Duck meatloaf! Apple cider doughnuts! Sausages! Fried chicken with cheesy waffles! Maple-bacon almonds! Bacon-wrapped trout! I lost track of how many times bacon got mentioned on the menu at Buttermilk Channel, a new restaurant way down on Court Street, in my old Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill Brooklyn 'hood. Turns out it's owned by a friend of an old high-school friend of mine (ah, Facebook!) who brought it up by asking what my opinion was on headcheese. I bow to John Thorne on this one, who said, "The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have never heard of headcheese, and those who have and wished they hadn't."
Gelatinous porky bits aren't really my cup of tea, although in my perambulations last week (trying to go see French film I've Loved You So Long up in Pac Hts, and being stymied by the loooong bus ride), I ended up at the back of Browser Books, reading Little House in the Big Woods just for nostalgia's sake. I was surprised at how much I remembered, pretty much word for word, especially the part about breaking down the hog for winter. Headcheese is nothing more than the bits boiled off the head, finely chopped and seasoned and set in a jelly made from the bones. Buttermilk Channel makes its own, and it's yours for $8/plate, probably much, much more than a whole pig cost back in the 1880s, when Laura Ingalls Wilder was playing kickball with the pig's bladder and grilling the tail in front of the fire.
But right now, typing away about the glories of mail-order pears (no, I don't work for Harry & David, but I should), all I want are those maple-bacon almonds, with maybe some of their housemade pickles on the side. Were I back in NYC, I'd have a pickle throwdown between Buttermilk and Chestnut, with Rick's Picks as referee.
Also, here, a fun little conversation by the owners of Rabelais Books, in Portland, ME. Headcheese gets a mention!