A Virtual Bacon Bonanza
By David Josselyn
You only had to be near Main Street, Saturday, August 17th, to whiff the mouthwatering aromas of cured pork belly coming from the many vendors participating in the Central City Bacon Tour. It was a day to celebrate the hard to resist food as a way to honor our heritage when the miners of yore subsisted on salted sowbelly. The warm sunny day held no hint of rain as hundreds of people swarmed Main Street for the event. The Bacon Tour also featured the final 2013 performance of the Wild Bunch Gang and served as a backdrop for the Lew Cady memorial/celebration.
The purveyors of pork belly
Tender Belly – The primary sponsor of the event, Tender Belly served up an unlimited supply of maple and habanero bacon. Erik and Shannon Duffy founded the business in 2010 after growing up pig farming in Iowa. The Duffy’s raise their animals “stress-free” with plenty of open space to roam and exercise and are fed a strict vegetarian diet. They dry cure their bacon ten days and smoke it using cherry and hickory wood.
Olive Oil Pantry – Bob and Marilyn Harding were on the scene offering their flavor infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Naturally, they were featuring their bacon olive oil, but they also had chipotle, basil, and roasted garlic infused oils. Their online store expands that list considerably with different herbs, fruits, and spices. They import their extra virgin olive oils from the Mediterranean and their vinegars from Italy.
JKQ BBQ – Local pork smokers JKQ were sampling their maple bacon ice cream and offering up other goodies such as their smoked salmon BLT with basil mayo, bacon wrapped hot dogs, and of course their fresh cut made to order fries smothered in bacon bits and cheese. Joe and Kara Tinucci were so excited about the event, they posted their menu on Facebook five days beforehand encouraging people to come to the event.
Too Haute Cowgirls – Amy Tarrant and Deanna Liebl, co-owners of Too Haute Cowgirls were sampling their Have Bacon Will Travel popcorn which was chosen one of the top five innovative new gourmet products at the 2012 Sweets and Snacks Expo. They offer many flavor combinations of gourmet popcorn including Fistful of Fleur de Sel which has caramel, dark chocolate, toffee and salt. Another tantalizing popcorn treat offered is Chili con Chocolate which has dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and chili seasoning. Not limited to popcorn, the girls were also handing out samples of their Haute Buttered Rum Brittle which has been said it “tastes like Christmas.” Too Haute Cowgirls is located in Carbondale, Colorado.
Bistro Colorado – one of two food trucks parked on the street, Bistro Colorado is run by sous chef Andrew Treble who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Andrew was sampling Orange Quinoa with Peaches, Mint and Candied Tender Belly Bacon. The dish was not as sweet as the title suggests with fresh ingredients and tasted wonderful after the heaviness of other offerings.
El Toro the Tot – the second of two food trucks featured a menu full of burgers and tator tots. Vincent and Chrissy Burns were running the show and handing out samples of their Toro Tots. These delicious morsels looked like traditional tots, but were stuffed with aged cheddar and bacon that oozed out as you bite into them. Vincent and Chrissy met at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Also on the street were several of the usual local suspects: Mountain Mocha, Johnny Z’s, Century Casino, Courtney Creations, Dostal Alley, Kind Mountain Collective, Mother Mountain Glass, Gilpin Arts, and Gilpin History. Not quite so local, but consistent and great sponsors of Central’s events, KOOL 105.
The living pork
There was plenty of bacon and pork to go around, but one booth decided to go another route and show people what they were eating. The Sedalia Mountaineers were there with two pigs in a pen. Sunny Arbogast brought along a Yorkshire white pig and Hampshire black pig for folks to look at and understand the animal their food comes from. They also had other information about the animals, as well as a chart showing were the cuts of pork come from on the pig.
No good Central City event is complete without live music and the bacon tour was no exception. This time, the bands were Chris Daniels and the Kings, and the Erica Brown Band. Chris Daniels and the Kings have toured across North and South American and have appeared with B.B. King, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Ziggy Marley and many others. The Erica Brown Band has shared stages with Al Green, Ronnie Baker, Debbie Davies, and B.B. King. Erica’s bluesy vocals soared over Main Street causing many people to dance in the streets.