New Jersey, the butt of all jokes. Lots of people know Jersey from that stretch of highway, the I-95 corridor; the smell and the smoke coming up from the industrial plants and oil refineries. What most people don’t realize is there is more to New Jersey than meets the eye; from the Jersey shore, to the farms, and yes even the wineries. Just an hour from NYC or Philadelphia is Laurita Winery. It’s like taking a trip to a Napa Valley vineyard without having to leave New Jersey. The atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxing and the food trucks are tasty. This weekend I got the opportunity to visit them during their BaconFest and it was a lot of fun and of course delicious.
Upon arrival we were directed to a parking lot about a half mile from the festivities. Everything was highly organized and well staffed. The shuttles are frequent and take you to and from the parking lot. Admission was only eight dollars and we even got a free mason jar with the purchase.
We were greeted with smells of bacon and the sounds of classic and country rock. I felt like we were transported to a southern BBQ and California all at once and we only had to drive a half-hour to get there.
If you are not familiar with Laurita wine, it’s not surprising because they only sell it on site. Most New Jersey wines I have tried have been too sweet for my liking but Laurita seems to have found the sweet spot. They make some excellent dry white and red wines that I would have thought have come from Cali. It was a hot day so we went for their Sangria and I have to say, it was excellent. I’m not a big Sangria guy but theirs is perfectly juicy and refreshing. We also had some of their Chardonnay, and again I have to say it was surprising this came from New Jersey. It had the characteristics of a good Chardonnay: buttery and flavors of apple and not super acidic which was great for me because white wine usually gives me heart burn.
So a bacon festival wouldn’t be a bacon festival without those salty and savory strips. There was a great stretch of food trucks and we never waited more than a couple of minutes on line. It was a hard choice and I could have had all the food but we narrowed down our choices to Callahan’s Hot Dogs, One Big Party BBQ, Pompier, Philly Fry, Nitro Girl Ice Cream, and House of Cupcakes. You might want to grab a drink and some food for the rest of this article because you are going to get hungry.
I had the Peanut Butter and Candied Bacon Hot dog. You might be thinking to yourself, gross, but do not knock it until you try it. It was one of the best hot dogs I have ever had. If I had the hot dog itself plain it would have been delicious; it was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin that snapped with each bite and wonderfully juicy. I got the regular, at just over 9 inches. Not sure how they cooked these, maybe fried, but man they were good. The peanut butter and candied bacon gave it that perfect match of savory, salty, and sweet, just amazing.
I had the Pork belly tostadas and they were yummy and moist. Topped with Avocado and chipotle mayo, these were a nice little flavorful intermission.
Slab bacon Pierogis, need I say more? These were cheesy potatoes and bursting with flavor, topped with slab bacon and sour cream on top of yellow rice and onions. We thought this would be just a snack but it was a meal in itself. The bacon was smoky, tasty and cooked perfectly. I could have eaten these all day but we had more to try.
Picture a cheese steak without the roll, on top of perfectly cooked seasoned crispy fries and topped with bacon. The fries stood up to the load of toppings without getting soggy and the bacon just added that salty flavor that would have made the perfect drunk food but was also amazing sober. Upon grabbing these, I was getting those looks and comments from people that said they must get those fries now.
This ice cream was impressive and the texture was amazingly smooth due to the nitro used in the recipe. The nitrogen makes the ice cream so quickly that it results in smaller ice crystals. They even claim to make ice cream infused with alcohol. We had the maple bacon crunch ice cream of course and it tasted kind of like a butter pecan but better. The smooth ice cream mixed with the maple crunch was perfect. I wish I could get this ice cream all the time, but maybe it’s for the best because this fat foodaholic needs to lose some weight.
These cupcakes were so moist and tasty and the bacon on these cupcakes again prove that savory, salty and sweet are the perfect combination. We got these to go, and they were an amazing end to a beautiful day.
So next time you are driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, remember that New Jersey is much more than that industrial wasteland. I would recommend this place to anyone in the Tri-state area, you will not be disappointed. They have events most of the year and if you are down at the shore it is only about a 40 minute drive away. They even have an Inn on the premises if you need to make an overnight stay. Happy eating!