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Posts from November 2012

Tarry Market: Port Chester, NY: dry-aged steak, Peter Luger-ish


It was Small Business Saturday, and the plan was to support a small business, local to us.  That never happened, but we did drive out to Westport, CT, to try the Black Duck Cafe (featured on Triple D a few years back).  It was a fine little spot.  I mention this because I noticed that right down the street from the Black Duck is Tarry Lodge, the Batali-Bastianich restaurant that I'd long heard about, but never considered driving to.  We stopped in for a looksee, and liked what we saw.  A bit of googling lead us to the realization that there's another Tarry Lodge, closer to t:e headquarters, in Port Chester, NY.  Which is where we ended up for lunch the next day.

And I say all of that to bring me to the Tarry Market, which we found is right next door to the Tarry Lodge in Port Chester.  What a great little spot.  Artisanal salumi and bacon, great looking vegetables, some ready-to-eat dishes, excellent staff, and a glass-front refrigerator displaying slowly rotting meat. Dry-aged meat, that is to say. I had to get some.  At 30 bucks a pound (the same price as the not dry-aged stuff apparently), I thought it was a pretty good deal. 

I asked how long the short loin had been holed up in that fridge, and the fella told me "about 50 days."  I'm not sure I believe that, as 50 days is quite a long time to dry-age beef.  What I do know is this strip steak was incredibly tender, and flavorful, no doubt thanks in part to the butter/fat treatment I like to give steak...

Here's the thing about Peter Luger's steak:  it tastes funky.  You can really taste the aging on those steaks.  I've had dry-aged steak from various sources, at various restaurants, and not one gets to that level of flavor and funk.  I started thinking that perhaps that butter sauce of theirs also contains tallow or beef fat.  Fat from those big old nasty rotting carcasses.  Even if I'm wrong, I've found that this is a great way to get that flavor on your steak. (Update: there has been a lot of recent chatter on the internet around Luger's use of "aged kindey suet." Sounds like the commenter below was on to something. I think kidney suet it just dandy, but short of that, try this).  Here's what I do:

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A Family Affair Italian Deli: Fair Lawn, NJ

A Family Affair may well be the best Italian deli in the Bergen county area.  I've been to many, many delis, in search of a place that uses great bread and can put together a sandwich with a smile.  Haven't found one that can pull this off other than A Family Affair.

It's a family affair indeed.  It's very likely the owner, Eddie, will be making your sandwich.  And I think that's his mom manning the register on some days. There are no grumpy old dudes, no jaded kids carelessly throwing some meat on some bread.  Hell even the customers are really really nice. 

This isn't a deli where you'll be getting homemade salumi, so get that out of your head (A&S Fine Foods in Wyckoff fills that niche, but doesn't make a sandwich to my liking...too much bread).  But if you're looking for an Italian-style hero, something perhaps in the vein of Vito's in Hoboken (the gold standard), you'll be pleased with what you find here.  What sets A Family Affair apart from A&S and Italian Riviera and Cosmo's is the bread. My goodness the bread. The bread at A Family Affair is top-notch stuff.  It comes from some place in Jersey City, and it tastes like it.  This stuff is as good as the bread I used to get in Hoboken back in the day, from places like Antique and Marie's.

But too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good, and these guys get it.  Your bread will be gutted without having to ask.  You have to gut the bread, otherwise you have a terribly large and unbalanced sandwich.  Vito knows this, and so does Eddie.

Get over to this small family run place.  The tunafish with some hot peppers on a hero is spot on.

A Family Affair Italian Deli and Catering : 23-17 Broadway : Fair Lawn, NJ : 201.796.2882