I really do love bacon. In fact, I love it so much that for a long time I barely ever ate it. Somewhere in the hard-wiring of my brain, I fixed on the notion that these crinkly little pieces of meat were just too fatty, too addictive — and ultimately just not worth the calories. Long story short: I spent my 20s in a mostly bacon-free zone (I also did not eat ice cream or potato chips during this seminal decade). I’m happy to report that in my old age I’ve snapped out of this delusion and live by a new motto: Life’s short — eat bacon. Luckily, I didn’t even need hypnosis to figure this out.
Like many people, my love affair with this pork product began in childhood. My mother was health conscious long before being health conscious was hip, and pretty much the only time we had bacon was on vacation — and then it was a complete bonanza. We started camping when I was about six years old, and among the many amazing things discovered on these trips was that my mom would fry our pancakes directly in the bacon fat. It was decadent and delicious and I can still remember exactly how it smelled as I scrambled out of the tent in anticipation of these rare but oh-so-memorable breakfasts.
We feature recipes and tips from Bacon Nation, an amazing new cookbook by authors Marie Rama and Peter Kaminsky. The central premise of the book is that bacon is something that should be celebrated as an everyday food, particularly as a seasoning to spice up a wide variety of dishes. “As resourceful chefs have long known a little bacon can turn a dish from blah to beautiful,” they write. They feature 125 recipes, including soups, appetizers, salads, pasta, bread, desserts — and my personal favorite, bacon swizzle sticks (check out the picture and recipe here).
Of course, bacon makes our thoughts turn to breakfast, and luckily you are in for a treat as we take you on a tour of 27 of the best breakfast joints in the region. Here at HV, we all agree that it’s the most important meal of the day, and not just for nutritional purposes.
One of my favorite recent breakfasts — actually, it was one of my favorite recent meals — was at the Culture Cafe Bar in Beacon. This happening new eatery occupies the tiny, delightful space where the beloved but short-lived Crumb was housed. My sister and I ambled in there on a recent Sunday about noon and snagged one of the prime tables right in the Main Street window. Ultimately, my sister ordered a vegetable frittata; I opted for the eggs Benedict, or what they call the “Culture Benedict.” I consider myself a bit of an eggs Benedict connoisseur; let’s just say I’ve had quite a few in my day. This was undoubtedly one of the best. The mounds of fresh salmon, the perfectly spiced horseradish hollandaise, tender asparagus, just the right amount of potatoes. The only problem was that I couldn’t relax: My sister was eating off of my plate at such a rapid pace I was sure this delightful dish would disappear before my very eyes. In summary, the cool vibe, the great coffee, excellent service, and a very reasonable price tag all combined to make it a memorable meal for both of us. Culture Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. I know that we have a while to wait, but I’m already looking forward to the warmer weather when the backyard patio will open again.
Happy New Year.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor In Chief
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