What makes a prize-winning rasher of bacon? Does it come down to the streakiness, the thickness of the cut, or the flavour of the cure? For the judges of Australian Pork's Bacon Awards, it's all of the above.
The judging panel, led by fleischmeister, or master butcher, Horst Shurger, undertook the enviable task of tasting 125 bacons from all around the country, the winners of which - Pialligo Farm Smokehouse full-rasher and dry-cured bacon in the artisan category and Bertocchi hickory-smoked bacon in the nationally available category - were announced last Wednesday in Sydney.
"We're very proud of our product and it's great to see it recognised," says Charlie Costelloe of Pialligo Farm Smokehouse, who reckons his award-winning bacon works best in good old fashioned bacon and eggs and fares pretty well on a bacon sandwich, too. "You get a nice crispness ," he says, "it doesn't have a lot of shrinkage because you don't have any moisture leaking out, so you get it nice and crisp with good meat quantity and just the right amount of fat."
The announcement coincides with the launch of Bacon Week - an inaugural effort from Australian Pork to put the spotlight on the quality of our country's pork meat and encourage consumers to avoid inferior, cheaper imported products and shop locally when it comes to their bacon.
"We use Bacon Week as a chance to highlight the quality bacon produced by passionate processors with the Australian Bacon Awards," says Australian Pork Limited's Mitch Edwards. "[It's] a great opportunity to celebrate the magical meat that is bacon and raise awareness of the great-quality bacon produced here from 100 per cent Australian pork."
And they've got the muscle of some key food-industry players behind them, too. Over the course of the week, Gelato Messina will be serving bacon-infused gelato in its stores, Eau de Vie will be mixing bacon-washed Bourbon in its cocktails and restaurants such as Pendolino in Sydney, Huxtable in Melbourne, Gerard's Bistro in Brisbane and Bistro Dom in Adelaide will be featuring the star ingredient in specials across their menus.
"Bacon engages the imagination of Australians," says Edwards, "and we hope they'll support Australian pig farmers and processors during Bacon Week and beyond."
Bacon Week runs 22-28 June. Check out Australian Pork's websitefor more information.