Friday, March 11, 2016

Tender Belly's behemoth bacon

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 10:50 AM

In last week's Indy, in my review of Modern Market, I called out Denver's Tender Belly as an example of one sustainability-minded company from whom MM is purchasing goods — specifically bacon

That bacon comes from heritage-breed pigs, given no hormones or antibiotics and raised properly, outside of gestation and farrowing crates. True to TB's marketing, the bacon sports a lovely meat-to-fat ratio and exceptional flavor. 

When I'd called TB for basic fact-checking and to inquire a little more on the company, a friendly PR rep for the company immediately offered to send me samples. I politely declined — okay, actually I jokingly called them "pork pushers" — saying it wasn't necessary and even a breach of basic conflict-of-interest journalism policies ahead of printing. Later, one of the company owners phoned me just to follow up and make sure I got what I needed. 

Friendly people. Good with the media.

Which brings us to Thursday when an unsolicited package arrived here at the Indy with my name in the center and Tender Belly's name at the top. It was bulky, weighing at least a few pounds and cold to the touch because of ice packs inside. I didn't have to open it to know what was inside. 
click to enlarge Supremely good bacon looks like this. - COURTESY TENDER BELLY
  • Courtesy Tender Belly
  • Supremely good bacon looks like this.

But when I finally did open it last night, a card fell out that read "Thanks for the article. From your favorite pork pushers." 

Like I said: friendly people. Good with the media.

"Alright, fine!" I proclaimed defiantly, (no I didn't) as I loaded four packages into my fridge — equivalent to a shipment from the company's Bacon Every Month Club.

Still reeling in anger that they would disobey my wishes (also entirely not true), I pulled a pack of TB's dry-rub uncured habanero bacon out this morning. 'Cuz that sounds terrible. (I lie!) 

I seared a couple pieces, then, in the pan grease, cooked some pre-baked, chopped sweet potatoes and kale we'd made the night prior. Then ... I bit in. 

"Hot damn! Suh-weeeeeeet pig!" I thought to myself, parroting some of the redneck kids I grew up around in Alabama (this part is true). 

There's bacon, and there's bacon that inspires award-winning Denver chef Alex Seidel of Fruition Farms to say that Tender Belly offers "the finest quality pork products that I have ever used." 

This particular bacon gains a little sweetness from brown, maple and white sugar and a serious spice bite from the habanero dusting — it's a lovely burn that lingers, and tasted great with the kale and sweet potatoes. 

If you take a look at all of the fine Denver-area restaurants and retailers peddling TB's pork it's easy to gain a sense of its further legitimacy and supremacy. And of course, you can visit Modern Market here in the Springs for a taste too.

In the end, the PR people win, because here I am, inspired to post this blog because how they blew-up my breakfast this morning. Not fair. They're fighting with the might of bacon, and not just any bacon, on their side. Jerky pork pushers. (Um ... thank you.) 

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