David Mimeles had two plans when he retired from his career as a Silicon Valley software executive last year — to grow his hair long and to make bacon. Both projects are proceeding apace.
The 58-year-old New Orleans native and Barrytown resident got into the bacon game years ago, making small batches for family and friends. Now he’s launched “Criminal Bacon” to bring his brand of artisanal pork belly to the world, or at least the Hudson Valley. Mimeles’ business model relies on word of mouth spread through tasting events at hip Hudson Valley venues like Kingston’s Stockade Tavern and the Woodstock Way hotel.
On one recent chilly day, Mimeles, clad in a sturdy leather apron and a brown felt fedora, manned a frying pan set up over a portable heater outside, running batches of just-crispy-enough bacon into the reception area at Woodstock Way. Inside, a President’s Day weekend crowd is sampling it along with beer from Woodstock Brewing and Mimeles’ homemade bacon jam in a cozy fire-warmed lobby.
“This is a unique place, and people come here seeking unique experiences,” said Mimeles of his adopted Hudson Valley home.
Mimeles’ bacon is made from pork bellies from Tivoli’s Northwind Farms. The meat is cured for 14 days in a mixture heavy on black pepper and juniper berries, then smoked with pecan and applewood in a smokehouse Mimeles built on his Barrytown property. Each week Mimeles criss-crosses the Hudson Valley for tastings accompanied by a cooler full of packaged bacon for sale. It’s a business model, he says, that recognizes the Hudson Valley’s foodie culture as well as a renewed appreciation for what was once the most humble of breakfast meats.
“I think people know you’re not supposed to eat it every day,” said Mimeles of the recent bacon renaissance. “So if you are going to have it, it better be good.”