Presented for your approval, our annual wish list for the Atlantic City regional dining scene.
Wild boar — You seemingly can’t throw a rock at a TV today without hitting a show dedicated to the terrors being foisted on the American south and Midwest by hoards of feral boar. Released into the wild here centuries ago, these Eurasian natives have little in the way of natural enemies, and scavenge farmlands like giant plant-devouring locusts. Worse yet, these omnivores exhibit a great deal of aggression toward humans, and will attack, kill and devour many other forest dwellers as well.
But I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. You say “ecological disaster” and I reply with “dining opportunity.” It just so happens that wild boar tastes absolutely delicious. I’ve even heard enthusiasts of the meat describe its taste by saying that you will never eat pork again once you’ve sampled wild boar.
A few places around town have tried out boar, primarily in the form of sausages, in the past. We say, how about a nice, wintertime boar ragu over pasta or polenta? Maybe someplace like Atlantic City’s upscale northern Italian outpost, Girasole?
Geoduck — These Pacific Northwest natives are the world’s largest burrowing clams, often extending more than six inches in length beyond their shells. Their overall appearance is rather R-rated, which may account for a general lack of interest about them in the past.
They are also reputed to have a delicate, complex savory flavor profile that we have sadly not yet had a chance to sample. Best served sashimi-style and sliced razor thin, geoduck (say gooey-duck) would look great in one of the area’s fine sushi bars — say Margate’s Tomatoe’s, Ventnor’s Yama or The Pier Shops at Caesars’ Souzai — sometime in 2012. They are also popular in stews and hot pots from Korea to China. In case you were wondering, that unique moniker derives from a native American Indian word meaning “dig deep.” Geoduck are also among the earth’s longest-living organisms. A record specimen was documented to survive for 168 years.
Eggs, eggs and more eggs — Sure, the A.C. area has plenty of places for the morning standards, be they scrambled, overs or poached — but I’m looking for something, well, different. Like maybe shirred, a French/British variant where ovum are combined with cream, fresh herbs and sometimes a little cheese. Also called oeufs en cocotte these elements are then slowly baked in a low-heat oven (350 or so degrees) inside buttered ramekins. After 10 to 12 minutes, you’ll be left with a luscious, indulgent bowl of custardy goodness. We could see these moving well at an upscale morning joint, like Margate’s Hannah G’s or the Chelsea hotel’s mainstay Teplitzky’s in Atlantic City.
We have also been pleased to see the return of the deviled egg to more than a few upscale menus of late. Eggs are such an essential part of any chef’s culinary repertoire that the creases in a toque (those tall white paper hats loathed by cooks everywhere) were originally intended to quantify the number of egg styles someone had mastered.
Funky fish/sustainable seafood — These days, virtually every bill of fare you encounter will include tuna, salmon, tilapia and another species of fish, like red snapper or mahi. What we want to see more of is the less familiar stuff, like wahoo, various bass (not Chilean sea bass a.k.a. “Patagonian toothfish,” please!) skate, opah and local stuff like day-boat scallops. Margate’s remarkable seasonal entry Fisch Kitchen, attached like a remora to a shark alongside mothership business Downbeach Deli, went even further with the concept this summer. In their initial season the daring little venture plated items like black cod, ling and lemonfish (cobia, one of the most promising species in aquaculture). And while we’re at it, we’d all better get used to eating tuna other than bluefin, which is fast becoming desperately endangered just off our own shores.
Also, wishes for a continued warm winter and speedy completion of the spectacular Revel casino project. Beyond being vital for Atlantic City’s economic growth and recovery, Revel will be bringing two “Iron Chefs” to the shore, Philadelphia restauranteur Jose Garces and Marc Forgione of New York City.
“I don’t like bragging about our business, but we’ve been excellent for 30 years at just about everything we do.”
Tomatoe's restaurant, housed in a minimalist olive-shaded building along Margate's Amherst Avenue bayfront, has presented some of the Jersey shore's most distinctive, multifaceted cuisine since op...
Now nearly eight years in its present bayside digs, having formerly existed for seven years in a much smaller venue in midtown Margate, Tomatoe's has become a vastly popular dining and social establi...
She was a grandmother who tended her tomato patch and made brisket sandwiches for her grandson who would come to the seashore for the summer...
The staff, warm and congenial, graciously greeted us immediately upon entry — a great first impression on a frosty, midwinter evening.
Fisch, in case you were wondering, is simply the German language word for that most indigenous seashore foodstuff. It’s also a play on the shared ethnic heritage of co-owners Paul and Lauren (nee Hammerschlag) Erbacher.
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