Drum roll, please. Australian Pork Limited has announced the winner of its annual Bacon Awards - the event that sees 135 bacons from across the country judged for their texture, aroma and balance of flavour.
The three-judge panel, led by fleischmeister (that's master butcher) Horst Schurger, crowned Pialligo Estate Smokehouse's short-cut, smoked and dry-cured bacon the best in the artisan category for the second year running, while Bertocchi Brothers' long, rindless hickory-smoked bacon was the victor in the national category for the second time, too.
"When we looked at the Pialligo Estate product," says Australian Pork marketing manager Mitch Edwards, "it just had a beautiful aroma, the right fat-to-meat ratio, the texture was moist without being too moist, and it didn't dry out in the cooking."
The judges also credited the bacon for its "lovely hint of smokiness and very beautifully balanced flavour".
For Pialligo's Charlie Costelloe, who cold-smokes his bacon for 17 hours, the quality of the product comes down to good, old-fashioned patience. "The key to good bacon is time and attention," he says. "It's not about rushing the process."
The awards kick-off Bacon Week, an annual initiative from Australian Pork to put the spotlight on local bacon. "Approximately 70 per cent of the bacon available sold to consumers in retail in Australia is made from imported pork," says Edwards, "and Bacon Week is to highlight that to people so that they know to look for the little pink mark with 'Australian Pork' on it."
And some exciting chefs and restaurants are getting involved. Over the course of the week, Adriano Zumbo will be serving up a bacon-y dessert titled "Piggy in the Middle" at his establishments in Sydney (excluding the Rozelle store) and Melbourne. Gelato Messina will take part with a beer, brownie and bacon-infused gelato, while Eau De Vie drinks master Sven Almenning has created a range of bacon-inspired cocktails that will be served at both bars in Sydney and Melbourne, and in select bars across the country (including The Gresham in Brisbane, The Roosevelt in Sydney, and Boilermaker House in Melbourne, to name a few).
So work up your appetites, folks - you've got seven days of salty, smoky fun ahead of you. In the meantime, here are some of our favourite bacon recipes to linger over.
Australian Bacon Week runs from 21-27 of June. For more information visit their website.