Modern Taco

by Anne Maxfield on January 11, 2016

Accidental Locavore Modern Taco TacosAlways on the prowl for good Mexican food, the Accidental Locavore was quick to pick up on the rumors that there was a good new one, Modern Taco, in nearby Red Hook (Rhinebeck’s shyer sister). An added bonus was that we knew the chef/owner Mark Brocchetti, the chef from our golf course dining room, back when the food was enjoyable, interesting and made by someone who cared.

With my friend Laura in tow, we arrived one Saturday night to check it out. It’s a charming room, with Mexican touches, that reflect Mark and his partner’s take on Mexican food. Luckily he has no fear of venturing off the taco, burrito and enchilada trail that is actually more TexMex than anything you might actually eat south of the border. No gloppy refried beans here. When beans appear they’re in a slightly spicy black bean soup with crema drizzled on the top that’s better than any other black bean soup I’ve had in a long time.

Accidental Locavore Rabbit QuesidillaThat night the special – a rabbit quesadilla with a mole sauce – was right up my alley. The rabbit was nice and tender and the mole sauce was good. A little bit more of the sauce would have been nice, and it could have taken a bit more heat (however, if you’re not a spicy person, this is one of the milder dishes).

Another special was what Mark calls Mexican breakfast. If it’s not on the menu when you’re there, beg. It’s a great mix of chorizo, potatoes and caramelized onions with a fried egg on top, served in a cute little cast iron skillet.

Accidental Locavore Mexican BreakfastLaura was thrilled with the stuffed poblano with quinoa, tomato and corn, resting in a great poblano cream sauce. It’s a great vegetarian option.

Working his way through the taco menu, Frank chose the fish taco and a fried avocado taco (because we were all curious about the fried avocado). These are soft tacos, crammed with filling, just like you would get in any taqueria in Mexico. The fish was really good, but the fried avocado wasn’t my favorite. In fairness to Mark, it may just be that I don’t love cooked avocado – I’ve grilled them and don’t think it’s worth the effort.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed PepperEven though we were stuffed to the gills, Frank and I happily worked our way through the chocolate pot de crème, spiked with habanero. If you’re not familiar with pot de crème, it’s essentially a cousin of chocolate mousse. Creamy and rich, this had a subtle kick from the habanero.

A week later, we were back with two other friends. Once again I opted for the special, that night a duck quesadilla. Our friends went for the steak and the chicken quesadillas so we got to taste all three. Everyone’s favorite was the spice-rubbed duck with the steak a close second.

Frank went for two other tacos, the pulled pork and the shrimp, both of which were really good. If I were choosing from the ones we’ve tried, it would probably be the pulled pork and the fish.

The guacamole is good, but might be weird for Americans used to a chunky version. This one is truer to its taqueria roots, smooth and creamy and good with the freshly fried chips. The roasted salsa is a great choice as is the pico de gallo – fresh with good (I don’t know where he got them in December) tomatoes, cilantro and a touch of lime.

Modern Taco is open Thursday through Monday for dinner only. Lunch is promised for the summer. Enjoy!




In Search of Sausage (and Salami)

by Anne Maxfield on April 6, 2015

Accidental Locavore Muncan's Sausages Accidental Locavore Muncan's CounterAfter the Accidental Locavore’s Croatian dinner, I needed to see if I could find some of the amazing charcuterie a little closer to home. With dreams of the kulin wafting through my brain, I was directed to Muncan’s in Astoria. If browsing their website doesn’t make you hungry, you’re probably vegan. And if the website is appealing, imagine the store itself (just picture a shrine to cured meats)!

The easiest part of it is the subway ride, because once you’re there you’re bound to be overwhelmed. If 15 different types of bacon don’t do it for you, there are literally hundreds of smoked and cured sausages and salami hanging from the ceiling. Even my kulin mission had me deciding between a kulin sausage and a kulin salami (I took the sausage).

Accidental Locavore Muncans Display CaseAfter that, I availed myself of the expertise of the counter man. We decided on a hot salami, a couple of small square sausages (that reminded me of ones I liked from Morse’s in Maine) and a lumpy looking salami that when sliced has a scalloped edge.

They have prosciutto made from almost any animal or bird, so I decided to give the lamb one a shot. It was delicious, a little smoky and a little salty (both good qualities in my mind), but I’m not sure I would recognize it as tasting particularly like lamb.

Although not as amazing as the one we were served at the dinner, the kulin was good. This one was smoky with a little heat and an almost crumbly texture. Probably a good thing or I would have scarfed it all down in a heartbeat.Accidental Locavore Sausages from Muncan's

The “lumpy” salami was great–mild, with a little garlic and a good amount of fat. Between sandwiches and sneaking pieces on the sly, it was the first to go.

The spicy sausage was almost a cross between the kulin and a chorizo. Very spicy, with a lot of hot paprika, it also had that nice crumbly texture and not a ton of fat.

And finally, the square ones were really nice and fatty and smoky. I think they were the best snacking ones (and put them to that use).

Now, I’m looking forward to my next trip over there to see what other goodies lay in store. Remember, I still haven’t tried any of the 15 types of bacon yet!



Pasta With Chorizo and Chickpeas

by Anne Maxfield on February 26, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pasta With ChickpeasWhen the Accidental Locavore saw this recipe on epicurious, I was curious enough to see how chickpeas and pasta would work together to give it a shot. Having all the ingredients on hand was an added impetus. This serves 6:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 12 ounces small dried pasta (like gemelli, or orecchiette)
  • Salt
  • Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. While the pasta water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Add chorizo and cook, breaking into large chunks with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

While the sauce is thickening, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle pasta with lemon zest, Parmesan and parsley, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: If I didn’t have everything on hand (except the parsley), I probably never would have made this. That being said, this was a pretty good dish! The lemon zest is the key ingredient—taking it from being only ok to being really good. My biggest complaint with it was that the chorizo I was using ended up in very tiny pieces. The next time I make it, I’ll try not to break it up so much (however, this might not be an issue with other types of sausage). Any type of fresh sausage would probably work well. I’d give it a try with merguez (maybe substitute cilantro for the parsley), or any kind of Italian sausage – I have some with broccoli rabe in it, that would be good!




Accidenta Locavore Milan MarketIn the Accidental Locavore’s mind, there is almost no such thing as a bad farmers’ market. Interestingly, size generally has nothing to do with the quality of the offerings. Such is the case with a small, but well-stocked market that started last summer in Milan (pronounced my-lan) NY. There usually aren’t more than ten tables, but there’s enough variety to put an entire meal together, including dessert. Something I found awfully appealing, was that at this market, all the farmers know each other, recommend each other’s products, and try not to have competing merchandise.

Accidental Locavore JacuterieI stopped by last week and found the first and only box of cherry tomatoes-so sweet that barely a dozen ended up at home. This farmer was carefully putting out some of the prettiest lettuce to go along with the usual summer squashes etc.

Next to him, was a new-to-me, charcuterie maker-Jacüterie. I was a little hungry after playing golf, so the offer to taste salamis etc was eagerly accepted. There were at least six different sausages, ranging from a couple of French saucisson, to an Italian soppressata and salami, a Swiss cervelat and a Spanish chorizo. Each was delicious and very different tasting. I only say this, because last year I got my husband a salami-of-the month-club from Olympic Provisions. According to foodies, Olympic is supposed to have great stuff, but we both found that they all tasted pretty much the same, and weren’t very exciting (if you don’t believe me, come over, there are still pieces of most of them in the fridge).

Accidental Locavore Olympic ProvisionsI restrained myself from buying more than I thought we could munch through in a weekend. My favorites were the chorizio and the Provençal saucisson, so that’s what came home with me. Unlike the aforementioned tomatoes, the sausages made it home untouched, but not for long!

Accidental Locavore ProvencalThe chorizo had a nice, but not overwhelming, kick to it. I particularly liked its texture, a little chunky and crumbly-not as tightly packed as a lot of aged sausages. The saucisson Provençal, was firmer and along with the good garlicky saucisson taste, had enough herbs de Provence, to flavor, but not overwhelm it.

This week who knows*?


*Actually it was another stick of the chorizo and a nice garlicky fuet.