While not exactly photogenic, Bigmista’s Barbecue's “Pig Candy” was probably the most worthwhile aspect of Bacon Fest. Photos by Asia Morris.
The Big Bite Bacon Fest, the first of many, apparently, was anything but the advertised “Food and Entertainment Experience of Epic PORK-portions!”
Hey Big Bite, I think you need to look up the definition of “epic,” because unless you meant epically disappointing, then you’re way off base.
Those who bought VIP tickets, giving up a whopping $55 to $65—depending on if they’d purchased access to beer samples—received a “Swine Swag Bag,” among other items, that read “Get Porked,” in plain white letters across the front. “Get Porked,” seemed to be the slogan for the day as bacon biters wondered if they’d been ripped off or if such an unsatisfying event was commonplace for Big Bite Events. “Get Porked,” you say? More like get screwed.
Quit looking at me with that cute face, pig. You know what you did.
Big Bite boasted an all-you-can-eat opportunity to try over 40 bacon- and pork-infused dishes and over 40 craft beers. There were maybe ten restaurant tents serving samples with a decent amount of bacon; the remaining fifteen or so vendors served desserts, craft beer or had run out of food before the majority of ticket-holders were even allowed into the event.
Attendees were seen splitting up and running—yes, running—from vendor to vendor in a team effort to try the fifteen-or-so different food offerings before the vendors ran out of samples. The Big Bite Bacon Fest turned into The Amazing Race (for gluttons) as consumers tried to get their money’s worth of food and beer—and I don’t blame them.
The incredibly long line behind the Dia de los Puercos food truck.
While the term “unlimited” will certainly attract many ticket-buyers, “unlimited” in this case actually meant waiting in line for 30 minutes for a single quarter-sized morsel. Now how many quarter-sized morsels can a general-admission ticket holder consume before their allotted two-and-a-half hours runs out? For those following along at home, that’s five samples. Unless you’ve brought your crew of hungry hippos, you’re going to have to go to lunch afterward, and that’s after you’ve paid for parking, and for any beverage other than a beer.
My plus-one and I tried to stock up on beer before they ran out.
I don’t know about you, but if I’ve paid anywhere from $35 to $65 for an event dishonestly hyped to satisfy my taste buds and fill my hungry stomach, I shouldn’t have to madly scramble my way through hundreds of people to feel like the day has been worth my time and money. Big Bite should have seriously considered making it a lot easier for guests to get their full fill as well as screened for the quality of samples before serving anything like Beachwood’s limp lettuce bowls or Farrell’s less-than-spectacular pistachio ice cream, mixed with hard-to-chew, halfway-frozen bits of bacon.
The Beachwood server, a tiny woman with a bleached pixie cut, bobbed her head and the rest of her body to Ja Rule’s “I’m Real” while handing out baconless “BLT Cups.” Yes, baconless BLT Cups. While Miss Pixie certainly had that feel-good party vibe about her, I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would pay such a hefty sum for access to a tiny bowl of soggy lettuce, runny tomato, and a pathetic little sliver of toast to top it off. Beachwood, normally I’m a pretty big fan of your affordable beers and BBQ Chicken Nachos, but I was sorely disappointed to find out you’d run out of bacon. Really? Who on earth would consider a BLT Cup to be categorized under “all the best bacon and pork foods in Long Beach,” Big Bite? That’s really the best you have to offer?
The “Pork-Tastic Entertainment” featured The Hawkline Monster, an apparently “upcoming local Long Beach band,” according to the event site, who played John Mayer, Bob Marley and Sting covers for most of the dinner session. The band has a new album out of original tracks that are actually pretty interesting, but I’m guessing the organizers thought they’d better make sure the music genre was pleasing to the lowest common denominator, or at least those still super down with “Vultures.”
Way to show Long Beach what you really think of its apparently uncultured foodies, Big Bite.
Speaking of cheesy entertainment, were the bikini-clad hardcore women of the Legends Football League's Las Vegas Sin supposed to make us feel good about such a gluttonous consumption of pig fat? I don't think so.
The Red Leprechaun's North Carolina “Eastern Style” Pulled Pork on Brioche, one of the more delicious and satisfying samples at the fest.
Despite the almost-total disparity of Bacon Fest, there were a few food items worth mentioning so that those who (wisely) did not attend can still get their hands on some mouthwatering bacon and pork inspired items.
Bigmista’s Barbecue's “Pig Candy,” a thick slice of maple bacon, cayenne, brown sugar and their Perfect Pork Rub, was absolutely mind-blowing. The combination of a salty, yet maple-soaked, smoky-flavored piece of pig was radical.
Dia De Los Puercos’ Mexico-rn, a cup of cob corn mixed with butter, bacon mayo and topped with chili and cotija was to-die-for. The sweet hint of the corn combined with the almost-overpowering lime flavored chili and mellow bacon mayo had my mouth watering and my stomach growling for more.
Last but not least, we have our local Red Leprechaun’s North Carolina “Eastern Style” Pulled Pork on Brioche, a slow-cooked pulled pork in a tangy East Carolina BBQ sauce with garlic aioli and a warm slaw. As one of the more filling samples at the fest, I cannot forget how incredibly happy such a little piece of sandwich made me feel. One bite and I was hooked.
This was the first Big Bite Bacon Fest in Long Beach and I hope for the sake of the city and Big Bite Events that the next one is just a little bit better.
According to the press release sent out the day after, Mark Enter, "Chief Bacon Officer" at Big Bite Events, said, “We are already planning on on how we can make the 2nd annual Big Bite Bacon Fest bigger and with even more bacon!”
Well... You better start planning because it might be a good idea to prepare enough food for the guests of both the Lunch and Dinner sessions, it would be a good idea not to advertise anything you can't deliver, and maybe, just maybe the event organizers could follow through with a little more care and consideration for its beach-side bacon-loving foodies.
Above, left: Dia De Los Puercos’ Mexico-rn was worth the 30 minute wait.