Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bacon Sandwich Quest: The Reckoning

2012 is done and dusted. Dawn has broken (twice given my tardiness in getting this written) on a new year, the world is looking forward and not back. The time for reminiscence has passed, where the last few days brought reflection, teary-eyed montages in print and on screen, henceforward is a fresh start. A blank canvas, time for resolution.

But wait. A year in review cannot be complete until the year is out. Bacon sandwiches pay no heed to the march of time, to our arbitrary full stops and delineations. A quest for the finest sandwich in 2012 would not have been a proper quest and true until the final seconds of the final minute of the year expired. The possibility of more bacon is ever present.

And so, here it is. The final reckoning. I set out to record every bacon sandwich I ate during 2012, and have done exactly that. As I noted at the start, the humble bacon sandwich really is worth celebrating, and I hope that's what I've achieved. It's been emotional, at times depressing, at others hugely greasily satisfying, often dull, mostly futile and usually pointless, but we've reached the end of our porcine road together.

There are just December's sandwiches left to review, and then at long last the winner can be announced. If you're already getting distracted and drifting off in the direction of more fulfilling reading material, then I suggest you look away now. December was a four sandwich month. FOUR. That's almost one per week statistics nerds.

First up, and giving weight to the theory that large chains can't make bacon sandwiches properly is this effort from the Upper Crust at Wetherby services. Overpriced (£2.99), under-stuffed with over-smoked, over-salted, overly American style bacon. Just not very good at all.

Secondly, and proving that you can't really trust a greasy spoon either, is a weak offering from a caff in a shipping container on an industrial estate in Speke. That's just round the corner from Liverpool Airport in case you were wondering. The cheap and nasty bread would be excusable but the flabby bacon and the weird tasting brown sauce are not, especially not at over two quid.

There's nothing worse on a bacon sandwich than the intrusion of some sauce imposter that doesn't even taste like proper brown sauce. It doesn't have to be HP, Daddies is quite nice, and even some supermarket brands are ok, but whatever it is it categorically must not taste like barbecue sauce. I went to Australia once, and they kept trying to offer barbecue sauce in lieu of brown sauce on the grounds that 'it's the same thing mate'. It fucking well isn't it.

Now I've got that off my chest let's take a look at a good bacon sandwich. An excellent bacon sandwich in fact. Ever since the early days of my quest people have been telling me to get my bacon on at The Greedy Pig in Leeds. I've eaten breakfast there so know they're good, but had never had their bacon sarnie until a couple of weeks ago.

The Greedy Pig bacon and mushroom was splendid, a real contender for the title. A good quality roll with a bit of texture to it, not the super-soft variety but not quite in Scottish territory either, and fillings verging on magnificent. Thick cut bacon with a good layer of crisped fat, salty but not overly so, and oooh what mushrooms. It's rare to get anything other than button mushrooms in a bacon sanger, but these were fat slices of meaty field mushroom and took the sandwich up to the next level. Excellent work, £1.90 for bacon, 40p extra for mushrooms.

Finally.... New Year's Eve. Last chance saloon for Bacon Sandwich Quest. The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields, London. A bacon sandwich in a restaurant devoted to all things breakfast, in a big city increasingly devoted to all things food. Surely this would be another contender for the title?

In a word, no. It could have been a champion, all the ingredients were in place, the long hours on the training ground complete, due care and attention given to the minutiae of elite level bacon sandwich preparation until the last, only for it all to go wrong with fatally flawed execution on the day.

The retreat into the chasing pack was caused entirely by the singular failure to apply much heat to the bacon. As if it had been sweated in the bottom of a damp oven, each of the four rashers (yes, four!) of good quality pig were rendered a damp squib. What a shame. £5 with a good coffee or freshly squeezed juice.

And that is that. Twenty-eight bacon sandwiches and we can have only one winner. You could cut the tension with an HP-smeared knife round here I tell you, so I shall keep you waiting no longer.

The winner of Bacon Sandwich Quest 2012 is.....

The Greedy Pig, Leeds

The judges (that's me by the way) praised the quality of ingredients used, the faultless execution, the great value and the rare attention to detail on display in the bacon sandwiches at the Pig. The decision was unanimous and the lovely people at the Greedy Pig are worthy winners of the inaugural (and final) Bacon Sandwich Quest.*

For those of you with an unwavering commitment to Bacon Sandwich Quest here is a link to each of the monthly posts followed by a photo montage of bacon-y goodness and last but least, the final leaderboard.


*Note to editors: I am available for public speaking about bacon or other topics at weddings, funerals, christenings and bar mitzvahs. I will write for money. All text herein is © Northern Food 2012-13 and cannot be reproduced without my permission. No animals were harmed in the production of Bacon Sandwich Quest (except for pigs). I will accept free bacon subject to terms and conditions.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..

Rick Hamilton said...

Went to Greedy Pig for my dealing-with-a-hangover bacon sandwich this morning, on your recommendation. Can't fault the judge's decision. Nice one.

Dave said...

Rick - cheers, glad it was up to scratch!

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