Friday, February 7, 2014

Anyone care for some ranch bacon?

My husband, Brian, is something of a ranch dressing connoisseur. He loves it, and like any aficionado, has very strong feelings about it. For instance, he feels that restaurant ranch dressing is far superior to the disgusting, bottled variety. Also, light or low-fat ranch dressing is never OK. And I will be forever grateful to him for teaching me the sublime pleasure of dipping cheesy fries in ranch dressing, especially at Denny’s after midnight.

So when Brian encountered “ranch” bacon at the renowned cheese and specialty foods shop, Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA, he naturally had thought he’d arrived at his mother ship.

“Hey, it says ranch bacon!” I heard him say. “Want to get some ranch bacon?”

“Yeah, sure,” I replied, but I have to admit, I was only half-listening. Chloe was practically assaulting the the poor Formaggio Kitchen employee as he gave us cheddar to sample; as soon as the pieces of cheese fell away from the block, Chloe grabbed them out of the guy’s hand and shoved them in her mouth like a rabid raccoon. I stared at her for a second in disbelieving shock before telling her to calm down and back away from the cheese monger.

We spent almost an hour picking things out, and finally bought a variety cheeses, meats, and wines. And all the way home, Brian kept talking about “ranch bacon.” Until finally I looked at him and said, “Why do you keep putting the emphasis on the ‘ranch?’”

“Because the label said ranch bacon.”

“The label said Niman Ranch Bacon…that’s the ranch where the bacon is from. It’s not ranch-flavored bacon.”

“How do you know?”

“Because there's no such thing. How would they even make ranch-flavored bacon?”

“How do they make maple-flavored bacon?”

OK, he had me there. I just shrugged, and said we’d see in the morning.

I’ll save you the suspense: The bacon wasn’t ranch flavored. Disappointment ensued. It was still really, really delish, though! Niman Ranch is known for its natural, high-quality meats, and this bacon had an amazingly rich and nuanced flavor. But still. It didn’t taste like ranch dressing. What the fuck?

What we got at Formaggio Kitchen:

Robiola Roccaverano DOP, a gym-sock smelling, bloomy-rind goat’s milk cheese from Piedmont, Italy. I was the only one who ate that one. A-mazing.

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, the cheese that Chloe attacked the cheese monger for. We loved it alone or stacked on top of an apple slice and drizzled with honey. From Vermont.

Bayrischer Blauschimmelkase, a sweet and mild blue cheese from Germany that Chloe and I loved. The sign in the store said something like “if blue cheese could be an ice cream, this would be it,” and surprisingly, that description was pretty accurate.

Also, a wild boar salami; a salami medley; orecchiette pasta; and a bottle each of red and white wines.

And of course, the “ranch” bacon.

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