Last year imaginative Newtown cafe Cuckoo Callay staged their very first bacon festival, with a temporary menu lasting several weeks offering nothing but inspired bacon-centric dishes, leading to a whopping two tonnes being sold throughout the event and an even bigger dedicated following since. At the end of this month, the Bacon Festival will return, bolstered by it’s popularity to be even bigger than last year, with a one-day launch event called Bacon Brewfest to be held at Central Park and aMBUSH Gallery on February 27th, featuring collaborations by a whole heap of Sydney’s best including Grumpy Donuts, N2 Gelato, and Black Star Pastry. After the Brewfest, Cuckoo Callay will be in it for the long haul with a very carefully considered menu of brand new bacon dishes offered for about 12 weeks. We were given a preview of that menu this week.
All the free-range pork used is sourced from local, small family farms supplied by Bangalow Sweet Pork, as the menu indicates at the top so it’s good quality here, mixed up with a sense of balance (okay, except for some dishes), improving greatly from last year as the majority of these dishes – despite their descriptions – don’t overdo it on the excess and focus on the many different flavours that are used to complement the focus on bacon.
Take for example the Bacon Mac Daddy (headline image), which is an outrageous filling of double-smoked bacon, bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, a fried egg, and “bacony” tomato jam in a crispy toasted croissant. The small kitchen could have easily overloaded the mac ‘n’ cheese here, as many places do, but it’s done well, looks fantastic, and tastes even better, with the sweet tomato jam following that indulgent taste with a slightly sweet, clean finish.
Then you have the Bacon all the Rules, one of the ‘peak bacon’ dishes that brings in a beautiful thick bacon steak, some maple bacon, double-smoked bacon, and “bacony” tomato jam on sourdough with two poached egg. Cuckoo Callay handle their eggs perfectly so you’ll get a gorgeous stream of bright yellow yolk once you prod those eggs open, streaming over all that delicious bacon.
Pig Deal Fritter is one of the best options here, with the sweet, flavoursome feta and zucchini fritters served up with double-smoked bacon, bacon jam, jalapeno, avocado corn salsa, and a poached egg. As far as the savoury dishes go, this is the sweetest and one of the lightest, with the fritters the MVP of the dish.
The very interesting Fooled Pork Burger is a bit of a black sheep in this menu, as even though the filling looks like pulled pork, the burger is actually completely vegetarian. Giving away the “secret ingredient” would spoil the fun, but you’ve got to admire the design here, and the overall flavour is as impressive, juicy and rich with help from greyere cheese and Asian slaw on a toasted brioche bun.
More substantial mains include the Cherry Good Belly, which is glazed pork belly sitting on a bacon-potato rosti, lightly covered with sour cherry sauce and topped with chargrilled brocollini. The pork belly is incredible, with crispy crackling skin working well with the super soft rosti. The use of sour cherry sauce is thankfully subtle, drawing just enough flavour from it to place it as a distinctive, necessary dish for the duration of this menu.
Perhaps the most indulgent – and impressive – of the entire menu is the Pig in the Box, a large box-shaped creation of bacon with a filling that mixes pork with creamy camembert chese, served with a bright red vine of roasted truss tomatoes, spinach puree, tomato jam, and poached egg. It speaks to how much thought and work has gone into crafting this menu, trumping last year’s bacon festival with this dish alone.
Dessert brings two options, first the Devil-ish Doughnut, a dessert burger of sorts inside a cinnamon doughnut bun provided by Redfern staple Milk Bar by Cafe Ish. It’s filled with house-made bacon and caramel ice cream, double smoked bacon, peanut butter mousse, and salted peanut caramel, and though the ice cream isn’t as strong in flavour as you’d think, the peanut butter mousse brings in a smooth, salty flavour that dominates the palate.
Lastly, there’s the My Sweet Valenswine which is house-made bacon and cinnamon ice cream, maple bacon, caramelised walnuts, fresh blueberries, and freeze-dried mandarin served on a carrot cake waffle. The waffle isn’t as soft as I’d like it to be but the smooth, messy mix of ice cream, maple bacon, and walnuts especially is enough to have anyone hogging this to themselves.
Cuckoo Callay have even made their very own bacon freakshake, called The Elvis, a pumpkin pie and bacon milkshake made with roasted pumpkin, pie crust, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, all blended together and finished with maple bacon, cream, biscuits, peanut butter and more maple syrup. Grab the biscuits stuck to the rim and scoop up the peanut butter, then take a sip.
On display at the menu preview was also a few other treats that will be served at Bacon Brewfest, namely the beers (4 Pines, Batch, Feral, and more), a shiny, glazed creation from Grumpy Donuts, pork-floss topped macaroons, and an adorable, shiny pig dessert from the reputable Textbook Boulangerie Patisserie in Alexandria, made of bacon maple mousse, chocolate shavings, and butter which has been used from a reduced bacon rind.
And if all that doesn’t get you Bacon aficionados going, surely these bacon topped flowers will.
For more information on Bacon Brewfest and tickets to the event, featuring a bacon eating competition and more, click HERE. The bacon menu at Cuckoo Callay will be running for 12 weeks following the launch event.
Address: Newtown Railway station, 324A King St, Newtown
Contact: (02) 9557 7006