Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BaconFest '11!

I heard whispers of Sacramento's Inaugural BaconFest on the breeze, like a choir or angels. Seeing as how bacon is a huge reason I eat meat at all, it was a must-see. I try to eat vegetarian throughout the week for a variety of reasons, but doing so on the weekend severely limits my breakfast options. How else would you, my loyal reader(s), know about the Best Bacon in Sacramento?! I make these sacrifices for you. Last weekend, the 'Fest arrived.
It was a decentralized three-day event; there was no specific, separate location for it, but it was hosted at different venues for different events all weekend. (Un)fortunately, last weekend was a very busy acting weekend for me, so I wasn't able to participate in all of the events, but I made a couple.
The first night was hosted at Luigi's Fungarden, a pizza-by-the-slice joint and music venue. They had a Kevin Bacon Tribute night, featuring bands playing various songs from Kevin Bacon movies, which is a brilliant play on the theme. They had a BLT pizza, although it there was no signage for it, and by the time we got there, there were only a couple pieces off to the side. I took a stab at ordering it, even though it looked like someone else's order. There seemed to be several people who seemed to be under the impression that Bacon Beer was to be served as well, but was apparently not (and I have it on good authority that trying to make your own at the table is a bad idea). The BLT pizza was very good, with thin slices of tomato, lots of lettuce, and a drizzle of Ranch on top. It had a very nice, fresh taste.

The event I was really excited about was the next morning at Magpie Cafe. I'd only recently been to Magpie for the first time for dinner, and was excited to taste that all the buzz was substantiated. They have a regularly rotating menu, and I was sure they'd come up with something exciting for BaconFest.

Not having been there for breakfast before, I can't vouch for what their menu usually looks like, but there didn't seem to be a huge selection of bacon-related items. Well, perhaps that's not entirely true, and I have a confession to make; I don't like BLT's. I know, I know, I just enjoyed a BLT pizza the night before, but here's my thing; I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes. "You have to have them fresh from the farm, etc," I've heard all the arguments, but a combination of their watery taste and texture does not appeal to me. It doesn't appeal to me, at least, when it is the focus of a dish. Used within something, that's fine, and I liked the pizza the previous night because the 'maters were sliced thin. Magpie's menu had four bacon-related items, two of which were BLTs. Having crossed those off my list, that left their breakfast sandwich and a pork belly frittata. Out of the two, the sando sounded the most appealing, but I figured that was something I could get any day of the week, and I wanted something unique. I ordered the frittata, which included tomatoes and brussel sprouts. I also saw a bacon peanut butter hazelnut brownie in the pastry case, as well as a bacon maple bar. I ordered the brownie as well, and a coffee.

The brownie was damn tasty, with little bacon chunks that added a little salt and texture, but nothing overpowering in the bacon department (which would not necessarily have been bad). It was rich and delicious, and felt good with the hot coffee slicing through it. Our food arrived (Emily ordered a sausage sandwich, having a fickle relationship with bacon herself) promptly despite the place being near full. I snuck a bite of her sandwich, which came on a toasty ciabatta. It was really good, and I look forward to enjoying one of my own in the future. It also came with caramel-drizzled fruit that was extremely tasty; the caramel lent a delicate flavor that was not overbearing. My frittata came with some breakfast potatoes, which included some purple potatoes, which were beautiful and pretty darn tasty. The frittata itself came garnished with a veritable tiny salad on top. The pork belly was good, but it had a fairly light flavor to it as well, and the brussel sprouts gave it the least bit of sourness. Over all, I was honestly unimpressed. Not that it was bad by any means, but for "BaconFest" I wanted something greasier, saltier... baconier. Something, perhaps, less delicate. I realize that perhaps I have only myself to blame for excising myself out of the running on the BLTs.

Other events included bacon beer and food at Pangea that night, bacon brunch at Golden Bear the following day (which I was sorely disappointed I had to miss), and the main event at Mulvaney's Sunday night. That included a bacon - related competition featuring some of Sacramento's top chefs. The event was $20, included three beers or glasses of wine, and bacon-related appetizers and small plates while watching the competition. That is a pretty good deal, except that I don't drink, as a general rule, and I don't really enjoy beer or wine at all. Twenty dollars for small plates and snacks seemed steep, while watching chefs prepare delicious food I wouldn't be able to eat.

Even though my personal experience was about 50/50, I'm excited for the next 'Fest. It seems they had a larger group of venues wanting to be involved than they expected, but the only way to find out about those seemed to follow BaconFest on Twitter. It would be amazing to have a more centralized location, if possible, like the Garlic and Asparagus Festivals in the area, while still offering deals or special menus at various spots around town. Any way it might manifest, I'm excited for the BaconFest of the future!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Having The Chops

Good morning again! Today brings reports of another Constitutional, this time to the City By The Bay. It seems a little strange that I've reported back on breakfast in Seattle before San Francisco, but seeing as how SF is only a couple hours away, it's been a long time since I've actually spent the night there (or been there early enough to get breakfast!). My lady and I recently spent a couple days of adventure down there, however, and I made it a mission statement to enjoy as many breakfasts as I could!

Emily's recommendation was for the Pork Store Cafe on Haight. Due to the limited seating, we had to wait outside, but not too long. We sat at the diner counter, a perfect spot to breathe deep the greasy spoon vibe. There's something reminiscent of Sacramento's Pancake Circus in the happy cartoon pigs painted on the walls, only without the unbridled terror the former destination's paintings bring. Keeping with my general idea to order the weirdest -- or at least most insane-sounding -- item on a new menu, I selected "Eggs In A Tasty Nest," while Emily decided on the Pork Store Special. We both go juice, and I had a coffee as well to help restore my humanity. As much as I enjoy artisan, extravagant, exotic coffees, there is a certain charm to burnt diner coffee. It's a different beverage entirely, one you alter with milk and sugar to become a caramelized candy confection, but it is just as enjoyable as a well-brewed cup of Ethiopian. Sometimes, even more so.
The "tasty nest" the menu describes is a delicious mess of cheese, hash browns, garlic, tomatos, green peppers, bacon, and onions topped with two over easy eggs and served with biscuits. It was very tasty, indeed, an huge pile of pretty much everything I like about breakfast. I snuck a bite of Emily's pork chops as she scaled the stairs to the bathroom, and found them equally enjoyable.
Given how busy it was, the service was very good, if not not extraordinary. I sat next to an Australian cyclist, and it was clear very quickly that it was kitschy enough to be a hipster hot spot. It was crowded, but not so loud we couldn't hold a conversation about meditation vs hallucinogens.
The upstairs bathroom has a balcony overlooking the restaurant that makes it feel a little like a Wes Anderson set, and the bathroom itself is covered in graffiti, as any good, hip, urban bathroom should be. All in all, a very fun experience and a great way to start your day if you plan on burning calories exploring and adventuring! More from this particular Constitutional coming soon, but get ready for this next week's coverage of Sacramento's Bacon Fest!

Atmosphere: 7/13
Clean: 1/3
Structural: 2/3
Decor: 2/3
Signage 1/2
Service: 1/2

Menu: 7/8
Variety: 2/2
Size: 2/2
Beverages: 1/2
Prices: 2/2

Food: 6/9 pts
Presentation: 2/3
Portion: 2/3
Taste: 2/3

Bathroom: 3*/5 pts.
Clean: 1/2
Structural: 0/1
Decor: 2/2

Overall: 23/35

*This is a complete matter of personal taste, and could easily be a score of zero, depending on such. I'm counting the copious amount of graffiti as decoration, since it surpasses a few scrawls and is so dense it's visually arresting. However, I completely understand if you feel that this makes the bathroom look disgustingly dirty. I understand, but you're wrong.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!!

A Belated Happy Holidays from the Morning Constitution! I apologize for the lack of recent posts, but the last couple months have been incredibly busy in both the predictable, and some unpredictable ways.
I celebrated Christmas Eve at Tower Cafe with a good group of friends, enjoying their delicious, seasonal, Eggnog Pancakes. Yesterday I celebrated New Year's Eve at Orphan with some Nutella Pancakes! Both varieties were extra delicious.
I received two Christmas gifts which will directly contribute to the awesome ratio of this blog; a new camera with better.... everything, that actually focuses, and a notebook with two tigers on it (important!) to take notes during breakfastses. I'm excited about being able to make the blog more entertaining and far prettier due to both of those!
It's been a year already, and I'd like to offer a truly heartfelt thank you to all of you who have followed or otherwise enjoyed this blog. It's been a true pleasure, and I hope to continue it for a while to come.

Here are some fun facts from the first year of the Morning Constitution;

Two people found the blog by searching for "Stephanie Hyden" (thanks, Steffie!).
One person found it by searching for "person in the wolf suit!"
As of this moment, the page has been viewed 550 times! Twice in Latvia, five times in Ghana, and 43 times in Malaysia, certainly largely due to the fact that my last name translates to "Gecko" in Malaysian.
French Toast, Pancakes, and Omelettes tied for the most tagged food items this year.

Lots more to come in 2012; a new mini-Constitutional coming soon, new reviews, and lots more excitement! Thanks for sticking around!