Accidental Locavore Wine GlassesOne of the highlights of the Accidental Locavore’s recent trip to Croatia was the chance to learn about a whole new (to me) country’s wines. In just the section we were in, Istria, there are over 130 wineries. Most of them produce a version of Malvazija , the local white wine, but some of them are branching out and planting all sorts of grape varieties.

Accidental Locavore San Tommaso WinesOn a typical day we would have at least one tasting, usually of four or five wines, lunch with at least three wines, dinner with three or four, not to mention welcome toasts, aperitifs or after dinner drinks of grappa, slivovitz, hugos, etc, etc. It’s not a hard-drinking country, just a culture that’s welcoming and proud of its viniculture. Sadly, most of it isn’t imported to the US yet, so we had to drink it there.

But, if I stop to add up all the glasses, and not even individually, but as types, the numbers are a bit staggering (even though none of us were).

Day 1: Welcome toast at La Puntulina for dinner, Malvazija with dinner. Total 2-just a warm up.

Accidental Locavore Spanish FlyDay 2: Tasting after foraging for wild asparagus at San Tommaso of their Malvazija/Chardonnay blend, a Merlot, and with the asparagus risotto, a Teran. Accidental Locavore Bruno and GrappaBrandy or slivovitz with Boris after touring the Aromatica (and seeing his large apothecary jar of Spanish fly). Accidental Locavore Trappan BarrelTasting at Trapan of sparkling rosé, followed by a rosé, two Malvazijas, and two reds (one of them named Nigra Virgo-black virgin). Dinner at Milan with a sparkling white, another Malvazija. Total 12.

Accidental Locavore Grappa BreakfastDay 3: Welcome grappa toast (your choice from three) and Malvazija for breakfast before the truffle hunt, Sparkling rosé, Malvazija and Porco Rossa at Toklarija for lunch. Olive oil tasting at Ipša that turned into a chance to try their new Malvazija. Accidental Locavore the View From KoslovicTasting at Kozlovic of two whites, a rosé and their Teran . Another grappa toast at Stari Podrum at dinner and your choice of red or white (or both). Total 12-13.

Accidental Locavore HugosDay 4: A couple of Hugos (going to be my go-to summer drink!) at Vitriol cafe on the beach. Grappa toast and a lot of Malvazija at lunch at Čok. Accidental Locavore Tasting at DeGrassiEight (4 white 4 red) at Degrassi tasting and finally five more; sparkling, two whites, a red and a dessert wine at dinner. After dinner drinks were turned down–no idea why. Total 16–finish strong!

Accidental Locavore Grappa at LunchRough count of 42-OMG! Stay tuned for a report on what I liked and loved, and what I wish were available in the US.

 

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A Recipe for Capers From Dandelion Buds

by Anne Maxfield on May 21, 2015

Accidental Locavore BudsOne of the most interesting things the Accidental Locavore ate on the recent Croatian trip was the dandelion buds that the chef at Toklarija had pickled. At first, they looked like capers and tasted a bit like them, but with a more interesting, complex flavor. As we toured the kitchen, he told me how he makes them.

As it turns out, when I got back it was just the right time to look for the buds (and there were plenty!). They’re generally in the center of the plant, although some may have multiple buds. You want them small and tight, otherwise they’ll come apart in the pickling process. I picked about a cup of them over the course of several dog walks. Here’s the process:Accidental Locavore Dandelion Buds in Salt

  • Rinse and dry the buds
  • In a shallow container, put a generous layer of kosher salt. Add the buds and cover completely with another layer of salt. Leave them for 2 days.
  • After 2 days, put the buds and salt in a sieve and rinse throughly.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, put ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup water, and ½ cup kosher salt. Heat until the salt is dissolved and the brine is simmering.
  • Put washed buds in a small jar (I used a 1 pint Ball jar) and pour the hot brine over them until the jar is almost full (leave about 1” of space). Cover and let cool.
  • When the jar is cool, refrigerate. They’ll need a day or two to pickle.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Dandelion CapersMy verdict: Really good! Added bonus—possibly the yard will have a few less dandelions next year. It may be too late in the season to find buds, but as I was researching this, I learned that you can do this with a variety of buds, including chives and nasturtiums. As it turned out, my chives were just beginning to bud, so I clipped a few and added them to the jar. Where the dandelion buds were just slightly bitter, the chive buds had a hint of onion to them. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Another Pig, Another Lunch, Another Country

by Anne Maxfield on May 18, 2015

Accidental Locavore Billy Joe's RibsWhen the Accidental Locavore singled out Billy Joe’s Ribworks as being my favorite chili (as well as Frank’s) in the recent Chili Cook-off, Jonathan Gatsik, one of the owners, sent me an invitation to come and have lunch, so the other day Frank and I set off for the Newburgh waterfront.

Accidental Locavore Billy Joes DeckBilly Joe’s is a huge place perched on the edge of the Hudson. There’s a large patio with a stage for summer concerts and a beer garden for exploring their large selection of local craft beer. During the summer they serve over 3000 diners a week, which means their three smokers are going non-stop from May through the end of September. The smokers are immense, with a capacity of 13-1400 pounds of meat each.

And we sampled a good amount of that meat! Starting with some smoked chicken wings that they then toss on the grill to crisp up. They come to the table with your choice of dipping sauce and blue cheese dressing. Whether you choose “Devil’s Revenge” or their own barbecue sauce, everything is made in-house. Frank’s reaction (“the wings were a revelation”) pretty much sums it up—they were!

Accidental Locavore Billy Joe's WingsWe tried not to stuff ourselves solely on the wings (although they would have been a fine lunch) because we knew Jonathan had ordered a lot more food for us to taste. There were three types of ribs: baby backs, St. Louis and beef. All were great, but my favorites were the beef ribs. Huge and naked except for a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, they were smoky and beefy and delicious! The baby backs were cut with the tenderloin, which made them super tender and both types of pork ribs were dusted with their special rub before the trip to the smoker.

Accidental Locavore Billy Joes BrisketAlong with the ribs there were three types of smoked sausages, both sweet and hot Italian and some spicy andouille. Definitely one of Frank’s favorite foods, he was happily devouring all three types. Not to be overshadowed by the ribs and sausage – some really great pulled pork, wonderful brisket and smoked chicken! And if you’re not into meat but find yourself there, the “Good Ol’ Grilled Salmon” is perfectly prepared (I stole a bite of Jonathan’s) so you won’t be left out!

Side dishes included homemade corn bread, some wonderful smoked baked beans, very good coleslaw and exceptional mac & cheese! My favorite mac & cheese is always really cheesy and creamy and this fit the bill completely! From now on, if I’m craving it, I know a trip to Newburgh will be just what I need!

Accidental Locavore Billy Joes CrewJonathan calls Billy Joe’s a “very, very happy place” and it ‘s apparent the minute you walk in the door. His chef, Kevin, also deserves a shout-out for all the great food. Managing that kitchen has to be a herculean task and they both do it with a big smile! Jonathan says “I love it every single day of the week” and you can too!

 

Thanks to Jonathan and crew for a great lunch and to Frank for the photos!

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Magic Mushrooms

by Anne Maxfield on May 14, 2015

Accidental Locavore Magic MushroomsThe Accidental Locavore was reading a recipe on Pure Wow for crispy mushrooms and it sounded so simple and good that I had to give them a try. What better excuse than people coming for dinner, and it would be a nice change or addition to the usual cheese and charcuterie. They couldn’t be simpler, but you do have to give yourself about an hour for roasting them.Accidental Locavore Prepping Mushrooms

  • 1 ½ pounds cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 large clove finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Flaky salt, like Maldon, for finishing

Accidental Locavore Roasting MushroomsPreheat the oven to 375°F (I used the convection setting). Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper to combine.

Pour the mushrooms onto the baking sheet, then spread them out evenly (don’t overcrowd or they won’t get crispy). Roast until the mushrooms are very brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes.

Let the mushrooms cool slightly, then garnish with parsley and flaky salt, if using. You can serve the mushrooms warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Crispy MushroomsMy verdict: When we were cleaning and prepping the mushrooms, my friend Laura and I decided that a pound wasn’t going to be enough, so we went out and got another small container and ended up with about a pound and a half. I added the fresh garlic and thyme – any fresh herbs would work as well. So, we roasted them and roasted them, tossing them occasionally, and they got beautifully dark brown and smelled great! However, after about 70 minutes in the oven, they weren’t crispy (or anywhere near that) and our guests had arrived, so we pulled them out. They were fabulous—seriously roasted, with the garlic and thyme adding to the great mushroom flavor. I would definitely make them again, but wouldn’t expect them to be crispy. Maybe if you sliced them you could achieve crispiness (which might be an experiment for the next batch). We did end up with a few leftovers which were equally delicious chopped into an omelet and sliced into salads.

 

 

 

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