It's hard to do much better than La Quercia's rich, buttery, dry-cured bacon from the hard-to-find Tamworth breed of hog
The best new bacon in our deli case in the last year is coming in from Herb Eckhouse and La Quercia in Iowa, whose other cured pork you might be familiar with. We've had his pancetta and guanciale for many years now and both are featured at length in Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon.
This one's been in the works for a number of years now. While the bacon is dry-cured (no pumping with liquid like you'd get with a lot of commercial stuff), Herb himself is actually darned pumped up about it. "This bacon was really an act of faith," Herb told me. "Four years ago we made a few legs of Tamworth prosciutto to see what it would be like. It was totally delicious. In fact our buddy Bruce Aidells (chef, and author of a range of good pork books) said the Tamworth meat was as good or better than any he had had anywhere—Spain, Italy, you name it. This one was better!
"Unfortunately," Herb continued, "when we went back to get more meat, we couldn't find any. The breed is classified as 'threatened' and there aren't that many of them to be found—just a few here and there. Russ Kremer, who is one of our favorite—probably now our favorite—pig farmers, because he really does offer his pigs a place to roam outside on the hillside once they are out of the nursery, is also is a Tamworth enthusiast. He has Tamworth lines that he has kept free of the modern pig breeding that has made pork too lean and caused the animals to become prone to stress. After four years of asking, begging, pleading, cajoling, guilt-tripping, and visiting ... we finally got a Tamworth program going with him. Our first delivery was October 2010. Now we buy all of the legs and bellies he's got!"