Sometimes, a Bizarre Snack is something unfamiliar. Other times, it can be the most familiar food, done differently. That’s the case this week with one of our most popular trail foods: pepperoni.
Really, nothing beats it for the trail. It’s salty, it’s fatty and it has some protein. Depending on the brand, it lasts a couple days, hot or cold. We’ve been in the habit of buying the standard, pre-sliced grocery store brand, then maybe making a pita, cheese and pepperoni sandwich. Not something we’d eat at home, but good enough – sometimes even great – for the trail.
And now this. From our neighbors in the Green Mountain State, we discovered Vermont Smoke and Cure, Smoked Pepperoni Bites. It’s pepperoni, yes. But it’s smoked and flavored with paprika for an extra twang.
For the price ($1.50 for a 1.1 ounce chunk), and the convenient packaging, not to mention the taste, this was easily the best pre-packaged pepperoni we’ve tasted.
First some background. Remember this is Vermont, so if images pop into your head of LL Bean wearing, middle-aged hippies eating organically grown food and sipping free trade coffee, well, let’s just say you’re not too far off target.
Vermont Smoke and Cure’s sister company is Farmers Diner – a couple of farmers’ food joints in primarily upscale touristy sections of Vermont, serving locally produced food. This is not a criticism, just, you know, Vermont. And you know what, it sounds really good: how about hand made sausage, wrapped in bacon on a bed of coleslaw? Yeah, that’s what we said! Here’s the diner’s website: http://farmersdiner.com/
Anyway, Farmers Diner bought the company in 1999, and say they have continued the smoking tradition that begin back in 1962. For example, they brine the bacon and ham with maple syrup. Then they are smoked using corn cobs and maple wood. Jeez, you expect the Pepperidge Farm dudes to show up at any moment.
So, now that you’re adequately saturated with New England-style quaintness, how about those pepperoni?
This was one snack and both Dan and Meenakshi agreed upon: The meat was soft, and lean without any of the standard chewy fat that pepperoni sometimes has. The paprika gave it a nice after-a-couple-seconds kick. It was salted but not salty. We cut it into smaller morsels and ate a bunch of Bites with some bread and cheddar and it was delicious. The bites were a bit greasy, but hey, just wipe your hands on your pants and keep on hiking.
Our conclusion: everything tastes better smoked. We’ll have a few of these in our packs from now on.
Mmmm…. bite size morsels of smoked pepperoni. Here’s the company website if you dare enter the world of Vermont: www.vtsmokeandcure.com