Friday, February 26, 2016

McCann's Local Meats

Ever wonder why we continue to hear the words "local" and "sustainable" in relation to food around our Rochester region?  The growing awareness of consumers within and outside of our city center is having an impact on the opportunity to have ingredients that are grown and raised locally as well as in a sustainable manner.  Sustainable means that food is grown and animals are raised in an ethically and ecologically responsible manner, decreasing our exposure to harmful substances and being environmentally responsible, while supporting our local farmers
(Look at the bottom of the page for my post on Rochester A-List website, which features my love of the bulgogi sandwich).

Kevin and Yeonmo McCann from McCann's Local Meats are major proponents of local and sustainable methods to produce menu items from their butcher shop and eatery.  In sitting down with Kevin, his passion was quite clear - a great menu and great products begin with how they were grown and raised.  McCann's partners with local farmers Youngman Farms (Wolcott, NY), Seven Bridges Farm (Lima, NY), and Autums's Harvest Farms (Romulus, NY), to have the freshest ingredients and meat available to work with.  Kevin expressed the importance of the utilization of the whole animal.














Today, partnerships with local farmers allow businesses like McCann's Local Meats to bring consumers products that we can feel good about eating, as well as not compromising on flavor.  The utilization of the entire animal, which McCann's Local Meats believes in, allows for products that we may not see in other markets and stores.  Kevin discussed the opportunity to celebrate each cut of the animal, while bringing the best culinary tactics to enjoy the product.  McCann's works to bring the consumers recipes and opportunities to utilize the different cuts of meats throughout all seasons.

Both Kevin, who you always see behind the counter, and wife, Yeonmo, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  Kevin grew up in Syracuse and most surprisingly, did not come from a family that cooked.  He graduated from SUNY Brockport in 2002 with a degree in Theater.  Yeonmo worked as a line cook in Manhattan and Kevin had been an apprentice at the meat room in butcher shops in Brooklyn and Hudson Valley.  They continued to learn their craft and soon looked forward to expanding back in Rochester.  The reason for coming back to the city of Rochester centered around 2 important factors; the first being the close proximity to the Finger Lakes, which brings culture, local produce and animals, as well as natural meat and wine pairings.  The second factor was the influence of Kodak's support of the Arts, which has "led to other facets of culture here in Rochester.  Upon coming back, the food scene has really blossomed because of these facets."  When Rochester continued to feed people with more culture, our city wanted more, which is demonstrated with the growth of local breweries, cider mills, restaurants, and other local producers. "This city has this great sort of cultural ground swell that could be really great for us."
If you walk into McCann's, you will first notice the open floor plan concept, which has a very NYC feel to it.  Kevin explains that the purpose of having the open concept is about providing transparency.  "There is one reason why we are wide open; there is a reason why there are windows in the butcher shop- we are not hiding anything."  McCann's provides daily specials that brings customers flocking during the lunch and dinner hours.  If you follow McCann's Local Meats on Instagram, then you are probably use to drooling at their daily posts.  A favorite of mine is the Bulgogi sandwich, which is featured on Tuesdays.  Bulgogi is shaved steak that is marinated in a basic Korean marinade containing soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil and garlic.  The recipe is a close kept secret by Yeonmo. (I tried to get more information about the recipe, but it looks like I will need to work 10 years in McCann's Local Meats to try to find it out!  I'm seriously contemplating...)  McCann’s version of the bulgogi sandwich is served on a perfectly toasted bun, sourced locally from Baker Street Bakery, on Park Ave.  The sandwich is topped with shredded romaine, provolone, and a rice vinegar slaw.  The tender juicy bites of the shaved steak topped with the juices running from the tangy slaw are the perfect combination.  Plan on feasting with several napkins at your side and do not be afraid to mop up the juices with your last few bites…a true sign of a perfect sandwich.  Warning: this sandwich can be quite messy, but get right in there, let those juices run down your chin as you are savoring every bite.  Grab yourself a napkin, or 3 as I did (well, maybe 4), and eat up!  This is not just a sandwich, it's an experience.
Yeonmo brings a variety of Korean recipes to the table at McCann's Local Meats, allowing consumers to sample delicious homemade recipes that they may not typically find such as japchae (a Korean noodle dish), bulgogi, Korean short ribs, and Korean sausage (pork sausage with gochujang- a red chili pepper 'sauce').  We sampled the Korean sausage at a local BBQ and it is clear why this is the best-selling sausage at McCann's!
Another favorite, which was served on Thursdays, is the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich.  I love the story behind the creation of this amazing sandwich.  Kevin would frequent a small, hole-in-the-wall, spot, known for their Banh Mi sandwiches.  The Saigon Cafe located between Little Italy and Chinatown was very unassuming.  An elderly woman sold jewelry in the small space and directly behind her was the treasured 6-foot counter to where you can order your Banh Mi.  The 2 men that ran the space quickly became aware that Kevin was in love with their banh mi as he requested to try just pieces of the sandwich (bread and pate) at a time, to deconstruct the ingredients and develop the concept behind the creation of the enticing sandwich that he came to love so dearly.  This sandwich is no longer on the Thursday special menu at this time, but check out the cheesesteak sandwich!

Now, let's get to the sandwich.  I will be honest that I have been wanting to enjoy a banh mi for several years - I really have tried.  However, in my past experiences I had difficulty getting past the fattiness of the pork belly.  (I know others might be saying, "But that's what makes it so perfect."  Sorry...I told you I have tried)  It just did not work out for me, sadly.  However, on a food adventure with a good friend (a blog post to come soon!), we opted to try McCann's version of the banh mi.  My friends, I have found a banh mi that I not just like, but thoroughly enjoy!  I want to shout this at the roof tops!  What makes this banh mi so good, you ask?  Well let's start with the perfectly roasted pork laying atop a thin layer of chicken and pork pate, the true secret behind the delicious sandwich.  Let's also talk about the shaved and pickled carrots and daikon radish topped with the freshness of the cilantro, as well as the added layer of heat from the jalapeƱos.  Dream Come True.  My only suggestion:  I would like to have a heaping bowl of the pickled carrots, daikon and jalapeƱos as a side dish to devour with any meal. 
Kevin has partnered with many local businesses and restaurants to provide meat products.  If you have been to Revelry, Lento, Cub Room, Tap and Mallet, Pittsford Pub and Swiftwater Brewery to name a few partnerships, you have probably tried McCann's products!  Kevin looks forward to continuing to work with local restaurants and increasing the awareness of local, sustainable products.

Kevin's compassion and inspiration for Rochester is clear as he speaks, but it is also demonstrated in his passion to reach his customers.  Kevin encourages customers go beyond the cashier counter.  "Come in and watch what we do; ask questions while we are doing it!  Looking for something specific? Ask for it!...We can accomplish it."  "What we do here is as much about the experience as it [about] the product."

Warning: you may fall in love upon entering McCann's Local Meats.  Be prepared.  My suggestion:  go with a friend, get more than one item, and attempt to share.  Yes, this is difficult as initially you will not want to share one bite from your meal, but sharing is good, right?  Plus if you go with a friend, you can try another menu item (or steal part of their meal when they go to the bathroom)!  Oh, did I mention yet that they have beef fat fries that you should share as well?

A shorter post is featured on Rochester A-List's website.  Click here to read a brief depiction of my love of McCann's bulgogi sandwich.  Click here to go to the Rochester A List home page website.


Location:
McCann's Local Meats
739 Clinton Ave S.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Affaire de Chocolat

Chocolate.  Oh just the word brings tingles, happy memories, and anticipation all at the same time!  Chocolate can be indulgent, it can cure sadness;  Chocolate can bring cheer; Chocolate can be a gift of love or a gift of friendship.  Chocolate can form a new friendship.  The versatility of chocolate may be what draws us to it, but the delectable taste, whether dark, white or milk chocolate, is what keeps us coming back for more.

Affaire de Chocolat, located in Fairport, offers a multitude of chocolates for whatever your need may be.  Debra, owner and chocolate artisan, hand crafts each of her chocolate creations.  She always had a love for making confections, since her youth.  She began to follow her dream, making Wedding and Event Cakes in the 80s.  After ending a career as a hairstylist and a nail technician, Debra wanted to go back to her initial love, which led her to the creation of Affaire de Chocolat.  Opening day was 15 years ago, back in 2001.  Debra continues to craft and create at her location on 98 N. Main Street in Fairport.


What's in name?  A Story.  A Lifestyle.  A Love.  Debra's brother originally suggested that the name should include the word chocolate.  When determining the rest of the name, Debra wanted to bring homage to her heritage.  Her grandfather came from France and Debra wanted to honor her family in the name of her love of chocolate and new business creation.  Many of the chocolates and truffles that she creates are also named after family members and friends.


"Ideas and flavor profiles for my chocolates 'just come to me'...the ideas appear in my head...I actually visualize the look and feel of the chocolates" as well as the taste, Debra describes.  A true mark of an artisan.  Debra offers a great variety of chocolates in her store and is continually inspired to create new additions to the offerings.  One of Debra's newest additions to her store is the RocCity Chocolates, inspired directly by our city of Rochester.  She described her love of Rochester and her desire to showcase her roots.  "I believe Rochester is a city that encourages and inspires healthful life choices."  Debra's newest collection includes 3 bars, Well-Being, Energy, and Vitality, which offer a "nudge", at healthful living.  To create each bar, Debra delved into researching documented medical facts and scientific studies of a variety of spices.  With research complete, Debra began her creation, which includes a custom blend of spice to promote well being, energy, and vitality.


Debra also offers seasonal chocolates and chocolates that are inspired by the holidays.  Looking for chocolate creations for your upcoming wedding or party?  Debra will work with you to create chocolates and chocolate trays for your needs.  One of my new favorite speciality chocolates is the Caramel Bijou.  The creamy caramel sits atop a crunchy cookie-like bottom layer, coated in dark chocolate, and then sprinkled with a French sea salt.  It was truly love at first bite.  With Valentines Day around the corner, my recommendation is getting a box of Caramel Bijou chocolates (and sneak an extra for yourself, I won't tell).


Other Valentine's Day treats that you may want to share with your loved one (or friends, because hey, friends like chocolate too), include Valentines Day gift boxes with truffles, chocolate covered twinkles, or a chocolate rose.  


      



Debra always has a variety of truffle creations that are in her store.  Whether you are interested in creating your own gift pack or buying one of the same type of flavor (you know we all do this at times when we find something we REALLY like), there are many to choose from.    Flavors, such as French Kiss (Peanut Butter Chocolate, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Cocoa Powder), Grand (Grand Marnier, Orange & Walnut truffle dipped in Milk Chocolate), and Crush  (Almonds, Raspberry & Raspberry Liquor truffle, with Dark Chocolate inside and covered in White Chocolate) will surely capture your attention and your taste buds.


Debra is also mindful in her creations of dietary needs and the growing gluten-free and vegan base here in Rochester.  She offers many chocolates that are gluten free.  Her base dark chocolate is milk and gluten-free, as well as vegan.  Whether you are searching for a personal treat, a gift for a loved one, or beyond, Affaire de Chocolat will meet your every need.  Be adventurous, try something new, and explore your taste buds and what Debra has to offer.




Enjoy and remember to Sip and Savour Rochester!