A Taste of Horseradish

by Anne Maxfield on April 13, 2015

Accidental Locavore HorseradishAs much as the Accidental Locavore loves horseradish, it’s always been something that I grab at the supermarket, without giving it much thought. It popped up on my radar lately when I was reading a recipe on Love, the Secret Ingredient and Mary was raving about some Polish horseradish she’d gotten in Brooklyn.

Recently I was in Queens, at Muncan’s, a butcher that specializes in Eastern European sausages and salamis, and I picked up a jar there thinking it was going to be Eastern European, if not exactly Polish. Of course, if I had my glasses on and bothered to read the label, the good news (for a locavore) might have been that it was a lot more local than that—hailing from Pennsylvania.

In the midst of trying a pasta recipe that enticed because of the addition of breadcrumbs toasted and tossed in horseradish, I thought a quickie taste-test might be in order. There were three contenders: the one from PA (Old Country Packers Original White), Gold’s Hot Style, and an unmarked jar we picked up at Morse’s in Maine.

The Old Country Packers was whiter than the other two. It was quite sharp and assertive—certainly the hottest of the three, with a good flavor.

The one from Morse’s had great flavor, it was probably the most flavorful of the three, but not nearly as sharp as the Old Country. Consider it horseradish for wimps.

Gold’s Hot Style totally lacked heat and style. I thought for a minute about keeping it for emergencies and then quickly talked myself out of that! As I was dumping the jar, I noticed the expiration date: 2011—oops!

Accidental Locavore Bottled HorseradishThe clear winner was the Old Country, but it’s also the newest (and expires in April, so time to start using it up!). For flavor, the one from Morse’s was great and would probably be the winner if it was a more recent jar. I’ll give Gold’s another shot, if there aren’t any other options, but no matter what, I’m checking dates!

Of course, there’s always the homemade option…



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!