A Memorable Feast In Croton
By Ken DeLaat
Who among us does not enjoy the pleasures to be derived from partaking in a memorable repast that fills the senses and embodies the spirit?
Here at N3 World Headquarters and Rocksalt Reserve, food is a pretty important portion of daily living and while the fare at home is always top notch one likes to venture out in search of an untried entity.
In addition to the array of eateries we have in our parts that are well known and frequented by many, there exists a smattering of unique, out of the way, and familiar to but a few culinary experiences that are sprinkled through this area.
Being one who doesn’t merely enjoy epicurean adventures...
...but relishes them with a level of enthusiasm generally reserved for Steeler fans on their latest Super Bowl quest (Yes Lion fans, their view of destiny is markedly different from ours), the search for these outposts of dietary delight is always at the ready. Repeated rumors, overheard conversations, gentle suggestions, whispered hints, each that comes our way are investigated.
Perhaps one of the premier examples of these unique culinary operations are the dinners of distinction offered by Chef Tracy Filipek-Murrell at the enigmatic Croton entity known as Hit The Road Joe Cafe. These monthly muncharamas take place beginning in the fall and continue throughout the winter.
Last Saturday Lil (Lifetime spousal companion and exceptionally understanding human being) and I traveled to the outskirts of Croton to take part in Tracy’s latest stopover in the global gastronomical journey that has marked these specialty dinners.
And it was fabulous.
If you’re unfamiliar with HTRJ it is perhaps one of the most visually appealing eateries in our section of the Mitten. During daylight hours it boasts a backyard built to attract a bevy of birds to the feeders and plant-lined pool. Inside the cabinesque décor provides an open and welcoming atmosphere creating an immediate sense of comfort. This agreeable ambiance added to what became a most pleasant experience for the senses.
We shared a table with Shawn and Laura Alverson who told us that after their first visit to one of these monthly gastro-gatherings it began to be a much anticipated part of their calendar and spoke of several savory sittings they have attended ever since.
The banquet began with Vietnamese Pho. As she did with each of the 5 courses Tracy addressed the gathering to describe the offering, deliver a bit of background and data on the dish and speak to the process of preparation. These descriptions helped spike the anticipation for their arrival and enhanced their entrance.
This memorable soup came with a collection of optional accessories laid on a plate to add to the Pho. I ventured in for a few sprouts and a jalapeno slice or two but hesitated to add them before giving the dish a try. The pleasing aroma that greeted us did not disappoint when it came to taste time. The soup was sublime. A burst of spicy delivered in a gentle manner. The last spoonful came much too soon.
The next course featured a Laotian pounded papaya salad titled tum mark hoong. Again the dish made an attractive arrival but it was the exotic taste that proved memorable. An intriguing combination of sweet and salty balanced to perfection made for a strong second act in this pleasing production.
The practice of providing a sorbet between courses is vastly underrated and the offering on this night of a delightful mango-lime combo allowed for the palate cleansing process in a most pleasurable manner.
The entrée? Thai style tender beef ribeye satay. These scrumptious skewered morsels of marinated and grilled meats blended with pickled veggies came on a bed of coconut rice with an extraordinary sauce added to bring out the variety of flavors imbedded in this dish.
When it came time for dessert Tracy’s description of the uniquely flavored mousse topped with a baked ball shaped cookie with an airy texture drew curiosity that was satisfied in a most gratifying manner. Once served it drew more of the murmurs of approval that rippled through the establishment all evening.
This was a fabulous feast for more than just the taste buds. These most edible options provided a banquet for the eyes and an aromatic accompaniment. The added attraction of Tracy’s concise yet informational backdrop to each dish aroused ample anticipation for their arrival.
More than a meal this was an epicurean experience and one that will lead to frequent Croton bound excursions for the denizens of N3 World Headquarters.
For information on upcoming dinners call 231.652.6020
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