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Mayhem in Medford Round-up

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About two weeks ago, I polished off my last out-of-town cookbook event of the year in Medford, MA. This was one I really wasn’t sure about, and it wound up being one of the most successful. My sister-in-law lives in Medford and she was the driving force in getting this together and she’s one of those organized people who start something rolling and then you just get out of the way or you get crushed. So when she told me that she wanted the Friends of the Medford Public Library to sponsor a Dirt Candy event I agreed because, well, I like libraries, I like my sister-in-law, and seeing my nephews isn’t half-bad. Little did I know…

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By the time this event was finished, cars would be destroyed, food would be donated and eaten in astounding quantities, massive numbers of cookbooks would be sold, and I would learn the meaning of Moxie.

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The event was, by all accounts, hugely difficult to organize. Julia (sister-in-law) roped the Tufts Culinary Society into sharing hosting duties with the Friends of the Medford Public Library so we used a space on their campus that could seat about 85. The day of the event arrived and I was exhausted. Doing this kind of promotion on top of running the restaurant is like shooting yourself in the face with a sandblaster every day. It sells books, but it can be draining.

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I got to Medford around 10am on Saturday, and my husband picked me up at the airport in his sister’s car. The plan was to get to her house, and then she’d take the car and pick up all the last minute stuff while we got the slide show ready (you’ve got to have Powerpoint!) then she’d swing by, we’d all hop in, and head over to Tufts by 2pm. But the Dirt Candy curse reared its head and we hit a pothole on the way home and blew out a tire.

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A tire is being changed.

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Then, around 12:30pm we got a call: Julia was in the car, she was running errands, and the starter had died. One tow truck later, we all got to the space at about 1:30pm and raced through set-up. I’ve never plated Portobello Mousse so fast. Then the third tragedy of the day made itself known: where were the people?

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There was so much food…but no people!

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So much Portobello Mousse, but who would eat it?

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There was awesome signage! But of people there were none.

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Lots of local donors…but who would eat it all?

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We had chairs set up for 85, but at a quarter to 3 there were only about 20 people in the room. I looked over the vast amounts of food Julia had gotten donated, I looked at the big empty room, and I wanted to cry. It was snowing, so maybe that was the reason? Maybe I’m a freak and everyone in Medford hates me? But then, just as I was ready to start fashioning a noose out of plastic wrap, they started to arrive. Then more people, then even more. By 3:05 the room was packed.

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This is a packed room!

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They were even in the balcony.

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There was so much food, so many people, and Bestsellers, the bookstore doing sales that day, sold out of books.

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This is the piece of paper I use to get the spelling of
names right. This is what it looked like at
the end of the day.

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I found out that in the following week they sold 66 more copies. Which is huge for a small bookstore in suburban Boston.

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Afterwards, exhausted, we all cleaned up and headed out to dinner at Journeyman. The meal was great, but the real revelation was Moxie. There were only three soft drinks on the menu and my nephew’s eyes lit up like he’d just been offered crack when he saw that one of them was Moxie, which is some kind of local drink. It tastes like a cross between root beer and cough syrup but he couldn’t get enough of it. At the end of the meal the chef came out with a six-pack of diet Moxie to give him as a gift. Apparently, Moxie has been on the menu there for years but this is one of the first times it’s been ordered. The chef is a fan and wanted to share his Moxie love with a kindred spirit.

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Nephew with Moxie.

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So that’s how it went down in Medford, proving that the Dirt Candy curse can cross state lines, but that usually, in the end, everything works out for the best. Except for the Moxie. That stuff is whack.

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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