The little city of Greenville, with a population of about 60,000, is billing itself as a "Foodie Paradise." It's got a pretty good scene, with over 100 restaurants right along and off Main Street in the quaint downtown district. Mirroring much of the country, pig seems to be a popular product, with pork belly, guanciale, prosciutto, and the like appearing on a lot of the plates. In this porcine spirit, Nose Dive, the self-proclaimed first gastropub in the city, serves a Dark Chocolate Candied Bacon Brownie ($7) that's terrifically tempting.
At Nose Dive, I passed on other possibilities like Carolina Gold Rice Pudding and Goat Cheese Cheesecake to get a crack at the porky brownie. It's their signature dessert, developed from a desire to combine salty and sweet. Actually, the brownie isn't as savory as I expected, as the bacon is baked with brown sugar and becomes quite sweet, with the small pieces contributing some meaty flavor and crispy texture. The brownie itself is moist and rich, much to my liking, and more cake-like than fudgy. A sprinkling of cocoa powder reinforces the chocolate impact.
Rather than the more commonplace vanilla ice cream, I applaud the choice of American honey bourbon ice cream to top the brownie. Taken alone, I could notice the slightly woody and smoky flavor of the bourbon, complemented by the earthy sweetness of the honey. I always like the contrast in colors between light ice cream and dark brownie, the two marrying well when the ice cream melts into the crevices of the cake. Strawberry slices and blueberries add color and fruity flavor—and dare I say a healthy element?—to the dessert. This bacon brownie may be an ideal dessert to share, but I was happy to hog it for myself.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.