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Lookin’ Out My Backdoor

June 29, 2010

Did you know that Mrs. Fussy ate one of her pets?  I can’t recall if it was Valentine or Thumper but they were sheep, and they were delicious.  That’s my kind of woman.

In the past week, the idea of eating locally was brought up in the comments.  And while I certainly support the notion of trying to eat a larger percentage of foods that are produced closer to home, I’m not about to give up coffee or chocolate.

But I do sometimes look out my back porch and wonder.  We have some awfully tasty-looking rabbits out there, and occasionally we get a wild turkey or two.  And while I know they eat squirrel in some parts of the world, it’s not high up on my list.  Still, it might be fun to try, especially given the abundance of the critters out back.  Does anyone eat chipmunks?

The reason most of this is really just idle daydreaming is my concern that these animals are filled with toxic chemicals after being exposed to the synthetic fertilizer and pesticides that blanket many of my neighbors lawns.  So they are safe, for now.

I bring this up because recently I had two great experiences eating food immediately adjacent to where it was raised.

Roscoe, NY is a bit over a two-hour drive from Albany and it bills itself as “Trout Town, USA.”  This would be because the town sits at the intersection of two rivers that are full of the little creatures, the Beaverkill and the Willowermoc.  Mrs. Fussy and I were staying in a bed and breakfast down the way, and we dipped our feet in the same river whence our dinner was plucked.

Granted, we didn’t do any of the hard work.

Rather, we heard of a restaurant that served locally caught trout.  The restaurant itself reminded me a lot of the all-you-can-eat-salad-bar-and-red-meat establishments that are peppered around Pennsylvania.  Hoss’s might be the pinnacle of this form.

The trout was prepared one of two ways, broiled or pan-fried.  Either way you could specify with or without almonds.  And the fish came out on a plate with a sprig of curly parsley and a wedge of lemon, head, tail, bones and all.  It was made clear to us upfront that this was a whole fish, and that getting the cook to fillet the creature was not an option.

But I don’t mind a little work.  Plus with the fish head comes the very tasty fish cheeks.

We had also heard that this place was especially known for its prime rib.  But neither of us could consider a beefy dinner after the very special lunch we had a few hours earlier in the town of Downsville, NY.

In the back of a schoolhouse that is well over a hundred years old is a giant grassy hill.  And on that hill are a herd of Texas Longhorn cattle.  It’s actually 150 acres of pasture, where these cows can feed on grass until it’s time to be made into burgers that are served in the restaurant that now occupies the building.  Let me tell you, Texas Longhorns make damn fine burgers.

At the end of the meal, I went and took a look out back at the other cows on the hill.  Before leaving I told them, “I’ll be back to eat you later.”

I am delinquent in getting a proper review up for Rockland House in Roscoe, but The Old Schoolhouse Inn & Restaurant is up on Yelp.  This was one of the best burgers I have had in a long time.  My rare burger and Mrs. Fussy’s medium-rare burger were accurately cooked, and next time I look forward to ordering the medium-rare one myself.  Years ago I would drive two hours just to get a special breakfast.  And brilliant burgers made from local grass-fed beef are much more difficult to come by then a stunningly good breakfast.

Should you decide to take a trip down to that neck of the woods and plan to stay the night,  I know a great place.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    June 29, 2010 9:19 am

    They (used to?) eat squirrel in Appalachia. I know, because I had it at Grandma’s when I was little. I remember tasty dark meat, with a side of homemade noodles.

    • Sarah M. permalink
      June 29, 2010 9:36 am

      You can go ahead and cross out that “used to.”

  2. Sarah M. permalink
    June 29, 2010 9:35 am

    A+ lede.

    I think my favorite part of local cuisine is the pictorial representation of “happy meat,” cf. this smiling pig. It reminds me a lot of barbecue signage.

    Don’t know how accurately they can cook your burger (I’m a medium girl), but Wahoo’s in Wilmington, VT offers VT grass-fed beef.

  3. Vanessa Gabor permalink
    June 29, 2010 4:19 pm

    fish cheeks…really…who are you..Andrew Zimmer? He is mad about cheeks! Your so cheeky.

  4. June 29, 2010 10:18 pm

    My mother’s Joy of Cooking is the first cookbook I remember going through. It had a section on butchering and preparing squirrel.

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