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Join The Family

April 5, 2017

Family can be complicated.

It wouldn’t be fair to say I abandoned my family when I moved out West in my early 20s. But I did put some geographic distance between us. That wasn’t my intent. I was chasing my dream of working in advertising.

Turns out it was a stupid dream. I think that’s how dreams tend to go. Regardless, I learned a lot and miss many of my former colleagues.

In those days, it was my close circle of friends that turned into family. I think about that a lot around the Passover season, with fond memories of our first Passover seder sitting outside by the grill on our patio in Oakland. We lit the hardwood coals, drank some wine, and cooked lamb over the fire while discussing the exodus from Egypt.

That was an amazing family meal.

Speaking of amazing family meals, did you hear that chef Josh Coletto is putting one together at Peck’s Arcade this Sunday? It’s open to the public, but you have to buy a ticket in advance. And the menu looks fantastic. Well, yesterday I was able to ask him some questions about what he and chef Michael Lapi have planned.

These were asked and answered over Facebook messenger, and have been only very lightly edited, mostly for grammatical purposes.

FLB: Beef heart tartare? I don’t think anyone has experience with that, mind sharing a bit of background to the dish?

CJC: Beef heart tartare, it’s pretty self explanatory in what it is. Chef Michael Lapi being a wonderful butcher, loves to work with the parts of the animal some are unfamiliar with. It takes a bit more preparation, but the flavor is incredible and well worth trying!

FLB: Now that the event is closer, do you have a better sense of what wines you’ll be pouring for the different courses?

CJC: Wines I have to figure out this week with Heather at Peck’s. It won’t be so much coursed out and paired but a couple choices of table wines on the table to pour at the guests’ leisure.

FLB: Charcuterie… what are you and Lapi making yourselves? (b/c house made charcuterie is badass)

CJC: We will be making a couple different things, I will be making a Head Cheese and Michael is for sure making a Beef Liver Pate. There might be a couple other things we play around with, but that’s a surprise. I’ll also pick up a couple fun things from the Cheese Traveler to use.

FLB: Local roast pork. Care to share the farm?

CJC: The Pork comes from Mariaville Farm. I was lucky enough to talk to a farmer when they had a pig still hanging to get a specialty cut. It’s the Belly and Loin still attached, what many would use for Porchetta.

FLB: Cheese & pastries. What sort of treats are we talking about here?

CJC: The pastries will be made by Peck’s Pastry Chef Greg Kern and will include Gateau Basque, Basque Tarta de Queso, and Paris Brest. Cheese hasn’t all been decided yet, but Eric Paul from The Cheese Traveler will be helping me decide… and he’s the best!


Man, this dinner gets more exciting all the time. As far as I can tell, nobody is doing cooking like this in the Capital Region, and I’m thrilled to have Josh and Michael spearheading this effort.

Hopefully it’s a success, so there will be more dinners like this in the future. But for that to happen, people like you have to commit, buy a ticket, and enjoy a very special meal out with like-minded locals.

I so wish I could be there too, but I have another family meal that needs my attention that night. Passover prep calls. Some of those old friends who I consider family will be staying with us, and together we’ll be cooking our own feast. As talented as Raf may be in the kitchen, he’s not making beef heart tartare, even though I bet it’s kosher for Passover.

But that’s a post for another day.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2017 10:14 am

    Let’s hope there’s a market for events like this for two reasons. It would be great to see further progression in the Capital Region dining scene, and because it’s one of the things I would like to do as I look towards retirement from restaurant kitchens. I wish I could attend this one. By the way, Greg Kern should be a household name.

  2. llcwine permalink
    April 5, 2017 10:59 am

    I will be out of state otherwise this sounds fabulous to me!!!

  3. April 5, 2017 11:05 am

    I am also out of town, and wish I could be there for that beef heart tartare. I had the good fortune to score some very fresh beef heart (thanks Jon in Albany!) that i used to make poke and it was fabulous. Like filet mignon, but more so.

    Also, if anybody will bring a few pieces of the head cheese home in a napkin I will trade you some of the aforementioned beef heart for it.

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