One of the added benefits to teaching in a culinary school is the fact that many of those you teach will one day head out to the wild blue yonder and work in various kitchens. This means you get to swan in and visit them, try the food and have a little insider moment.
Last month I went to visit a friend of mine from CSCA at his new venture Citrio Catering & Provisions Co.
We all used to tease Mark when he was going through the program as he came in every day with his whites starched and pressed (with creases!) and after cooking all day and doing boatloads of dishes he went home looking EXACTLY as neat and clean as when he came in the door. I mean come on, look at the cuffs on his chefs coat. The man is neat. The other thing we miss about Mark was his ability to 'hold court' every morning before class spinning us stories of his neighbors or a charity event he had been to recently. The man has a way with a tale. Now, he has a way with jalapeño jam, but we'll get to that later.
Mark has partnered up with well known chef, Jeff Fournier, owner of 51 Lincoln, which is located right across the street from Citrio , as well as Eric Bogardus of Vox Populi, Loche Ober ,Pignoli and also a former contender to be White House chef, to open up a sweet little bistro/cafe/catering operation right in Newton Highlands. Both Jeff, and Eric, I might add, have previously worked under Lydia Shire, my personal cooking goddess, that fact alone makes them okay in my book.
I swung by about 2 weeks after they opened to meet some friends and catch up with Mark. In his usual style he drew me right in telling me about the space.
The space they occupy was the site of the very first Brigham's store in the 1920's. In later years it became Ice Cream Works and now that they have taken over the space, in a nod to its illustrious past, they have kept on making ice cream. In fact, they have this amazing machine that can crank out 40 gallons of ice cream in an hour! The machine gives them the ability to make ice cream wholesale and sell it to local restaurants and you should see the size of the walk in freezer! They also use this spacious site to make all the breads for both Citrio and 51 Lincoln.
The food at Citrio is Modern American with flavours culled from other global cuisines. The day I visited I had a pulled pork sandwich on a house made roll accompanied by sweet potato chips that they make in-house.
Nice tender pulled pork in a sweet style sauce (Sorry, I started eating before I even thought about taking a picture...so good!). They have a great selection of soups including Sancocho, a Columbian style chicken and lime soup, various salads, hot and cold sandwiches, a killer Bolognaise made in traditional slow cooked style. All of these dishes were available in March when I was there and I am guessing that they will slowly change the menu a bit to get seasonal for spring and summer.
When you walk in the door there is a deli case full of platters loaded with things like Citrio's House Smoked Chicken in a Pomegranate Marinade, Toasted Cous Cous Salad with Ginger and Grilled Plums and Peruvian Potato Salad with House Smoked Salt and Fresh Horseradish. All of this is available to buy by the pound to take home. Right around the corner there is a case of frozen take home selections as well as the item that had me buying 10 on the spot, veal stock.
Yes, I said house made veal stock all ready to take home and use in perfect little containers. I was in love. But the house made item that made my heart sing was the jalapeño jam, just one of several home made jams they sell.
The jalapeño jam is a thick, rich jewel coloured jam packed with slices of garlic and multi coloured peppers. It plays perfectly on the sweet/hot/tart line that I love. Slather some on a spice rubbed pork tenderloin and grill it. Spread a little over your cream cheese on a bagel. I promise, you'll become as addicted as I have. I have threatened physical harm if the recipe changes.
Melissa, who also worked with us for a time at create a cook, bakes some mean desserts for both 51 Lincoln and Citrio. Chocolate bread pudding, killer Super Charged Brownies and house made marshmallows that melt on your tongue.
On the other side they have about 20 seats in a sun lit yellow room and the day we were there a constant stream of customers came in and out as well as a few people who chose to linger over their lunch with a book or the paper. It's a great little neighborhood place to drop by. Right now they have started their outdoor seating area as well and this is a rare thing here in Newton. You can sit under the trees in a sunny brick lined courtyard and linger over your lunch. But they don't want to stop there, Citrio also caters and this is where things get really interesting. Rather than choosing from the usual list of catering options in tick box fashion, Citro will customize the menu for your event. Tell them the foods you like, the cuisines you love, the theme of your event and they will custom tailor the menu for you.
Stop by sometime, say hello to Mark and tell him jo sent you.
Citrio Catering and Provisions Co.
2 Hartford Street
Mon - Sat 11-6:30 PM