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Bacon ratings in the Wall Street Journal

  • k

This morning's "Weekend Journal" section has a story on mail order vs. grocery store bacons. (Not exactly the most pressing business story of the day, but it IS the Weekend Journal...)

Here's what they said about the best they tried:

"Niman Ranch
Applewood smoked bacon
$6.35/12 ounces
www.nimanranch.com
510-808-0340


QUALITY: Best Overall. Good, meaty bacon; smokiness wasn't overpowering but gave nice balance to chewy slices. Cooked up a bit curly.


SHIPPING COST/TIME: Free overnight FedEx for three items; otherwise, it's $15 for up to 20 pounds.


RETURN POLICY: Satisfaction guaranteed. Contact site for return or refund.


PHONE/WEB EXPERIENCE: Site fairly easy to use; some "update" links were hard to find for order quantity.


COMMENT: Also offers no-nitrate and slab bacon in applewood smoke flavor, as well as beef, pork and lamb cuts. Minimum bacon order, 12 ounces."

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  1. m
    mjr_inthegardens

    US Bacon pales in comparison to the vast array of Bacon choices offered to the English.

    Why can't America market proper Back Bacon?!?!?!?

    -mjr

    1. There was a bacon discussion on the L.A. board recently that discussed Niman Ranch and the findings of two blind taste testings done by national magazines. Oscar Mayer placed at the top of both tests (conducted a few years apart from each other), but my feeling, and the consensus of a few others, is that you can get much better bacon from the boutique producers, like the kind you'll find at Grateful Palate.

      The link below trims some of the fat from the discussion and takes you directly to the meat of the matter.

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      1. Having eaten "Bacon", actually professionally around most of the World. In fact i've tried almost all the products mentioned. I'm proud to say the the BEST, example of Bacon, is one made in Chicago, by "BOBAK"S", a well known Sausage, Ham and Deli business with 2 Chicago locations. Their products are available at many Polish, Russian or European Style merchants most listed on their internet site that i've provided a link to in my posting. The product i'm refering to is their "Double Smoked Farmers Bacon", it's sold by the pieces not sliced, But I split the pices down the middle and slice it myself, takes only a few minutes, sliced to the thickness I prefer. It keeps very well under refrigeration. This is the only product i've found available in the states that equal or better then any English or Irish Gammon Bacon product. They also make a excellent "Polish Wedding Sausage", and Delicious Mini Stringed Smoked Hams. Irwin

        Link: http://www.bobak.com

        1. Having eaten "Bacon", actually professionally around most of the World. In fact i've tried almost all the products mentioned. I'm proud to say the the BEST, example of Bacon, is one made in Chicago, by "BOBAK"S", a well known Sausage, Ham and Deli business with 2 Chicago locations. Their products are available at many Polish, Russian or European Style merchants most listed on their internet site that i've provided a link to in my posting. The product i'm refering to is their "Double Smoked Farmers Bacon", it's sold by the pieces not sliced, But I split the pices down the middle and slice it myself, takes only a few minutes, sliced to the thickness I prefer. It keeps very well under refrigeration. This is the only product i've found available in the states that equal or better then any English or Irish Gammon Bacon product. They also make a excellent "Polish Wedding Sausage", and Delicious Mini Stringed Smoked Hams. Irwin

          Link: http://www.bobak.com

          8 Replies
          1. re: Irwin Koval

            We have no proof of this because we didn't catch any brand names, but on the whole pork in the Romantische Strasse section of Germany was far better than anything in the U.S. including Bobak's which we found at a German deli in southern New Hampshire.

            The wurst, pork and bacon we had was in the Wurzburg area and was like the Pros versus the U.S. Amateurs. Wish I could explain why somehow. I guess the best description is that the taste is full and complete. (O well, I tried.) The U.S. bacon (including Oscar Mayer and Bobak's) seems faded in comparison exposing the saltiness of the pork.

            I wish I could remember the bacon we had. It was freshly made from a farm in Mainbernheim.

            1. re: bunnyr

              I'm curious if the "Bobaks" Bacon that you tried was the Double Smoked Variety, as most Deli's buy the more popular standard varieties. Some of the Pork Products available in Europe, as well as the United States, that are often excellent are made by individual purveyors and not distributed Wholesale or often not for resale, as USDA has different requirement's for products shipped between states or wholesaled. I'm not sure of the European requlations, but it certainly seems that there are many more regional specialties with limited availability. Irwin

            2. re: Irwin Koval

              I'm more interested in this job as a professional bacon taster! How does one get into that line of work. I think I have found the career of my dreams. ;-).

              Curious to hear more details.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                StriperGuy: Sometimes it can be a blessing, other times it seems like a curse. To be gifted with a unique discerning pallete, is something that you've been gifted with. However when being required to utilize this gift professionally is very different. I've been often commisioned to attempt to match, copy or fiqure out how some particular item was prepared. This is often not complicated, as it may just be the ingredients, or application of heat. But it can always be accomplished, at least to a close approximation.

                I wound up in the so called development of Bacon and Ham, products due to the fact that for many years I was the distributor of the at that time very large, "Swift", brand products in Asia. Mostly we sold, Containers of Chicken Feet, Duck Feet, Pork Stomachs and Poultry Parts based upon the different criteria required for various Asian Countries. IE: Yellow Colored Chicken Parts for Hong Kong and White Colored Chicken Parts for Maylasia. [simply a matter of poultry feed.

                Since we operated our "Consultants", section of our business,[and still do] on a World Wide basis we were engaged by several packing companies, from Australia, South Africa, Ulster, America and the United Kingdom to do a study of Ham and Bacon, as manufactured for general retail use around the world. This was done primarily by having shoppers obtain product from retailers in the designated areas, then air shipping them directly to Hong Kong, where customs were simple for imported food products, in Foam Containers, packed with Sealed Iced Packages. We then cooked them as per package intructions, rated and compared. After we had sampled several hundred items in each catagory. We then rated, graded and compared them all.

                After this was completed. Then I and several assistant's traveled to check out the most impressive operations, while doing our own shopping and checking regional areas regarding how these products were generally accepted locally.

                We kept this up for 3 months, provided all our input and findings, got paid, and never knew what happened to our results. Sometimes in consulting it can be bewildering and frustrating. But we sure "PORKED OUT".

                By the way if anyones interested the best "Pork', and "Lamb", we enjoyed was at "Casa Botin", in Madrid, where your served a "1/4 Suckling Pig", and a "1/4 Baby Lamb", roasted the same way for several hundred years. This is still served there, and yes a 1/4 is the regular portion.

                Hope I was able to answer your query. Irwin

                1. re: Irwin Koval

                  Very interesting account. Does sound a bit more like "work" then I had imagined.

              2. re: Irwin Koval

                I have some additional information regarding "Bobaks".
                The link that I included in my previous post, did not take into consideration that they have changed their website format. They've also opened a new, "ONLINE STORE".

                My recommendation for anyone who is interested in ordering directly from them is NOT, to order via the Inline Store. The prices are very different from the actual retail or wholesale prices charged at their Chicago Stores/Restaurants. If you'd be interested to follow this up simply use my link, and check the weekly newspaper sales advertisement provided.

                In Seattle Russian and European Deli's the regular prices are much lower then those from the online store.

                Should you b interested in the items available that I find exceptional, check the wholesale section of the site. I'll provide you the item Numbers and Correct Names. If your interested in trying, and don't have anyone in Chicago, or a Deli nearby, simply phone to the retail stores, order over the phone by name/number and they will charge you the very reasonable daily prices, pack and ship directly.

                My favorite items:
                "Smoked Gypsy Brand Canadian Bacon Pieces" item #13301
                "Hunter Style Smoked Bacon" item #15502
                "String Tied Smoked Ham" item #12204
                "Country Wedding Brand Polish Sausage" item #11104
                "Hunter Style Smoked Boneless Ham" item #12219

                These items all have authentic rich smoked taste. The double smoked Hunter Bacon, is the only Bacon product that is actually fully cooked. Just requires crisping to enjoy. The Hunter Stye Boneless Ham is equal to any of the German Botique "Kaiserschiken Hams", that i've tried in Germany. The Polish Sausage, has the character and taste found in small shops in Poland.

                Those who try, I hope you won't be disappointed.Irwin

                1. re: Irwin Koval
                  t
                  Tartiflette boy

                  Can you provide the name of a specific deli in Seattle that carries Boback's bacon?

                  1. re: Tartiflette boy

                    Please ask on the Pacific Northwest board, where you'll find lots of local hounds who are interested in the same info.

                    This board is for non-region-specific chow talk.

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/pacificnw/in...

              3. I haven't conducted extensive bacon taste tests but I do buy the Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked and like it a lot. I buy it at local store, South End Formaggio in Boston and I imagine it's available in many gourmet shops; for when you have a bacon craving and don't want to wait for delivery.

                2 Replies
                1. re: 9lives

                  My favorite bacon is Nueske's applewood-smoked pepper bacon. They also smoke really good hams and their other bacons are also quite good.

                  Here's a link:

                  Link: http://www.nueskes.com

                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                    You can get Nueske's from your local Fresh Market store. If one is located near you.

                    John

                2. Another option is to visit your state's Dept. of Agriculture website and see if they have a listing of pig farms that sell pork to the public. We did this and found a place 5 miles from our house with the freshest pork and bacon ever, including the Niman Ranch stuff we used to mail order. And . . . you'll be supporting your local farmer.

                  Many pig farms are located near apple orchards, or in the case of this place, in conjunction with apple orchards-- efficient use of windfalls, I'd guess.