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July 18, 2012

The Taste Bud: 1,001 ways to eat bacon

I made a bacon sandwich a couple of weeks ago. Wanna know what was on it? Bacon. Eight crispy slices, if I remember correctly. And some cheddar cheese. On whole grain wheat toast (for good health).

My dog was understandably envious, so I let a tiny bit of the grease drip onto his Nature’s Balance potato-and-duck-formula dog food. He ate heartily, then collapsed on the floor and slept for an hour. With my belly equally satisfied, I was tempted to lie down right next to him.

So, you’ll understand why I was so interested when my girlfriend Cynthia told me that Main Street Coffee and Deli (217 E. Main St., across from Stevie Ray’s) cures its own bacon. Yes, you read that correctly: This isn’t pre-sliced stuff they buy in bulk from Sysco; this is good, old-fashioned, sliced-just-for-you pig flesh.

So I went, and I’m here to officially endorse Main Street’s B.A.T.S. (bacon, avocado and tomato on sourdough) sandwich. Interestingly, though, it’s not really because of the bacon. Avocado is also one of my favorite foods, like, ever, so their forces combined? Forget it. And best of all, the sandwich I tasted had a surprise or two.

Of course, I mostly just wanted to try the bacon, so I convinced one of the line managers to let me try a slice of the sorghum bacon, which, as you would guess, is cured with a sweet sorghum mix. I was initially a bit disappointed, because the salty bacon taste I was expecting didn’t really pop for me. Perhaps it was the addition of the sorghum, but the taste seemed muted somehow.

Then I got my sandwich. It was made with Main Street’s savory bacon, which was a bit more like traditional bacon, the stuff your grandma used to fry by the pound. The crisp bacon was broken into chunks and appeared to be mixed with smashed avocados, with a tomato slice on top for good measure. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to the full ingredients of the sandwich on the menu, but it didn’t take long for me to realize there was something unexpected going on. There was a slight hint of … heat?!?!?

“That’s the serrano peppers,” Cynthia said with a smirk, as she munched on her B.B.&T. (bacon, Benedictine, tomato and cucumber) sandwich. Smart aleck.

She was right, though: It was serrano peppers I was tasting. Heck, I thought the “S” in the name B.A.T.S. was for the sourdough bread. Idiot. Seriously, it was almost like I was eating the love child of a B.L.T., a bowl of guacamole and a Chicago-style hot dog. It was a trio of forces at work on my taste buds.

The sneaky serranos — they aren’t as hot as a habanero or ghost pepper by any stretch, but they have a distinctive kick — brought the whole thing together for me. The savory bacon didn’t really distinguish itself, but the balance of avocado, bacon and peppers was spot-on.

Main Street likes its oddball versions of the B.L.T., it seems. Recently it rolled out an E.L.T: eggplant-bacon, lettuce and tomato. No word on whether that one will stick on the menu, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the daily specials. Maybe they’ll unleash a P.B.J.&B (peanut butter, jelly and bacon) or a C.S.B (chicken salad and bacon) sandwich for us. Hey, it could happen. Main Street may never top Blind Pig as Louisville’s bacon crusader, but you have to applaud the effort.

Oh yeah, speaking of bacon, the other night after I finished watching the “Walking Dead” marathon, I was strangely craving meat. So I made some bacon as a snack, and ate it straight. Just an FYI: Eating five strips of bacon before bedtime might not be the best idea, as it might make you dream about the Zombie Apocalypse. Sigh