If there was a food Olympics – and I wish there was – I could only hazard a guess that it would be Niamh Shields of food blog Eat Like a Girl fame plunging by parachute with James Bond into the opening ceremony.
So, I was only to quick to reserve a place and start counting sleeps when a chance came up to attend a bacon master class hosted by such food blogging royalty. The promise… Best quality ingredients coerced into take home quantities of candied bacon, bacon jam, bacon fudge and bacon vodka.
Two baking trays of sweet, yet possibly a little bit sour, maple syrup and tamarind candied bacon were soon singing under duress of the five or so ovens of the all but brand new Central Street Cookery School. As you can imagine. With bacon, maple and tamarind syrup, sizzling into caramalised bliss, the smell was incredible. It was suggested that a window was cracked. I was in more in favour of taping them up, and the door.
With the impossible to leave alone candied strips of bacon cooling, and hardening to one side, we worked our bacon jam. Vast quantities of bacon reducing away with espresso coffee and chipotle seasoning.
All the while our host Niamh flirted from station to station making sure we all got what we came for. Her love for food is infectious. I got the impression that this wasn’t a money making exercise and that we had all just met up one night and gone shares in the ingredients. It’s was a nice vibe.
With candied bacon to the left and the bacon jam behind us, it was time to turn our attention to the bacon fudge. Having never made fudge (successfully) before. Watching it rise then drop away in the pan as more and more heat was applied was an experience in itself. It seemed to take on a mind of it’s own while developing a general disregard for the laws of physics. Panicked sideways glances at our gracious host and comforting assurances that our fudge was not broken. Digital thermometers in hand, we urged the mixture to it’s 116 degrees Celsius nirvana over what seemed a lifetime. Then, when that special moment had arrived it was introduced as quick as you like, as to as much bacon jam as you dared. Unaccustomed as I am to having bacon jam in stock I was a little unsure as to what I might use it for. Niamh suggested grilled scallops and diced tomato, as I nodded wide eyed like a kid at the dessert bar of an all you can eat buffet. It all suddenly made sense.
Completely out-flanked by bacon, it was time to draw our attention to preparing the bacon vodka. We were going to have to wait to a week for this, giving the bacon time to infuse with the vodka and siphoning off the fat as it froze on top of the vodka that just wouldn’t. Again, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with. Answer: the best Bloody Mary ever devised.