This little piggy ate doughnuts in Vail
Bacon: It’s what’s for dinner. The savory treat is the focal point of a four-course dinner (yes, that includes dessert) that highlights the product’s versatility and yumminess. Though the regular menu is also available, La Tour’s bacon menu highlights a different style of bacon from varying parts of the country in each course. The swineful spread is available during dinner service, which begins at 5:30 p.m.”Bacon is delicious,” said Paul Ferzacca, chef-owner of La Tour. “It’s so juicy and wonderful. It has all the characteristics we like: fatty, sweet and salty.”Is there ever a place for bacon substitutes?”If I’m going to eat bacon, I’m going to eat real bacon,” he said. “I’ll just make sure I exercise enough later.”Because bacon is so rich, it’s used primarily as one of several components in each dish. “Obviously bacon is a very dominant flavor,” Ferzacca said. “You’re definitely going to be tasting a dominant bacon flavor through the menu.”
There’s no mistaking the four bacons used in the menu for anything other than what they are: porky deliciousness. “They’re all award-winning bacons from around the country,” Ferzacca said. “We also tried to pick bacons that are stylistically a little different. They’re made in so many different ways.”Though the word, “bacon,” calls up the same set of descriptors from most folks, the actual product can vary vastly from farm to farm. Wisconsin’s heavily smoked and lean Nueske’s bacon lends an appropriately meaty accent to the earthy chanterelle ravioli, while the sweet-cured, dry-aged Carlton Farms bacon from Oregon is a good match for the dessert course, a doughnut with bacon both inside and out – in the dough as well as a topping it’s quickly rolled in before serving.That particular gem of a menu item was inspired by Ferzacca’s own favorite method of bacon eatery, discovered as a child. “I like to dip it into the maple syrup, alongside pancakes or waffles,” he said. Ferzacca is a fan of sugar-cured, meaty bacon.”But it’s all subjective to the person eating it,” he said.
It’s not unusual for a restaurant to host special dinners that celebrate the entire pig, which has so many different cuts as to require eight or nine courses to try them all. And when a particular ingredient is in season, such as truffles, there are often menus dedicated to them. But a bacon dinner is new for this valley.Apparently, though, it’s not a stretch.”Anything with bacon is better than anything without bacon,” said Paul Abling, bacon lover and marketing and PR manager at the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s always the best a la carte item on the menu.”Abling has been known to tote more than a pound of bacon per person on his varying hut trips and camping expeditions. His preferred style of bacon?”In my mouth,” he said.
Any dinner at La Tour wouldn’t be complete without consulting sommelier Paul DiMario, who over the years has expanded the restaurant’s wine selection from French and Californian offerings to selections from around the globe. “I can’t wait for this dinner,” DiMario said. “I’m really looking forward to this menu.”He’s created a pairing for each dish. “Bacon’s a pretty rich, fatty food,” he said. “So you’re going to need something that’s got an elevated amount of acidity to cut through the bacon. And depending on what’s paired with it, you’re going to have to look at your tannin levels, too.”He looks for wines with smoky, spicy characteristics, in addition to minerality. As a rule, there are three varietals that work well for bacon: Syrah, anything using the Nebbiolo grape, such as Barbaresco, and red Burgundy. Oddly enough, he hasn’t limited himself to those three for the bacon dinner.”The Chablis, from the Chablis region of in Burgundy, is very crisp with a lot of that limestone,” DiMario said. “I thought this would be a fun wine, especially with the scallops. The wine definitely shows a little bit of that smokiness running through it.”And that’s when the games begin in earnest.”The next two courses are home runs,” he said. The More St. Denis is paired with the sweetness of applewood-smoked bacon and local corn; a bit of earthiness comes in via the mushrooms in the ravioli. “This just screamed Red Burgundy to me,” he said. “The wine is going to help enhance those flavors.”He’s put a Barbaresco with the pork belly and BLAT – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato. But it’s the final course that’s so interesting. “I brought in Spain,” DiMario said about the Pedro Ximnez. “It’s the same grape that’s used in making sherry, but done in a different way. It’s much sweeter than a lot of sherries. It’s dark and rich and caramel-y. It’s got a maple characteristic unto itself. It’s so much fun.”Thursday’s bacon extravaganza is the first of two planned at La Tour. The second will showcase different bacons. For more information about the swine feed, contact the restaurant at 970-476-4403. Reservations are recommended.Wren Wertin is the special sections editor of the Vail Daily.
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