Caesar salad

The Accidental Locavore Dines at Tavern on the Green

by Anne Maxfield on January 26, 2015

Accidental Locavore Tavern InteriorWhen the Accidental Locavore’s friend Laura mentioned that her besties were getting together at Tavern on the Green, the thought that went through our heads was what a waste of a meal. However, a week later I was begging her to let me cash in my honorary membership and join them.

What changed? The opportunity to see, early on, if the legendary Jeremiah Towers could make this a destination restaurant for the food as well as the scenery. I don’t know how much influence  he has had on the menu yet, but all of the food we had was well-prepared, with enough good dishes to make one not dread going back and a couple of real surprises (in a very good way).

The biggest negative this time was not with the food but with the patrons. It has never crossed my mind before in a restaurant that there should be some screening for parties with children. However, after sitting next to a rambunctious toddler, I would happily pay extra to be seated in an over-21 room! Kicking and thrashing neighbors aside, the meal that we had on a busy (Santa-com, mass protests) holiday weekend was easily the best I’ve had there.

Accidental Locavore Tavern Caesar SaladFor appetizers: mussels, Caesar salads and scallops made their way around the table. Both the Caesar salad and the mussels were big bowls, probably too big for one with an entree, but easily shared. The mussels had what was advertised as breadcrumbs but were more like croutons, which were helpful in soaking up the flavorful sauce. My only complaint would be the size of the mussels–let’s just call them dainty…. Not so dainty was the Caesar salad, with big leaves of what was billed as little gem lettuce, but which from a distance could easily mistaken for kale. And, while I can only guess at the overhead, $15 for a bowl of lettuce with dressing and a crouton?

Accidental Locavore Tavern Lamb ShankThe main courses were where the surprises lay. Feeling adventurous, I ordered the lamb with a red curry sauce. It was a well-braised shank, with the meat removed from the bone, in a slightly spicy Thai red curry sauce with chick peas and green beans that some poor commis, had to macramé into a love knot. Since the light at the table was dim at best, sadly, his knot tying skills almost went unnoticed. The best dish I tasted was the one I would be least likely to order, especially at someplace like Tavern – the (free-range) chicken. It was tender, juicy and tasting like it had been in the wood-burning oven. Totally delicious – definitely the best dish of the night! The pork chops looked good, and were fine, but not outstanding, and the strange combination of tuna with what was essentially pork and beans, remains questionable.

Accidental Locavore Tavern KitchenWe split a few desserts, all good, but no real standouts. Tavern could actually become a place to go for the food, but it’s walking a very fine line, and Jeremiah Tower has a tough job ahead of him. It’s possible that like my chef friend Pete surmises, that he could have been hired just to turn the place around, garner some good reviews and then disappear into the sunset leaving us with yet another Betony  overrated restaurant. We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

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2 Great Uses for Leftover Bread

by Anne Maxfield on August 4, 2014

Accidental Locavore Bread for CroutonsOne of the things the Accidental Locavore has always appreciated about France is the ability to get a demi-baguette at almost every boulangerie. Since baguettes are meant to be eaten immediately, or certainly by the end of the day, their shelf life is in measured in hours (not weeks, like some of our breads). While American baguettes have a slightly longer shelf life, you’re usually required to buy a whole one (and of course, ours are bigger…), so we generally have most of one lying around getting stale. If I remember to catch them before they’re so stale you could use them to hit a hardball, I chop them up and make breadcrumbs. All you do is cut (or rip) the bread into ½” slices, cut those in half and pop them in a food processor. Process until the crumbs are a size that you like. I keep mine in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready for action.Accidental Locavore Breadcrumbs

This morning, I started working on our leftover baguette from the great cheese and charcuterie board Frank put together for le 14 juillet. I had cut it into such perfect slices that it occurred to me that croutons might be a better use for this than the usual breadcrumbs. Here’s how they came together:

  • 2/3 of a baguette, cut into ¾” slices and then quarter the slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, put thorough a press (optional)
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Accidental Locavore CroutonsPreheat the oven to 450°. Put the melted butter, olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss until well coated. Put on a cookie sheet or hotel pan and cook until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Put on a wire rack to cool. Store in a Ziploc in the freezer or toss these in soups or salads and enjoy!

My verdict: True confession, when I make Caesar salad, I generally use commercial croutons. Not anymore! These were so easy and delicious, and a look at the ingredients on the back of the crouton bag just made me cringe. I would have liked a bit more salt in them, but I held back. You could also toss them in some Parmesan, herbs (I kept eyeing a big bunch of basil on the counter), whatever strikes your fancy. You can also flavor them to go with what you’re serving. Almost any type of bread will work, although I’m not a big fan of croutons made with soft white breads.

 

 

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