon played a secondary role in Bacon Hot Sauce, which was nice if you like the taste of hot sauce.  Also, the hot sauce wasn't trying to prove anything and it had just the right amount of heat before I would have written it off as too spicy.  Again, Michelle dropped the blog-hammer and we ended up with a free bottle of Bacon Hot Sauce.  Like the Baconnaise, this will be served at my next party.  Get your own fire-breathing pig bottle at
The last stop on our list was Jake's Country Meats which is located in a town called Cassopolis, Michigan (somewhere near New Buffalo).  Bonus points for Jake's for resisting the Michigan-urge to make their hand into a mitten and point out the location of their city on their hand.  I would have probably walked away if they did that.  Anyway, they were serving three types of meat sticks: honey ham, jalepeno, and barbeque.  My favorite of the three was the honey ham.  It wasn't quite bacon, but it was salty and sweet and delicious.  The jalepeno wasn't quite as spicy as I would have liked out of a jalepeno stick, and I barely remember eating the barbeque one, so it must not have been  my favorite.  They also get bonus points for letting me pose with a pig statute.  If I lived closer to Jake's, I would be there all the time, but I could definitely see myself ordering some of their other meats to give it a shot.  I'm always on the lookout for a new smoked meat vendor.  Their website is
Lastly, we stopped at a stand that wasn't selling any bacon (weird); however, they were advertising for something called "Camp Bacon" which might be the best combination of words of all times.  Once I came down off my high of hearing about "Camp Bacon," I realized that I would be unable to attend this year.  However, if you want to have, what I can only imagine would be, the experience of a lifetime, look up Camp Bacon on June 19 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The website is, but it is apparently not working just yet.

All that was before we even went upstairs to any of the twelve restaurants which were all serving bacon related dishes.  This was going to be a marathon.

1 comment:

  1. We literally put up the Bacon syrup a week ago and sold out. People were emailing us wondering what to combine it with, and we had no idea - so we used your chocolate milk suggestion! Thanks!