Dan Philips grew up in San Francisco, but his mother made sure he acquired a Southern boy's love for pork; she weaned him on ham from her family's Tennessee farm. (Philips's passion is so well known that his friends once cooked him an all-pork birthday dinner.) A FOOD & WINE contributing editor and an expert on Australian wines (Robert M. Parker, Jr., has called his taste "brilliant"), Philips runs a Los Angeles-based mail-order company called The Grateful Palate, which sells his amazing artisanal finds. His new Bacon of the Month Club features bacons made by small producers. "People crave it," he says. "A redcap at the airport got so excited when he learned what I had in my suitcase, I thought I was going to have to tip him in bacon" ($240 for 12 two-pound shipments; 888-GPALATE).