It’s October. Did you know that? You see, if it’s October, then that means September must have happened. I don’t remember an entire month going by. This is a very weird feeling.
Well, mystery months aside, I did ring in the current month in the best way possible: I ate. Oh goodness, did I eat.
If you recall, last week I started my tenure as the Communications intern at Chefs Collaborative, a non-profit dedicated to making sustainable food second nature to chefs across the country (wooHOO!). I started just in time to help pull together the annual fundraiser, the “Grilling on the Green,” at which 12 of the best sustainably-minded local chefs cooked up small plates for all the guests – basically, it was like having a tasting menu with each course done by a different chef for free (well, for me the volunteer it was ). The “on the Green” part didn’t really happen because, well, it’s Boston in October and grey skies are not to be trusted, but our indoor Plan B ended up being a smashing success, much to the relief of our very tired office. I spent the evening co-running the registration table and taking turns with my fellow registrar going to tables and snatching a plate.
But let’s get to the good stuff. Disclaimer: I claim no responsibility for an ensuing pangs of hunger caused by the contents of this post.
And in no particular order…
The food. [Note: Link on chefs’ names is to their Twitter, if available; link on the restaurant is to the actual restaurant’s website ]
Grilled pizza with fennel sausage, smoked local squash, goat cheese & sage
This was one of my top favorites. It involves sage, goat cheese, squash, and fennel all on top of bread – I really couldn’t ask for much more. And the smoked squash was a stroke of brilliance – it made the dish! I may or may not have commandeered 6 leftover plates to take home.
I have yet to try Harvest, but it is officially on my must-try list. This pizza was ridiculous. I want some right now.
Chicha de Jora Grilled Summer Flounder Ceviche topped with Applewood-smoked Cancha corn
Um…yeah, that’s not ceviche. I just look for excuses to post cute pictures of Izzy. Sorry.
Really though, this was the only dish I ate that I didn’t get a picture of, so conjure, if you will, an image of two soft, white bites of founder atop a corn husk sprinkled with dried corn kernels and a light-yet-creamy sauce. It was not the most flavorful dish of the evening, but I never turn down fish as a general rule. This rule very rarely steers me wrong. This dish was no exception.
Rabbit Pastrami with pickle + potato chips
This was just cool. Rabbit. Pastrami. Where else would I get to try such a creation?! While perhaps not my favorite, I thought the flavor & textures in this dish were fantastic. As for the pastrami itself, loved the flavor but if it weren’t for the delicious slice of baguette it was atop, the texture might have been too…hmm…gelatinous? It reminded me a bit of my lampredotto experience: wicked fun to try, but if push came to shove, it’s not exactly something I’d seek out. Still, fun dishes like this are what makes me so excited about events like this! Foodventure = best kind of adventure, period.
Chef Will Gilson
Pork suddenly seems to be everywhere – or is it just me? Usually it does absolutely nothing for me, but the past few times I’ve had it, I have really, really liked it – I think even more than chicken! This was a fun little dish – it looks simple, but the interesting combo of spices + the sesame seeds gave it a very unique flavor that I really, really enjoyed. This was a delicious surprise!
Maine Lobster Slider on Grilled Brioche
I didn’t get any lobster this summer [*gasp*], so I was pretty excited to see this on the menu. In all honesty, it wasn’t quite lobster-y enough for me, but I have pretty high standards and not much of a tolerance for mayonnaise at all. And though I think that the buttery brioche overpowered the lobster-y goodness…I really like brioche. It’s just hard to argue with butter.
Chef Chuck Leonardo, Costa Fruit & Produce
Grilled Queso Blanco on Native Greens with Heirloom Tomato Salad & Lime-Chipotle Aioli
Another personal favorite! This was the sole vegetarian option, but boy did it give the surrounding carnivorous dishes a run for their money. This was my first taste of queso blanco and I have a feeling it’s ruined me forever, and I will only eat it grilled from here on out. Gives “grilled cheese” a whole new context! The freshness and intense cilantro flavor of the greens with the tomatoes + aioli made this a truly outstanding dish. I <3 vegetables. So, so much.
Crispy Smoked Cod/Chorizo Bite on a Blue Corn Johhnycake with Chipotle Aioli and 4-Onion Jam & Verrill Farm Harvest Corn Chowdah
This was my first food truck experience! Oh, and what a wonderful first it was. Another favorite, that humble paper cup you usually find next to ketchup dispensers was filled with the most flavorful chowder that possibly I’ve ever had – and this Boston girl does NOT take her chowdahs lightly. The cod/chorizo/johnny cake bite was phenomenal – a really lovely blend of tastes & textures, and the sweet almost bbq-sauce-like onion jam on top pulled it all together. This was one of those where I took a bite and felt my eyes get wide as I looked up in surprise & delight with each chew. I could have had quite a few more of these. Maybe I should give the truck my address.
Basque-Style Grilled Local Dogfish
While not a top favorite, I was very appreciative of another fish dish on the event menu! The tomato sauce on top was very light and flavorful, but this was one of those where I should have split the plate with someone – I wanted a smaller bite of this. And yet that did not stop me from cleaning the plate. How I do suffer.
Braised Beef Shortribs over Soft Polenta
So, er, as you can see, I very much enjoyed this dish. Probably some of the best-cooked beef I’ve ever had, they just melted in my mouth. And with the intensely creamy polenta below, I’m quite sure this dish will forever be what pops into my head when I think of “comfort food.” Warm fuzzy blankets ain’t got nothing on this dish.
Pear Smoked Pork Sausage with Red Beet Mustard & Turnip Kraut
I am admittedly not much for sausage. There are a few exceptions (Mary Dumont’s above being one of them), but generally the texture of the meat-in-casing thing really gets to me, and I didn’t love this. I also think there was way too much bread and it distracted from the other flavors. BUT, what I loved about this dish was the concept and, like the rabbit pastrami, it is dishes like this that make me LOVE events like this – such interesting & creative flavor combinations that I would never get anywhere else otherwise are what fuels my foodventure-loving soul!
BBQ Pork Belly with Grilled Scallion & Pickled Green Beans
My first taste of pork belly! (See what I mean about pork?!) I know, I know, bad foodie who has never before had pork belly – but she is no more. This was very exciting for me, and Chef Kovel’s creation did not disappoint. The pickled veggies were nice, but this dish was all about the lusciously fatty & rich bite of belly. This is an ideal hors d’oeuvres or amuse bouche because more than one or two bites would just be too much, but those initial tastes are just plain fun. Yum.
And dessert was courtesy of Chef Collaborative’s Chair,
Maple Pumpkin Whoopie Pies + Fresh Apple Cider
The perfect little sweet bite after a very rich dinner. The whoopie pie was a little on the sweet side, but the cookie was perfectly pumpkin-y spiced and the maple buttercream was to.die.for. The apple cider was a wonderful & thoughtful addition – like a dessert tea. And this was fantastic cider with hints of orange & clove. A lovely way to end such an intensely flavorful meal!
May it also be noted that Chef Leviton also prepared a Vermont Lamb Gyro about which I heard only wonderful things; however this was an impressive full-size gyro, and at that point I could not possibly fit one more thing into my rapidly-expanding stomach. I’m positively dying to check out Area 4 & their highly-praised soft serve – you know I’m all over that.
Clear Flour Bread brought, well, bread, and Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery brought – can you guess? – butter and cheese. I know, didn’t see that coming didja. Sarcasm aside, if you can get your hands on the products of either of these 2 locals, do it. The Creamery’s butter has the highest butterfat content on the market. That alone is reason enough to seek it out (it’s at Whole Foods). And don’t get me started on the cheese. I could write an entire post just about their cheese.
And, because the free-food-loving college kid lives on in me, I got to take home some of Clear Flour’s beautiful bread! Look at that? And yes, it tastes just as pretty as it looks.
The chefs were all fantastic, and I feel very lucky that I was able to be a part of such a fun evening! The event was happily without an major drama or flaw, and cleaning up was a breeze. All events should be like this. Incredible eats included.
So, lots of beginnings! A new month, a new job, and quite a few firsts! In current news, I am loving my job at Chefs Collaborative – between working downtown, working for a cause I am passionate about, and working with fellow foodies, I really couldn’t ask for more. More on that later – and I may or may not have another exciting event to tell you about!
AND if you would kindly look to your right, you will see that When Bread Is Broken has its very own Facebook page! YAY! Now please, please like it so that it no longer says “one person likes this.” Because that one person is me. And my self-esteem isn’t exactly through the roof. I am working on uploading all of my food pictures, too – quite the project, that is.
Alright, when I start to use Yoda syntax, it generally means I need to go to bed.
What would you say was your favorite “foodventure”?