Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

State Plates: Connecticut/Yankee Pride

from Saveur Magazine, May 2009

THINK CONNECTICUT is one big suburb? Think again: its diverse immigrant communities, fertile farms, and vibrant university towns full of forward-thinking chefs add up to as rich a culinary landscape as that of many states three times its size.

Connecticut’s bounty is deliciously apparent on the menus of its most innovative restaurants. At the Dressing Room at the Westport Country Playhouse, the chef Michel Nischan offers classic dishes crafted with local ingredients. Our favorite: the chicken pot pie with jerusalem artichoke sauce.

LIFE AQUATIC

Whether hooked in the state’s rivers or coastal bays, Connecticut’s fish and shellfish draw crowds. Native delicacies include quahogs, the hardshell clams that star in New England clam chowder; plump bluepoint oysters; and bluefish from the Long Island Sound. In spring, Connecticut River vally residents welcome the season with shad bakes, at which the spawning fish is deboned, spread on oak planks, and roasted with salt pork over an open fire.

pepesAPIZZA!

New Haven’s Wooster Square has been synonymous with pizza (or as locals say, “appiza,” pronounced ah-BEETS) since 1925, when an Italian immigrant, named Frank Pepe opened a pizzeria that turned out thin-crust pies topped with just tomato sauce, oregano, and anchovies, perfectly charred in a coal-fired oven. In time, Pepe’s pies (shown above) became the gold standard in Connecticut (and, depending on whom you ask, the world); today, the signature version is topped with clams and chunks of garlic. Continue reading

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Mexican Chocolate

from Saveur, April 2009

ibarraTraditional Mexican chocolate, with its intensely tannic, spicy flavor, is an essential ingredient for complex moles, or sauces, like the ones chef Rick Bayless makes at his Chicago restaurant Topolobampo (see page 70; a recipe for his pork with mole negro sauce appears on the previous two pages). Unlike European-style baking chocolate, traditional Mexican chocolate is never conched (rolled together with vanilla, sugar, and cocoa butter until it becomes smooth). Instead, the cacao beans are coarsely ground, toasted, and combined with cinnamon and ground almonds; then the mixture is molded into cylinders or disks. While the best Mexican chocolate is still handmade on a grinding stone, there are several good commercial brands widely available in the states. The most popular is Ibarra ($4.25 per 18.6-ounce box). –Ben Conniff

Agenda: Delmonico’s Opens

from Saveur, April 2009

1902December 13 Anniversary: Delmonico’s Opens

New York City, 1827

Italian immigrants John and Peter Delmonico helped introduce fine dining to America when they opened their first cafe, Delmonico and brother, at 23 William Street. Their Empire grew to nine locations but could not outlive Prohibition. The restaurant was raided by “dry” agents in 1921 and 1922; by 1923 it could no longer afford to operate.