Some restaurants are worth a road trip. It’s Only Natural Restaurant in Middletown, Conn., is a hidden gem in the north end of the this small college town’s Main Street, and they dish out delectable, 100-percent vegan meals, desserts and cocktails that hardly disappoint.
The first thing you’ll notice is the ambiance: rustic, sultry and quite literally down-to-earth. Potted plants lift their branches toward the softly glowing overhead lights, the walls are adorned by locally-made art and all of the tables are made from smoothly polished, natural wooden slabs, accented by fresh flowers and flickering candlelight. Just by taking a recycled seat, you’ll feel like you’re saving the planet.
One of their most famous starters is a plate of massive sweet potato fries with a side of organic, smoked ketchup. They pair well with the tempeh “crab” cakes — a tasty vegan take on the seafood dish topped with lemon aioli to wit — and a glass of the Root n’ Ginger cocktail, made with ROOT liquor, organic ginger brew and a hearty slice of ginger.
I’m not exaggerating when I say everything on the menu is worth a try. The culinary creativity of Head Chef Tamara Cayer will keep you coming back to try a bit of everything, like the southern plate piled high with southern-fried tofu, sauteed greens, black beans and cornbread. Keep an eye out for specials like pizzas topped with beet pepperoni and seitan-walnut sausage.
And don’t forget to finish your dinner with shot of Fire Cider! This stuff comes with a welcome kick, as it’s made with organic apple cider vinegar, ginger, horseradish, habanero pepper, garlic and turmeric. (You’ll also detect some fresh citrus-fruits and a dash of honey.) Traditionally, this age-old drink has been used to support a healthy immune system or alleviate a hangover, and a healthy boost for your digestive system after your undoubtedly big meal.
606 Main St.
860 346 9210
If cooking for your dad is on your short list of to-do’s for Father’s Day 2015, take a page from the notable Kitchen restaurant in West Palm Beach. Owners Aliza and Matthew Byrne, originally from the Main Line, have dreamed up a barbecue sauce recipe that’ll enhance any—and every—grilling session. Best of all, they tapped their Philadelphia roots for their signature glaze, incorporating the locally-bred Art in the Age SNAP liqueur to concoct a spiked meat additive that’ll impress all the fatherly figures in your life. Oh, and did we mention there are gingersnap cookies in the recipe? Time to get cooking (and you know we are rushing to, too!).
• 3 cups SNAP liqueur
• 4 cups ketchup
• 2 cups Dijon mustard
• 1 cup maple syrup
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 cup minced fresh garlic
• 2 cups gingersnap cookies (ground)
• 4 Tbsp. kosher salt
• 4 Tbsp. paprika
• 4 Tbsp. cumin
• 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
• 2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
• 2 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. If sauce gets too thick add an additional cup of water and adjust seasonings.
Once sauce is complete, slather on your favorite meats—works wonders with racks of ribs!
Hey, speaking of COOK…
Act fast because tickets for July classes go on sale at today at 2 pm. If your idea of a good night includes cooking with Yun Fuentes (Alma de Cuba), Nick Macri (La Divisa Meats), or Valerie Erwin (formerly Gee Chee Girl) then make your plans now and be sitting in front of your computer at 2pm today.
July 1: Wine Goblet Painting with Sue Puchowitz, Art Instructor
July 7: A La Brasa: Methods and Techniques of the Latin American Grill with Yun Fuentes of Alma de Cuba
July 9: Sunday Pasta with Edwin Garrubbo
July 10: Restaurant Sneak Peek: Hungry Pigeon with Scott Schroeder of American Sardine Bar/South Philly Tap Room and Pat O’Malley
July 12: 4PM Summer Cocktail and Cheese Pairings with Keith Raimondi of Townsend and Rocco Rainone of Di Bruno Bros.
July 16: 6PM Craft Cocktails with Resa Mueller of Twenty Manning Grill/Bar Emmanuelle and Maura Gallagher of Art In The Age
July 17: Modern Low Country COOKing with Valerie Erwin of Geechee Girl Rice Cafe
July 18: 4 PM The Rise of Gluten Free Beers with Meredith Rebar and Garrett Lee Williams of Home Brewed Events
July 19: 1PM Filipino-Hawaiian Snacks with Kiki Aranita and Chris Vacca of Poi Dog Snack Shop
July 21: Tomato Time with Laura Frangiosa and Maureen Stoebenau of The Avenue Delicatessen
July 22: South of the Border with Kevin Taylor of El Vez
July 23: Restaurant Sneak Peek: Restaurant Neuf with Joncarl Lachman of Noord
July 24: Vegetarian Mediterranean Cuisine with Beth Kaufman Strauss of A Grateful Plate
July 25: 6PM A Taste of Tel Aviv with Ari Miller of Food Underground
July 26: 5PM Pork Belly Party with Nick Macri of La Divisa Meats
July 28: Vegan BBQ with Christina Martin and Christopher Dougherty
July 29: The Modern Supper Club with Ken Wallace and Jesse Cornell of Vesper
July 30: Summer in Provence with Kenneth Bush of Bistrot La Minette
July 31: Restaurant Sneak Peek: Herban with Kalefe Wright, Amir Fardshisheh and Chris Paul of Herban
Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2015/06/09/july-classes-cook/#fQ0OL4vkLd5ULDR5.99
Here at Huckberry, we love meeting our writers in person. We recently had the chance to go to Colorado and spend an afternoon with Kelsey and Shaun Boyte, where the couple taught us how to make a camp stove out of a log — a handy hack that should definitely make an appearance on your next wilderness trip.
et’s talk about Swedish Fire Torches: Schwedenfackel or Schwedenfeuer. Known by several other names (i.e. Canadian Candle), the torch is a unique campfire technique because it uses just a single log as fuel that, when prepared properly, can sustain heat for two to four hours. Sound kitschy? Think again. The method is nearly 400 years old, developed in 1618 by Swedish soldiers during the Thirty Years’ War. Firewood was apparently sparse across the Roman Empire, so the wood they came upon needed to be carefully spent. The fire torch proved an effective way to conserve wood but still met their needs for cooking and light.
How does this thing work? Here’s the shorthand instruction:
1. Split a dry log into quarters. Use a hatchet to make fringelike cuts on the inside — this will act like tinder inside the stove itself.
2. Set the logs upright, wrapping twine or wire loosely at the base.
3. Add tinder and kindling to the preformed chamber from the initial cuts.
4. Light bits of kindling atop the surface.
5. Once the fire has been started, air is able to freely circulate within/between the gaps between the split log, providing oxygen to the flames.
6. Eventually, the fire is self-feeding. The flat, circular top provides a surface to place a kettle, or pan for cooking, boiling liquids, etc.
1 pint apple cider
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
1 lemon, quartered
Bourbon, for sharing
Bring ingredients to a boil in a camp kettle or covered pot. Pour into allocated mugs and finish with one to two ounces of your whiskey of choice. [H]
“You’re Steve Grasse?” the tattooed brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum asked him. “Yeah” Steve responded, nonchalantly.
That question is particularly interesting because outside of a very small corner of the liquor industry, nobody knows who this Steve guy is.
Steven Grasse (pronounced with a silent e) is subtle and subdued when you compare him to the brands he’s created in the last 15 years. Once an ad man for the likes of Puma and Camel cigarettes, Grasse’s passion has led him to create some of the most iconic and unique liquors in recent history. Here’s the kicker: unlike Jack Daniel (featured on a previous post), Grasse is still alive and making great liquor.
Steven Grasse’s ad agency Quaker City Mercantile has represented many clients over their 25 years in business, but Grasse is happy that those days are past. “Yeah I used to be an ad guy, but I’m glad I’m not anymore” Grasse says. “Our hobby was to create our own brands, though. We started with a film series called Bikini Bandits, featuring strippers who robbed stores, then started the GMart Convenience Stores, too.” Quaker City then started the Sailor Jerry clothing line and created a companion rum to help sell their clothes.
Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum took off. Grasse’s agency developed everything about it, from the marketing to the label to the actual taste of the liquid in the bottle. Concurrently, they created a gin called Hendrick’s, and like Sailor Jerry, Quaker City developed everything about it, from the liquid to the actual legend.
William Grant and Sons, a liquor conglomerate that covers big brands like Stoli Vodka, took notice. They bought the brands, and the story, from Quaker City.
Steven Grasse continued to create, too, and invented another liquor line, officially titled Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. He told me “We created Art in the Age the day we sold Sailor Jerry, and we purposely made it the most challenging brand ever. We said ‘alright, we’re going to have the plainest bottle possible, and we’re going to put the weirdest liquid in it, and we’re not going to make it obvious where to look for it in the store.’” William Grant and Sons bought that brand too.
Art in the Age’s spirits line currently has 4 liquors: Sage, Root, Rhubarb, and Snap, the last of which was developed from Grasse’s grandmother’s ginger snap recipe. “I worked with our resident chef to create a liquid version of that recipe, then we sent it to our distiller and said ‘make that into a liquor.’ We chose our favorite, and you have Snap.”
After that, Steve helped create Spodee, “Wine with a Kick,” a sortof backwoods moonshine wine/herb drink that comes in old milk bottles. Then he revived Narragansett Beer, an east-coast staple that’s 100+ years old.
“Making spirits is no different than being a chef” Grasse says, and though flavored vodkas and whiskeys have been big sellers in recent years, people don’t have the deep connection to those brands in the same way they do to Hendrick’s or Sailor Jerry. “It’s shitty vodka with chemicals” he told me, “Three Olives is the Ed Hardy of spirits.”
Grasse’s team don’t market test their liquors, and he told me that most of their ideas come from history books, not barrooms. He says “I’ve seen quite a few ad agencies emulating what we’re doing, and they’re all belly flopping.” He stressed that the quality of the liquid in the bottle is the most important thing, otherwise you’re just “selling a gimmick.” Grasse says “we’re a genuine liquid firm that knows something about marketing. We know how to build a community around our brands.”
In summer 2015, Grasse is opening Tamworth Distilling, which supplements the current Art In The Age line with an original Barley Vodka and a series of infusions based on it, starting with sweet potato, chicory, and beet (pictured).
You can find out more about all of Steven’s work at Quaker City Mercantile.
I have a new obsession this Spring. a BOOZY obsession (go figure, right?!). It involves some freakin delicious, herby, rooty, organic, modern root tea, otherwise known as ROOT. It’s a sarsaprilla-ish craft liquor that’s become my new favorite thing! And no, this is NOT an ad, or a sponsored post. You guys, this stuff is just killer, and I just had to share. So, get ready to have your socks knocked off with this ROOT spiked root beer float!
Oh man. I sure do love a good old fashioned root beer float. It’s something that we rarely make at our house, and every time we make them, I wonder why! Why don’t we make these killer awesome desserts all the time?! Not like they’re hard to make or something. Just one of those things that gets overlooked I suppose. We spent a Sunday, making boozy root beer floats and then drinking said root beer floats on the deck. In the sunshine. And it was just grand.
We had heard about the supper served at The Other Store and it sounded too good to miss. It was. A revolving group of volunteers prepares ingredients from the several local farms into three-course dinners. It was a beautiful evening, so we chose a table on the back porch overlooking Swift River. Dinners are BYO, but the store is well stocked with wine so you don’t need to bring it very far. Dinner reservations are a must.
We awoke to a sunny day and beautiful views from Highland House Bed & Breakfast, which has stood on a hill above Tamworth Village since 1792. Built by a Salem sea captain, it has a long history of hospitality that’s admirably maintained. We could see why it’s a popular wedding venue, with its lovely gardens and a restored carriage house for events.
After breakfast we walked down to the village toRemick Country Doctor Museum & Farm. The Remick farm was founded at the same time Captain Dodge was building Highland House, and preserves the agricultural landscape and way of life from two centuries. It’s a working farm, and as we toured its barns, sheds, stables and gardens, we met chickens, turkeys, cows, oxen, sheep, goats, lambs and pigs, and gardens of heirloom vegetables and herbs grown from seeds harvested on the farm. A short trail took us to views of Mt. Chocorua and the Ossipee range.
Inside the Captain Enoch Remick House, listed on the National Register, we saw 19th-century hand-painted murals and the original medical office and dispensary used by two generations of country doctors. The house is furnished in antiques, and exhibits here and in the farmhouse highlight the life of a country doctor/farmer.
Across the street the Tamworth Farmers’ Market was in full swing, and we grazed as we gathered provisions for a picnic lunch. We found sourdough breads from Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery in Wonalancet, raw sheep and cow milk cheese and salami from The Big Farm Creamery, organic milk from Red Gables Farm and fresh berries from Roberts Farm. We began to regret not having the car with us to stow our shopping as we added granola, honey, apple cider vinegar, chili powder and beef jerky to carry home with us. We were surprised to learn of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company in Tamworth, selling fresh and dried mushrooms as well as mushroom chutney, infused oils and pasta. Instead of carrying more, we decided to stop by Dube & Robinson winery with the car to buy handcrafted mead and cider.
We stopped at Grammy Gordon’s Bakery for cookies to take with us as we kayaked on the Bearcamp River. I’ve loved the Bearcamp since my parents stopped on hot days for me to play on its sandy beaches alongside Rte. 16. Its meandering course and slow-moving waters are perfect for a relaxing drift through the woods. We stopped to tour the newly opened Tamworth Distilling, where we tasted applejack and admired the beautiful bottles handmade by Peter VanderLaan, of Chocorua. Back at Highland House we joined other guests for afternoon tea.
Dinner at the Barnstormers Supper Club
While The Other Store serves dinner on weeknights, Saturday dinners are catered by Highland House owner Dale Bragdon. Fresh flowers and linen-clad tables dressed up the rustic interior of a 19th-century cooper’s shed, and our three-course dinner of apricot-glazed grilled chicken and roasted potatoes was based on ingredients from the farmers we’d met at the market that morning.
The Barnstormers Theatre is the oldest professional summer theatre in the country, and it attracts top talent to perform in a different show each week. The program varies from musicals through comedy and at least one mystery (often an Agatha Christie) with a new show each week. We could easily see why many in the audience planned their summer vacations around the schedule.
After stopping to see Ordination Rock, where an obelisk commemorating the ordination of Tamworth’s first minister in 1792 stands atop the glacial erratic boulder where the ceremony took place, we followed Great Hill Road to the Hemenway State Forest. We climbed the short trail to Great Hill Fire Tower for a sweeping panorama dominated by Mt. Chocorua. More views of the mountain lay ahead as we followed a maze of country roads along a ridge and down to Chocorua Lake for the best-known postcard view. After all that exercise we thought we were entitled to stop at Treats & Treasures General Store for their famous fudge.
We were pleased to see the attractive park Chocorua Village has built by the dam, with benches and a gazebo (although we do miss the ice cream shop). Scandinavian Baking is closed on Sunday, so we feasted our eyes instead, at ArtWorks Gallery. The cooperative serves local artists as the farmers’ market does food producers, bringing their paintings, hand weaving, pottery, stained and blown glass, silver jewelry, photography, wooden ware and art prints together in an appealing setting. Back in Tamworth, we had time for BLTs on local bread at The Daley Café, before the Sunday afternoon Concert by the River behind the store.
“I swear that every single day I walk into this restaurant, I am immediately captivated by the sea air and all I can think about is preparing and devouring an obscene amount of oysters, lobsters, and scallops,” chef and owner David Turin tells me in his waterfront Kennebunkport restaurant, David’s KPT.
It appears that others share the sentiment, and he is grateful for the way the locals have embraced his concept and made him feel welcome. “Especially,” he jokes, “now that I’ve finally learned how to say Kenne-bunk-port the right way. It took me a bit longer than expected to get the emphasis in the right place.”
Moving into its third summer in operation, David’s KPT has grown exponentially in popularity, combining both familiar menu elements from Turin’s Portland- area establishments with more archetypal Maine fare to delight the throngs of tourists that pack Kennebunkport through the summer and fall months. As Turin puts it, “all of my crew, from 388 in South Portland to Opus Ten in Portland, strives to create dishes that at the end of the day have a certain practicality to them. I like to think that a dish is never done until you can’t take any element away from it.” Crispy potstickers with sliced Asian-style beef and creamy wild mushroom pappardelle exist in perfect harmony with the classic lobster roll, which can be made with butter or mayonnaise to prevent any arguments over which way is best.
The menu, however, is where the similarities with Turin’s other establishments end. After over 30 years in the business, Turin expresses his excitement over the privilege of running his first waterfront eatery, housed in the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel. “I’ve never had such an incredible, scenic location before, and it’s even stunning in the wintertime. I can think of few places more perfect to enjoy a drink and watch the sunset.”
The idea for this venture, a partnership with Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC), took root a few years ago at the Kennebunkport Festival. Turin was serving his classic butter-poached lobster, a simple yet beautifully executed dish that quickly became the crowd favorite. After enjoying the lobster at one of the many Art of Dining feasts held at private residences during the festival, Tim Harrington, partner and creative director at KRC, visited Portland to try Turin’s tasting menu at David’s Opus Ten. The two immediately hit it off and not long after they forged a partnership. David’s KPT was born. “It’s amazing what a little butter-poached lobster can do,” Turin jokes.
Although designer Kim Mim had started the initial build-out of the space, which was originally intended to be a different restaurant altogether, when the idea for David’s KPT was born, the aesthetic was taken over by Harrington and designer Louise Hurlbutt. “We were aiming for an airy, nautical theme,” explains Hurlbutt. “To achieve this we changed the overall color scheme to white and navy while opening the room up by replacing the heavy drapes with all-glass windows.” In addition to the existing bar, another longer bar was built using reclaimed wood topped with a gorgeous leather- finished granite top. A bright navy rug complements the plush, high-back chairs in the dining room, and the recent addition of an adjoining raw bar rounds out the seaside experience.
On the raw bar there is a plethora of oyster species, clams, and prawns, all available in the classic, multi-level tower form for those looking to indulge, or perhaps to cause a spectacle to impress out-of-town guests. There is also a variety of composed oyster dishes available in flights, which on a recent visit included three Cape Neddicks topped with a thought-provoking array of toppings, most notably tangy grapefruit and aromatic fennel.
Each of the three bars has a very different ambience, and the range of cocktails available mirrors their diversity. The Moxie combines Art in the Age’s Root liqueur with Fernet Branca to emulate the sweet and bitter qualities of Maine’s favorite beverage, while other selections, such as the Bourbon Arnold Palmer, are custom designed to be quickly consumed on the deck, while basking in the hot sun. A reasonable selection of white Burgundies and crisp whites from Austria, the Loire Valley, and Alsace are appropriately refreshing alongside both hot and cold seafood dishes.
Overseeing day-to-day operations to accommodate Turin’s hectic schedule is executive sous chef Derek Federico. The two chefs share a penchant for globally inspired cuisine and twists on local favorites. The restaurant’s velvety version of clam chowder has a touch of sweetness from brown sugar that complements the smoke from the bacon, while the Thai-style fried calamari is a sort of Asian-inspired homage to the Rhode Island style, topped with pickled cherry peppers, peanuts, and cilantro.
The amount of ground the menu covers stylistically is impressive, which is evident in the Catalan seafood and bread stew. The broth is thickened with picada, a traditional paste consisting of fried bread, almonds, and a touch of stock, before being simmered with tomato and piled high with shrimp, hake, mussels, clams, and chorizo. “I created this version of the classic stew as a course for a Spanish wine dinner I prepared last winter,” Turin tells me, “And I knew I definitely wanted to keep it around for awhile.”
As with the Monument Square restaurant, David’s KPT offers a full range of pizzas, from the traditional napoletana margherita with tomato, mozzarella, basil, and garlic, to jerk chicken with goat cheese and arugula. “This is my absolute favorite station to work, especially on busy nights,” Turin continues, “I love our crust, and I could seriously put anything on it. Plus, to be honest, I really can’t get enough of tossing the pizza dough.” It doesn’t hurt that David’s KPT spared no expense with its stone-lined, Italian-made deck oven, which only gets better with each and every pizza that comes out of it.
The red wine portion of the list is quite balanced, and although there are certainly trophy bottles, like Opus One, to be had, there are also quite a few very reasonably priced gems, such as the Castellare Chianti classico. This particular bottle paired beautifully with a heaping plate of pork osso bucco, slowly braised until falling apart and served over a rich, almost cassoulet- like ragout of wine-braised beans and bacon, balanced out by a dollop of gremolata to cut through the fat. The wine would be equally appropriate with Turin’s classic burger, made with high-quality beef, cheddar, and cherrywood bacon, served with truffled french fries.
David’s KPT is open year-round, seven days a week, serving three meals a day (as it is housed within the hotel). Knowing that, Turin set out to create a menu that has both “broad appeal” and “intrinsic value.” His restaurant welcomes visitors to the state, while keeping things fresh for the locals and, equally important, himself.