Tara backs her brand...
Tara backs her brand...

Food Profiling: Candied Bacon Confections From The Sticky Pig

With a nickname like the Bacon Vixen, you know whatever Tara Simon brings to the table is fabulously gluttonous. She's the driving force behind her confection brand, The Sticky Pig. It's all handmade, utilizing an entire strip of candied bacon to wrap in a bite-sized rush of umami. Consider The Elvis: peanut butter, fresh banana, a hint of lemon and honey; then topped with savory peanut butter icing and organic banana chip crunches. Um, yeah. One might think the confections would possess an overpowering piggy flavor, but that's not the case. She's found balance, walking the line between being cloyingly sugary and intensely meaty.

Tara originates from Philly, heading West to Southern California nine years ago... 

...for a boy. Unfortunately for her, he wasn't nearly the foodie she was, and they parted ways not too long after. With an art degree under her belt, Tara found steady work as both a graphic designer and pilates instructor. One day, her boss brought in some candied bacon for the troops, and that was the game changer for our vixen.

She started toying with the idea of more complex flavors, and found curry to be a sinful combination. It evolved into her dairy and nut-free delight Coconut Curry Lime. After a few more successful mash-ups, like S'mores, Tara founded The Sticky Pig in November 2009.

Our Bacon Vixen did not attend culinary school, citing PBS as her self-taught cooking institution, and classics such as Martin Yan's Yan Can Cook and Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet as professors. Her current residence is Costa Mesa, but the bacon-tastic magic happens in various private kitchens around Orange County, including a restaurant at The District in Tustin.

The labor-intensive process begins with bulk bacon, and although a specific brand was never mentioned, she states matter-of-factly, "I tried every brand: Nieman Ranch, Farmer John, etc. Nitrate-free bacon didn't work and cost too much."  

While Elvis is one of her top sellers, Coffee 'n Cream and (her favorite) Raspberry Jelly Doughnut also share the spotlight. The 'jelly' in the doughnut is made up of fresh raspberries, dates and crunchy raw almonds; then it's finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. These three flavors make up half of her always available Signature Six, the others being Chocolate Peppermint, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel, and the previously mentioned Coconut Curry Lime. Due to the freshness of Tara's ingredients, orders are perishable and can be refrigerated for up to a week. If you're wondering what to serve these alongside, "They can pair with so many things," she remarks. She's currently updating The Sticky Pig site to reflect the possibilities, including wine pairings.

"I'm working on something BIG, but I can't tell you just yet," she says. What can she dish? There's the Maple Cinnamon Whiskey Candied Bacon ice cream. Yum! Also forthcoming are possible bacon caramels, macarons, and candied rose petals. She would love to do a bacon-centric gourmet food truck someday, but one thing she won't venture into: cupcakes. With her chocolate-hued boxes, Tara's goal is for The Sticky Pig to be known as the "Tiffany of bacon candies."

Food Profiling: Candied Bacon Confections From The Sticky Pig

The Sticky Pig is available exclusively online at www.thestickypig.com.

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