The Kartoffelklösse (Kartoffelklöße, Grüne Klöße, Thuringer Klöße) Project began when I was a young child. During the cold winter months, my family often gathered at my grandparents apartment for Sunday dinner. If Pork Roast, Rouladen, Sauerbraten, or Turkey interest you, then you will appreciate the star of the meal, a potato dumpling called Kartoffelklösse. This site is really about family traditions and comfort food.
I was younger my job involved a lot of traveling and staying in chain hotels. Often I would wake
up in the morning having no idea where I was. The ride to and from the airport
also made it difficult to realize exactly where I was. That's because within
several miles of the airport the streets are lined with the same fast food
restaurants, motels, hotels, mega-stores of anywhere USA.
distinctly remember staying in a luxury chain hotel in New Orleans and opening
the room service menu, only to find the exact menu that was in every one of
their other hotels across the country. I was in New Orleans for God’s sake! No gumbo,
jambalaya, étouffée, po boy,muffuletta, not even beignets. How could this be?
I asked the room service manager this very question. “Because we’re right down
the street from Bourbon Street and that’s where everyone staying in the hotel
goes for authentic Cajun, or Creole cuisine.” He replied. “For beignets, you’ll
want to go to Café Dumonde, stop by the concierge for directions.” He
Chicken Fried Steak (CFS)
I was a younger man, I remember traveling throughout America, driving through small
towns along the way and stopping to eat at local mom and pop diners. The food
was generally specific to the area. In the south it was biscuits and gravy, or
grits. In Texas it was the best Chicken Fried Steak you ever tasted. Up and
down the coast of California it was seafood. I had my first taste of a fish
& chips at a stand in San Francisco, so many years ago. Today many of the
small independents have been replaced by many of the fast food corporate giants
and their very own formula food.
The same is true for the vanishing
independently owned specialty food stores. When I was young, my mother shopped
at a grocery store that was no more than 1000 sq. ft. in size. At the back of
the store there was a meat counter and a real live butcher, who actually cut
fresh meat on a daily basis. He knew his customers, their families, what they
liked, and more importantly didn’t like.
Mock Chicken Legs
I distinctly remember the butcher
making mock chicken legs, a combination of beef and veal wrapped around a stick
to resemble a chicken leg. They were delicious. As I get older, I realize that
I miss that kind of familiarity with the local merchants.
Egg & Spinach Fettucini
small town of Highwood, Illinois located about 25 miles north of Chicago is the
home to some of those independently-owned stores today. Pastificio is one of them. Pastificio is a small store specializing
in “Gourmet Northern Italian Take-Home Cuisine.” Homemade pasta is why I came
here today. If you’re looking for tortellacci, tortelloni, tortellini, fresh lasagna,
cappellacci, ravioli, manicotti, potato gnocchi, the list is almost endless.
Dinner is Served
also have catering, a small deli, a frozen food case and sell some Italian
specialty items like Italian olive oils and vinegars. Generally, if you visit them on a
Saturday, they have a small buffet, so that you can sample some of their
salads, frozen food, or catering specialties. The last time I visited I tried
the veal meatballs. They were delicious. The day I visited Patricia, the owner,
was preparing some spectacular Antipasto Trays. They were beautiful, and as she
said, made to order.
hate to say it but these small, rapidly vanishing and often hidden independent specialty
stores give us a snapshot into the past of how things used to be. Times not too
long ago, when people, not big corporations crafted food items by hand and were
proud of it. I can’t stress enough that we should all support our local
merchants and farmer’s markets. For more information about Pastificio visit their website athttp://pastificiohighwood.com/.