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February’s Food News Wrap Up

Decorative elements of simjang on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

New culinary spaces are experiencing activation throughout the region by major players from Worcester’s burgeoning food scene. Let’s start with simjang, the latest brainchild of deadhorse hill’s accomplished team. A friends and family opening on Monday revealed the 1928 Buick dealership under fresh minesweeper lights in true art deco fashion. The menu included Korean inspired easy-to-order, quickly prepared dishes as well as large format items for sharing. A chain link fence lay in wait of the March 1st opening. We’re getting our love locks ready and you should to; simjang promises a torrid Worcester romance at 72 Shrewsbury Street.

Executive Chef Jared Forman standing behind the raw bar display at simjang on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA (Erb Photo for Mass Foodies)
Executive Chef Jared Forman standing behind the raw bar display at simjang on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA (Erb Photo for Mass Foodies)

Armsby Abbey countered simjang’s locks with keys of their own. A Facebook post from the owners picturing a set of keys indicated that licenses had been approved and a lease signed on Main Street in Hudson—called Cónico. The announcement of Armsby’s second restaurant came on the heels of their 8th consecutive ‘Great American Beer Bars’ honor as the Best Beer Bar in Massachusetts by Downtown Hudson has experienced tremendous economic growth in the last few years with the arrival of tastemakers like Rail Trail Flatbread Co., New City Microcreamery, Less Than Greater Than, Medusa Brewing Company, and Amy Lynn Chase’s retail destination, The Haberdash.

Armsby Abbey might have its sights set on Hudson, but their flagship establishment will continue to shine as Main Street in Worcester makes its transformation into a densely populated neighborhood. A walkable, vibrant vision is afoot downtown on account of new development and Mark Gallant of The Dogfather knows it. Gallant is establishing “Food Truck Row,” a destination which will host a minimum of five vendors during lunch every Monday through Saturday, with the capacity for up to ten trucks. General attendance and parking will be free beginning on March 5th in the municipal parking lot at 40 Highland Street, directly behind the Worcester Memorial Auditorium. Beyond simply satisfying our appetites, food trucks have major spatial benefits which impact our ability to activate blank territories throughout the city. Gallant is organizing the first official Food Truck Throw Down, scheduled for May 5th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Green Hill Park. Mass Foodies’ own Giselle Rivera-Flores will serve as a judge. Check out her #SundayFunday series for a taste of her sensibilities. This month, she highlighted local favorites: The Hangover Pub, El Patron, and Carl’s Oxford Diner.

Local natural food stores and ethnic markets have persevered in the wake of last month’s Whole Foods. Living Earth has evolved with an increase in prepared foods as well as added cafe seating. Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace is busier than ever, despite the saddening blow of Ed Hyder’s recent passing on February 5th. Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace continues to be a true family business, invigorated by the dedication of the Hyder children. Ed Hyder will be remembered in our neighborhoods, kitchens, and hearts.

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The Land Picks the Pairing at Four Star Farms

House milled 4 Star Farms wharthog wheat & baby carrot pappardelle, roasted baby carrots, kale & green garlic, carrot top salsa, aged goat cheese, carrot crumb and Honest Weight Branch Bridge.

Four Star Farms is located on the prehistoric lake bottom of Lake Hitchcock in Northfield, Massachusetts. This family farm boasts several feet of the best topsoil in the world – Hadley Silt Loam – ensuring peak conditions for thriving grains and hops. As a result, more than fifty local purveyors have taken to using Four Star’s crops to make beer, pasta, and pastries, among dozens of other grainy iterations dreamed up by our creative culinary community. If the key to a great pairing relies on terroir (the French term for ‘earth’) it was written in the stars for the L’Etoiles.

Armsby Abbey's Chef Damian Evangelous makes a visit to Four Star Farms.
Armsby Abbey’s Chef Damian Evangelous makes a visit to Four Star Farms.

Four Star Farms was built and passed down through fourteen generations of L’Etoiles. You’ve likely enjoyed the fruits of their labor at Central Mass breweries like Wormtown, Medusa, KBC, and Homefield as well as countless area restaurants. When it comes to Four Star Farms, it’s best to let the land do the pairing.

Four Star’s grains are something of a constant on the menu at Worcester’s Armsby Abbey where Western Mass breweries like Honest Weight and Brick and Feather have quickly risen through the ranks. Both Honest Weight and Brick and Feather benefit from Four Star’s plentiful harvest, making them natural pairings for dishes like the Abbey’s Pappardelle.

Kitten with a Whip at Brick and Feather Brewery
Kitten with a Whip at Brick and Feather Brewery

The Baby Carrot Pappardelle is made with juiced carrot and a house milled whole grain from Four Star Farms called Warthog Wheat. The dish is served with roasted baby carrots, kale and green garlic, carrot top salsa, aged goat cheese, and carrot crumb. Liz L’Etoile explains, “The warthog is used by lots of bakers for sourdough loaves and has a very strong wheat flavor; it can also be used in strong pastas.”

Warthog is a hard-red-winter-wheat variety. “‘Hard’ relates to the type of protein – a rising protein great for making breads, ‘red’ is related to the color of the berry – there are red or white berries, and ‘winter’ relates to the time of year the grain is planted – late fall,” says L’Etoille.

As for beer pairings, keep an eye on the draft list for selections like ‘Kitten with a Whip’ – Brick and Feather’s new Munich Helles Lager, or ‘Lightworks’ – Honest Weight’s American Blonde. Both brews are light and crushable, ideal for easy summer drinking. Brick and Feather’s head brewer, Lawrence George adds, “We are about to release a new beer that uses some of Four Star’s hops and also includes elder flower and honey. We don’t have a name for it yet but it is the 100th batch of beer we’ve brewed, and it’s a farmhouse style Belgian ale.”

You can find Brick and Feather and Honest Weight along with Damian Evangelous of Armsby Abbey at the Lettuce Be Local Farmer Dinner on Sunday, July 23rd. The event will be held at Four Star Farms at 3 p.m. and promises a heartfelt showcase of local and traceable ingredients.