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American Original Farmer John Goes City Sophisticate at 85

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This is a photo album story about how an American Original, Farmer John Foods (“the West Coast Original since 1931”) celebrates its 85th anniversary by going “City Sophisticated” in menu ideas (bacon lattice atop an apple pie!) and products.  Unique to the west coast throughout its history, even after it was purchased by Hormel years ago, Farmer John foods proves it is so much more than bacon and sausage.

They showed it all off at one of the best parties we’ve attended since – well, the magnificent Cochon 555 competition –  even as one delightful Farmer John party menu by Executive Chef Jerrardo Benitez of Perch Restaurant took the place of  six chefs working from six whole pigs. From the luxe, enticing “Farm to Fork” invite to the restaurant’s historic rooftop to the parting gift bag and the friendliest, fastest valet service in town, it was LA-perfect. Although was one of the longest days of the year, the crowd that comfortably fit onto the 16th floor rooftop lingered until sunset.  Home court advantage certainly showed here.

IMG_9390The new truly spectacular “natural thick-cut” uncured bacon set the tone as the most honest bacon I’ve tasted, and the dishes at the party were each bold and contemporary, boasting universal appeal and pizazz.   The story about the processing plant will come later.

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We were greeted with a Farmer John Vanilla Cinnamon Bacon Old Fashioned Signature Cocktail with bourbon and bitters. Umami.

IMG_8831Our favorite classics of the evening were the “off the menu” Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon plus the elevated Grilled Cheese with Spiral Ham Steak & White Cheddar on Brioche with Baby Heirloom Cabernet Tomato and Cornichon.  Chef Benitez has such a light hand that these hearty dishes were refined enough for summer.

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The dish that seemed to fly off the platters no matter how many times they came out of the kitchen was the Applewood Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Garlic Double Cream, Maple Sherry Glaze, Endive, Micro Bulls Blood.  The topping of edible snapdragon blossoms here shows the  finesse of the stylist.

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And the natural thick-cut bacon also tasted just perfectly wonderful straight off the platter!  The uncured process gives the bacon a snap without it crumbling it in your mouth.  However, we found at home, that the cooked bacon still added the crackle when minced for a salad.

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The most elaborate dish was the Pork Loin + Pineapple + Peach Skewers with Smoked Paprika Marinade, Chipotle Honey Glaze using California Natural Pork Loin.

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California inspired, the colorful, the artistic Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo & Chile de Arbol Sauce, Heirloom Teardrop Tomato & Avocado Salad, using Natural Pork Shoulder, served open-faced looked like an urban garden.

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The beef Hot Dogs on Brioche Buns with Sweet Red Peppers, Red Onions, Serrano Chili and Sriracha Aioli were addictive because of the combination of the most sophisticated yet classic tastes and textures.

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IMG_8841Last but not least was the hearty, very interesting, perfectly cooked for moistness and still sporting a char, Dry-Spiced Baby Back Rib, Miso Glazed with Toasted Cashews & Asian Pear Slaw.

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Below, VP of Marketing, Lidwina Van Kooten introduces a beaming Executive Chef Jerrardo Benitez of Perch Restaurant, a native Angeleno (and proud of it!), who created the menu for the evening.  Well done!  IMG_8875

The evening is about over as the sun sets.   The piece of bacon alone would have been just fine but the festive last little dish of Pot de creme tart with Maple Bacon, Salted Caramel & Fresh Berries put a smile on everyone’s face.  It was definitely “the frosting on the cake.” IMG_8883Gift bags include the wonderful, uncured, natural bacon and chocolate-wrapped bacon.
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And in the “I can’t believe it’s chocolate” section, here the following day is Amandine’s Executive Pastry Chef, Deshaney, and her associate, Monica, trying out the chocolate-wrapped bacon. They weren’t told what it was ahead of time. The pictures tell the story.  They loved it!

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IMG_8897The Farmer John “Farm to Fork” party showed not only the delicious, natural product but also  Los Angeles’ culinary expertise and heart.   The weather was somehow also perfect for the season.  Brava and thank you!  For more recipes, please see www.farmerjohn.com.

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