Monday, July 27, 2015

Sherbrooke; Festival du Bacon 2015

Well well well. After a few months of neglecting my blog, I am finally back and giving  it some love. I have been way too busy juggling two jobs, projects and events I work on voluntarily, moving out from my mother's and in with roommates, gym, friends, and so on.

As I am writing those lines, I am currently on my second week of Summer vacations and let me tell you it feels good. I have a lot of things to do (things for which I don't charge for my services as well as personal projects) so I am not really taking time off during my free days.

But today's post is not about me being overloaded with work and having barely any free time because I'm terrible at managing it. It's about the very first Bacon Festival that took place in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on May 16th and 17th (yeah you heard me right, that was a little while ago).

I had seen the event on Facebook and asked Phil if he wanted to go (I needed someone to give me a ride after all). I asked my boss to have the day off on the 16th of May and so we went. The event was taking place in the Parc du Domaine-Howard, which can be compared to a modest equivalent of the Parc Lafontaine in Montreal.

As we got there they were setting up the scene for the music shows that were scheduled later during the day and the evening. They had a partnership with Budweiser so that was the only beer they were selling. Also, like at the Mondial de la bière, you had to buy coupons at the cost of 1$ each in order to try the samplers the different restaurants or boutiques present at the event had to offer. Obviously I forgot who was there so I guess I'll just share whatever I had the chance to lay my hands on that day.

We started off with fresh fiddleheads wrapped around smoked bacon and topped with a zesty vinaigrette.

It tasted refreshing and makes an interesting idea to try out at home next time you have some guests over and want to impress them with something simple.

We also tried dark chocolate coins topped with bacon bits and a mix of pepper.

Do I need to say that bacon and chocolate go well together? I think you already know. If you haven't tried yet, try to add some bacon bits to your brownie batter next time you make some. You won't regret it (but maybe your heart will).

Speaking of bacon and chocolate, I also tried a strip of bacon dipped in chocolate.

That one was a bit disappointing though. All it did was attract people to the booth, because as soon as I took a bite of it I realized that a cold strip of bacon (I don't even know when it was cooked) doesn't taste great. Also, the chocolate used tasted pretty basic and generic (bye bye quality).

But then the disappointment went away thanks to those bacon spring rolls.

They were quite hot and came with nuoc mam to dip in. The outside was just the right crispiness (ew at soggy spring rolls) and the filling was simple yet delicious (basically the traditional filling with bacon bits added).

Then we moved on to Bar Brutus who were serving out their famous Jägermeister poutine, some deep fried KD balls, and bacon sushi rolls.

I remember seeing the Jägermeister poutine on their menu during Poutine Week 2015 but I didn't have the chance to try it out then. I have to admit it was damn good. With caramelized onions and a sauce that wasn't too thick nor too thin. It was just right. And of course I kept the Jägermeister cup. I don't know what I'm going to do with it though.

The deep fried KD balls were served with a generous amount of rosée sauce.

You do know that KD stands for Kraft Dinner, right? Well that's like my childhood taken to another level. The batter was crispy and held on well to the KD balls (probably thanks to the cheese) and despite KD's suspicious taste and mixed feelings people have about it, the whole thing was surprisingly good.

The sushi bacon was made with rice, cucumber, and fried chicken, and served with Wafu dressing.

I have to admit I was slightly suspicious before I took a bite of it. But then I did and thought to myself "Hey, not bad". The fried chicken and the cucumber added crunchiness to something that would have been otherwise soft all over. The flavors surprisingly complimented well each other and I think this can be a good alternative for people that can't stand the taste of nori.

After washing this down with a can of Budweiser, we moved on to another booth that was serving a few interesting items, like those generous pieces of rustic bacon drizzled with a maple dressing.

I think my heart stopped working at that exact moment. It was a stack of fat over fat. But oh that was delicious fat. The portion was generous and the maple glaze made it perfect. Simple, rustic, some parts were a bit charred, definitively something you have to try if you have a charcoal barbecue.

Moving on to another booth, we got ourselves there a date wrapped in bacon, a baked potato, and a shot of maple whisky.

The date was grilled, which explains the blackened look of the bacon. Because it was grilled, the inside was soft and exploded with flavor. So simple, yet another good idea for your next barbecue party.

The baked potato was loaded with stuff : cheese, sour cream, green onions, and bacon.

Baked in aluminum foil on the grill (the best way to do it) the potato was all soft and warm, and there was a good ratio of stuffing to potato (we left the skin with barely any flesh in it). Now I'm starting to think it's time for me to have a barbecue party.

I still had a few coupons left but not enough to try everything else, so I spent the last five ones on a shrimp. Yes, one shrimp.

I have to admit the stuff was good. It was a relatively big shrimp, served with a spicy bacon glaze. I was slightly disappointed because on the board it was written "crevettes" so I honestly thought there was going to be more than one. Still it was a pretty damn good shrimp.

Because it's a festival, there was more than just people stuffing themselves with bacon and spending money on useless bacon things (bacon lubricant, really?). The site was divided in two parts, and the part that had the most people was, obviously, the one with the food booths.

A few stores also had their booths, so if you felt like buying a New Era cap or a Herschel backpack, you could. Surprisingly, the vegetarian association of the college of Sherbrooke was there as well. I didn't talk to them, not because I have something against vegetarians (I used to be one) but because I didn't want to have that type of conversation while encouraging the mass production and slaughtering of pigs in Quebec. 

While grown ups were making graffiti, the younger ones were having fun in the inflatable playgrounds.

And while everyone was stuffing their face with bacon and beer, Bob the chef was doing live demonstration of fast, easy, and simple recipes using, you guessed it, bacon.

According to Bob the chef, I'm really good at throwing avocados from a good distance.

And so that's it for today folks! It was the very first edition of the Festival du Bacon and it's most likely coming back for a second round in May 2016. The organization and design of the site could have been better, but for a first time, and especially in a city that isn't Montreal, it wasn't bad. I would personally recommend not having all the food booths in one tight spot. Some booths (such as Bar Brutus) had line ups that created confusion (can I wait here? is that the line up for that booth or this booth?) and made it kind of a pain in the butt to walk around with plates of food piled up on each other (I'm probably the only one who did that though because a lot of people were not smart enough to walk away with their food and would stay in front of the booth to eat it). What it did also was concentrate the people on one side of the site, making it look like the action only happened there, when actually there were things happening a bit everywhere. People are naturally attracted to food and drink booths, so if you scatter them among other types of booths or attractions (like they do at the Jazz Festival) not only will it make it easier to manage the flux of people, it will also be a better opportunity for less popular booths to be discovered.

Until next time!
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