So my egg tattoo…
For a baker, the egg is the perfect balance of protein (the white) and fat (the yolk) making it an ideal binder for cakes, cookies, quickbreads; it adds richness to brioche, and creates a beautiful golden, shiny finish on croissants and pie dough. When separated the yolk can be used in custards, rich cakes and curds while the whites can be whipped up to make tall meringue; light, fluffy cakes or crunchy little cookies. In other words, the egg is the perfect baking ingredient.
Another reason: the egg is the basis for the revolution of the food industry. If you know the farmer that raises your eggs, then you probably know everything else about your food. Happy and healthy chickens mean delicious eggs. Also, eggs seem to be where people started to become aware of their food. Buzz words like “free range,” “cage-free,” “natural,” “vegetarian fed” are all used on eggs and their production is a very delicate and complicated one. So that is why I got an egg tattoo.
Anyway, back to the story.
Rhode Island is when the craziness began.
The month of September we have 18 events scheduled all over the Northeast, making it the busiest month for Outstanding in the field. In the beginning, we had four events back to back: Martha’s Vineyard, Rhode Island Connecticut, and Connecticut again. It was crazy, but it was pretty fun. Granted I didn’t get to check out too many places, but after that string of events, I feel like I can work ninety hours +/week at any job, as long as I love what I’m doing. I guess it definitely helps that each event is in a different place and is never the same as the one before it, so redundancy and routine is never an issue.
We didn’t have too much time to spend on Martha’s Vineyard, but I still managed to check out some of the food scene. We gorged ourselves on all sorts of seafood at a couple different places in the area. Fresh seafood is still somewhat foreign to me since I grew up in a landlocked state and all, but I can definitely still appreciate it…tons of clams, oysters and lobster. Yum.
We arose early the morning before the event to go to Scottish Bakehouse, which was quite charming (as everything on the Vineyard is). Good coffee, great breakfast sandwiches and not too expensive. One thing I thought was pretty interesting was how they give you the option of having a local, organic egg or a conventional egg on your breakfast sandwich. The local egg is a bit pricier, which makes sense, but also doesn’t. If you think about how difficult it is to get anything over to that little island, you would think that the mere cost of shipping the eggs over there would outweigh the cost of raising healthy chickens next door. But who knows. It is a mystery.
The event that evening ended up being threatened by rain so it was set in the greenhouse of this beautiful little flower farm we were on called Tea Lane Farms. We strung up some lights and set some flowers on the tables (left over from Seth Meyers’ wedding the day before). It ended up being quite magical.
The next morning we caught a ferry back to the mainland and beforehand got a quick bite at the Black Dog Cafe, which is a Vineyard staple. I got a peach muffin and a cup of coffee. Nothing that blew my mind, but it was a pretty good start to a long day ahead.
Then we were off to another event in Rhode Island at the Hickories, where the battle with rain continued. Since there was an imminent downpour around 4 o’clock (right when the guests arrive) we set the table inside, in a reception style area. The tables were disjointed and it didn’t feel like an OITF dinner at all. More like a wedding reception. Anyway, guests gathered underneath a tent to have wine, beer and some passed appetizers. They sat down and enjoyed the first two courses inside. Then, after the rain had passed, everyone was told to get up from the table and gather near the bus so the table could be moved. While the farmer gave a little speech about the farm, we moved the table (which was actually 17 tables) outside. We were able to do it flawlessly in under ten minutes. Everyone sat down at their original table with the same plate and same server. And it was absolutely worth it. The sun went down as this enormous orangey-pink orb while people were seated in a misty, grassy field.
After finishing up our string of four dinners in Connecticut, we celebrated at an acclaimed pizza joint in New Haven, Connecticut called Frank Pepe’s. I have heard people raving about their bacon and clam pizza since Minnesota and was pretty excited to try it. It was pretty good. Briney clams coupled with greasy bacon on a not too crispy crust made for a flavor-plosion. And it is definitely hard to stop eating.
Next door is a traditional Italian pastry place with some delicious cannollis and cheap Italian ice. I got a chocolate mousse cannolli which was pretty dang good, but I liked the ricotta filled once a little bit more. Less greasy tasting and the traditional ricotta filling gives it a little twang, which I like. I don’t know if they top Mike’s Pastry in Boston though…
So far, my favorite coffee shop was found in Great Barrington: Rubi’s. It is a hidden little brick building with some baristas who have a little bit of attitude and unique breakfast options. Toast. Soft boiled eggs. Peaches and cream pastries. Simple, but unique. Oh, and they have delicious, strong coffee, something that is hard to find in an area where Dunkin’ Donuts has seemed to monopolized the coffee/pastry niche. I was really infatuated with the feel of this place: old brick walls, rustic copper countertops, and just some really beautiful details. Love it.