So obviously after eating probably the greatest meal I have ever consumed at Citronelle, I wantd to do something quite nice for Steve. He and I get a bit competitive over who can do the nicest things for one another. Which is ludicrous. But cute.
I am currently winning, I think. Becauuuuuuuuuuse, Saturday night, I knew the way to his heart’s desire.
One word: bacon.
Well, actually, a few words. Crispy, juicy, fat ‘n greasy, LOCAL, happy, ethical bacon. Beautiful big, fat, not-mass-produced bacon. From the adorable Mennonite farmers.
Just look how those babies crisp up!
I love love love the food blogging community. I knew I wanted to make a fancy, multi-course dinner with every element containing bacon. I knew a girl who could help me out: Sarah, Miss Smart, writer of one of my favorite blogs ever, The Smart Kitchen.
I sent her an email with the subject line “bacon emergency”, explaining my predicament.
She promptly delivered (along with a brilliant alternate title for this post but Sarah, I’ll let you keep that one) a brilliant appetizer idea.
Bacon wrapped dates!
I thought about doing some of the fun filled ideas Sarah’s suggested, but ultimately just ran out of time. But man, it is hard to go wrong with just dates and bacon.
Also, my wrapping was a little screwy. Toothpicks made me nervous cause I was sticking them under a broiler and, y’know, flames. But I should’ve just embraced them, cause they held everything together much more nicely.
Anyway, wow, they were amazing. Sweet sticky dates, crisp smoky bacon, all hot and steaming out of the oven? How can you go wrong?!
Now, Steve is an Italian boy and also a big lover of his carbs, so for an entree the choice was obvious: spaghetti carbonara.
Spaghetti, eggs and bacon. I mean come on.
I started by cooking up four ounces of bacon (mostly but not entirely defatted) in a hot pan.
Once they’d crisped up, I removed them but left the drippings to add some chopped leek…
… and then garlic, both of which I sauteed til golden.
Hey, you know what’s really really really good?
Leeks garlic ANYTHING cooked in bacon fat.
Meanwhile I combined 3 eggs, 1/2 a cup shredded Parmesan, and a ton of black pepper in a bowl.
And though I was cooking for not that many people (me and the boy, and I was also giving some to my mama and my sister who just got home for the summer), I still went ahead and made a pound of pasta.
Steve was good and hungry. He’s a muscular distance runner who on a normal day probably eats upward of 3000 calories, and he had skipped lunch.
And I think just being in my bacon-overload kitchen meant he was on sensory overload. When I’d trimmed the fatty pieces off to wrap the dates, he just microwaved the bacon fat… and ate it plain.
So I tossed together the cooked pasta, egg mixture, and leeks and bacon with enough pasta water to make everything cohere.
It. Was. Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood.
Fact or fiction: this gets the name “carbonara” because the specks of black pepper on top look like the carbon that Italian miners used to mine? I swear I remember seeing that on Food 911 or something a million years ago.
To get some green in, I made a salad. But you know it had bacon too!
I browned up a piece of bacon and crumbled it for the salad. Then I drained most of the fat and to that pan added the juice of 2 oranges (about 1/4 of a cup), 1 tsp. maple syrup, 2 T.balsamic vinegar, and 1 tsp. soy sauce and cooked them until they reduced down and got all awesome.
Tossed with spinach, orange slices, and chopped dates. Mm!
That dressing is definitely one that I will make again. Sweet, salty, tangy.
We heaped our plates with firsts (and there were seconds, thirds, fourths).
And so Steve and I sat down on the deck, with wine, water for a rather sodium-heavy meal, and candlelight (though I confess it was a citronella candle, so perhaps slightly less romantic).
Gosh, whose sexy sleeve is in the corner of that frame?
Dinner was amazing. All the food was demolished. As I anxiously watched Steve scarf down the last of the pasta, I said, “Are you still hungry?” To which he (fortunately? troublingly?) replied, in an extremely emotional voice, “No, I was full after the last plate… it’s just so good”.
But wait. Don’t you think I forgot about dessert!
So decadence was the name of the game, and decadent desserts mean chocolate. So I melted down a bunch of chocolate truffles. We always have truffles around… because none of us likes the texture. So I always end up melting them… because none of us likes the texture. They’re great once they’re melted!
I then poured them over chopped roasted almonds and chopped crisped BACON (!)…
To make Chocolate-Almond-Bacon Bark!
Made a sundae of that and Steve’s all time favorite dessert- plain ol’ classic vanilla ice cream- and bananas for a certain Elvisy appeal.
A sweet sundae taste, with the occasional smoky-salty-what is that flavor?!-bacon bite. Mmm.