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Sep 11, 2006 06:44 PM

Bruce Aidell's Bacon

I was shocked to find that I actually liked the bacon at Eccolo more than Fatted Calf. It just had a richer pork flavor to it. I asked our server where it came from and she told me the pigs are from Iowa and the bacon is distributed by Bruce Sidell (sp? pronounced sigh-dell). She said their ham comes from Sidell as well, and it is some of the best ham I've ever had. I've spent a long time trying to find more about this mysterious Mr. Sidell, champion of cured pork, but my searches haven't turned up anything. I may have to return to Eccolo soon and badger my server for more details.

All the same, Eccolo's BLT doesn't hold a candle to Mrs. Mousse's, which features Quetzal dry farm tomatoes, Blue Heron little gems, thinly slice La Tercera red onions and an Alice's Green Goddess inspired avocado spread. Cook the bacon over the grill for bonus points.

NOPA cures their bacon in house, I'll have to try it on a return visit.

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  1. Could it be Bruce Aidells (which, when slurred together, sounds like Bruce Sigh-dell)?

    2 Replies
    1. re: mspea

      It's possible, perhaps my server heard the wrong name b/c I asked her to repeat it twice. However, I can't seem to find mention of bacon or ham on the Aidels website. Perhaps Bruce distributes the stuff to restaurants but he doesn't cure it or sell it retail.

      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Bruce Aidells sold his company a few years ago.

    2. Yep, it's gotta be Aidells. The chef emeritus at Santi told me he splits Duroc pigs with him. Here's my post -

      1. I had some marvelous bacon from the Berk Farmers' Market about 6 months ago. It wasn't from FC. It was across the way from FC and also sold meat products. Hill something (All I can think of now is Hillshire Farms, the makers of terrible sausages - can't get it out of my head! Aghhhhhh!)

        Anybody know the name of this place. The bacon was narrow and not that thick but tasted heavenly. One of these days I'll get up in time to get over there before they sell out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: oakjoan

          Highland Hills. It's not always available.

        2. During my chance lunch time conversation yesterday with Santi founder, Franco Dunn, Aidells name came up. Franco said that he can hardly wait for his remodel to be finished. Apparently Aidells is putting in a "sausage laboratory", where much fun and games with pork will ensue in the future. I asked if Aidells' bacon was in retail distribution. Franco said it was probably restaurant only as Aidells hasn't focused on distribution yet. Then I think he said the brand was Vande Rose. I found an outlet for Vande Rose bacon and ham on the web, ,
          from a company based in Oakland. It's made with Duroc pork, and sounds like it's worth a try.

          13 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Applewood smoked. Yep, that's the stuff. You're amazing, Melanie. Not sure what I'd do with 3 pounds of bacon, but Eccolo has it available as a side if anyone wants to try it. I wonder if they'd put it on the burger if you asked nice? Also looks like the ham they use in their croque and eggs benny. That's some really tasty ham. If you can't make it to Spain, stop by Eccolo for brunch.

            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              Like I said, it was a chance meeting at the Cafe Saint Rose. It was a great opportunity to talk with him about his new ideas for coming out of semi-retirement. I felt like I was doing a "Chef's Night Out" interview on the fly, and at the same time trying not be too intrusive/obnoxious in my queries! I'm gonna have to get over to Eccolo to try that ham. My thrifty mother had tasted Snake Rivers Kurobuta ham, felt that it was worth the tariff and bought one. The Vande Rose ham is lower in price and if locally available, we should save a bundle on shipping and handling. Also, the Snake Rivers is shipped frozen and I'd rather have a ham that hasn't been frozen.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Have you ever tried a real country ham? There are many regional versions; Burgers in California, Missouri (that's right, California, Missouri) makes the only commercially available real Missouri country ham that I know of (I grew up near there). It's the real thing, and possibly an acquired taste.


                Oops, that's certainly not Bay Area. But maybe it's OK (or not).

                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                  Love real country hams, have soaked and cooked about 15 Virginia or Kentucky hams, don't recall having a Missouri ham.

              2. re: Morton the Mousse

                If the minimum order is three pounds, bacon freezes just fine. Wrap it tightly.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Or you can go in on it with some other chowhounds.

              3. re: Melanie Wong

                This is a huge breakthrough!
                I called preferred meats, and she said you can pick up locally. You submit the online order, noting in the comments that you will pick up from the warehouse and what day you plan to pick it up; when you pick up they refund the shipping charges.
                I'll have to do price comparisons against Polarica for things like Guinea Hens (which had the same packaging as the ones we've gotten from Polarica), but it looks like Preferred Meats goes well beyond what Polarica carries in terms of small production artisanal goods.

                1. re: SteveG

                  Cool! I haven't taken the time to scan through the offerings yet, but did take note of the "Let's Be Frank" hot dogs that were a suggested item. It would be great to get a report from you after you've had a chance to order and check out the service. Never too soon to start planning for holiday feasting. (g)

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Are there retails otlets for the "Let's be Frank"?

                    1. re: Sharon S.

                      Bi Rite is supposed to carry them....they are chunky/chewy with natural casing!

                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        Let's Be Frank is working on a pork sausage, made with Large Black pig sourced locally from Capay Valley and should be bringing it to market soon.

                        Any updates on Preferred Meats or Aidells products?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yes, and when you go to order, the link takes you to the Preferred Meats ecommerce site.

                2. Thanks for the note about pickup at Preferred meats.

                  I noticed there are two choices for bacon, the applewood smoked and the Vande Rose bacon, which is also applewood smoked. No breed or other information on the 'generic' bacon, but price for both varities is the same.