All Bacon Dinner – SF (EATS)
July 8, 2010 § 1 Comment
At my old job, we occasionally had to do icebreakers when we gathered staff from across the country at conferences. A popular one was to introduce yourself and state your favorite food. My answer was always “bacon”. For some reason, that really stuck — perhaps I don’t seem like the type of person whose favorite food would be strips of cured pork belly.
But honestly, how could you not love the stuff? To me, it’s perfect extra crispy and served alongside a soft-cooked omelet for breakfast, or crumbled onto a salad, or wrapped around grilled scallops, or even ensconced in milk chocolate (mmm, I love that Vosges Mo’s milk chocolate bacon bar). Even vegetarians I know have a weakness for at least the scent, or the idea, of bacon. A Jewish friend has an apron emblazoned with “Jews for Bacon”.
Which is why a recent event — the “Urban Kitchen” All Bacon Dinner hosted by Dontaye Ball, founder of Good Foods Catering – was right up my alley. And, of course, my husband and I brought our “Jews for Bacon” friend and her husband along with us.
So, at 6:30 p.m. two Saturdays ago, we pulled up to Dontaye’s apartment in Bayview-Hunters Point, where he was hosting this underground supper club. We descended to his basement, the walls painted red with gold circles, the stairs lit by Christmas lights and the room looking out onto the water of India Basin.
The dinner was six courses of bacon-y goodness (bacon made in-house by Good Foods Catering) and also featured produce from the Marin and Alemany farmers markets. The menu:
Micro Good Foods breakfast
Poached brown farm egg, seared Good Foods house-made bacon, and toast with bacon brown sugar butter
Bacon corn chowder
Good Foods house-made bacon, corn, potatoes, and cream
Bacon spinach salad
Baby Willie farms spinach, grilled Twin Girls Farm peaches, shaved red onion, goat cheese, and bacon-sherry vinaigrette
Seared dayboat scallops
With early summer squash, corn, cherry tomatoes and bacon-sherry jus
Roasted Rocky Junior chicken breast
With bacon braised summer greens and bacon bread pudding
Peaches and cream
Fresh peaches with mascarpone and almond-bacon shortbread
In short, a lot of food. And every course was quite good. You could tell that this is a man who is pursuing his passion for cooking great food and sharing it with others. I was talking to another chef and cookbook author recently who believes that you can taste the chef’s intent while cooking — if the chef is cooking with love, the food tastes great; if the chef is cooking while angry or stressed, the food isn’t up to par. This meal was definitely prepared with love.
Our favorites were the Micro Good Foods breakfast, a perfect combination of savory and sweet and chewy / crunchy / silky textures. I wouldn’t mind having a tub of that bacon brown sugar butter to slather on toast, either! My other favorite was the bacon spinach salad — the bacon-sherry vinaigrette was one of the best dressings I’ve ever tasted, the richness of the bacon fat offset by the slight spice of Dijon mustard and the acidity of sherry and apple cider vinegars, and the peaches were perfectly ripe and enhanced by the char of the grill. The succotash served with the scallops was my runner-up: the mix of shaved summer squash, fresh cherry tomatoes and bacon-sherry jus was luscious and could be eaten on its own. The only thing is that the vegetables overpowered the scallops and rendered them slightly irrelevant.
The corn chowder was solid but nothing special, although I did like Dontaye’s flourish of sprinkling wild fennel fronds on top. The chicken breast was surprisingly moist and tender, but it was a bit too salty. The peaches in the dessert were a tad under-ripe. But these were minor details in an overall great performance, especially considering that this was basically a dinner party for 11 in a guy’s basement.
I’m definitely going to visit Dontaye soon at the Alemany farmers market, where he sells barbecue and sometimes has the bacon available if you pre-order.
Dinner was $65 per person, cash only. Wine (two reds and two whites) and beer were available for extra charge. He hosts various “Urban Kitchen” dinners (some bacon-focused, some not) throughout the year. Check out his blog or e-mail him to get on his mailing list to find out when upcoming events are.