Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vegetarians Beware, Bacon Bacon Preview is Porkerrific

Jim Angelus is a happy man!
Bacon is popping up all over the place recently. I have seen it in chocolate, my sister-in-law made it into a cake and I even found instructions on how to weave it into an edible placemat. So it was only a matter of time before a food truck with a menu completely dedicated to this delectable treat rolled onto the streets of San Francisco. Today marked the soft launch of San Francisco's first and only swine-centric truck: Bacon Bacon. Because bacon is simply too good to just say just once.

Why Bacon? Because everyone loves bacon!

Bacon Bacon is the brainchild of Jim Angelus, former GM of E&O Trading Company restaurant. This is his first food truck endeavor, and already the hype surrounding it is unbelievable. Aside from a few tastings for friends they hadn't even sold anything to the public, yet they already have over 1,100 followers on Facebook and over 900 "Twacons" (that's Twitter-Bacon loyalists to those not in the club) on Twitter. That's quite a following from people who haven't even tried the food! This goes to show just how many people truly love bacon and how big the bacon void is in the Bay Area street food scene.
(left to right) Banh Mi, The Belly, and Almost Veggie

I caught up with Angelus this afternoon after Bacon Bacon ended its trial run outside of the San Francisco DMV. For a guy who may just very well have the biggest food truck debut in San Francisco this year, he is completely down-to-earth, friendly and approachable. There is no pretentiousness here; in fact, he was taking orders and chatting with customers, seeming eager to know their response to his food. And from what I could discern from watching the crowd, everyone was pleased with their meals. It's not often you see this many happy people in the parking lot of the DMV!

Angelus decided to start a food truck after the birth of his daughter, when he decided that raising a family wasn't congruent with the grueling hours of the restaurant business.

"We had a baby, and in the restaurant business you're working late nights," Angelus said. "The ultimate goal once we are all set up here is to go into a lunch business—breakfast, lunch and one night a week so I can be home more."

The Banh Mi
Once he left E&O, Angelus stayed at home for a while to figure out his next move and thought that he might collaborate on a project with his chef friend Rick Gencarelli, who was moving out to the West Coast. As it turned out, Gencarelli went north instead to Portland, where he opened up a food cart called Lardo, which also specialises in all things pork. After Angelus spent a week with him in Portland, he got inspired to do the same thing down here in San Francisco. Though in different cities, the two friends still ended up collaborating on this project.

"I am saying he is a friend," Angelus said, "but I am calling him a consulting chef on this menu because he really...I had the ideas for certain things, but it's his love that made this menu."

And what a menu it is! Bacon Bacon's menu consists of six sandwiches, all showcasing bacon, and was developed by both Angelus and Gencarelli.

"I would say three of them are his concepts and three of them are mine, and his love is on all of them in a way," Angelus described. The Burger (two patties with bacon and cheese), The Grilled Cheese (cheese, tomato and bacon jam) and the LGBT (lettuce, goat cheese, bacon and tomato) were the concepts developed by Angelus. The remaining three: The Almost Veggie (broccoli rabe, red peppers, bacon, provolone, sriracha aoili,) The Banh Mi (pork meatballs, pickled veggies, bacon, cilantro) and The Belly (pork belly, fried egg, arugula, capers) were honed by Gencarelli.

The Almost Veggie
Not even my three year-old running head first into the truck could have tarnished our lunch today. As I expected, the food was fabulous. And Angelus made my son's day not once, but twice! The first time happened when my family and I got to the truck and saw that the pork belly was sold-out. We told Angelus that it was our son's favorite food and he magically made some appear for him.

The second came when he offered my son ice cream to help with the bump on his head. That injury was quickly forgotten after a meal of pork belly and a vanilla root beer float! It's really this extra effort that makes Bacon Bacon stand out above the rest. Another case in point, when I asked Angelus about the tin trays I saw people eating on, he explained that by offering something that would have to be returned to the truck it would not only decrease trash but also give him a way to see his customers again to ask him how their meal was. It's a restaurant service mentality that really works with a truck.

Showing love for Lardo
Today we sampled three of the sandwiches. I chose the Almost Veggie, and it was amazing. Where else can I get broccoli rabe and bacon together? I almost never see broccoli rabe on a menu, so whenever I do I order it. It never ceases to remind me of my late grandmother's fabulous rabe that she always made for me when I was younger. My husband chose the Banh Mi, and whenever he wasn't looking I stole bites of it. It too was out of this world, and the pork meatball patties were so flavorful. My son had the magically-appearing The Belly, and when I was able to convince him to give me a bite it was mouthwatering, tender and delicious. By the time we got there they were sold-out of the sides, but I can tell you with certainty that next time my meal with include not only the fries, but also "The Bouquet"—a side of just bacon. Angelus told me that desserts are coming soon, and one offering will be bacon-flavored kettle corn.

Let that sink in for a few seconds. Bacon-flavored popcorn. It really doesn't get any better than this!

Angelus plans to have a stable, revolving schedule, with set locations each weekday with an occasional Off the Grid event thrown in on occasion. For selfish reasons, I inquired about whether he plans to have one of those set days in the Financial District.

"There is," he said, "But I just don't have.. that is the one area I haven't firmed up."

When he does, I'll be the first one in line. Look for the Bacon Bacon truck's location on Twitter and Facebook over the coming weeks, and expect an Off the Grid appearance imminently. If today's turnout is any indication of the future success of Bacon Bacon, then Angelus has a winner on his hands.

But I'm pretty sure he won't let it get to his head.

Bacon Bacon (@baconbaconsf)

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