The Novice Foodie: Bacon, Shakin' and Bikin'

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click to enlarge The Novice Foodie: Bacon, Shakin' and Bikin'
Kelli Best-Oliver
When I signed up for my friend's annual bike ride/pub crawl around St. Louis, the infamous Tour de Moose, I was worried more about how my body would hold up than what I would be drinking and eating along the route. After my retirement from collegiate sports, my only regular exercise is playing kickball in Tower Grove Park and walking my dog.

However, my friend Andrew was quick to remind me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you plan on drinking all day. You need to start with a signature cocktail, one with a little heft and ingenuity. Hence, Andrew and I embarked on a quest for cocktail greatness: bacon vodka, tomato water, and lettuce ice cubes -- the BLT cocktail.

We'd been plotting for weeks. We used a cocktail recipe from The Splendid Table as a guide. Andrew was in charge of the bacon vodka, a process he documents on his own blog. Bacon vodka? What miracles hath God created! This is the building block for something transcendent. Andrew assured me that he repeatedly strained the fat off the vodka after it steeped for over a month. I made the tomato "water" and lettuce ice cubes.

Of course, this cannot be a simple process.

First, my "big" food processor, which I bought from Target for $19 about three years ago, shelled out on my very first task, pureeing two heads of iceberg lettuce. As I didn't want our cocktails perfumed with the acrid stink of a mechanical fire, I delegated the heavy-duty chopping to my clearly-superior Cuisinart mini-prep. RIP cheap food processor. I think I got my money's worth. The lettuce cubes were fairly straightforward: two heads of iceberg, a little bit of lemon juice and salt, puree until smooth, and strain through a double-layer of cheesecloth.

The Novice Foodie: Bacon, Shakin' and Bikin'
Kelli Best-Oliver
Other than making a cocktail with bacon in it, the best part of these drinks is the vegetable straining. Squeezing the lettuce water through the cheesecloth was quite therapeutic and satisfying. It was almost like milking a cow, except, you know, no udders or teats. Two heads of lettuce yielded about a tray and a half of brilliantly bright-green lettuce cubes.

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