Type of Post:
Best of Show
Destination:The Eastern Berkshires
Best of Show:Mineral Hills Winery
(I am still catching up on long-deferred posts from a prolonged busy period at work. This one is from September!)
After prowling the fields of dealers at the big annual Brimfield Antiques Fair (scoring some cool barware and kitchenware there) we headed west to Northampton and onward into the Berkshires. We didn't know what we'd find there; we were really just looking forward to a relaxing drive before we had dinner and headed for home.
There's a lot of farm country in those rugged, rural hills. Livestock is abundant and varied. There are fine horses, or course. Dairy farms are common, and Black Angus beeves grazing in rocky fields. There are also many sheep and alpacas raised for their wool. Goats make their appearances everywhere. Geese and ducks stand their wet ground, wary of the hens closer to the farmhouses.
Type of Post:
Best of Show
Best of Show:The Rhode Island Jonnycakes at the Jonnycake Festival in Usquepaugh, RI
It was the height of foliage season in New England and we had planned a foliage drive that would include Historic New England's annual fine arts and crafts festival at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. We had no other fixed plans, but we know that Woodstock is in prime foliage country and it was a gorgeous day so all was well.
Although we live just a mile from Route 44, it's a slow road and we needed to make tracks, so we took the highway to Route 44 at I-295 west of Providence. From there we meandered through northwestern Rhode Island and into Connecticut at Putnam. From there it was a short hop to Woodstock, one of the prettiest towns in New England.
It's an excellent show with many vendors and very high quality, but I had work to do so Lorna shopped while I worked in the car. But I am not utterly impervious to beauty, so I did walk around a little and shot some photos while she shopped the show.
Main Street was the place to be last Thursday night. The finest product of Anheuser-Busch was to be featured. I refer not to Budweiser or even Michelob; I mean the Clydesdales. The splendid team of magnificent animals was to draw the famous beer wagon and stop at various bars, pubs, and taverns of Plymouth.
Annette and I took our seats at The New World Tavern, ordered drinks, and awaited spectacle. I sampled Mayflower Brewing Thanksgiving Ale. I love the Mayflower products because they don’t overwhelm me with hops, spice, pumpkin, chocolate or any other flavor that is fashionable among craft brewers. They remember that ale should taste like ale. The Thanksgiving ale has a hint of spice but retains balance and is very drinkable. The following morning I became the proud owner of two bottles. If they issue it every year, Thanksgiving ale could become a Talbot family tradition.
Dirty Water Distillery is downtown near the waterfront and Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, MA. They are brand new as of this writing, still building out the customer-facing part of the distillery.
For now, Dirty Water (the name comes from the iconic bluesy 1960s paean to old Beantown by the Standells) is primarily a rum maker. Their lead-off product, What Knot, is a delicious delicate white rum with fine flavor and no burn. Richmond posted a great write-up in Studying our Knots in which your humble bloggers examined the What Knot every way we could to find cocktails that show it off to good advantage. We named the winning cocktails Knotty Nell and Dirty Nell.
Dirty Water Distillery uses a 200-gallon pot still named Dr. Evil for production. Dr. Evil, shown here, is ably assisted by a much smaller R&D version appropriately named Mini-Me.
They have an amber rum in the works (Better Knot) and a black rum (Frayed Knot) is on the horizon.
Type of Artisan:
Dirty Water Distillery
10 Water StreetPlymouth, MA 02360
Phone: (508) 927-3260
Type of Post:
Best of Show
Best of Show:Dirty Water Distillery
Being a fan of local products, like sea clams, gnocchi bread, and Mayflower Ale, I was naturally thrilled when Plymouth got its own distillery, and I waited eagerly for the first spirit to come on the market.
When I got the word it was here I headed for Water Street where the Dirty Water Distillery is located intent on being the first kid on my block to own a bottle of their new rum. I set out on foot to buy a bottle, and on my way I stopped at the home of John the Foodie Pilgrim. I found I'd failed to be the first to have a bottle. He has a gleaming silver bottle of What Knot rum on his kitchen counter.
We felt an obligation to taste it. Sipped neat, it had a light complexity and a pleasant hint of sweetness. These qualities were delicate and became less noticeable when ice was added. John was in possession of a superannuated lime, which offered no improvement.
Type of Post:
What's on my Mind?
It got to be a joke. It seemed every time we passed the Oxford Creamery on Route 28 in Mattapoisett it was closed, and we speculated they saw us coming and had all the customers move their cars and hide. We'd heard rumors of good food, but had just about given up tasting it. The other day, however, we detected activity. We were headed for Turk's, and my mouth was watering for their shrimp Mozambique, but life stirred at the Oxford Creamery and it was an opportunity not to be passed up.
Having operated on the spot for eighty-two years, Oxford Creamery is the type of old time eatery I love. Brightly painted in blue and white, it evokes the past. The interior is festooned with signs that substitute for a menu. Their prices are old fashioned too, and with sandwiches starting at $2.50 and soft drinks at $1.25 you can easily get lunch for under $5.00.
Seats inside may be at a premium, but there are picnic tables just outside the door and in a grassy area on the far side of the parking lot. The food is available to go, and you could take it to Ned's Point Lighthouse, and eat it with a beautiful view of Mattapoisett Harbor.
For whisky to be called Scotch, it must be made in Scotland, but a spirit made elsewhere of the same ingredients and using the same methods can have remarkable excellence. One such is Glen Breton, which is made in "New Scotland," or Nova Scotia, Canada. This fall I visited the beautiful Glenora Distillery on Cape Breton Island and brought home some of what they term North America's first single malt whisky.
The claim could be disputed. Under Scotch whisky regulations, single malt Scotch whisky must be made exclusively from malted barley. It must be distilled using a pot still, and must be aged for at least three years in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 liters. There are some American whiskeys advertised as single malts that are made from malted rye.
John and I briefly discussed the technicalities, but our main aim was to discover (1.) did Glen Breton taste like Scotch? And (2.) did it taste good? Our answer to both questions was yes.
I was an early fan of Jasper White. I traveled to Boston to eat at Jasper's, his dazzling restaurant on Atlantic Avenue. I still swear by his book, Jasper White's Cooking from New England. When he opened Summer Shack in Cambridge I made the trek and found it huge, cold in atmosphere, and mediocre in cuisine. I love real seafood shacks, and White's version wasn't even close.
When they opened a Summer Shack at the Derby Street Shops in Hingham I kept trying it. After all, I thought, it's owned by Jasper White, surely he'll bring it around. I had some good fish there, but never an entire meal without a serious flaw. The restaurant deserved to close and did.
The good news is that it has been replaced by Legal C Bar. Okay, it's a dumb name, and the sparkly sign looks like it belongs on a used car lot. The atmosphere inside might be better when the place is full. It's a large dim room devoid of charm, and it was nearly empty when we were there for lunch on a Tuesday. Never mind that; the food was outstanding.
It's a new concept by Legal Seafood. I've always found their restaurants dependable. I've never had fish that wasn't fresh and well-prepared. That's saying a lot. Where else would you eat at Logan Airport or bring an out-of-towner for scrod? A lovely piece of fresh fish, perfectly cooked is exciting enough for the likes of me, but Legal Seafood never went for glitz.
I put off trying poutine until my last day in Canada. There were lots of good things to eat, and even when I braced my taste buds for the ordeal, there were some very delectable Digby clams I could have ordered instead. Poutine is french fries soaked in gravy accompanied by cheese curds. It’s adored in Montreal where the dish originated and has spread throughout Canada. It is reportedly making inroads into the United States. I considered it my duty to try some.
I had a food snob’s aversion to poutine, but having tasted it, I must admit it has a certain appeal. I knew I was consuming so much fat and salt the mere thought of it would give the nutritionist at the Jordan Hospital Cardiac Rehab a case of uncontrollable shakes and possibly send her into a catatonic state. I knew I should shove it away and order a salad with the dressing on the side, but as with other junk food, one bite invited another, and before I knew it I had cleaned my plate.
When I was writing my newspaper column, I got an email from a reader who said he didn't like French food. It seems he'd been to Montreal and gotten a bad meal. I told him French Canadians are French the way I'm English. I have English ancestors and I speak the English language, although not the same way the English do. The food ways of my culture have strayed from those traditional in England. I don't eat bangers and mash or spotted dick.
Having been in the business, I know writers are oppressed by deadlines, and under pressure to find something to say. When I read that driving to Montreal is like visiting Paris without the airfare, I roll my eyes. They speak French in Montreal, but Paris it ain't.
In Canada French cooking is an imported cuisine the same way it is in Boston or Dallas. Like my reader, I've had some disappointments. On my latest visit, I hit the jackpot because I chose a local delicacy for which the city has become known - smoked beef.
What do you think?
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