Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just when you thought you'd seen it all

Yes that is bacon, on top off chocolate ganache, on top of a maple cupcake.

This image is courtesy of the Tasting Table newsletter that I get daily, here is their run down on the new national trend of bacon cupcakes:

At Buzz bakery in Alexandria, Virginia, pastry chef Josh Short flavors chocolate cupcakes with applewood-smoked bacon ($2.75). "These are my two favorite flavors, so I'm often looking for a way to combine them; the smokiness of the bacon goes very well with the earthiness of the chocolate cake," he says.

In Boulder, Colorado, Tee & Cakes serves up a maple-flavored cupcake (pictured) topped with chocolate ganache and a hefty pile of chopped bacon ($2.65). And in Chicago, More Cupcakes owner Patty Rothman has gone hog wild with five sweet-savory treats ($4.50 each), including a BLT cupcake topped with ranch-flavored frosting, heirloom tomatoes and microgreens, and a potato cupcake topped with sour-cream frosting, chives and bacon crumbles.

Can't wait for a taste? Chicago's Bleeding Heart Bakery will send you its bacon-and-peanut-butter cupcakes ($3.25 each, plus shipping). We hear they're great with bacon-flavored coffee.

A lot of young, smart, chefs are using free range bacon and all sorts of pork in everything these days. Niman ranch seems to be the most popular for NYC restaurants (my anecdotal take on it). They treat the animals well and produce a very tasty, humanely raised, pork product.

It kind of makes sense after years of only seeing bacon in thin slices vacu-packed in plastic that this new high quality pork is making people rejoice. I love a good thick cut, maple smoked, slice of bacon just as much as everyone else, but I don't feel the need to add it to my salad and my chocolate cake. The thing is, or at least my thing is, why is it we have to go whole hog (yes, I'm the Shecky Greene of food writers) with this new product? Do we really need pork or beef suet or any other animal product in our postre?

Butter and eggs taste great and no one has to die for us to get them. Don't get me wrong I have no problem with eating animals, I just think we need to be responsible in how much we eat. I also think as I have said before that if you are going to kill an animal all of it should be used. So while I have a personal problem with beef suet pastry I commend the butcher/baker who is making use of the whole animal.

My point is that now, in all the trendy, sustainable, organic, local eateries (and many others that don't fit those categories) it seems to me the locavores are over indulging they inner carnivore. And maybe resturants are just giving their customers what they want?

Menus these days don't just leave the meat for the entre, it's in everything. Yesterday I saw a menu that had four vegetable side dishes, two were made with meat in them. And the most austere item on the menu is always the veggie option. Even with fish you have to be careful they haven't stuffed it with lardon.

My point here is pretty simple. It's great that we now have multiple sources of responsibly farmed local meat, but do we need to over indulge ourselves in it? The guidelines for a healthy diet for both people and the planet is that we eat meat maybe 3 - 5 times a week. The farming of cows is a significant contributor to global warming.

So if you choose to put that meat on a cupcake you go for it, but otherwise would you please leave the greens alone so my non-meat eating friends can eat out as well? It really isn't so hard to make tasty food that doesn't have animals in it.

Just because it's available doesn't mean we have to pig out on it! ;-)

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