It started off innocently enough. A little taste here, a curious sampling there. Wow! Not all butters are created equal!
A fairly newly ordained foodie, my taste buds informed me that some butters have more character, more richness, more body and depth than others. As I am wont to do, I researched the differences between American and European butter, watching NYT video reviews and inquiring of home and professional cooking and baking friends. The higher fat content European offerings led me down a path of no return.
The hunt began…Irish, French, Belgian, Italian, American. Local markets, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and the Hanover, NH, Co-Op, among others. No one was free of my buttery web—my husband, daughter, mother and friends—all joined in for testing and rating and (seemingly or maybe just kindly) sharing my enthusiasm.
I baked, assessing the merits of such butters in pie crusts, tarts, biscuits and cookies. Foodie friend Sara and I had an “Ellen Jackson**” day, making my favorite chef’s savory tarts while experimenting on the crust with different butters and varying percentages of rendered lard. (stay tuned for the Lard Blog)
AHA! came with The King, King Arthur, King Arthur Flour, that is, as so many of them do. Sara (of savory tart fame), Tom (father of Ellen) and I spent a glorious day baking croissants at a class at The King’s headquarters in Norwich, VT. “Ooh, call on me, call on me! What kind of butter does The King recommend?” I inquired. “Cabot 83!” was replied. At last my butter bulb went off—American-made, local to New England, fantastic, European-style butter.
I can always trust The King–the croissant recipe is truth in advertising: “fold the dough over a slab of butter.” The end product—58 layers of dough in each croissant, every one blessed with butter.
Back home the search for Cabot 83 was on. “Not for retail sale in your area,” the Cabot Creamery website told me. Undaunted, I planned to buy a stash when next in New Hampshire and Vermont. Sara scouted out a 36 lb. case of buttery gold from nearby Dandy Food Distributors. Off we went, unsure exactly what to do with 18 lbs. each. My ever-supportive husband Richard quickly pondered the issue and said we should actually eat some of the food stashed in our freezers to stockpile this treasure—that’s why I love him. He and Sara’s husband, Bil, emailed us trailers for the 2011 comedic movie, Butter, about competitive butter carving. Foodie friends came forth, eager to buy into the luck of our lode, and I gave some away (one can feel generous with 18 lbs. of butter). Now we are all baking and cooking happily-ever-after.
** Ellen Jackson. www.foodprintstyle.com