Archive for September, 2012
Location: Somerville, MA
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
There once was a dark period when small butcher shops didn’t really exist. Observe the bottom of my patented meat pyramid below.
The only red meat you could buy was the “manager special” with a clump of pinkish sirloin tips wrapped up in a ball of plastic…or something shelf stable drenched in sodium and scientific wizardry soaked in a briny liquid and reconstituted vegetables.
Then came Whole Foods. The first mass chain that had their meat behind glass, that sold quality shit – cuts like ribeyes, filet mignon, and NY Strip. The world was changed.
Well, dear friends, the local, sustainable food movement has ushered in a new era.
Pioneered by shops like Savenors, there is a new breed of butcher that will sell exotic meats you’ve only seen in upscale restaurants and gladly slice up a dainty cut of beef from a whole cow shank right before your eyes.
This is where M.F. Dulock comes in. I will illustrate my point with a story.
I walk in the door, and the first thing I notice is an impressive array of industrial-looking meat machines behind the counter and a small but well-endowed array of beef and pork behind the glass case.
I take a look at a large slab of excellent-looking beef marked “New York Strip Steak.” I order one. The helpful butcher behind the counter grabs the slab and asks “How thick do you want it? I’ve been cutting them about an inch and a quarter.” He then proceeds to slice up a NY Strip Steak right before my eyes using a power tool that looked like it was featured by Mike Holmes on HGTV.
As I await my hand-cut strip steak, a couple behind me orders some ground sirloin. The guy I’d suspect is M.F. himself starts cutting up sirloin chunks and feeding them into a large grinding machine – sweet! As he does his chopping and grinding, M.F. tells me about their operation and how they basically receive a cow at the beginning of the week and slice it up according to their whim and the requests of customers.
I requested ribeyes – and I will be back. Oh, and here is my strip steak ready for the skillet – we’ve come a long way in the butchery game.
Typically I gush forth every savory detail of my dining experiences to my loyal coterie of devoted readers.
This is the exception.
I’m going all nautical on your asses and only supplying the coordinates of my dining locale…if you are interested enough you will get in Sherlock mode and solve this mystery yourself.
Like a Dan Brown novel – this is going to be a page-turner filled with twists, turns, and biblical secrets.
It started with a long car drive. Then a scenic ferry boat ride. Then a confused walk through small streets…then we arrived at a little-known paradise.
To continue on with my food riddle, I’ll simply show and describe the foods available to us at this mystery locale. Please note that the bulk of what is described below came to us from within a five mile radius from a farm owned by the mystery dining spot.
- Light Puff Pastries at Teatime – Our first indulgences were assorted light phyllo pastries filled with chicken, goat cheese, and caramelized onions. Washed down with warm tea this rivaled a quaint cottage in the English countryside.
- Fresh Local Oysters – Beautiful, refreshing, salty, and smooth bivalves harvested a mile away and served up for a buck a piece. Delightful.
- Salad of Fancy Greens, Chevre, and Sunflower Seeds with Citrus Champagne Vinaigrette – Light, delicate, and a perfect starter to the miracle that lay ahead.
- Salad of Summer Squash, Toasted Pine Nuts, Parmesan Reggiano, and Lemon Vinaigrette – Another excellent prelude to our main course and clearly made with local ingredients.
- Lobster Bohémienne
In the middle of eating this dish, I paused, took a kneeling position on the floor near our table, and thanked the Lord for this bounty provided to us. J/K LOL All tween social nomenclature aside, this was simply one of the best lobster dishes I’ve ever had – prepared simply steamed atop a heavenly sauce of cognac cream, parsley, and lemon. Mini soft baguette and corn on the cob completed the plate. As the last breath leaves my body, I will think of this dish.
- Desserts of Caramel Apple Crisp with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Maple Walnut Ice Cream Both home-made. Both felt like being tucked into bed as a 4 year old.
- Breakfast of Homemade Granola, side of Lamb Sausage.
We awoke in the morning (no we did not sleep in the restaurant, there were beds nearby) and enjoyed a light breakfast of excellent house-made cereal and two small links of lamb sausage produced by the farm.
Before we knew it, our mystery eats were exhausted and we were on the ferry back home. As we journeyed back from this magical place, we recalled fond memories of hand-scrawled items listed on a chalkboard of fresh goods du jour, a homey yet stylish dining and drinking area, an intimate setting, and a food experience that will forever be etched into my mind.
There are few places like this anywhere – and for that, I wish to keep it a relative secret (while bragging publicly about what I ate).
Interested yet? Well break out that compass (or app equivalent) Columbus and you too can share in this wonderment.
Hit me on the ‘Chirp or the ‘Book if you think you’ve cracked the delicio code.
Location: Boston, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
§ A Brief History of the Gastropub §
A portmanteau of the words gastronomy and pub, the term gastropub originated in the United Kingdom in the late 20th century.
Like when the first Cro-Magnons discovered fire by rubbing two stones together, two Londoners stumbled upon a concept that would forever change the human race when they found you could please Englishmen with the drunken munchies by rubbing a pub and a kitchen together.
According to culinary beer lover’s lore, the first gastropub was born in Clerkenwell, London with the revolutionary “Steak-over” of the Eagle Pub.
The concept quickly spread far and wide when restaurateurs and pub owners alike stumbled upon an equation that puts Einstein to shame:
Dressing up a bar + employing a real chef + good beer + putting manly food on a menu = Scrooge McDuck-like Riches
Because words and trends travel quickly across the anglo nations of the world, the gastropub movement hit the United States at the turn of the 2nd millennium.
Today, you can find a g-pub in nearly any American city worth their salted fish ‘n chips, including that ever-historic town where our forefathers first raised their middle fingers in unison to the British empire – Boston.
I suppose us grizzly, bearded New England patriots have come to a point of compassion and forgiveness with our better-mannered cousins across the pond, because the gastropub is the biggest food phenomenon to hit the Bean since clam chowder.
In what has seemed like an explosion, Boston has witnessed the opening of Citizen Public House, Meadhall, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, Stoddard’s, Russell House Tavern, Five Horses, Lord Hobo, JM Curley, Park, and the Tip Tap Room. As I pound out these words, there is likely another gastropub under construction.
Today we turn our attention to the Gallows – a SoWA (South of Washington) South End destination that is one of the pioneers of the g-pub trend in the area. These guys are among the group of restaurants getting it right…
When Urrg and Gruurg first found fire, their cro-colleagues must have banged rocks together without success. Modern man suffers from the same issue, and too often gastropubs end up hitting the beer side without paying enough attention to the quality of the eats.
Unfortunately, most Boston g-pubs (think Russell House, Foundry on Elm, Park, Saloon) end up being simply snazzy places to drink a craft beer along with a nibble or two rather than propelling the food to the forefront.
The Gallows definitely joins Citizen Public House, JM Curley, Stoddard’s and Lord Hobo by successfully copying a technique that will someday lead to the next iteration of human kind.
Gallows presents a chill, classy, dimly-lit setting in which to enjoy good food and beer. With a nice menu that features several meat-and-cheese-laden “boards” (we’ll cover the charcuterie trend in a separate post), a few versions of the Canadian Classic poutine, sandwiches, burgers, and slightly more dainty dishes like grilled octopus and ginger soy tofu – the Gallows has something for both beer-bellied gluttons and vegetarians (good thing beer is plant-based).
I specifically ventured here for one item and one item only – the Our Way burger. A simple affair that is cooked in the West Coast thin tradition and topped with cheddar, griddled onion and pickles, the Our Way burger is a commendable thing that should be tried by any burger enthusiast. In fact, I have named it to my closely scrutinized and ever-evolving Top Ten Burgers in Boston List. I was equally pleased by the Pretty Things IPA and Duvel I enjoyed on draft.
As mankind continues to bang pubs and kitchens together to form sparks of frothy pints, fried food, and griddled meat parts, let’s keep learning from our less coordinated cave dwellers and really whip up flames with some decent food coming out of the kitchen.