Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's Free Ice Cream Day!

I try not to write anything here the same day that I write on LAist, but I just couldn't sit back and not spread the word that today is "Free Cone Day" at Ben & Jerry's. For my LAist post, I also made fun of hippies and Dave Matthews. You can read it here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Name Is Heath - I Love Bacon

A couple of weeks ago, there was a memorial service for beloved Sunset Junction mainstay, Bingo. If you’ve ever been on Sunset between Sanborn and Hyperion, you’ve surely enjoyed the super wiener-dog of all time strutting his stuff; greeting shoppers and friends at Pull My Daisy – the store belonging to his supercool owner, Sarah, or satisfying his legendary love of bacon just outside Eatwell.

If you know me, you know that I also have a particular affinity for bacon. Many a brunch is spent shoveling piece after piece into my mouth as friends and family members look on slack-jawed with awe and disgust. I even have a bacon wallet.

When I recently learned that Vosges was manufacturing a bacon chocolate bar, I was intrigued. My parents bought me “Mo’s Bacon Bar” as a gift several weeks back, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

I had a blissful image in my head of what a chocolate-covered bacon bar would taste like, and perhaps I was secretly worried that it could never live up to my expectations. (The same reason the Big Star reunion album still sits in a wrapper next to my cd player.)

More likely, I knew that the eating of the bacon bar should be a special moment. This wasn’t some pedestrian over-the-counter snack meant to calm down a sweet tooth after dinner. This was a collision of greatness meant to be celebrated.

Sadly, Bingo’s passing presented me with just the occasion I was looking for. On Sunday, in his honor, I cracked the seal on that “exotic candy bar”.

First, I put on my “My Name Is Bingo – I Like Bacon” t-shirt. Then I poured some coffee into my Bingo mug. (different Bingo, but well-intentioned)

I read the surprisingly long essay on the back of the candy bar, explaining the evolution of the bacon-chocolate concept. Someone named Katrina talked about how the co-mingling of pancake syrup and bacon on her breakfast plate introduced her to the concept of sweet and salty that later became an obsession. Several paragraphs later, that obsession led to the “royal coupling” that is bacon and chocolate.

Further down the back of the wrapper are instructions on how to fully enjoy the bacon bar experience. “Breathe… engage all five senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply.” I held the bacon bar just under my nose and took a deep breath… The scent was clearly chocolate, but wait! There’s another aroma bristling just beneath the surface. It’s… smoky.

Next the directions instructed me to “Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine.” Hmm. The color of the chocolate would best be described as “chocolate-colored”. There was nothing particular to distinguish this candy bar in my hands from lesser, non-bacon-filled chocolate bars, but it was a nice-looking chocolate bar nonetheless.

Eventually, the box gave me the go ahead to “snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of salt and sweet coat your tongue.” I shivered with anticipation as I delicately broke off the corner of the bacon bar, and placed it on my tongue.

“Cock your head curiously as if you are thinking, ‘where’s the bacon?” Actually, that wasn’t on the back of the box, but that is what happened next. On first taste, this was just a mere chocolate bar. A very good chocolate bar. But a mere one. Hardly the pork party I was expecting.

Then I took another, bigger bite. And there it was. A subtle, yet distinct, salty crisp morsel of smoked Applewood goodness. With increasing passion, I devoured the entire bar. The chocolate was deep and rich. The bacon was scarce, and utilized mostly as an accent. It was sort of like eating chocolate that somehow had a bacony aftertaste.

Though it was not the other-worldly experience I may have hoped for based on the concept, it was a very very good chocolate bar. Alas, my craving for large pieces of bacon doused in chocolate will have to be satisfied some other day.

Bingo may be gone, but he lives on in the hearts of the people he touched, and in the mural at Hyperion and Sunset, where well-wishers left packages of bacon in his honor. The Unofficial King of Silverlake was truly an ambassador of love and an ambassador of bacon. He will truly be missed.