It all started a few Food for Thoughts ago when I asked Nancy Leson if she thought expensive mail-ordered foods could really be worth the money. We decided that the only way to know for sure would be to try some out.
I’ve been hearing and reading raves about the bacon produced by Benton’s Smoky Mountain Hams for years. And I'd recently become interested in Charleston Gold rice, an offspring of the heirloom Carolina Gold variety. I ordered that; Nancy got the bacon, and we shared. Here’s what we thought of the ravishing rashers pictured above.
Nancy: “The bacon was terrific. My house and my clothing and my dog smelled like hickory smoke for the next week. Big thick slices of bacon.”
I agreed that Benton’s was definitely the best bacon I’d ever eaten. And at $30 for 4 pounds quite comparable in price to high-end supermarket bacon. But when you figure in the additional $22 shipping, bringing home that bacon really adds up.
Especially when there’s great charcuterie produced right around here, and not just at Seattle's fabled Salumi. Nancy loved the guanciale, a cured pork jowl she got from Carl’s Cutting Board at the Edmonds Holiday Market.
We agreed that the Charleston Gold's nutty aroma was very pleasing, both in the bag and while cooking (yes Nancy, you were right about rice cookers). But neither of us could detect much different in the actual taste. What I did find very pleasing was its bouncy texture.
Having said that, I should report that every time I've made rice since, I've gone back to the Charleston, which is now all gone. But at $9.82 for a 2-pound bag plus shipping. I don’t think I’m getting more any time soon
Nancy mixed some Benton's ham ("very salty") with scallions into her rice and had it for breakfast.
Both the Benton’s and the Carolina Plantation Charleston Gold rice are fine products, several cuts above their run of the mill supermarket counterparts. I wouldn't order them routinely but Nancy and I both think they’d be an occasional extravagant treat. And since it is that time of year...
"It's a proven fact that all plans involving bacon have a 90 percent better chance of working out." – Jeff Gunhus