Baconfest – a celebration of pork

The UIC Forum was packed tighter than a factory farm for this weekend’s Baconfest. Fifty-seven restaurants and twenty-one vendors plied two thousand some-odd participants with all manner of pork products. Sweet, savory, smoked, finessed, infused, foamed, perfumed, rendered, and crumbled — I think I saw every presentation of bacon possible.

Favorite dishes among my crowd included Gemini Bistro’s “The Elvis”, a combination of peanut butter, banana, honey peppered bacon served on fried banana bread. The King would be proud. The Signature Room’s “Bacon stuffed bacon” dabbed with whipped pancakes and maple jam broke the fabric of space and time with its recursive bacon-y genius. We also had to grab several “Coq in Balls” from Meatyballs Mobile because meat wrapped in meat is twice as tasty. On the flip side, I’m still shaking my head at the candied pork toppings for Cafe des Architectes’ “Ziggy Piggy” build-your-own sundae bar. Gummy and bacon is unnatural. And the bacon perfume vendor? Uh, no.

I almost wish we’d been able to get into the event with the VIP crowd because places started to run out of food before we were half-way through the room. There’s no time to digest or savor at Baconfest — you have to pig out with determination in order to sample everything. Not that I ran into anyone who came away from Baconfest hungry. It simply wasn’t possible. If I’m completely honest, an extra hour at the event would’ve meant sinking into a pork coma.

The crowd was almost as entertaining as the food. People went whole hog for the event, and wore t-shirts celebrating their love of bacon. If you’re interested in seeing Baconfest attendees in full pig regalia, check out the Chicago Bites Bacon T-shirt set on Facebook. And hey, while you’re there, visualize a slab of bacon and then “like” the page.

Special thanks to Candid Wines for sponsoring the raffle on behalf of the preSERVE Gardens (a Slow Food Chicago project). I didn’t expect to win tickets, but was so glad I did. Baconfest let me live high on the hog!