Tagged: rabbit

Macedonia to Catalonia in one night

Holiday weeks can be longer and shorter at the same time.  I spent a couple of days in New York City with family and returned to full-bore autumn and a brief but intense two-day work week.  Celebrating exceptional September results, half the company headed off to Sabur for drinks and apps. We enjoyed a bottle of Macedonian Vranec and the chef’s whim of appetizers, notably grape leaves, pickles, hummus and polenta.  I can’t believe that I haven’t been to Sabur since July, but I got the text from J that she was 30 minutes from a table at Toro, so I had to split.

Entertaining former Bostonian K and his new wife L, J had managed to hold down some seats at the packed bar until we all arrived and eventually got seated at the communal long table.  Toro is dark beyond trendiness so I couldn’t get the photos that I might have wanted, but I agreed to use the flash just once to capture one of J’s favorite dishes, which I’m sure will be written up on her blog soon enough.

We enjoyed a fine bottle of Albariño (they have several, we got the cheap one and didn’t mind a bit), borquerones (anchovies!), erizos en suquet (sea urchin, lobster and crab meat stew in tomato sauce), smoked beef tongue with lentils, grilled cauliflower, brussels sprouts with sea salt, and maiz asado con aioli y queso cojita (the house special, grilled corn with aoili, lime, and cheese – messy and delicious).  Small without being stingy, none of these dishes cost more than $13, and we did not leave hungry.

And then we got one more dish, the one that I had been thinking about since I started my fall game kick, the conejo cocido, cava braised rabbit with carrot marmelade and burgundy snails.

Honestly I could take or leave the snails.  Maybe they were there as a play on the tortoise and the hare, but they orbited the main part of the dish without really participating.  The rabbit and carrots (another cheeky combo, but one that works here as it did at Rino’s) were perfectly done.  The mildly gamy rabbit fell apart under the fork and the carrots were prepared with an offsetting sweetness, like a slightly crunchy tzimmes.  The official start to rabbit season is still a week away, but so far, the signs are very positive.

Red sauce season

What the Fluff? was postponed due to rain, so naturally we headed off to East Boston to a red sauce joint we’d never visited before, Rino’s place.  Wouldn’t you?  The party was joined by several members of the Josephine crew, Chef J (whose issues with red sauce are well documented), professor J and probably somebody I’m neglecting, for which I apologize.  If you don’t have a limeduck epithet, contact me right away to get one.

I’m not really sure how we selected Rino’s, but it certainly wasn’t the website, which claims, among other things, “RINO’S IS KNOWN FOR IT’S WONDERFUL RED SAUCE, THIN CUT OF VEAL AND FISTS SIZE RAVIOLIS MADE TO ORDER.” yowza.  They do a swift business in carryout as well as dine in.  We upped our party from six to seven at the last minute and had to wait in the rain another hour for it.

Foolishly, we ordered appetizers (and some underwhelming red wine), including a monstrous but super-fresh caprese salad and some delicious and tender baby octopus in a deep red sauce.  When ordering the apps, we were asked to confirm if we wanted app or entree size.  God help us if we had ordered entree size.  I needed a wide-angle adapter just to get the plate all in the frame.

For mains, just about everybody had pasta, most of it red, from the bolognese to the (pictured left) rabbit ragu with papardelle.  (That was me of course, since I’m on a rabbit and duck kick these days.  The rabbit was tender and complemented by some diced carrots, celery and onion for an autumnal feeling, and the papardelle were al dente.) Also exceptional were the fusili with chicken and broccoli and the eggplant wrapped around ricotta.  Brave C ordered the much-bragged-about fist-sized ravioli, pictured right.  I wish I had a ruler to add to the picture for scale.  Each one must have been more than a quarter pound.  Report is that they were delicious.

Only one of our party actually finished the main – clean plate clubber and gracious chauffeur M.  We left with six clamshell takeaway boxes, each filled with at least one more meal.  In retrospect, we have to question the economics of a restaurant that can serve up such enormous portions – including some with meats and seafood – for $16 or less, and have a wine list that tops out at $50 with most bottles at $18.  Go figure.  But as long as they do, and as long as you can find your way there (and back), I can think of few better places for giant plates of quality red sauce.

Open season

Last week I had a pleasant meal at Rendezvous in Central Square, a place that has reliably seasonal menus and art on the walls.  I was feeling a bit less than 100% so I chose the vegetable bollito misto (a Piedmontese boiled dinner, this one featuring polenta, fava beans, cheese and mushrooms) even though I was craving the Gascon duck three ways (grilled breast, confit leg and garlic sausage). I won’t regale you with all the details of the meal, but we also enjoyed grilled sardines with lemon and fried parsley, roast chicken with chanterelles, corn and green beans, and an impressive warm chocolate cake with cinnamon cream.

I was still thinking about the duck that got away – three ways, actually – when I stumbled upon an article in The Weekly Dig about the Fall game hunting seasons, complete with dates and recommended local dishes.

The Dig recommends EVOO, Rendezvous and Bokx 109 for duck dishes. Two down, one to go.  For rabbit, they suggest Marliave, Toro and the Publick House – I’m just one for three on those.  So I’ve got my work cut out.  If you want to take matters into your own hands, be sure to observe these dates:

Duck season: Wed 10.15.08–Sat 11.29.08 and Fri 12.12.08–Sat 1.03.09 (Berkshire); Tue 10.14.08–Sat 11.29.08 and Mon 12.15.08–Mon 1.05.09 (Central); Fri 10.17.08–Sat 10.25.08 and Wed 11.26.08–Sat 1.24.09 (Coastal)

Rabbit season: Sat 10.18.08–Sat 2.28.09 (cottontail); Sat 11.15.08–Wed 12.31.08 (jackrabbit); Sat 10.18.08–Thu 2.05.09 (snowshoe hare)

From this we can deduce that here in Eastern Massachusetts, from October 18 through 25 and November 26 through January 24, it’s both duck season and rabbit season, a time period during which it’s entirely possible to have a spirited argument about whether it’s rabbit season or duck season.  Have you figured out where this is leading yet?  Well, here it is.

Welcome to autumn, and happy hunting everybody.