The top 10 things about attending Bacon & Barrels in Los Olivos, the top bacon festival in the US are:
1. Friday Night Whole Hog Dinner
The night before the bacon debauchery begins, there is an incredible dinner under the stars. This year, it was a whole hog dinner, catered by the amazing Valley Piggery. All seated at the 2 long tables under twinkle lights were delighted by things never before eaten: pork cheek, cut straight from the head, trotter tots (yes, just what they sound like) and pig-stuffed pig. Served with pretzel bread, hand-made sausage, a charcuterie-pâté palooza, wine-infused popsicles and strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwiches: it’s worth every penny.
2. Bacon Boys
Dudes offering trayfuls of pure, unadorned bacon to folks waiting to get in, also walking around the festival grounds, throughout the day of long lines, is genius. Thank you Bacon & Barrels.
3. Sliders Galore
If you love sliders (and who doesn’t), there is a bacon-themed slider for you here. Or 10. Or 20. Chicken, pulled pork, pork belly, burgers, I can’t even keep track anymore.
If you’re more of a taco eater (we’ll have both please), some of the best tacos we’ve had are here. Namely, the chorizo and pork belly tacos from the Willows and the pork belly banh mi tacos from Sides Hardware & Shoes – and this year’s Bacon & Barrels Jefe del Porko Top Chef Winner.
5. Bacon Sundae!
Candied bacon salted caramel chip ice cream, a chocolate cashew bacon bar, caramel sauce and whipped cream make up this little bite of heaven from Succulent Café in Solvang.
6. Handcrafted Cocktails
If you love craft cocktails AND bacon, you’re in the right place! Local whiskies, moonshine, sweet tea vodka (and other flavors including bacon), quinoa vodka, bourbons, Pisco and more make for a mini-craft-cocktail event inside an event.
7. Donut Pork Belly Sandwich
Ok, need we say more? Fried donut bread cut in half flanking velvety pork belly and fig & onion confit: gotta be one of the last things you have to eat before you die and now’s your chance.
And by mother, I mean made with bacon. And assembled, stirred and poured by a lovely soul in a jaunty hat.
9. VIP Lounge (and shade)
When you need to sit down in the shade and take a break, this is the place to do it. With EVO water, food passed on trays and more bacon boys. So you can get ready for more bacon.
Ahhhh…the one thing that sounds great after a day of eating and drinking all this bacon, fat, salt and sugar: a big, fat beer. And there are plenty!