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Sweet, smoky bacon sticks are all-occasion bites

(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
By Lisa Zwirn
Globe Correspondent / December 29, 2010

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‘People like bacon,’’ announces Sue Zahner. So the co-owner of Tastings Caterers of Framingham came up with her immensely popular, often-requested candied bacon sticks. She wraps a slice of bacon around a skinny breadstick, sprinkles it liberally with brown sugar, and bakes it slowly. The sticks, which Zahner has served at events as diverse as a summer wedding and a Super Bowl party, are sweet, salty, smoky, and chewy.

Tastings’ bacon sticks debuted about 10 years ago. One early appearance was at a wedding. The couple hadn’t ordered the sticks, but the caterer brought them as a little extra, something she refers to as a “tasteful touch.’’ They were such a hit that when the newlyweds were leaving, Zahner noticed the bride carrying the top layer of wedding cake, the groom a bag of bacon sticks.

At the time, Zahner was looking for new bar snacks, having grown bored with cheese-flavored breadsticks, bowls of nuts (taboo at some venues due to allergies), and cheese and crackers. The sticks were at the forefront of the all-things-bacon trend. They’re perfect with beer and soda, and go just as well with cocktails and wine. Zahner also serves them with salad, crisscrossing two over a bed of greens. Sometimes she pairs them with a dip, such as sun-dried tomato, ranch, or blue cheese.

Zahner and her husband, John, started their catering business 29 years ago. It’s now a family affair. Son Matthew, 25, is operations manager; daughter Amanda, 22, recently graduated from University of New Hampshire’s culinary program and has helped out over the years baking and serving.

The couple typically splits kitchen duties into sweet and savory. He’s the savory chef and she does the baking, including all the pastries and wedding cakes. As in any partnership, though, the lines can get blurry. Sue ventured into savory territory (and to top it off, she’s a vegetarian). And look what happened.

Tastings Caterers , 5 Crestwood Drive, Framingham, 508-879-9191, www.tastingscaterers.com

Lisa Zwirn can be reached at lisa@lisazwirn.com.