Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Hidden Gem of Cambridge

Luckily, at the Foodmaster just now, there was a lady taking forever to search through her bag for coupons, so everyone else in line was too busy being annoyed with her to take any notice of the weirdo engrossed in the Tic-Tacs label muttering "Screw you, Maltodextrin."

With just a few days of that foolishness left to go, I'm proud to say that I finally got around to having dinner at a restaurant.  The website prides itself on being "#1 For Grass-Fed Food and Facts".  It's a great resource for finding farms, grocery stores, and restaurants that focus on local, sustainable food.  It was there that I found T.W.Food: the tiniest, most out of the way restaurant I’ve ever been to.  I almost don’t want to write about them on the internet for fear of blowing their cover.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited about the evening, but shortly after being seated, we were presented with an amuse-bouche featuring corn.  I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job of stifling my laugh when the server said what was in it, and I was worried that maybe this wasn’t going to go so well after all.

Next came the bread, which looked homemade, so I took my chances with it, foregoing the butter.  And then for a look at the menu.  I’m coming to realize that the “grass-fed” label in restaurants like this is a lot like the giant picture of a salad in the window at McDonald’s.  More than anything, it's there so you can say to the person in the group on a strict diet, “Look!  There’s even something for you!”  Then, once you’re in the door, you realize it’s not that easy.

In general, there does seem to be quite a bit of grass-fed beef available on the market if you know where to look for it.  The problems arise when you start wondering if the vegetables served with it were sautéed in grass-fed butter.  Or where they got the milk that goes in your after dinner coffee.  And so, I found myself asking the proprietress a list of obnoxiously specific questions.  Tim was a real sport for agreeing to sit at the same table. 

For some reason, outside of a farmers' market (and that one seasonal brand of butter at Whole Foods), grass-fed eggs and dairy products just don’t seem to exist.  Although there were three entrées featuring corn-free proteins on the menu, all the sides had some kind of corn-fed dairy involved.  I eventually settled on the flat-iron steak, which I was told did come with buttered potatoes, but the chef would be happy to use olive oil instead.

I've had quite a bit of experience with grass-fed beef now, and the myth that it doesn't taste as good as corn-fed isn't just a myth, but a flat-out lie, told by the USDA to increase demand for the surplus of cheap grain out there.  I hadn't previously tasted grass-fed meat that wasn't delicious, and the steak from T.W. Food was no exception.  Maybe I was just thinking too hard, but I swear I could actually taste the lack of anti-biotics.

But the best part?  A lovely corn-free, vegan, lactose-intolerant-friendly dessert:  A scoop each of chocolate and peach sorbet, which I was assured were not sweetened with HFCS.  The dish was garnished with sprigs of mint and candied pecans.  OK so if you’re allergic to nuts, I guess you couldn’t have this.  I guess you really can't please everyone.

Anyway, as July comes to a close, I'll be cramming to do and read and write everything that I said I would.  It’s gonna be a busy weekend.  Check back on Monday!

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