Lamb Jam 2011
I love ewe too. Haha. Bad sheep jokes abounded yesterday at the Boston Lamb Jam, where 17 local chefs cooked up lambtastic dishes in the hopes of winning top honors and bragging rights. Sponsored by The American Lamb Board and BostonChefs.com, the event took place at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Chefs were given their choice of cuts- leg, loin, shank or shoulder- and presented an array of flavors ranging from the traditional to the avant garde. The event helped support Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a local nonprofit that facilitates the distribution of perishable and unserved foods from local restaurants that would otherwise be thrown away.
I was lucky enough to be included on the judging panel, which meant I
had to got to taste each and every creation. The dishes ran the gamut- from braise to sous vide, kabob to stew, burger to hot dog. Seriously. Some were wonderfully creative, and while they all were good, there were a few that were truly outstanding.
One of my favorite creations was the scotch egg created by Jody Adams of Rialto. The egg was perfectly cooked, balancing the salty lamb sausage wonderfully. These were also really popular with the crowd- Rialto’s table ran out of them. Will Gilson’s lamb sausage ssam was an unexpected delight. You don’t usually think of lamb as being light or refreshing, but Gilson (the chef behind Garden at the Cellar) achieved both by pairing lamb sausage with kimchi and bean sprouts. I could have eaten several of these. Brian Reyelt of Citizen also managed to surprise with his trio lamb jerky, which were salty, sweet and chewy. The winner (for me, and in the competition) was a poached lamb loin made by Jason Santos of Gargoyle’s on the Square. Enveloped in cauliflower espuma, studded with black truffles and dusted with bee pollen, this dish was complex, innovative and delicious. The sweetness of the cauliflower and the earthiness of the truffle highlighted the flavor of the lamb, creating a symphony of flavors that were so good you almost hated to swallow it.
Of course there was plenty of beer and wine to wash everything down with, as well as a cheese table and a sweets table to balance out all the meaty goodness.
It was a lot of fun getting to meet so many of the chefs whose restaurants I’ve been enjoying. Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square is one of my new favorite people- skilled in the kitchen and a sweetheart in person. We talked about old cookbooks for quite a while. I also enjoyed meeting Brian Alberg of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. I sense a trip to the Berkshires soon!