Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Weekly UpDate

When last we spoke we were ogling strawberries fresh from Redman's strawberry patch.  They were tastefully translated into strawberry shortcakes the next day - here's how that turned out:

I hope I can get a better picture at a later date, but nevertheless, this will always be one of my personal favorite springtime desserts.  A sweet biscuit, split, spread with soft butter and heated in the oven, spoonfuls of sweetened fresh strawberries that have juiced plenty of syrup placed on the bottom half and over the top, with of course a healthy dollop of freshly whipped cream.  The only way it can get better than this is when you make a whole 9" biscuit and do the whole thing the same way, and there are leftovers to eat cold the next day.  Heaven!

Last night was plenty busy, despite the chilly drizzle, and the menu was a popular choice.  The surprise hit of the night - to me - was the delight people took in the kale salad that was the first course of the prix-fixe.  It really was tasty - another surprise to me, a devoted kale hater - and it will most likely worm its way onto at least the specials list while this early kale from Redman's is available.

The greens were dressed with a buttermilk-garlic dressing, with bits of Smithfield ham, toasted cornbread croutons and spiced walnuts.  Kevin had planned to put feta cheese in with it, but at the last minute decided it really didn't need it.  And he was right - the dressing was creamy, the nuts and croutons were crunchy and the kale was tender and sweet.  A big hit!

The entree was roasted Black Bottom Farm pork, about which there will be more later in this post.

Dessert saw the return of the angel food cake, this time seasonally sauced with a rhubarb strawberry coulis.  A few guests requested this as an a la carte selection for their dessert.  Overall it was a nice menu, selling out in a timely fashion. My only regret is that  I wish I'd been allowed some of the pork...

Anyway, the pork arrived on Friday, in the usual fashion:

It was a little disconcerting for all who entered the walk-in, to see that prone "body" on the floor.  Kevin spent much of (our) Memorial Day weekend with this pig - including the ribs we slow cooked on the BGE for Sunday dinner - and served some of it roasted for the aforementioned Wednesday prix-fixe.  One curious thing about this specimen - all the fat had been removed.  By the butcher?  Usually there is some very nice fat - sometimes even leaf lard - in the cavity and such, but not this time.  Since you pay for the hog by "hot" weight, not after dressing, you'd kind of like to get everything you are paying for, you know?  But where ever it went, the pig itself - fresh grown from Kim's Black Bottom Farm herd - will be on the specials list in some form or another for the next few weeks.   What ever there is that Kevin isn't turning into cured pork products that is.  Head cheese is going to be first:

The various miscellaneous parts - including the head, of course - will be boiled clean after this bout in the brine and will become a pate, perfect for summer, with a bit of gelatin to lighten it up.  He also has begun curing the hams, which we won't see for several weeks, and goodness knows what else he has planned for the other primal cuts.   He sure does love that whole animal stuff.

Even fish.  We never buy demi-glace.  Why would we, when Kevin and Jay are constantly producing bones for stock?

Karen and Ben Dize were in last night for her annual Birthday Dinner at Brooks Tavern, featuring lobster, which is also the annual menu selection.  I did not get a picture of the main dish - hand cut fettuccine with lobster - but I did manage to snap a shot of the first course - lobster in aspic with asparagus.  It was a beautiful thing, and apparently a delight on the palate as well.

The passing of Memorial Day Weekend means summer has really begun, and we can begin to anticipate the arrival of all of our favorite foods that the next few months will bring.  After strawberries are through - and how short that season always seems -  June can bring fresh peas, sour cherries and soft shell crabs, blueberries and finally fresh corn (everyone in the kitchen just can't wait for those bushels of corn to shuck!).  Hopefully we'll have the eventual return of local tomatoes before August this year, and my favorite late summer treat: Redman's seedless watermelon. Lima beans.  Fresh picked string beans.  Bell peppers of every color and hot peppers of every temperature.   Cantaloupe and blackberries, eggplant and zucchini. Cucumbers for pickles.  Raspberries for jam.  Peaches for pie! We don't want to rush it though.  I plan to eat my way through  as much produce as I can, on a daily basis, with no hurry to get back to apples and butternut squash!

Generally we find the coming couple of weeks to be on the slow side - weddings and graduations frequently demand most of the attention through the early weeks of June - but after that we look forward  to sharing as much of the local summer bounty with our guests as they will tolerate.  It's going to be our last summer at Brooks Tavern and we want it to be a delicious one!

Peace out!


  1. " It's going to be our last summer at Brooks Tavern and we want it to be a delicious one!” Did I miss something? Where are you going?

    1. We are going to open a small business out at the Kennedyville Building, sometime next year. We have this business on the market in the interim (listed with Hogans) but mostly it means this will be our last summer running a full-service restaurant.