Bacon. Because it’s the trendy thing to do.

I’ve always been a meat-lover. Growing up, my daddy hunted and I remember us eating what he had shot, from duck breasts to dove “poppers” to venison sausage (my personal favorite). Game has been the name of the, well, game for as long as I can remember.

I cannot say the same for bacon. Like most girls, I’ve toyed with different diets in my day, and one that stuck for a long time was the swearing off of bacon. I proclaimed I did not like it, did not want to eat it or even touch it—I convinced myself of this for a long time. Not that I had an issue with the concept (‘vegetarianism’ has never been part of my personal vocabulary), I just refused it. That is until I moved to Italy and began to eat and breathe pork, from prosciutto to speck to pancetta. Italian brought bacon hurtling back into my diet, and I’ve never looked back.

A meal that has stood out recently in my mind is based on the notion of bacon, but on a grander scale. I had the pleasure of dining in the bar room at Aureole near Times Square in New York City. I work near the place, had read multiple reviews, and finally decided I needed to try it for myself. I could wax poetic about the beauty of the restaurant space and the competence of the waitstaff (the sommelier let me try several tastes of wine until I found one that was perfect for me—and this was over lunch), but I am really focused on one aspect of my meal: the Pork Belly Sliders.

In layman’s terms, pork belly is just a hefty cut of bacon. A beautiful, thick, fatty, exquisitely juicy cut of bacon. Executive Chef Charlie Palmer, owner of several New York City restaurants, calls his style of cuisine “Progressive American,” and in America, bacon is literally from the belly of the pig (not true elsewhere in the world, since bacon can be cut from multiple sections). Although Chef’s menu elegantly opens to reveal first the ‘bar snacks,’ then the appetizers and entrees, I never moved beyond the first element of the menu that caught my eye. Pork Belly.

The belly was served in the style of pastrami sliders, replete with cole slaw, russian dressing, and raclette cheese, served on the tiniest little brioche, and topped with a few slivers of toasted sea salt. Three glorious squares of pork belly were each encased in this delicate take on a delicatessen favorite. Each bite was distinct, highlighting the fat of the belly, the crunch of the salt, the ooze of the slaw and dressing, the softness of a slightly soggy bun. And although it sounds decadent, the size of each portion was little more than bite size. I was so satisfied I even refused the dessert menu. This might just be my new diet…

Sundaes and Cones

I could live on ice cream. It’s my hands-down favorite thing in this whole world. When my brother and I were little, we would scarf down our dinner in order to get to dessert–a bowl of Breyer’s natural vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Sometimes, with strawberries on top. I would eat my scoops quickly, while they still held their perfect shape, trying to divide my chocolate sauce evenly between the bites of vanilla. My brother, on the other hand, would swirl it round and round, even letting it sit for awhile and warm up until it became soupy. Then, he’d slurp it down with his spoon.

Summer camp brought on the advent of Mayfield ice cream sandwiches. After rest hour, we’d all run to Store to grab our treat for the day, and in the hot heat of Alabama, we always went for something cold—an icey soft drink, frozen skittles, or in my case, most likely the ice cream sandwich. I remember licking it evenly around the edges, gently compressing the chocolate wafers until my fingers left their prints, and then with just a little bit of ice cream left, I would bite into the sandwich. Of course, I’d finish it off by licking the extra chocolate from my fingers.

To this day, ice cream is one of the few things that makes me truly happy–most likely because of these memories. And although I am still a die-hard fan of vanilla ice cream with chocolate, I’ve branched out. In France, nothing beats the combination of 2 boules de glace, two tiny scoops of the famous Berthillon ice cream in Paris; I always go for the combination of rich chocolate and slightly tart raspberry sorbet. Italy’s gelato, however, is obviously the best in the world, especially if you wander away from the tourist sites and into the neighborhoods. G is from Rome, and his family lives in an area well outside of the city, whose main piazza has a gelateria that makes the most wonderful Ferrero Rocher gelato.

However, if you aren’t heading to Europe any time soon, or if you need a quick fix to hold you until you get there, you should try Sundaes and Cones, a Japanese ice cream shop on 10th street between 3rd and 4th avenue. They mix up their creamy goodness in-house, and the selection is amazingly varied. You can pick anything from normal (I use that term loosely because it sure beats Baskin Robbins) mint chocolate chip or strawberry to moka chip, tiramisu, or coconut; and if you really want to get adventurous, there’s sesame, corn, red bean, and green tea. And these are just some of my favorites—there are about 30 flavors to choose from at a time.

Prices are more on par with the European treats than with Blue Bunny, but every bite reminds you that it was worth every penny… especially when it’s really hot outside. You can sit inside or out, and if you need a caffeine boost, they serve Oren’s Coffee (for those of you familiar with the coffee shop on Broadway near Columbia).
1 scoop: $3.18
2 scoops: $4.38
3 scoops: $5.54
**prices are for wafer or sugar cones, without tax, although I prefer the waffle cone. It’s also made in house, and its flavor is melt-in-you-mouth delicate.