Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Morning Round-up

The first part of last night was perfect - for me.  I spent the early hour or so roaming around the mostly empty dining room enjoying conversations with several tables of regulars, opening wine, chatting with folks at the bar, and generally having a great time socializing at my job.  I thought I was going to get off easy.  

However, the dining public had other ideas, and I guess the beautiful night kept them home on the deck until dusk, because at 7:00 guests began to come in and by 7:30 the dining room was full.  Everyone had to hustle, and my party time became work once again.  Well, that is what we are here for, eh?  And we still had a great time, overall.  At least I did.

First course for the menu last night was mussels and pasta.  People really raved about this dish.  It was the sauce, of course, that made it, and I bet it was the fennel that made the sauce.

Entree was sauteed catfish with lemon garlic vinaigrette and capers.  Looked pretty tasty.

Rhubarb is here, all the way from Puyallup Washington.  I do know that we should be able to get rhubarb closer than from a source 3000 miles away.  I used to drive out to Massey and buy it from the Kelly's, who had a huge bed of gorgeous rhubarb, as well as blackberries.  I have tried growing it myself, but for some reason it has never taken to our soil.  So, we import it.  We are desperate for fresh fruit desserts by this time of year, and rhubarb is the first to arrive.  Last night it became a crumble for the menu dessert.  This was a new recipe for Cherelle's repertoire, and I think we would change two things - less sugar in the filling, despite the tartness of rhubarb, and more "crumble" to the topping, which was most likely a technical error.  But with the inclusion of fresh ginger to add a nice zip, it was definitely a recipe worth tweaking. 

In other news, here's a picture of last night's roasted BBF pork.  Kevin did more of a braise this go round, rather than the slow overnight cooking, and he was very pleased with the result.  And speaking of pork and local, yesterday, from Fells Point Meats, via United Shellfish, we got some of the new pork they have been carrying and trying to get Kevin to order - pork from Langenfelder's in Kennedyville!  Kevin ordered a shoulder and a bone-in pork belly to "play" with.  While I doubt the pigs from Grand View Farm were raised as freely as the ones living out at Black Bottom Farm, it is more readily available for our use, and certainly travels a little less than our usual mid-western pork.  The pork belly is especially attractive, the meat being a good shade of light red and the ribs still attached.  Hmmm.  I am interested in that.  We're hoping it can become our "everyday" pork, at least as a supply for the shoulders we use to make the pulled pork in the Carolina Crepe.

And here we have the first crabcake of the 2013 Maryland Crab Season.  Things look a little dire on the crab front for the approaching summer, according to the DNR.  They report positive numbers on spawning females, but horrendously low counts for the total number of crabs in the Bay.  Blame is laid across the board, from more predators eating more young crabs to a lack of grass for those crabs to hide in.  If current prices hold steady for local crab meat, our crabcake prices will also reach record heights.  We're starting out higher than we ever have, and looking at prices for crabcakes around the county, we were already among the priciest.  Of course, there's no telling what kind of crab meat is being used, unless you see that True Blue logo displayed.  We are currently paying $28 a pound for Maryland Jumbo Lump, while Indonesian "colossal" meat can be more than $10 less, if we wanted to use it.  And if the menu doesn't specify, how does the consumer know what they are paying for?  Of course there is the flavor difference, especially for the jumbo lump used in a fine crab cake, where the quality and flavor makes a substantial difference.  Still, put enough old bay in your cake and maybe no one would tell what kind of crab meat was in it.

I know I've preached this year in and year out, but I still say, before you pay top dollar for a crab cake, ask them where the crab meat comes from.  If you are paying $15 or more, and the crab meat is not Maryland or Virginia jumbo lump, you are getting ripped off.  And of course, this fresh meat isn't even available until April at the earliest.  This year's starting menu price for a single crabcake, served with a side salad, is $18 at BT - very high.  And we don't even want to think about what we will have to charge for a CrabSteak...  Let's hope the price goes down as the weather heats up.

Maybe we should just switch to lobster...

Peace out!

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