Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gelson's Premium Center Cut



So a few of us went out for a beer and a little of the 1st game of the Eastern Conference Finals. We arrive at the bar and while its not especially crowded or busy, our seemingly annoyed waitress took 10 minutes to let us know she would be with us in "just a minute". I did not have a good feeling about this. Another five minutes later and we were able to order a couple pitchers and some appetizers (sliders with bacon...duh). Maybe it wasn't going to be so bad. Thankfully there was a game on, and good conversation and good friends, if this had been a mission of drinking and boozing, we were off to a rocky start. I know, you are thinking "Whats this got to do with Gelson's", its coming don't be so impatient, bacon is life and life is about the journey. Bacon Jason arrives and when our waitress comes back around he orders an iced tea and then made what seemed to the rest of us a reasonable request. "How many slices of bacon come when you add bacon to a sandwich? Can we just order a plate of bacon?" Not only did it seem reasonable to us, we had done exactly that in this establishment before. However our server, obviously having a bad day, and unable for her sake to "fake" it; looked at us all as if we had asked her to climb up on the bar and copulate with a donkey. I'm not sure if she was a bacon hater or was baffled by the request, or what exactly, but somehow she wandered off and we didn't get to order a plate of bacon. Needless to say our already stellar service became even less of a priority for Miss bacon hater. We were eventually able to get a second round and Bacon Jason this time did not ask but simply told her "Bring us a plate of bacon, 10 to 15 strips". As she scurried off to the kitchen to see if putting "just" bacon on a plate was even possible you could tell she was anticipating a fleeting moment of joy when she was able to come back to the table of bacon jerks and tell them "I'm so sorry but we don't do that!" I saw her emerge a few moments later, glare at our table, and proceed to the little touchscreen console where they put in the orders, apparently she was the only one in the service industry that didn't feel like serving tonight. I made a mental note to look for floor scraps, spit, and anything not right with the bacon that I knew would be arriving soon. (trust me we will get to the Gelson's) More talk, drinks, and basketball and what light through yonder kitchen door breaks? Is that the sound of angel's trumpet's in the distance? The oh so difficult special order of a bunch o' bacon on a plate emerges and is brought to our table and after a quick loogie check there was much rejoicing. I have found that a lot of restaurants really phone it in when it comes to bacon, but this stuff was full of flavor, warm, not to greasy, all in all good bacon, and had it not been for the service of the one waitress, worthy of review. All but our vegetarian friend had some and we all agreed, bacon is always worth the wait. So time passes, yadda yadda yadda, more of the same lackluster service and we decide to head out.

Its a little after 9 and I had planned to swing by the nearby Trader Joe's ya know to peruse their bacon aisle, its a hobby. But alas they closed at nine and I am out of luck, which kinda sucked as I was thinking about bacon now and once you start thinking... ok.... you got me... I never actually STOP thinking about bacon. So Charles bets me that Gelson's is open, did I mention I am giving Charles a ride? Well I am, and he bets me they are open, and since they too are close by, we decide to check it out. For a point of context (and you thought we were close to the actual Gelson's review....silly) let me say a little bit about the stores I keep mentioning. I have like 4 friends that read this, and I am pretty sure they all know the stores I am talking about, however, on the off chance someone that I haven't begged to look at this does read it and has no contextual perspective on these stores, this bit is for you. Trader Joe's is like an Indie rock band when it comes to supermarkets, like say Modest Mouse or Death Cab For Cutie. You may or may not have heard of them or their music, but you know right away they are not an Aerosmith or Rolling Stones. Check em out some time they got good deals and a lot of things you just wont find anywhere else. It was their uniqueness that made me think hmmm I could score some interesting bacon there. But I was too late for that now. Gelson's is (to me anyway) a bit snooty, over-priced "boutique" type of supermarket. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the store, but that type of store tends to attract the Jag and Mercedes crowd and well, I have never really fit in with them. So anyway, Charles bets they are open and I figured they may have some bacon you don't typically find at your Safeway, or Kroger store, so its on, and off we go. (So close to the review, remember thats what this is about, almost there)

Gelson's is open, and being that Charles had lost our last bet we called it a wash and headed in to the store in search of smoked meats. But before I get to that, if you have whole rotisserie chickens for sale, and its 20 minutes to closing, lets say you have a dozen or more of them, do they leave em under the heat lamps for tomorrow? Shouldn't you like, blow em out on the cheap if you don't? It is 20 minutes to close, nary a Jag, Benz or BMW just a couple of drunks on a bacon bender... but I digress. Let me say this, they did not disappoint on the bacon selection. There was some standard brands like Hormel, and something called a "Range Pack" which was simply a 2lb sliced chunk of bacon in a box, I guess bacon from a box makes you feel more like a cowboy, it could have been the nifty "cowboy kneeling over a campfire" silhouette on the box that did it though. There was canadian bacon in several varieties. Even that abomination and sin against bacon Turkey 'bacon', I'll go into that in another post perhaps. Normally I would relocate that stuff to say, the cold cereal aisle, it simply does not belong with real bacon, but there was a time factor, also the fact we are the only non-employees in the store, made such a mission a little too obvious. There was even some pastrami looking thing called beef bacon, which for some of the same reasons I detest turkey 'bacon' I should scorn this other non traditional non pork goodness, but somehow the generous marbling of fat on the meat, it won me over and I couldn't hate it, maybe in another review one day. They have a few premium brands along the top row, one enticing 8oz for $8 peppered bacon, of which I cant recall the name, some delicious looking Boar's Head brand bacon (no I didn't know they made bacon either) and the house brand Gelson's. (Yay we are here....see wasn't that fun?) I opt for the house brand as I haven't tried it before and its also probably only available here in the Gelson's chain. I felt so exclusive I wanted to drive a Benz. Well Charles cant resist the Boar's Head brand and to be honest who could blame him it was a deep bacony red and looked so tasty sitting there staring at us, hoping we would choose it to be the one to go home with us, little did it know it wasn't going in a BMW but a lowly Honda, we totally messed with that bacon's head. Charles promised to write up a review so be looking for a special guest post soon.

I dropped off Charles and the Boar's Head and hurried home to cook up my Gelson's Premium Hickory Smoked Center Cut Bacon. It was $5 for just 12oz, not a full pound, that means it has to be good right? Well I fired up the oven, thats right oven, its the only way to cook bacon. I'll post on the virtues of oven bacon later, or you can google it, trust me though, no pants + frying bacon in a pan do not mix, oven is the way to go. I almost forgot to snap a picture of the bacon before I cut it open so I ran into the bedroom where the camera was charging and just threw the bacon on the bed and snapped a picture real quick, and I noticed, my comforter on the bed is bacon colored, cool. I laid out the bacon on the cookie sheet, it doesn't seem especially thick for thick cut bacon, in fact there are about 16 slices in this 12 ounce package, a good "thick" cut should be about an ounce per slice. Anyway the oven is preheated and in goes the bacon and before I can figure out how to bleach or sew some sort of marbling into my bedspread, the bacon is done. There is some shrinkage, not a significant amount but more than one would get with a high quality bacon. I paper towel the batch of bacon and have a taste. Hmmm, you would think with this much build up there would be more to it than this. Its not bad tasting, but for hickory smoked, it has little to no hickory flavor. It is in most respects, rather bland. I think perhaps its because the savory bacon from the restaurant is still upon my palate, so I do a quick Mountain Dew gargle and rinse to remove any previous bacon flavors from mingling and try again. This time I do get a little more flavor, unfortunately its the flavor of grease, and not even a good salty bacon like grease, just an oily taste. As I sit here and finish the last piece I think to myself, shoulda tried the Boar's Head.

This bacon gets a nothing to write a blog about average taste of 2 strips.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Thanks Bacon Chris for the very short (hehe) description of this bacon. Enjoyed reading your stories and vivid reviews as always. keep them coming.