The kitchen is the great equalizer. Food doesn’t care about the colour of your skin…
Mild mannered Natasha LeBlanc; Chef by day, Bacon Girl by night — fighting crimes against bacon everywhere.
Now that’s my kind of superhero.
A recent dalliance at Play – Food, Wine introduced me to a man in whites; Chris Wylie, Sous Chef and our conversation took an all too familiar turn down the dangerous road of… bacon. How great it is. How we can’t live with out it and pork in general.
“Oh, we don’t do a staff meal without bacon” declares Chris.
Suddenly I am considering dumping this whole food/travel writing/photography thingy and going back to waiting tables just for new bacon enhanced experiences at Play. Are they hiring?
Chris laughs and insists that I meet Natasha LeBlanc, on the Play cuisine team – who recently had a strip of bacon tattooed around her wrist. (Now, that is a girl with a commitment to pork.)
Indeed, Natasha emerged from the kitchen and plans for an in-depth Food Gypsy conversation were set – just as soon as her ‘bacon perfume’ arrived.
That day has come. I hereby dub her, ‘Bacon Girl’ defending defenceless pieces of bacon from going off in the fridge.
And I thought I loved bacon. Ha! Mine is a mere passing interest in comparison. This is her first tattoo.
“I wanted to get something that really meant something to me” says Natasha. Thus the bacon bracelet now on her skin.
“I see where you’re going with this” says I “relationships come and go, Chinese characters always need to be explained but bacon — is forever.”
What better place to meet this modern day (meat) hero than at a place there fairly reveres pork in all it’s glory – Murray Street – Kitchen, Wine, Charcuterie. Its logo is pig shaped. Bless their little bacon wrapped hearts.
Between bites of the best (read highest calorie, sharp and creamy) Mac ‘n’ Cheese I’ve ever had outside the confines of my own kitchen (hand-cut sour cream spätzle, Le Coprin mushrooms, mixed artisan cheese sauce) and tasty looking morsels of the Charcuterie Plate (deep-fried smoked head cheese, cretons, shaved ox-tongue, regional cheese selection, boiled egg, mustard, pickled things & Rideau Rye) devoured between eyes-rolling-back moments; we chat.
Gypsy: What’s your favorite Bacon?
Bacon Girl: Double Smoked.
Gypsy: Pan fry or oven fry?
Bacon Girl: If I’m only cooking a couple of slices, pan fry, but… who does that? Oven fry.
Gypsy: First industry job?
Bacon Girl: White Spot, Edmonton.
Gypsy: Where did you train?
Bacob Girl: CCI (Culinary Institute of Canada, PEI.) plus a degree in Criminology from the University of Ontario.
Gypsy: Criminology? So… fighting crime is not new?
Bacon Girl: (laughs) No, I guess not.
Gypsy: What constitutes a “crime against bacon”?
Bacon Girl: Oh, definitely improperly cooked bacon. Soggy bacon. Burnt bacon. Half raw bacon. It must be stopped. Respect the pig, let it be crisp.
Gypsy: (though giggles) Here, here! Tell me how you cook your bacon…
Bacon Girl: Cook to halfway, sprinkle with brown sugar, return to oven, finish with Jack Daniels.
Gyspy: Ahhhhha, a Jack girl. I think I smell an Epic Mealtime tribute.
Bacon Girl: OH MY GOD. I LOVE those guys.
*conversation momentarily side-tracked by gushing over Epic Mealtime, the latest episodes and where to get ‘Bacon, Bacon, Bacon’ shirts. We want one. Epic Mealtime — please send shirts. Back to (not so) serious interview.*
Gypsy: What’s your favorite episode?
Bacon Girl: Turduckinpig! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xc5wIpUenQ)
Gypsy: Hahahahahaha… a classic. Be fun to throw down with the Epic boys don’t you think? Sure we could take them.
Bacon Girl: (laughing hysterically, wagging her head, pursing her lips) Bring it. I don’t see no bacon tattoo on those boys.
Hear that Epic Mealtime? Bring it. Bacon tattoo = epic… pork… dedication. (can we still have shirts?)
I’d like to adopt her please. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be just like Natasha; fun, quirky, passionate, able to cook pans of bacon in a single bound, strong desire to be an organic farmer and sing lullabies to pigs & tomatoes. Such a noble profession. Honest. Simple.
Makes one wonder — if I was cloned. I lost a toothbrush about 27 years ago, cloning was just taking off. Maybe some mad scientist…
… she does look a little like me and I too love double smoked bacon.
Pass the bacon. Be sure it’s properly cooked. Don’t want to get Bacon Girl angry – you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. Though she’d still smell sweetly of Candied Bacon.
110 Murray Street, Ottawa, Ontario 613-562-7244