Cafe Society

Range's Smoked Bacon Jam Flatbread Shows the Joys of Sweet, Savory and Salty

Smart people spend lots of time studying what makes us eat too much. The scientific reason has to do with the complex ways that salty, fatty and sweet foods woo our brains into wanting more. But there's a simple reason, too: their yum factor. If one characteristic -- just plain salty, just plain sweet, etc. -- is enough to wreak havoc on our willpower, imagine what happens when you combine all three. But I didn't have to imagine: I lived it when I ate the smoked bacon jam flatbread at Range. Smoky bits of bacon in a sweet, spreadable form, drizzled over mozzarella-covered dough? Yes, please. See also: Range Brings a Taste of the Mild, Wild West to Downtown Denver Paul Nagan, Range's executive chef, isn't the first to play around with savory jam.

At Bittersweet, chef Olav Peterson likes to pair red wine jelly or tangy apple or cherry mostardas (all made in-house) with meats and cheeses on the charcuterie plate.

And at The Populist, Jonathan Power combines lardons with onions, sherry vinegar and sugar and lets it cook for hours, then uses the rich concoction to anchor a sous-vide egg on a crowd-pleaser called Bacon & Egg. Toast points spread with lardo complete the dish. "It's a good play on flavor pairings that people are used to," says Power. "Eggs at dinner are fantastic."

That they are, but as those smart folks know, it's the sweet and savory jam that makes them really hard to pass up.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz