Farm-Fresh Funky 75-Mile Feeding Frenzy - Craigie Street Bistrot
This is a placeholder post for tonight's event at Craigie Street Bistrot -the Second Annual Farm-Fresh Funky 75-Mile Feeding Frenzy.
Looks like 5 courses that will each meet a firm commitment: "every single offering on the menu will have been grown or caught within a 75* mile radius of Craigie Street."
I'm looking forward to the all-local menu and will report back soon.
Here's the published menu:
Smoked bluefish rilletes, new potatoes, caviar, tomatoes, squid
Salad of coriander-cured Yellowfin Tuna, melon, and cucumber, tempura crumbs, pickled chile vinaigrette
~ or ~
Fricasse of local squid, mussels, and Lobster, slow poached farm fresh egg, CSB Chinese sausage, cherry tomatoes
~ or ~
Crispy confit of suckling pig, black trumpet mushrooms, cubanelle pepper puree
Olive oil-poached and roasted line-caught striped bass , Wellfleet clams, summer succotash, yellow tomato coulis
~ or ~
River Rock Farm Ribeye, salsa verde, smoked tongue confit, bone marrow, black trumpet puree
~ or ~
Dorsett Lamb, Five bean ragout, spiced eggplant puree
Lemon Verbena Poached peach ,coriander granola, lemon verbena ice cream
Three fruit sorbets
Taza Chocolate terrine, Sassafras Froth
I work right down the street, and they now have a sign up on their window reading something like "high end dining coming". Otherwise, I have to admit I've seen very little action from the outside, but I hope this just means maybe little work was required. I'm dying to try this place, so I hope they're still on schedule.
Lots of construction going on today, along with sides asking "ready for brunch? ready for lunch?" etc. I'm excited for high end dining, a bar, lunch, and whatever else they want to throw into the mix. They've got a website as well with no information: craigieonmain.com, if you wanted to join the mailing list.
Haha.. bottled water and imported wine. Given that the mass of a case of bottled water or wine is higher than the mass of a case of corriander, or cheese, or whatever... it seems like this kind of invalidates the whole "strictly local and therefore environmentally friendly" edge on things. I guess selling filtered Cambridge tap water would cut into their profits.
I know what you mean, but I still respect what they're doing. I'd imagine it came down to the proverbial "decaf coffee ad" question, namely: if you didn't know about the special circumstances of this product, would you consider it up to scratch?
Craigie is a high-end restaurant, and its top priority is clearly always going to be creating the best high-end dining experience possible. I say "experience" because dining out is of course not just about the food and drink (just ask any Starbucks executive), but rather the whole package, including the obvious Zagat yardsticks of service and atmosphere, as well as many even less quantifiable concepts like eco-friendliness.
The fact that diners are patronizing an event like this is proof that some people are willing, even eager, to begin accepting an eat-local ethos as part of the decision making process when choosing where to spend their food and entertainment dollars, especially if the quality of the meal can reach the heights of Craigie at its best. But I'd argue that the movement is only now stepping into its adolescence; I feel like even just a couple of years ago, notions of carbon footprint and food miles were purely the realm of the crunchy vegan hippie set, and we're finally starting to see them gain legitimate mainstream traction.
So from my reasonably mainstream (at least for the Boston area) perspective: Yes, I have a farm share. Yes, I'm working increasingly hard to reduce my carbon footprint. But if I'm going to spend over $100 a person for a meal, if it isn't delicious first and foremost, I'm going to pass.
Two notes about the water: (1) I'd point out that Saratoga Springs is still relatively close by, almost exactly 200 miles from Cambridge. (2) I love the fact that finally, even at high-end restaurants, the vast majority of Boston-area diners now opt for tap water over bottled, perhaps the single greenest fashion trend I've ever seen in the restaurant world.
And realistically, if a local winery ever produced a bottle that approached the quality and QPR on Craigie's wine list, I'd imagine it would instantly become not just a part of their eat-local dinners, but a year-round menu fixture.
Hors d'ouevres of smoked bluefish rillettes, new potatoes stacked with salmon roe, simple tomato salad, and grated carrot salad all set the stage for a nice evening.
For the first course, which, like all the courses, changed slightly from what was printed above (from the website), I had the crispy confit of young pig with sweet onions, cilantro, and tomatillo puree. Absolutely delicious, yet subtle and mild. Also loved my DC's fricasse of local squid, mussels and lobster.
Second course: olive-oil poached and roasted striped bass with well fleet clams (amazing!), summer succotash, and yellow tomato coulis. All the flavors were bright and fresh, and if succotash was normally made with fresh beans, potatoes and peppers, I'd eat it all the time. The bass was perfectly cooked, but it was really the clams, served along side a fresh tendril salad, that stood out, though the entire dish was delicious. My DC's bacon-wrapped ribeye, especially the bone marrow, was absurdly good.
The cheese course featured a goat's milk cheese from Carlisle Farmstead, accompanied by an herb salad, current bread, and a green tomato, cinnamon, and star anise coulis that did no justice to the cheese. The only low part of the entire evening was that puree. The cheese itself was lovely.
Finished off by sharing both an olive oil-taza chocolate mousse with sassafras broth and a lavender-poached peach with honey-lavender ice cream. I enjoyed both, but absolutely loved the peach paired with the ice cream, as the mousse was a bit too one dimensional texturally for me.
All in all, a fantastic showcase for Chef Maw's skills. This reminded me of his Chef's Whim on Sundays and Wednesdays that I've really enjoyed, but this a bit more involved. I did see a couple 'hounds there enjoying the wine pairings as well, so I hope they'll chime in about their evening!
C and I went for dinner last night and just had a lovely time. What I love about CSB is how overly competent and understated the service is. Water glasses are instantly refilled, fresh silverware brought out, wine glasses replaced, etc. The service is always impeccable and the food has always been delicious. Last night was no exception and the meal really highlighted the best of local summer produce. We also splurged and got the accompanying wine flights.
The hors d’ouevres description just didn’t do it justice. The plate had 4 different sections. The bluefish rillettes was topped with black caviar was to me, the star of the show. Also on the plate were shaved carrot in cumin salad, an assortment of tomatoes (both heirloom and cherry), and lastly, a stack of multi-colored new potatoes with salmon roe on top. Each of these hors d’ouevres complimented each other in flavor and texture. The glass of NV Cremant D’Alsace Valentin Zusslin served with this was lovely as well and would have asked for a refill but for the fact that there was a fair amount of wine with the rest of the meal.
For apps, we ordered the salad of dayboat scallop sashimi with melons, baby cukes, pickled peanuts, picked chilies and tempura crumbs. This was a light and refreshing dish. The scallops were thinly sliced and so sweet. The melons were beautifully cut into these oblong shapes (think melon balls but with the sides cut off into straight edges) and paired beautifully with the crunch of the cukes and crumbs and the pickleiness of the peanuts. Once again, a contrast of flavors and textures that made your mouth sing.
But, the winner appetizer was the fricassee of local squid, mussel and lobster, poached egg, house made chorizo and cherry tomatoes. This dish was so flavorful and so intensely complex that I kind of glowered over in jealously. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked my scallops, but I loved the few bites of fricassee.
The entrees were equally strong, lamb cooked two ways and the bacon wrapped rib eye. I had a few bites of the lamb (rilletts and confit) and it was tasty. I loved my rib eye with salsa verde, smoked beef tongue confit, bone marrow and the shallot puree. The bone marrow with beef tongue and steak were just an unbelievably combination. Each bite, I tried to get all the elements of the dish on to my fork and into my mouth. This was just an insanely delicious dish. On top of this, the wine paired with this dish was fabulous. It was a 2005 Vin De Pays Noire Domaine des Maisons Brulees. Apparently, this vineyard makes leftover wine, where they combine all the leftovers into new barrels and age it. This is one year where the leftovers actually worked well. The result, an intensely complex red wine that had so many flavors going on. My wine buds really had no idea where they were going but they definitely screamed out for more. And, to pair this with the steak made this a combination that couldn’t be beat. This wine alone was worth the wine flight and I wished I had a bigger pour.
The cheese course was very good, but like Gini, I didn’t like the green tomato dressing and I didn’t like the cranberry bread either. Instead, I just ate the cheese plain, with the accompanying wine.
Lastly, for dessert, we ordered the poached peach with honey lavender ice cream and the olive oil chocolate mousse. The chocolate mousse was ok – I think it needed a bit more olive oil to bring out the chocolately flavor. The sassafras forth really didn’t add much to it. The poached peach was lovely though – a whole peach surrounded by ice cream and granola. Once again, each element combined together on the spoon made this an incredible dessert.
We thoroughly enjoyed the food and service. The one minor, minor quibble is that the wine pours could have been more proportioned. I would have preferred smaller pours for the appetizer, cheese and dessert and a slightly bigger pour for the entrée itself. But, I didn’t think of it and didn’t ask so, that’s on me. But, CSB has continued it’s tradition of delicious food and gracious service. I hope it continues when they move into their new spot in October.
Wow! Sounds fabulous, excellent write-ups You've convinced me to move Craigie Street right up to the top of my MUST TRY list (it's about time).
With Tom from ESK heading the bar at their new spot, great food and great cockails sound like a win-win situation. I'm really looking forward to my first visit to their new Main Street location when it opens.