Tonight, it was JB’s turn to make dinner. We had picked out a recipe from this month’s Bon Appetit for croque monsieur. Now, let me be clear. We were just trying this recipe out for good measure, because we have a tried and true version of CM that we are crazy about. We probably have it once a month with a fresh baby greens salad tossed with lemon vinaigrette. So I get home and smell the cheesy yumminess wafting out of the screen door (continued high temps for Feb!). I take one look at it and think… ‘yeah, not gonna beat out our norm.” There are mushrooms on this one and to prepare them to top off this ham and cheese sandwich on steroids, you have to put them in the food processor = brownish/black mess. We sit down to eat and I take the first bite and BLAMMO. It hits you with a ton of flavor. We aren’t even used to this much flavor in our normal CM…
The difference? This one uses a Mornay sauce versus a traditional bechamel. The bay leaf, hot sauce, nutmeg and parmesan cheese kick this sauce up to otherworldly. The same amount of fabulous buttery crust and flavorful Gruyère sandwiches the ham in between the bread but this one has definitely become my favorite by a long-shot. Our old croque monsieur will remain a staple for get-togethers and gatherings (since it’s safe and not too scary to a new audience). But hello new house hold recipe!
[here’s our version]
DID I MENTION I REALLY NEED A CAMERA?? 🙂
So the farm-to-table things is all the rage these days, huh? Can’t say we aren’t guilty of trying to flag those restaurants down, though. There’s a local one I recently bought a coupon for called Grandale Farm -out in Purcellville. Have you been the The Loyal Local blog? Awesome mission and they offered a “Groupon” type of deal, $15 for $30 off of your bill. What’s also AWEsome about these folks is that they donate 20% of the proceeds to different charities. The cherry on top for my deal was that they contributed to the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Center – an organization that is close to my heart from my lifelong love of horses.
AnyWHO. As I write, we’re watching a program on TV called “Unique Eats” and they are talking about the top farm-to-table spots to try. They just mentioned a place in Central NY called Blue Hill at Stone Barns which is a totally legit. I read about this place a couple of years ago in the greatly missed House and Garden magazine. Even 5 years ago, this place was knocking people over with their dishes and the harvest from the earth that the tables sit on. Gotta add this place to our bucket list. Many a restaurant tout the F2T artisanal look and feel with really fresh local fare. However, there are the trueists that make their own pickles, choose local creameries for milk vs. the bulk food truck and actually make their sauces. They don’t subscribe to picking and choosing which ingredients to consider on their F2T meals, like a blue fromage on a salad, they envelope the idea so full-circle that everything is fresh and local.
I think the F2T trend is a bit more sustainable (pun intended) than other crazes like the pop-up restaurants, Belgian waffle food trucks and fast-food wine bars and I totally buy-in. We’ve been trying to eat organic for about a year now, getting weekly milk/dairy deliveries and eating organic meat 90% of the time. It’s so nice that local agriculture is getting the credit it deserves for the hard-life those farmers choose. It’s not always possible because I can’t control what we get in restaurants and the occasional fast-food run but it’s a nice goal to strive for. The first place that we ever frequented was Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville which is completely fed from the land and animals at Ayrshire Farm. That concept was totally unique about 10 years ago, when the place came to surface. As new as the farm-to-table brainchild is, people have been eating off their own land for centuries. Even ten years ago, cross-sections of cultures have been into growing their own lettuce and veggies in their backyard and shaping up fabbo salads and baked goods from their own croppings.
While I’m not ready to trade in my Juicy Couture purse for a pair of hemp pants and I’m pretty content laboring over every which way to design my interiors and not kicking the hackey-sack on the Quad, I do wish we had some communal tables or bigger farmers markets in our area. I do love scooping up fresh veggies on Saturday mornings during the spring, summer and fall. I really like the holisticness of supporting farmers in your area and eating food that has a very short lead-time from when it’s picked until it hits your table.