RoCK and roe
In this week's Free Market Friday guest post, Robert of Cross Keys savors a local delicacy. And no, it's not Pigs' Feet Yat Gaw Mein. Here's RoCK. LV
This week I finally get a taste of shad roe.
For years I have been searching for the classic spring treat once commonplace on Maryland menus. The only place I knew that carried it is some restaurant in Emmitsburg called Shamrocks, but unless you are on a pilgrim in search of a Grotto, how likely are you to find yourself in Emmitsburg?
I always figured the Valley Inn in Brooklandville would offer it. They serve up many old school dishes for the WASPY set, like turkey tetrazzini, so shad roe would fit right in. Of course, the Valley Inn is so old school that they don’t have a website. Since I’ve never gotten around to stopping in there – go figure, since I’m a wannabe member of the old school, WASPY set – I’ve never had the chance to look at their menu and confirm my hunch.
Anyway, I did find it, or more or less stumbled onto it, at the Chameleon Café. The run is on in Hamilton!
As soon as I saw it on the menu I had to order. Not sure if my wife would be open to it, I went on a long speech on Danny’s and the Chesapeake. I also used the word shad-tastic four or five times. None of this was necessary, as she was planning on ordering the shad roe with or without me.
Having never had shad roe before, I imagined the liver-looking lobes would be rather oily and salty, like a combination of salmon or lumpfish roe. It isn’t. I would describe it as more earthy than fishy. It reminds me of black pudding, particularly in its soft, firm and slightly grainy texture.
The shad roe at Chameleon Café isn’t served with the traditional bacon pairing. Theirs comes with a potato-parsnip rosti, and an apple and currant chutney. The dish works very well. I particularly like how the sweet tang of the chutney really complements the richness of the roe.
The problem, but also the attraction, of shad roe is its seasonality. In an era when strawberries are available in the depths of winter, there aren’t too many foods that can't be had on demand. Shad roe, however, is one of those exceptions. If you don’t get it now, you have to wait till next spring.
In addition to the Chameleon Café and Shamrocks, the chef at The Oceanaire will prepare shad roe for you if you give him a couple of days' notice. Finally, for the true fanatics, there is Shad Fest in Lambertville, New Jersey at the end of April, which sounds like a shad-tastic event.
Chameleon Cafe shad roe. Photo by RoCK