Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taste of Eastie 2008 invite from East Boston Main Streets

Below is the announcement for the 2008 Taste of Eastie event from the East Boston Main Streets web site ( It sounds like a wonderful event with quite a list of participating businesses. We are really looking forward to attending this year.

Taste of Eastie 2008
-- Our 12th Annual --
To be held at the Logan Airport Hilton on Thursday, January 17, 2008
Please join us for an evening of great fun and great food!

“Taste of Eastie”

East Boston Main Streets (EBMS) will once again highlight our local eating establishments at the 12th Annual “Taste of Eastie” on Thursday, January 17, 2008 at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. In the past we have had over 30 local restaurants specializing in Italian, Latin American, American and Asian cuisine provide samples of their most popular foods. This event has become the largest East Boston dining charity event.

Our art auction and basket raffle add to the evening. If you would like to take part in this great event, please call the EBMS office at 617.561.1044 for more information.


Boston Organics - produce, bread, eggs, coffee, etc.

Since moving to East Boston last year I have been looking for alternatives to Whole Foods. I have been trying to do without a car for at least 1-2 years and one big challenge is grocery shopping. For several years, while living in Beacon Hill and the North End, I received a weekly box of produce, breads, eggs and an expanding list of "add-ons" from a wonderful service called Boston Organics ( As is the case with several services I had used in the past, Boston Organics does not currently deliver to East Boston.

My understanding is that should a sufficient number of Eastie residents express an interest, they would add us to their Tuesday delivery schedule. While I am happy for Jeff, et al., I was discuouraged to learn that their tremendous growth over the past few years has made it challenging for them to staff their current routes. So, it looks like we would need an even greater number of people to request service before they can manage.

I would encourage anyone who is interested to visit their web site and fill out the contact form requesting service in our area. In the five years I used their service I was very happy and their customer service is the best.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A More Traditional Thanksgiving Menu?

From eyewitness accounts of the first Thanksgiving it's not clear whether turkey was on the menu. We know that venison and a lot of fowl were present but, this in a time when swan was one of the most popular game birds on the menu. There would also have been quite a lot of seafood on the menu. In an effort to changes things a bit and to have a more historically typical menu we searched many sources for recipes. Finally settling on a New York Times article from 1896 that describes recipes passed down through generations of Adirondack guides and hunters. I have also listed several of the foods likely to have been on that first Thanksgiving table:

Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
Wild Fowl: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles
Meat: Venison, Seal
Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
Vegetables: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
Fruit: Plums, Grapes
Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
Herbs and Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips

These recipes are taken from a New York Times article, The Secrets of the Carver. An Early English Dinner – Studies in the Operative Surgery of Animals by Juliet Corson, published on March 1, 1896. The venison recipe comes from Mme. Jule De Ryther, “a descendant of a line of hunters and hosts whose forest cookery has long been famous” and seems to have origins with early Adirondack hunters and guides. The entire article is quite interesting and available in .pdf format from the NY Times archives. As you can imagine, a few adjustments had to be made but, we were very fortunate that a hunt club we used to frequent down in Long Island, with proper meat lockers, was willing to age our saddle with our other cuts of venison for several days with its cloves. The indented text is taken verbatim from the article.

Roast Saddle of Venison.–Stick from twelve to eighteen whole cloves in the top part of a saddle of venison and hang it up in a cool dry place for several days, after which lay the venison in a large, deep earthen dish. Then add a sliced onion or the crushed clove of garlic, two bay leaves, one tablespoonful of French wine vinegar, one tablespoonful of tarragon vinegar, a sliced carrot, then pour over the whole enough good sherry to cover the venison, and let it soak for twelve hours. At the end of this time remove the venison from the arinade, put it in a dripping pan, cover the top with strips of larding pork, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stand it in a quick over for one-half hour, then change the temperature of the over so the venison roasts slowly for a half hour longer. Remove the pan from the oven, lift the saddle tenderly, being careful not to pierce it with a fork – if you do it will lose its juice and flavor – lay it on a hot platter, and stand it in a hot pace while you make the gravy, which should be made as follows:

[For the cooking we first wrapped the saddle of venison in pancetta and seared it over high heat until well browned / caramelized, then cooked as we do many roasts – preheat the oven to 500 degrees, place the roast in the oven, after five minutes shut off the heat and allow to cook for ninety minutes without opening the door – for our 5 lb. saddle to be medium rare].

To Make the Gravy.–Stand the dripping pan on the stove and pour into it the liquid in which the venison has been soaked. Mix two tablespoonfuls of flour in enough sherry to make it the consistency of a rich cream. As soon as the liquor in the pan begins to boil, stir in the flour and let it simmer gently till quite thick. Season with a little salt. Pour the gravy through a strainer, serve in a separate dish beside the venison. The platter should be very deep. Fleck the saddle all over with currant jelly before sending it to the table.

[We did also deviate here and used our own relish made from dried currant.]

Broiled Partridge.-Select fine, plump birds, and let them be fresh, for eating stale game is one of those barbaric customs no longer indulged in. Time was when a so-called bon vivant did not consider a bird fit for eating until it had so far decayed that its feathers fell off, or the bird falls when hung up by the tail feathers, but now no one would, if he or she knew it, insult the stomach with decayed food of any sort. Having selected the partridge, pick them dry. This must be done at home, as they are sure to scald them if left to be plucked in the market. After they are plucked singe off the hairs over a little burning alcohol; then split the bird down the back, wipe it dry inside and out, sprinkle well with salt, lay on a well-buttered gridiron, and broil over a good fire, turning them several times. When done, place them on a very hot platter, dot them all over with flecks of fresh butter, and serve. The more simple the manner of cooking a partridge the better.

[Again we deviated from the original recipes leaving the partridge whole, buttering the cavities, stuffing in some vine leaves and trussing them to keep them moist.]

Needless to say I am quite passionate about cooking, wild game, my dogs and hunting and this year’s meal required quite a lot of advance work, starting last weekend. Both the venison and the game birds were hung for several days before we started cooking and it took three ferries and several hours drive for my guests to transport these ingredients to Boston. I’m a big fan of the slow food movement and love to get my hands on such fresh ingredients and to take my time preparing and eating the meals – guests started arriving at two, we sat down to the meal at three and the lasts guests left shortly before nine. I was quite happy to see second (or more) helpings all around, clean plates and nobody remarked on the lack of desert. Fruit, a bit of cheese, coffee and digestifs finished a wonderful evening.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Art and Ayn Rand

Recently, on The Hubster blog, there was a brief discussion of the importance of art. With the 50th anniversary of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged I thought I would share a quote from Rand on art and ask everyone's opinion. Personally, I believe art is as important now as ever and, like language, is inherently human. Art began with the hunter gatherers 30-40,000 years ago.

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value judgments. Man's profound need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is conceptual, i.e., that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and needs the power to bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his immediate, perceptual awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a selective re-creation, it concretizes man's fundamental view of himself and of existence. It tells man, in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be regarded as essential, significant, important. — Ayn Rand, "Art and Cognition" The Romantic Manifesto, p. 45.