Bacon Brunch // January 2016 Mantry

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No one wakes up to the smell of cereal. Breakfast means bacon. Or, rather — let’s be honest — brunch means bacon. Breakfast is utilitarian, hence the name. Born of necessity: we sleep, we fast; we arise, we eat. But brunch is a toast to hedonism: we snooze late, and meals blur together. So let’s satisfy all your still-slumbering senses as only bacon can. The sizzle, the smell, the crunch, and, of course, the taste — bacon, a meal in itself, is meant to be savored. Profound alone, it deepens all it touches, from chocolate to cereal. Who else but bacon could turn lettuce and tomato into a world-class sandwich? Who else but bacon can make this weekend’s brunch the best meal of the year? Hit the snooze and let it sizzle — bacon’s on the menu.

Maplewood Smoked Bacon // Broadbent’s // Kuttawa, KY

Made with a hundred-year-old recipe so simple it can’t be much of a secret, Broadbent’s famous bacon is dry cured in salt, smoked over maple, and, well, that’s about it. But that sweet-savory smoke tickles noses far from this Kentucky holler — Momofuku and Zingerman’s serve the slices. So simple, but so good — so cook it right: in a heavy rustic skillet, slow and low with an occasional turn. And don’t forget that precious grease — crack a few eggs into the pan when the bacon’s done.

Srirachup // Sosu Sauces // Oakland, CA

Asian-inspired, American-made — just the cultural mash-up to link ketchup’s roots to the modern table (the sauce was, originally, Chinese, according to foodie lore). But how far the noble spread has fallen: ketchup and sriracha too, all red-dyed and plastic-clad. Not here. California-grown Early Girls, slow cooked for two hours and hand-mixed with spices for a complex flavor that shines best simply: eggs, bacon, bread, and a hefty drizzle.

Organic Apple Raisin Oatmeal // Farm To Table Foods // Brooklyn, NY

Some cereals tempt by excess: in a bowl of yogurt and honey, seeds and nuts, powders and fruits, chia-this and coconut-that, the granola is garnish at best. Here, grain reclaims the throne. But your bowl is far from boring: all-organic oats, rye, wheat, spelt, barley, and flax rattle and hum in farm-grown glory. A dash of apples and raisins gives just enough natural sweetness; a topping of bacon turns granola into gold.

Pure Hickory Syrup // Hickoryworks // Trafalgar, IN

A Florida family staking a claim in the Indiana wilderness stumbled onto this here old-school syrup on the advice of a wood-gathering neighbor. Turns out, they were homesteading the motherlode: a forest of shagbark hickory. Hand-harvested bark, soaked, distilled, sweetened, and aged, becomes a sugary sauce with a spiced-up kick (imagine the tang of hickory smoke, flavorized). That means it holds up better than other woody syrups in richer, creamier contexts — such as, say, a bacon-bedecked bowl of oatmeal.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Biscotti // Marlo’s Bakeshop // San Francisco, CA

A healthy, post-brunch food coma is one thing; a sugar crash is another. Which is why biscotti always sneaks onto our tables as the sidecar to an after-meal espresso (or two): satisfying, but not too sweet. Problem is, traditional twice-baked biscuits are usually too teeth-rattling to eat without a thorough dunk in your java. Enter Marlo — or rather, Marlo’s grandmother Ann, and her secret recipe. Not as sweet as a cookie, not as brittle as biscotti, it’s the best of both.

Baconluxious Chocolate Bar // Chuao Chocolatier // Carlsbad, CA

South American chocolatiers transplanted to Southern California, these brothers marry the quality beans of their home country (Chuao is the world-class chocolate-growing region of Venezuela) to American tastes. By which we mean, simply, bacon. Or, more specifically (this is SoCal, after all, where nothing’s that simple): Bacon, smoked sea salt, and maple syrup. Oh yeah, and good, ethically sourced cocoa from the motherland.

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January 2016 Mantry | Bacon Brunch

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