This Weekend’s New Crazy Recipe August 13, 2008Posted by Janet & Hich in : SANDWHICH musings , comments closed
Moroccan Stewed Goat Meat
with Dried Fruit and Almond Chutney
This Thursday, Friday and Saturday only!!!
Get it while it lasts…. And if you have the patience for the story behind it, read on:
Hich Has Gone Crazy Again: The Goat Story
Not that any of us around here maintains a steady level of sanity, but this time he has really gone for the gold, so to speak.
He decided to cook a goat here at the restaurant. A whole goat. And he decided to make the spices it would be cooked with.
Thinking about the impending goat purchase, Hich got to thinking about Ras el Hanout, which is a phrase in Arabic that refers to the “best of the best” that a spice vendor can offer. Ras el Hanout is a spice blend that varies from country to country, region to region, and most definitely from vendor to vendor within a single city. Moroccan Ras el Hanout is very special.
Ras el Hanout
As some of you know, Hich has the slight OCD thing of needing to do everything, everything, everything from scratch. You can buy various Ras el Hanout blends on the internet, but who knows if they’d be any good? So as he does, Hich set about to make his own blend – from cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, black pepper, juniper berries, allspice, fennel, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, ginger and nutmeg. There is some toasting of some of the spices and a lot of grinding of all of it. I just smelled some in a bowl. Wow….
Then he had to procure a goat.
He made arrangements between a local goat farmer and a Halal butcher in Chatham County. The practice of getting a whole animal to consume is not uncommon in the world, and now top restauranteurs are following suit, because it allows you to offer incredibly fresh meat…and with meat, freshness is almost the same thing as deliciousness. In Hich’s native Morocco, when a whole animal is purchased, the entire animal is then consumed, so there is no waste. Lest anyone get queasy, if you’re wondering what happened to the legs and the head and other delicacies, Hich is gonna eat those up at his house… At Sandwhich, all we’ll be serving is the “regular” meat.
Halal is the Islamic designation for meat and certain other types of food that have been handled according to strict provisions humane treatment of the animal, humane slaughter, and sanitary practices at the slaughterhouse and at the butcher. There is a long list of provisions I won’t bore you with, but suffice it to say that when Halal is practiced on a small scale, it is exemplary of the most humane and the cleanest ways to handle animals and meat. (As with anything, Halal can also be practiced on a large scale, and then it changes, sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot).
Winding Around to the Moral of the Story
It makes no sense at all for the chef at a sandwich shop to go to Chatham County and buy an entire goat to serve at the restaurant. It makes no sense at all to go obsessing over obscure spice mixtures. Slop some mayonnaise on some bread, put a piece of ham in there, stab it with a toothpick and sell it, right? Right? Yes, right! And so the moral of the story is that sometimes it makes a certain kind of sense to do things the wrong way. Here at Sandwhich, we pride ourselves on doing everything wrong.
We hope to see you soon! Thank you for your friendship, enthusiasm and the continued support of SANDWHICH!
Janet, Hich and staff
Fresh Basil and the Tunafish Chopper August 1, 2008Posted by Janet & Hich in : SANDWHICH musings , comments closed
The first important bit of news is that shortly, our amazing and famous CHICKEN SALAD will return to our menu after a sabbatical. Our daily specials menu will also have plenty of surprises for you. Also, please be sure to try our tomato salad while the really good tomatoes last.
We have had a very eventful summer, my goodness! The excitement never stops around here, and I’m not referring here to legal matters, like contracts and leases and the like. Instead, I’m referring to the FRESH BASIL that, minutes ago, floated across my palate, reminding me of something….something…what was it?
I once read a book called “The Natural History of the Senses” which talked all about how smell is a sense we often overlook, preferring to spend more intellectual energy thinking about sight and sound and, in my line of work, taste. But smells can trigger things in our memory that none of the other senses can. Sometimes when I walk past a dumpster with a particular combination of restaurant garbage inside, I am immediately transported to the little alley in Bologna, Italy, beside one of my favorite lunch spots, that also contained a dumpster. It was where the restaurant threw its waste, and the waste, being composed mostly of fresh vegetables, herb stems and stale bread, plus the occasional roasted-y smell of things that have been in the oven, wasn’t offensive at all. This was 20 years ago, during my junior year abroad, and to this day, I am transported there by pleasant-smelling dumpsters.
Today, it was the basil. And I remember why now. My mom, an excellent cook, used to grow tons of basil in her back yard on North Street in Chapel Hill. My mom makes an excellent chopped salad — always pointing out to me, her foodie daughter, that she was using “that good olive oil you told me about,” as if she needed to explain anything about her culinary skill. The salad invariably contained cucumbers, tomatoes, some robust variety of lettuce that could withstand the torture of the “tunafish chopper” and yes, basil — either in homemade infused-vinegar form, leaf form, or both. And salt and pepper and that good olive oil of course too.
(A word about the tunafish chopper — it became so named when my friends and I, in our senior year of high school, would rush to my house for lunch because it was so much better than the cafeteria — one of us was in charge of the celery, another in charge of the Ritz Crackers and finally another in charge of opening the can of tuna and chopping it with that barbaric-looking instrument that remains in my mother’s kitchen.)
Today, our managing sous chef, Fabricio, created his own version of Hich’s amazing ratatouille soup, always one of my favorites. Fabricio used abundant fresh basil leaves and a dash of vinegar in his version and that basil, wow, floating in miniscule pieces over my tongue, brought me straight to my mother’s table on North Street.
This week, why not make a special point of noticing how aromas transport you to other places and other times. Another thing you could do this week is come by for some chicken salad or, if available, some of that soup. We’re here, in The Courtyard of Chapel Hill, right behind Penang. You can park in back, use the valet, park at the meters, or park in the municipal lot next to McDonald’s.
we hope to See you soon!
Janet, Hich and Staff