I was going to try to label this as Paleo, but no, I cannot even make that fly. This is just… well, this is the American Pavilion.
|Woody Topiary at the American Pavilion|
|The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews Outdoor Kitchen|
|The smoker- it was raining, but they were smokin'|
There are two gluten free offerings at The Smokehouse- the Smoked Beef Brisket and the Turkey Rib.
|The Smokehouse Passport Page|
We ordered the Pulled Pig Slider, the Smoked Beef Brisket, and the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake. EPCOT had featured the Piggylicious cupcake in the pre-event publicity, and it was the one food item that I was really looking forward to seeing. I just had to see what this little gem looked like in real life- and find out (ask) how it would taste.
|Left to right: Pulled Pig Slider, Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake, Beef Brisket (gluten free)|
The pulled pork with cole slaw was fantastic (I had one bite with a fork, not touching the bun- not best practices for food sensitivities, but hey, I was living on the edge). I also had a bite of the brisket and collard greens- both delicious. Neither the pork nor the brisket tasted smoky to me at all- which is a good thing, as I do not care for even a hint of smoke flavor. The jalapeño cornbread looked fantastic, but I didn't try it.
|Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw|
|Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeño Corn Bread (gluten free)|
I would like to sound knowledgeable here, and make a great comment about the "fabulous marbeling" in the brisket, but who am I kidding... I really don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to meat, LOL. I can say the beef was very tender and flavorful, which probably means there was a lot of fat... I've learned the ones with lots of fat are the only cuts of meat I even like. Heh. It's a good thing I like fruits, nuts and veggies much more than meat.
OK, and now for the pies de resistance… oops, wrong Pavilion. Now for the star of the show- the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard me correctly. Bacon. Cupcake.
(Cue angels singing)
|Ta-da! Bacon Maple Cupcake at the American Pavilion|
I gazed wistfully at the (definitely NOT gluten-free) bacon cupcake, as I urged Tim to try it. I was so focused that I was sure I would vicariously taste it through some sort of psychic gastronomic osmosis. Tim looked at me uncertainly, "Are you sure..?" he asked. "Yes!" I said, "Eat it! I must know what it tastes like! Tell me in every delicious detail."
Tim said it was good…it was very good. It was so good that I decided I would have a taste of the maple frosting (ignoring whatever potentially problematic ingredients that could have been in there).
Using a fork, and avoiding the pretzels, I tried a little bit of the frosting. A ray of light poured down from Heaven. The frosting was fantastic. It was not just maple, but cream cheese and maple. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite frosting. I think it is the only reason I like carrot cake as much as I do.
Sometimes I can convince myself that I can "wish away" food allergies/sensitivities by simply refusing to accept that they exist. "I'm healed," I convince myself. A little taste won't hurt me, I say. The mind is a powerful thing, I surmise. If I believe that I won't get sick, and I truly, truly believe that, and if I want that badly enough, and if I tell myself that I am cured, then I Won't. Get. Sick.
Usually temptation happens with puff pastry. Today, it was bacon. Along with the angels singing from heaven appeared a devil on my shoulder. I rationalized... one teeny, tiny taste of the actual cupcake, a perfect little bite, with a tiny bit of cupcake, a sliver of bacon, and a bit of maple frosting wouldn't hurt me... and if it did, surely it would be worth whatever discomfort I experienced as a consequence.
So I did it. I took an actual bite, of gluten, on purpose. Gasp!
|A Cupcake Concept Sent From Heaven|
My verdict? Meh, not really worth it. I found the bacon very smoky, which kind of ruined it for me. Also, I am not a huge fan of cake in general, but if I were to eat cake, I would prefer a lighter, airier cupcake, whereas this one was dense and moist. BUT- I am glad I tasted it, because now I have full intention of making my own (gluten free) version. In fact, I already made one trial run of bacon donut holes with maple glaze- which were pretty darn delicious. A few tweaks to the maple part of that recipe, and I think we'll have a winner- and, I dare say, even better than the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake!
For those of you reading, please realize that my opinion of the cupcake is biased in several ways. 1) I cannot help but weigh the taste of anything on a "was it worth it to get sick" scale- which is an individual experience that varies depending on one's sensitivity to a given ingredient, and does not apply to everyone, 2) I am not a huge fan of cake (although I love the idea of anything in miniature, so cupcakes always appeal to me for the fun factor), 3) I really, really do not like smoke flavor. So for those of you who can eat anything, and who like smoky bacon, I think you may really enjoy this cupcake.
On the culinary aspect, I love the contrast between sweet and salty, and the added bonus of a little salt and crunch from the pretzel. And I have to say, the maple-cream cheese icing was to die for. The icing by itself, would be worth getting sick for. Ha. That is kind of a strange statement, but you know what I mean. Mmmmm…. maple frosting… (just picture me drooling like Homer Simpson).
p.s. Sigh, yes, I suffered (dearly) from the sum total of all of the food-festival-frivolousness (there are a few more posts to come, but I know you guys will ask about that after what I posted here). Although I was careful, I did eat things that were questionable for me… I knew better, but darn it, I LOVE FOOD! I did this at the Food & Wine festival too. Every time, I convince myself that "it won't be that bad"- and every time I wind up VERY uncomfortable for weeks afterwards.
It reminds me how much diet really does make a difference in how I feel. And, it's the kick in the butt I need to get back on track and really watch what I'm eating. But then... 6 months go by... and I feel better because I've been eating perfectly, and when I feel better, I feel invincible, and it is easy to once again convince myself "I can handle this". Perhaps 6 months from today, I will remember how lousy I feel right now? Hmmm…. I have a feeling time will dull that memory… although perhaps not.
p.p.s. This is the first time in a couple of years that I can remember willingly eating gluten. I'm sure I've probably ingested gluten accidentally, and via cross-contamination, but I typically don't take chances there. Now, corn, soy, and other ingredients… those I sometimes am a little risky with… although I must say, I've gotten much better with corn, in small doses.