Where Did March Go…?

Ahhhh, March! Every year, I look forward to the month of March, and by the third week, I’m saying “is it done yet?!” Yes, March is a busy month for us. It’s the month we go to Vegas for the Catersource Catering convention, prepare and cater an upscale concession café for New England Made Giftware & Specialty Food Show (formerly The New England Products Trade Show), and the month I begin the planning process for all the Beach to Beacon catering we do in the first week of August! And this year we had cold cold weather and more snow to add into the mix.

First, a recap on Catersource. I continue to be inspired by so many other chefs throughout the world. As a lot, we are secretive of our businesses and very passionate about the world of catering. Why else would we do it? This is a hard business that we have chosen. But, for some reason, we all open up to each other at this conference. We share what has worked for us and what has not worked for us. The classes are interesting (mostly) and every year I learn something new. Next month, I will tell you about some of the trends that I discovered while there.

This year, instead of taking extra days off for R&R, we arrived the night before the start of the conference and left the day after. So, we were tired and still had to travel all the way home. When home, we got right into the thick of things with New England Made Giftware & Specialty Food Show. It begins with unloading and setting up on Friday afternoon and ends with three full days serving breakfast and lunch. We employ 21 people to service this concession stand throughout the weekend on a complex schedule that includes prepping, cooking, making wraps and salads, going to booths to take orders and deliver them while also serving two cash register stations and waiting on customers. This year, they had a record 250 Exhibitors and over 50 of them were brand new. Some 1500 buyers attend this show.

BEST NEW PRODUCT – Specialty Food

First Place – Lobster Crackers
Friendship Lobster Treats, Friendship, ME
Patricia & Gregory Havener, friendshiplobstertreats@yahoo.com
Company Description: Gourmet Maine Lobster Crackers. A cracker for people to enjoy the taste of real Maine Lobster in every bite!

Second Place – Salted Caramel Sauce
Coop’s MicroCreamery, Watertown, MA
Marc “Coop” Cooper, www.coopsmicrocreamery.com
Company Description: All natural artisanal salted caramel sauce in a unique package.

Honorable Mention – Bloody Mary Mix
Ass Over Teakettle, Cornville, ME
Katherine Quinn, www.assoverteakettle.net
Company Description: Ass Over Teakettle will be the last Bloody Mary Mix you will ever use! Simply said, it will kick you right square in the donkey! A 1950’s style mix with a 21st Century flare.

Honorable Mention – Lemon Curd
Fresh, Topsham, ME
Julia McCracken, www.freshharvestinajar.com
Company Description: Handcrafted sweet, savory and spicy jams and jellies. All natural ingredients, less added sugar. Preservative free. For more than just your morning toast!

While many of the items being featured are food related, there are also soaps and lotions, woodwork, jewelry, and other sorts of gift items. It is amazing to see these small businesses in action. I am happy to say that this was our 14th year servicing this event!

So now that it’s April, all I want to do is think of spring… daffodils and tulips, lemon, eggs, and lamb and asparagus spears!

Try this spring rack of lamb:

Nancy’s Spring Rack of Lamb

1 ½ pounds rack of lamb

MARINADE

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
A few sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs white wine
3 1/2 ounces Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 jar of orange marmalade
Small pinch of cayenne or to taste

GLAZE

3 1/2 ounces Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 jar of orange marmalade
Small pinch of cayenne or to taste

METHOD

In a large sealable plastic bag, combine lamb and marinade and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate lamb, chilled, turning occasionally, 2 hours.
Prepare grill and preheat oven to 400°F.
Remove lamb from bag and discard marinade. Grill lamb on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals, turning, until browned all over, about 5 minutes.
Transfer lamb, meat sides up, to a shallow baking pan and roast in middle of oven 10 minutes.
Make glaze: reduce balsamic vinegar to about 2/3 and add the marmalade and cayenne pepper.
Brush on glaze and roast 5 to 10 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

Add to this meal fresh roasted asparagus with hollandaise sauce and coconut cake with fresh lemon curd….

YUMMMMMMM!