Well, we're less than 48 hours away from a new year and a new decade. Where did the time go? Can I finally throw away my Y2K ballcap?
But I must say I am looking forward to the new year. First, we have several new restaurants on the way. I won't go on about them since I have in posts past, but I think we can look forward to Pacci's, H&L Brewpub and 8407 coming in the months ahead. However we won't have Jackie's charcuterie to add to that mix since she finally pulled the plug on that. Just as well - it leaves an opening for yours truly. That's a niche I'll hope to fill at some point in the new decade if someone doesn't beat me to it.
We also can look forward for the first time to the SS Winter Farmers Market. They'll kick things off in a couple weeks (1/9) and you can get your fill of potatoes and cheese - maybe turnips too. Well, there will be more, but the offerings will be limited since we are talking about seasonal items. For you carnivores out there, you can now get good local meat all year round. I love that! I purchased a lamb loin from one of our vendors (the guy who usually sells only lavender) for Christmas dinner and boy was it good. Very simple preparation (coated with olive oil, salt and pepper) and cooked for about 40 minutes and then topped with this fabulous rosemary/ olive oil drizzle. It was a winner. And had plenty of leftovers for lamb sandwiches all week. Just finished the last bit for lunch today. Still tasty!
And speaking of home cooking, I will quickly say that our Feast of the 7 Fishes went very well. I think we ate for about 5 hours straight - just my speed. We ended up with 9 fishes - here was the line-up (and pics may come later, I can't access them right now, sorry).
Smoked salmon (Alaskan - not Atlantic, that is way too over fished) on top of rosemary and olive oil Triscuits (if you haven't tried them do yourself a favor and get a box) and then topped with creme fraiche, red onion and capers. A very big hit.
Brandade - this is a dish with potatoes and salted cod (I know, I'm a hypocrite, talk about being WAY over fished - but it's a must have with the Feast so I broke down) mixed together with garlic olive oil. I was a bit disappointed here - too much potato flavor and not enough cod. If I do this next year I need to cut out at least 8 oz of potatoes.
Salad with seafood - simple mixed greens with a vinaigrette and squid, shrimp and octopus. This was a winner, but my wife complained about the greens. But I love salad - so I think the greens have to stay.
Mini crab cakes - straight out of Maryland baby! Pretty straightforward, very little filler and covered in panko and then pan fried - with aioli. Another winner.
Tuna and white beans - needed some legumes in the mix and this did it. We do this often, but this time we took the extra step and made fresh beans and had a better grade of tuna than we usually buy for ourselves. Mix in some red onions and olio and that's it.
After our 5 antipasti, we did linguine alla vongele for the primi. Did it with just an olive oil and garlic sauce and had both fresh and canned clams. I took the easy way out and just use dried pasta instead of making fresh. I almost think it worked better with the dry pasta. Molto buono!
For our secondi we went back to Maryland and cooked about a 2 pound fillet of rockfish. Again, the simplest preparations worked best. I marinated the fish in olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper and let it sit for about 45 mins. I then put it in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes. Once it was cooked through I pulled it out and then topped it with a putanesca (a mix of cherry tomatoes (local, hothouse toms), red onions, capers, olives, parsley and olio - about 4 cups). It really did top off a fab dinner.
For our dolci, a friend made an Italian cheesecake topped with currants. I am not a big sweets person but this was great. Again, I've been eating leftovers all week. To make sure everything went down well, I broke out my new digestivo - Fernet Branca. It went over better than expected. It's only meant to be drank in small amounts and I really think it does help with digestion after a big meal. It is a acquired taste and can be considered a little medicinal, but it has a nice finish that really warms up the body. I also cracked open the Sambuca for those who needed something a little sweeter.
All right, that's enough out of me. Wishing you all a happy new year. Looking forward to many fabulous meals in the year ahead and hopeful that our local restaurant and food scene continues to thrive. I think soon more people in the metro area will take notice and may begin to consider SS a dining destination area.