Wednesday, August 29, 2007

T J Buckley's

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On the occasion of the wedding anniversaries of John Calvi and Marshall Brewer (1989) and Sehoon Ahn and Minhee Kang (2005).

Referred to by more than a few as the best restaurant in Brattleboro.

Seats about 20. A counter doesn't separate diners from kitchen. You get to see everything. And you want to.


The chicken liver pâté included pistachios and bacon
with water crackers, apples, pears, cornichon, giant capers, whole grain mustard, chutney.

The tart was a cheesecake of goat cheese and smoked trout.


Mixed greens
with pickled peppers, white and pink radishes cut and assembled into roses, yellow cherry tomatoes, husk tomatoes, a narcissus blossom and a very light, enhancing vinaigrette.


Fillet of beef
with roasted turnips, garlic-buttermilk mashed potatoes, port-wine reduction.

Spinach-stuffed breast of quail and duck leg confit
with white bean salad, red-wine poached nectarine

Scallops with roe attached, seared in lobster stock
with polenta, balsamic reduction, roasted beets


Flourless dark chocolate cake and bittersweet chocolate buttercream frosting
with raspberries, blueberries, whipped cream, raspberry sauce
(chef included celebratory candle)

Vanilla-orange crème brûlée
with chrysanthemum blossom, orange peel, whipped cream

Exquisite at $125 per couple.

Michael Fuller, chef

T.J. Buckley's Uptown Dining
132 Elliott Street
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Reservations encouraged.

Please excuse photo quality. Better the food should be seen, though, than to disturb other diners with our flash.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tasting Olive Oil

Of all the reasons to use olive oil, and there are many, surely flavor is at the top of the list. As with wine, dairy cows, and chocolate, botanical variety engenders taste variety. My own feeling is the less time between harvest and consumption, the greater the flavor satisfaction. Cultivation, handling, storage, and age account for the complexity of choice and widely varying flavors. Consider the oil from olives, this from The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, by Deborah Krasner.

Careful labeling can indicate care in manufacturing. In this case, olive variety is identified and flavor notes are included.

Krasner groups olive oil's flavors into four categories. Details and nuances of these categories are further described on pages 22 & 23 in her book.
1. Mild and delicate
2. Fruity and fragrant
3. Olive-y and peppery
4. Leafy green and grassy
Age Caution
From Krasner, page 27: "I've encountered two distinct odors that are immediate indicators that the oil is no longer good. Odor of cucumber: This is a sign of a stagnant oil; it occurs when oil has been kept in a tin for too long (2 to 3 years). Odor of bananas: This sweet banana smell always means that the oil is spoiled, frequently as a result of exposure to light."

The August 13 New Yorker Magazine published Tom Mueller's article on olive oil fraud, emphasizing the trade is as lucrative as illegal drugs. While not a new problem (fraud is mentioned in The Flavors of Olive Oil), lots of consumer cautions can be found between the lines of his writing.

Picholine olives

You can plan your own tasting by inviting some friends to bring their favorite olive oils over to your house for a party. Krasner suggests ensuring the oil has been warmed to body temperature before swallowing. These are my suggestions.

How to taste olive oil
  1. Cup a clean spoonful of oil in your (clean) hand.
  2. Carefully smell the oil.
  3. Roll the oil around in your mouth, making sure to reach all corners. The professionals will add oxygen by a kind of reverse whistling. Can you place the oil in your mouth so it bubbles when you add air?
  4. Continue to taste the changes in the oil as it comes to body temperature and is oxygenated.
  5. Now swallow. Breathe in through you mouth and out through your nose.
  6. Make notes. How did the oil feel in your mouth? What sequence of flavors did it have?
  7. Before moving on to the next oil, cleanse your palate by eating good bread and drinking warm water.
  8. For the next oil, use an absolutely clean spoon to prevent flavor contamination. Wash metal spoons in hot, soapy water or use plastic.
What do you notice?
What did you learn?
How will you use what you've learned?

Buying Olive Oil

There are trustworthy sources aplenty for purchasing olive oil. Note the resources section of Deborah Krasner's The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, beginning on page 214. Some are listed below.
Cost caution
Don't just hop into the supermarket and expect to get what you pay for. There are plenty of once-great (and expensive) oils that, through mishandling, have gone bad but still have their high priced stickers. It is also true there are excellent oils to be had for very reasonable prices.

From The Flavors of Olive Oil, page 216, here are some links to selected producers that sell to directly to the consumer.

Carpineto (Tuscany)
Le Colline di Santa Cruz (California)
DaVero (California)
Elea (Sparta and Corinth)
Frantoio (California)
Gallo (Lisbon)
Kotinos (Crete)
Laleli (Endremit)
The Olive Press (California)
L'Oulibo (Languedoc-Roussillon)
Pons (Lleida)
Podere Pornanino (Chianti)
Rasna (Tuscany)
Sciabica (California)
Terroir de Provence (Provence)
Zeytinim (Endremit)

See also
California Olive Oil Council
International Olive Oil Council
The Olive Oil Source
Arbequina olives

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Austrian Tea Room

Saturday, August 11

Enter through the gift shop.

Deck seating on a lovely day is exquisite.
Sunshine vodka is locally distilled and very good.
They must be proud of it to give me so much.
Two ounces is a lot. Isn't it?

Clockwise from top:
Herbed maple honey (spicy), warm potato salad with parsley and thyme, orange, veal sausage, sausage of beef, pork and Swiss cheese, Dijon-style mustard. (I'm sure there is an Austrian name for it.)

Clockwise from top:
Beef & pork sausage (boldly flavored, coarse grind), potato salad, beef & pork sausage (mildly flavored, fine grind), Maple mustard, Dijon-style mustard, orange, sauerkraut (aged cabbage with caraway and onion).

Note coarse grind. When cut, the sausage casing gave a very pleasant snap.

Part of the Trapp Family Lodge, this small restaurant charms, nourishes, and inspires. Desserts abound, but who could after all this sausage? Linzertorte (tart with raspberry filling in almond pastry), Lemon Frangipane Tart (lemon curd, almond custard, cookie crust), Apple Strudel (layers of pastry rolled around seasoned apples and raisins), among others.

$12 per double-sausage plate. With John Calvi.

Austrian Tea Room
Trapp Hill Road
Stowe, Vermont

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Choosing Olive Oil

A friend was asking me how to choose olive oil. It got me to thinking that she's probably not the only one. As olive oil is present in many kitchens, maybe it's a good idea to begin collecting knowledge and creating a good example of Lev Vygotsky's co-construction of learning.

This posting invites your response. How do you use olive oil? What do you look for?

The first resource I go to for learning about olive oil is Deborah Krasner. Her book, The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, won a 2003 James Beard Award. In her book she ponders the question of choice and suggests there are clues from packaging to be made when choosing olive oil. (Simon & Schuster, NY. 2002. ISBN: 0-7432-1403-X)

A summary guide from Krasner for use at store shelves or shopping online:
1. Look for pride of production and signs of humans, not just machines. Check for foil-wrapped bottles, cardboard or wooden boxes, or handwriting on the label. Be cautious about marketing strategies and gimmicks.

2. If you have a choice, ceramic makes the best container. Metal is better than glass because light deteriorates the oil's qualities. Dark glass is better than clear.
Note stamped production number, upper left, and year of production, center bottom.

3. Look for a screw cap that covers a plastic pouring spout. Cork stoppers can deteriorate with time and poor handling. Oxygen leaking into the oil through old and cracked or misshapen cork compromises the desirable qualities of the oil.

4. Look for harvest or bottling dates. Dates stamped on labels are another sign you can have confidence in the contents.

5. Olive oil should last at least one year if kept away from heat, light, and oxygen. If a clear glass bottle is the only choice, store it wrapped in aluminum foil.
Examples of packaging and storage.

I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to olive oil if I hadn't known Deborah Krasner already. She and I cook together regularly with friends Tukta Long and Sharon Myers and use olive oil often.