Maybe we’re just suckers for historical affairs, but one one of the best meals we’ve had all year was the Mark Twain Feast Spectacle at Bubby’s in Brooklyn. One of a series of fall dinners owner Ron Silver was hosting at the Dumbo branch in honor of American ingredients and culinary traditions, this particular meal featured Andrew Beahrs, author of Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens.
The menu (and the book) was based on the fantastic list of traditional, regional American foods Twain spelled out in his 1907 book A Tramp Abroad, essentially an ode to what he was longing to eat upon his return from Europe–he called their food “insipid.” (Better still are the recipes that follow, for Ash Cake, New England Pie and Carving Fowls in the German Fashion.)
Now, the very name Feast Spectacle should stop any dedicated diner cold in their tracks, but this food wasn’t just some pile-on akin to pulling up at the steam tables of a Golden Corral. This was American food circa 1900, much of it in the midst of a renaissance today, and all served up made from the best and freshest ingredients of the harvest season. To us, it was everything Thanksgiving oughtta be: Pitchers of fresh buttermilk; fried frog legs, biscuits, cornbread and buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup; radishes with butter; slender spears of celery, succotash, creamed greens, cranberry sauce, fried chicken, T-bone steak, roast turkey, oyster stew, bacon-fried catfish–dig the full menu right here over at Edible Brooklyn, if you don’t believe us.
Seriously, the spread was so bountiful, a Thanksgiving buffet table is practically bare in comparison. And when the original Bubby’s in Tribeca (now celebrating it’s 21st year) sent us the menu of what they’ll be serving at brunch and dinner next Thursday–it’s pay what you want, and all proceeds go to the New York City Rescue Mission, the homeless shelter nearby Bubby’s in Tribeca–we noticed some similarities:
“Dinner will be served buffet style. It will be the traditional American feast with all the trimmings featuring free roaming turkeys from Snow Dance Farm in Sullivan County, NY and Berkshire hams that have been cured by Bubby’s themselves. Some sides will include green bean and mushroom casserole, roasted brussel sprouts, candied sweet potatoes with homemade marshmallows, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing and of course a big selection of Bubby’s pies.”
Pay what you want? Proceeds to the homeless shelter? House-cured Berkshire hams?? If we hadn’t already dropped a deposit for a bird from The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, we’d be headed there on Thursday. Heck, maybe we’ll try and squeeze it in in the morning before we cook, anyhoo. If you want to go, just be sure to make a reservation.