First Annual San Jose Bacon Festival of America
We are in a daze, and not in a good way. The San Jose Bacon Festival of America (a strange moniker; pick one or the other, city or country) was the opposite of everything we had hoped for – and we set the bar low. Music? It was good, but too loud and the stages too close together so the sounds clashed. Seating? Upturned plastic buckets. Bacon? Either unimaginative or sold out. We are beyond astonished that the participating vendors could not keep stock of the most important ingredient of the day. Supposedly 10,000 guests were expected and around 20,000 descended, so foresight was not employed by the event organizers, Moveable Feast. Each menu item among all the trucks was capped out at $5, but we did the math and Moveable Feast made out very well for themselves, taking in around $180,000 from entry ticket sales. The often heard buzz going through the crowd was loaded with heated disappointment because this was nothing more than an over-hyped food truck event.
Entertainment was lacking, considering this was supposed to be a festival. A “train” for kids to ride around, a few bouncy houses, blaring stages, and a mechanical bull aren’t enough to keep families happy in the face of lines pushing an hour.
Even beverages were limited. If the food trucks ran out of their specialty beverages, you could try your luck with beer. We’re both over 21 but we weren’t carded or given a bracelet for ID, so hopefully some training occurs before the next event Moveable Feast does that offers alcohol. There were originally three beers available for $5 each, but the most palatable of the three sold out fast. Go figure.
Of the 40+minute lines we waited through, two of them successfully led us to baconized food. What a waste to inch up to multiple food truck windows, only to discover that they were out of bacon. At least Madd Mex had bacon, applewood smoked center cut to be precise, and was creative with it. We enjoyed the pupusa with soft masa and melted cheese. Bacon was laid on top as well as folded into the pupusa, giving it a nice salty smokiness that was well complemented by the gooey cheese. The side of cabbage slaw was fresh and had a surprising tomato sauce that gave it an unexpected acidity.
Sweet and succulent, Madd Mex’s frog legs were the highlight of the night. If there was anyone tonight for whom it was their first time trying frog legs, this was a prime example. The texture is like fish but meatier, and it was so easy to suck off the bones. The legs were honey glazed, giving them a delicate sweetness that was enhanced by a touch of lemon zest. They sat on a bed of sticky rice with green onions, adding another layer of natural sweet flavor. A strip of bacon with no greater incorporation was a bit of a cop out, but the tasty frog legs wowed us on their own.
From among 28 food vendors, Eat On Monday was the only other food truck, let alone vendor, that had clever bacon items on the menu and hadn’t run out by the time we got to the window. This crepe roll wasn’t quite a crepe, but rather a tortilla cooked with an egg; regardless, some thought was behind the design. With organic real maple syrup, the glazed applewood smoked bacon was flavorful. Add some cheddar and zingy baby arugula, and you’ve got an interesting little snack item.
Part of the huge draw was that the Bacon Festival was associated with and practically attached to Night Market, San Jose’s Saturday night tent gathering that runs through the summer. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything at all related to bacon at the Night Market besides a bacon croissant – sorry, but a croissant with bacon was too simple for us to waste our time, money, and caloric intake. August could make some bacon earrings with baking clay, so why didn’t any of the local vendors think of that? She wanted to go home with some kind of prize, and while Sweet Dragon Baking Co. had a tent in the Night Market, they ran out of their bacon brittle. Thankfully we had already snagged some of the last bags being sold at Eat On Monday. The Smokin’ Hot Bacon was a little too hot for August, but the Maple Bacon Peanut was a sweet way to sulk on the ride home.
We still can’t believe that we paid $10 per person and $7 for parking, just to gain access to food trucks that we could otherwise find at Off The Grid or on their own street corners. Moveable Feast found a way to trick us all into coming to their event, when all it was in the end was a bunch of food trucks serving cheap items, with and without bacon. Where was the actual bacon celebration? After such a let down, we may have to throw another bacon dinner party for our readers, family, and friends that truly honors this versatile cut of meat.