Hibbard’s is more than custard — it’s a memory

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The Foodie:

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Tom Baia, Mary Nero, and Julia

This spring I was at the dry cleaners on Portage Road and saw a guy washing down the pavement in front of Hibbard’s. I could not help but ask when they thought they were opening for the season because I had driven by there every day for at least two weeks hoping to see the open sign. He told me they were going to open later that day and I was able to get the word out in a matter of minutes … oh, the power of social networks!

I met the mother of one of my favorite Barista’s tonight. Julia’s mother, Mary Nero was at Hibbard’s with friends. I asked her how long she had been coming here and she told me she’s been coming here her whole life. She “gets” the double – and you don’t need to get a “double” cone, just two scoops. You always have to put your favorite flavor on the bottom. She always gets chocolate on the bottom and I completely agree with her. The idea is that you have your favorite flavor as your last lick. Genius! Mary says its part of our historical past and that Lewiston would not be Lewiston without it.

One of the Foodie’s favorite people (I can pick favorites – he was one of my father’s best friends) Tommy Baia says that Hibbard’s is one of the best things we have left from long ago. He remembers an ice cream shop called Diffine’s on Hyde Park Boulevard which served up their own homemade ice cream but it was a real treat to come up here … Hansen’s (I feel another column about this famous fish monger coming soon) then here down Portage Road from the old Lewiston Hill.

The folks in Wilson are getting to save a trip into Lewiston for their frozen favorite. Hibbard’s opened earlier this year to rave reviews. It is still the family recipe along with novelties (although I never understood why you would have anything but custard at Hibbard’s).

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From left, Abby Conde (6), Devin (17), Karalyn Oddy (14), Dad Thomas Conde, Isabella (8), Connor (14)

Hibbard’s black raspberry is the closest thing to gelato I have had since my visit to Italy where a good day was defined by how many times you had the famous frozen treat. John, Priscilla, Mackenzie and Mikaela Maddock ventured up to Lewiston earlier this week. John is an ice cream aficionado and was the one who gave the Foodie several places to visit in Italy where the gelato was divine. John says “the chocolate nestle crunch was delicious. Out entire family enjoyed a few scoops after a great meal at the Brickyard and before we headed to Artpark. A perfect Lewiston evening.”

Every Wednesday the Conde family visits his parents in Lewiston. Connor was quick to explain that Hibbard’s was a treat they usually insist on when they are open for the season. Devon likes her custard in a cup (as does this foodie) and Karalyn always has to have two flavors every time. We agree that your favorite flavor must be on the bottom. People take their custard very seriously. Isabella simply explained she liked Hibbard’s because it’s good and her sister Abby said she loves bubble gum the best. She says that she usually cannot finish the cone but at age six does not want to order a baby cone anymore.

Childhood memory, adult indulgence, there are many flavors of Hibbard’s fans.

I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends to “weigh in” about Hibbard’s. Here they are:

Lisa O: Black Raspberry (I’m with you, Lisa and I like chocolate on the bottom and BR on top)

Lori S: Still my favorite custard and I have lived in 11 different states. And I agree. Black raspberry!

Karyn M: the best…worth the 14 hour drive!! (My sister’s first stop and last stop during the season)

Maria M: Obviously, you know my thoughts on Hibbard’s! DE-LICI-OUS! (You help me keep vigil until they open)

Loretta F: Butterscotch, maybe pistachio, unless there’s chocolate. (L, there’s always chocolate!!)

Dan V: The chocolate and vanilla twist is Awesome (You like the two scoop cone, too!)

Paula S: ‎”Weigh?” = Hibbards? Never will admit to any of that!!!! ;) (It was an interesting choice of words, I’ll admit)

My brother-in-law (the same one who thought he was marrying into the Flintstone family) stops at Hibbard’s before going to my mother’s when he visits from Michigan. Funny thing, no one thinks that’s weird or disrespectful. We all understand the obsession!

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The Foodie at the Lewiston Art Festival: Artichoke French

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If it’s a festival there must be food and I was so happy to try some artichokes today at the Lewiston Art Festival.

Artichoke French is a dish created by a woman from Rochester whose husband was happy to share the story.

She made up this recipe years ago and it was always the first one eaten at pot luck suppers.

They started their foodstand 15 years ago and open each year at Rochester’s Lilac Festival.

It is artichokes lightly floured then dipped in an egg wash (the egg is what makes it “French” like French toast).

They saute them in olive oil with garlic and white wine. It is served with a hunk of bread (so good to dip in the juice) and Romano cheese.

I loved it! Enjoy the festival!

(Editor’s Note: Jude Russo Caserta is the food and wine columnist for BelowTheFalls.com and she stopped by our booth early. If you can, stop by!)

Love affair with a juicy steak

20120613-065139.jpgThe Foodie:

Years ago when my sister was dating my brother-in-law we enjoyed a wonderful prime rib dinner prepared by my mother, the Foodie’s role model and teacher.

It was likely a big roast, at least four to five ribs and, as was our custom, we would all beg for the bones. He went home and told his mother he thought he was marrying into the Flintstone family.

We were at a lovely restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard and our friend’s five year old ordered a juicy steak. The server smiled and asked him if he knew what that was. He said, “yes, but my mom still has to cut it because she won’t let me use a knife.” No chicken fingers for him, just a slab of beef, cooked expertly over an open fire.

Any cut of meat with the word “loin” is leaner than chuck or rib eye but give me a cut of beef with a bone and I’m in my own carnivorous heaven. The porterhouse is extra special because it has a strip loin on one side, tenderloin (no less than 1 ¼ inches) on the other kept together by the ultimate T-bone (if you are lucky there is a tiny piece of marrow at the top of the “T”). A T-bone is a porterhouse with smaller tenderloin (no less than a half inch). The ultimate for me may be a bone-in rib eye, perfect marbling and tenderness.

Less is more with a good cut of beef. You have no idea how happy I am that Melloni’s Market is less than a mile away. Every steak is perfect and they are all the same width which aids in consistent cooking.

First, take the steaks out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to cook them. My father learned how to season steaks from a chef at John’s Flaming Hearth. On one side put onion powder and Lowry’s Seasoned Salt and on the other put garlic powder and ground pepper. That’s it.

We always use charcoal (I’m a real grill snob, not going to lie). My husband is the direct heat grill master in our house. He grills it a few minutes on one side until there are nice grill marks and flips it, being sure the flame does not burn the meat.

We like it medium rare and he removes the steaks just before they are completely cooked and covers them tightly with aluminum foil for about ten minutes so the juices can go back into the steak.

Tonight, we paired our steak with Black Willow Winery’s (located in Burt) Cabernet Franc. This was the perfect complement to our steak and I enjoyed the smoky black cherry taste. The label says it has a candy apple flavor but I did not pick that out. I will definitely keep this wine on hand and look forward to pairing it with other red meat dishes.

You have no idea how much self restraint I have to exhibit when eating out at a steak house. There is no waste worse, to me, than good meat left on the bone. I could walk around the dining room, never order anything, and just ask strangers “you going to eat that bone?”

Chicken and tomatoes’ saute can be ready in 45 minutes

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The Foodie:

Who feels like cooking when it’s so hot? Me, of course! I know this may sound nuts but I was really in the mood for some comfort food tonight.

Maybe because it was finally under 80 degrees or that I had a few minutes to cook but I was in the mood for a “go to” meal affectionately called chicken and tomatoes in our house.

The basic (and I mean basic – all of these things should be in your house) recipe includes chicken (I had some boneless skinless thighs in the freezer which I took out in the morning and put in the refrigerator on a few paper towels), a medium onion, garlic, good olive oil and a can of tomatoes. I had some fresh herbs from my patio herb garden (rosemary and garlic chives were perfect). Figure one small breast or two thighs per person.

Here goes:

Make some brown rice (I like the nutty flavor) or boil some water for macaroni.

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Chop the onion and sauté it in a heavy skillet (my cast iron skillet is a part of my family) in some olive oil for a few minutes. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste (I am a big fan of Old Bay – not just for seafood anymore). Add the chicken to the pan and let brown on one side before flipping. If the chicken sticks it is not ready to flip. If you flip it before it is ready it will shred and break apart.

Once the chicken has browned on both sides, open the can of diced tomatoes and add on top of the chicken. Add about a half a cup of white wine, cover and simmer. The chicken should be done when the rice is done (about 20 minutes).

Remove the chicken and tent with foil to keep warm. In the pan, add another ½-3/4 cups of white wine and raise the temperature to high. Stir frequently, scrapping the brown bits and reduce for a few minutes. The secret of a velvety sauce is adding butter (about a tablespoon) at the end.

20120613-065942.jpgLet the butter melt and add body to the sauce. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for a few minutes.

Plate chicken and add sauce on top. I made some fresh corn on the cob to complete the meal.

There is just something magical about food bubbling on the stove. I just want to go out and buy a sweater!