Life is better with bacon. The unctuous, gluttonous, crispy-fried chunk of pork from the pig's belly is a mandatory staple on any sane breakfast or brunch menu and is now typically found on many other menu smatterings across Seattle. The key is to find who does it best, most frequently and, for sheer entertainment value, most creatively.
Bacon combines sweet, savory and salty in a singular bite. Now, in this eater's opinion, what a chef does with this pivotal ingredient can help more than hinder a dish, and what better way to take down the nutrition factor of fruit than by stuffing it with bacon?
Location, location: Hunger -- If reciting your marriage vows in the back of your restaurant doesn't show commitment to your cause, I don't know what does. Chef-owners Brian and Jaime Brooks started Hunger in its initial location at the top of Fremont Avenue, where they shared the private ceremony, then last spring they rolled their operation down the hill to the shuttered Dad Watson's location. Revamping, restoring and replenishing the venue, the couple quadrupled the physical stature of the restaurant and stretched the size of the drink and food menu with additions like a "bartender's choice" cocktail item and the "Diablo Shrimp," which also includes house stuffed sausage.
Eating: Stuffed Dates -- Classics like Jaime's Seattle-renowned paella stuck around after the move, as did the much sought after stuffed dates. Loaded with the above mentioned delicacy of bacon, the Brooks and their team also pack this pitted produce with the Spanish pork sausage of Chorizo, then drizzle smoked paprika oil and a balsamic reduction over top and rest the dates next to Valdeon (a type of Spanish blue cheese) ice cream.
Drinking: Familia Zuccardi Vida Organica 2011 Sparkling Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina -- Not the usual suspect for producing sparkling wine, especially from the traditional grape of Chardonnay, Mendoza's organic producer Familia Zuccardi brings a thirst quencher to the table with the dates. The wine offers lively bubbles and acidity to cleanse the palate between bites, while the Chardonnay grape characteristics cling to the fatty richness of the bacon-stuffed date.
Pointers from the Pros: The married owners looked at the calendar and decided this was a timely and appropriate pairing considering the upcoming Valentine's Day. Jaime says they were striving for something unique, something they and their guests were yet to encounter.
"The idea behind the bubbles and the dates is because the dates are kind of sexy and rich and creamy and bubbles are always a sexy way to drink and eat," says Brian. "It's refreshing and effervescent." Take it from these culinary lovebirds and keep it sexy, Seattle.