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Monsters of Hock: Heritage pork tour de force set for May 19


If you're hungry to see what Western New York's heritage pork ninjas can conjure up with fine swine, check your dinner calendar for May 19.

The price tag is $150 a seat, and there aren't many at Bistro Europa (484 Elmwood Ave., 884-1100). That doesn't include tax or tip, but it does include beer and wine, supporting at least nine courses of "porcine perfection."

Europa's Steven Gedra, with Carmelo Raimondi and Bruce Wieszala of Carmelo's in Lewiston, have been fine-tuning their pork chops for a couple of years now. If you're a carnivore who's discovered the pleasures of dishes made from pigs that weren't factory farmed, it's a chance at a peak experience, not unlike the 1988 Monsters of Rock tour was for metalheads. Unlike Van Halen, Scorpions and Metallica, these guys are playing pigs.



Chefs Steven Gedra, 

If the Monsters of Rock tour was about 


Fans of Bistro Europa and Carmelo's already have 


More ramp recipes: Spicy Ramp Bacon Dip, Ramp Pancetta Frittata

Here's a couple of recipes from ramp hunter David Grabowski, featured in an article about foraging in today's Buffalo News.


24 whole ramps, trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry

2 teaspoons canola oil

16 ounces sour cream

8 ounces bacon, cooked and finely diced

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 teaspoons Frank’s RED HOT Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon iodized sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Cut leaves from ramps. Set aside. Toss ramp bulbs with oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. In a grill pan, cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes until the bulbs begin to brown and caramelize. Add the ramp leaves to the bulbs and grill until leaves are wilted. Cool until ramps are room temperature. Chop finely.

In a large glass bowl, whisk the cream cheese, sour cream, Frank’s RED HOT sauce and sea salt. Add chopped ramps and bacon. Stir to combine. Season with fresh cracked pepper.

Grilling mellows the bite of raw ramps and develops natural sugars. If more of an oniony bite is preferred, finely chop 2 to 4 whole raw ramps and fold a tablespoon at a time into the mixture. Put mixture in medium glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate to allow flavors to develop. Adjust seasoning to taste before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.


8 ounces pancetta

12 whole ramps, trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry

1 tablespoon fat, reserved from rendering pancetta

9 extra large eggs, room temperature

1 cup Pecorino Romano, medium grated

½ cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated

1 teaspoon iodized sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Dice pancetta and cook in a large non-stick skillet 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir often. While pancetta is cooking, crack and whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a large glass bowl. When eggs are thoroughly mixed, add the cup of medium grated Pecorino Romano and whisk to combine. Set egg mixture aside. When pancetta is cooked, drain on paper towels. Pour most of reserved fat into small bowl. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel.

Chop ramps. Heat tablespoon reserved fat in skillet. Add chopped ramps. Season with pepper. Sauté over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes until leaves are wilted and bulbs are translucent but not yet browned. Add cooked pancetta to cooked ramps in skillet. Whisk egg mixture a second time. Pour egg mixture over ramps and pancetta. Use spatula to evenly distribute ramps and pancetta. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until eggs are set around outer third.

Place skillet in oven. Bake 20 minutes or until egg mixture in middle is just set. Remove skillet from oven. Turn on broiler. Sprinkle finely grated Pecorino Romano over top of frittata. Broil on rack in top position with oven door ajar for 2 minutes. Rotate skillet 90 degrees and broil for 1 to 2 more minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with chevre spread on slices of crusty bread. Serves 6 to 8.

Fresh from the forest: Creamy Ramp and Potato Soup recipe

In case you got inspired by today's Buffalo News story on foraging, here’s a tried and true recipe from Amy Bartlett, whose husband Chuck was digging ramps recently. Amy has lots more recipes with ramps, wild mushrooms and other foraged wonders, at her Savory Moments food blog.

She doesn;t have this recipe up yet, but it'll be there soon. Chuck said: “I say up the amount of ramps to at least 2 ½ cups, but this is an ongoing debate we have each year - she prefers less, and I always want more.” 

Creamy Potato and Ramp Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

2 cups ramp bulbs, roughly chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) stock

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

About 2 ½ pounds diced unpeeled russet potatoes

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste 

3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature, cut into cubes

In a large pot, warm the olive oil or butter over medium-low heat. Add ramps and stir. Cook until softened. You don't want to brown them, just sweat them out. Add thyme leaves and stir. 

Add stock and stir well to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Then add all of the potatoes. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, until potatoes are soft, 25-35 minutes.

Using a hand blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can puree about half in a regular blender (in batches) and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in cream cheese until melted. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit of water or milk to thin it out a little.

Serve hot topped with minced parsley, minced ramp greens, and crumbled cooked bacon, if you like. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.


Anthony Bourdain, snout-to-tail: The complete interview


Maybe you're already sick of Anthony Bourdain, the dark prince of food television, who's bringing his road show to Shea's on April 22. If not, though, here's the uncut version of my conversation with him.

I could only fit so much in the paper-and-ink edition, so I had to leave out his thoughts on marijuana menus in restaurants, and how his daughter keeps him grounded: "You’re not allowed to be vain about anything when you have a little girl that will tell you the truth, unhesitatingly: 'Dad, you look ugly today.' ”


Thoughts of Terroir: Buffalo chefs reflect on food conference

A (Bigger) Taste of Toronto

By Lauren Newkirk Maynard

Last week I attended Terroir, Toronto’s seventh annual hospitality industry symposium. A full day of presentations and workshops on April 8 kicked off a week of hedonistic food and wine tours, cooking demos, book signings, late nights and shared kitchen experiences for some of the world’s top culinary professionals.

Those kind Canadians let me cross the border to hear chefs recall their childhood food memories and to nibble tasty, weird things like trout skin and maple syrup taffy. I was also lucky enough to hang with some of Buffalo’s most talented chefs over really strong cocktails.

Afterward, the local crew had much to say about Terroir 7 and what it means for the future of the profession. They chimed in about the best oysters in Toronto, why cooking meat matters, and how the “little private club” that is Western New York’s dining scene could someday grow into a world-class destination for foodies and farmers.

 A few of their longer responses are posted here for your reading pleasure. Cheers!

 Buffalo News: Why did you attend Terroir this year? 

 James D. Roberts, executive chef, Park Country Club of Buffalo: I always want to attend the event for the people and the networking (and they are great every time), but there is always one big hook that I end up leaving with. This year’s was the affirmation that our efforts here in Western New York are the same as the efforts on the global stage.

Continue reading "Thoughts of Terroir: Buffalo chefs reflect on food conference" »

Video: Elements: Use digestive biscuits to make a cookie crumb crust for banoffee pie

Use crushed digestive biscuits to make a cookie crumb crust for banoffee pie — a British dessert that layers dulce de leche, sliced bananas, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Benefit for Artisans & Farmers co-owner David Setzer set for Wednesday

Friends have set a benefit to raise money for the family of David Setzer, the local food advocate, baker and co-owner of Farmers & Artisans, who died last month.

Set for 5:30 p.m. April 10, the event will include pulled barbecued beef from Plato Dale Farm, beer and beverages from Flying Bison, wine from Premier, mac and cheese from The Irishman, and bread and cookies from Farmers & Artisans.

There will also be music, a 50/50 split, and auctions both Chinese, and live. Participants can bid on items including a picnic basket stuffed with goodies and 12-person llama trek at Hemstreet Farm Llamas in East Aurora.

The site is Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville, 20 Milton St. (at Cayuga Road). Tickets are $30. For more information, call organizer Michael Starks at 553-2570.

Enjoy excellent Middle Eastern values at Manakeesh and More


Don't miss Manakeesh and More, or you'll falafel.

Here's some of the dishes we enjoyed at this little Palestinian bakery and sandwich shop (1150 Hertel Ave., 348-7184).

That's the chicken kebab plate ($6), a lamb kebab plate ($7) and the feta manakeesh ($3). But we should mention that vegans and vegetarians will find plenty of reasons to return, including the smokiest baba ganouj (roasted eggplant dip with tahini) in town.

Read the full review in today's Gusto section of the Buffalo News.

Apr 4, 2013

Apr 4, 2013

Apr 4, 2013

Recipe: Beet-Cured Salmon Gravlax, from 'The New Jewish Table'


Here's a recipe from "The New Jewish Table," featured in today's Buffalo News.


Beet-Cured Salmon Gravlax, from "The New Jewish Table"

Makes 2 pounds (at least 8 thinly sl iced servings)

Todd Gray: Gravlax is cured, but not smoked, salmon. It is usually cured with sugar, salt, dill, and seasonings, then wrapped and weighted down to extract moisture from it (see Of Kipper Snacks and Cured Salmon, page 16). I use grated beets instead of chopped dill in the cure for this gravlax — they infuse an earthy flavor and a vibrant, bright red color. Wrapped airtight and refrigerated, the salmon will keep for a week.


¼ cup Cointreau (clear orange-flavored liqueur)

One 2-pound salmon fillet, with the skin on

2 cups kosher salt

2 cups sugar

2 small beets, peeled and grated (about 1 ¾ cups)

1 tablespoon toasted fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cheesecloth, for wrapping, one piece about 3-feet long

Toasted bagels and cream cheese, for serving (optional)

Season the salmon. Rub the Cointreau over the salmon flesh. Combine the salt, sugar, beets, fennel seeds, tarragon, orange zest, and pepper in a medium bowl. Unfold the cheesecloth and lay it in a shallow pan large enough to hold the salmon, centering it so the edges are free to wrap over the fish. Spoon half the salt mixture into the pan, smoothing over the cheesecloth. Place the fish skin side down on top. Spoon the remaining salt mixture evenly over the fish, covering as much as possible.

Cure the salmon. Fold the cheesecloth edges up and over the fish. Place a heavy plate on top of wrapped fish and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Slice and serve. Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Unwrap the fish, brush aside the salt mixture, and lift the fish from the pan. Wash the fish under cold water to remove the remaining salt. Dry well with paper towels. Slice very thin, lift from the skin, and serve with toasted bagels and cream cheese.

(From "The New Jewish Table," by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray with David Hagedorn, photographs by Renee Comet, St. Martin's Press)