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Photos: The Bacon Dishes & Long Lines At The Big Bite Bacon Fest

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After the Big Bite Bacon Fest made its rounds through the San Diego County Fair last month, Long Beach got the chance to experience the pork-centric food fest out at the Queen Mary on Saturday. And though there were some choice bacon and beer selections, crowds were faced with long lines.

Like many others, I have a hard time resisting the many versions of pork belly. So, when the folks at the Big Bite Bacon Fest asked me to judge the pork and bacon cooking competition, I, of course, was excited and honored to partake. There were amateurs and professionals participating, with many creating some amazing dishes, including a Mexican soup with pork accompanied by chicharrones, and a PB & J Hog Pocket topped with bacon crumbs. The winner of the competition (who will be advancing to the World Food Championships in Las Vegas) was Executive Chef Hugo Miranda of DoubleTree Hilton in El Segundo. His succulent pork belly sandwich with a spicy kick was a dish the judges couldn't stop talking about behind the scenes.

As for the festival portion of the sold-out event (which had separate lunch and dinner sessions), there were some worthy dishes I sampled, from Slater 50/50's hamburgers with a fried egg on top to Dia de los Pueros' Mexican corn with bacon bits; they were the vendors who served the larger portions at the event. There was also Meat, Inc.'s juicy meatballs wrapped in bacon and the fresh chicharrones covered in hot sauce that were memorable at the fest. Farrell's Ice Cream Parlours ice cream sundae with bacon bits was a good way to end the event.

However, what seemed to be a problem at the fest were the long lines. For being an event where patrons paid a ticket price to get unlimited bacon and pork samples, there were some that left hungry because there didn't seem to be enough food vendors, and also folks spent so much time in lines that they couldn't get to all the food. A few of the lunch vendors didn't have enough food to make it through to the dinner and packed up early. (I was there for the dinner portion and sadly didn't get to try the bacon donuts or bundt cakes before the vendors ran out.)

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Although the craft brewery lineup was stellar (with the likes of Green Flash, Angel City and Lost Coast participating), people who purchased the 10-pack of 3-ounce samples also faced long lines. Unfortunately, some of the breweries tapped out an hour before the 2.5 hour event was over. However, I was able to get some frosty glasses of Ballast Point's Scuplin and Deschutes' Fresh Squeezed IPA. Stone Brewery seemed to be going strong to the end.

It was Big Bite Bacon Fest's first fest outside of Del Mar, so as with all events, it's always a tough one on the first try. I hope that they'll iron out the kinks the next time around because I sure do love bacon and it's great being around other bacon enthusiasts.