Preview Magazine - An Argentine Holiday


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This is a profile of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse, located in Northampton, MA, by Preview Magazine.

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Preview Magazine - An Argentine Holiday

  1. 1. Beef prepared in the asado style, lightly seasoned with sea salt and cooked on a wood fire An Argentine Holiday Northampton’s Caminito Steakhouse offers traditional Argentine asado right around the corner. By Sarah GiBBonS photoGraphy By paul ShoulPreview12diningview-lo 40 11/10/10 10:14:58 AM
  2. 2. diningview I wonder how they do it. Vegetarians, that is. And vegans? They demonstrate a resolve and will power that would ensure world peace ten times over if they were qualities shared by all humanity. If you can avoid cheese, you can do anything. Except for a two-month stint in high school that had more to do with enraging Head chef and owner Joe Gionfriddo my mother than with an ethical diet, I’ve been a lifelong cheese- and meat-eater. I can’t help it. I was raised on the stuff. Northampton’s Caminito operates on the premise that I’m not alone. The highlights on the menu would not appeal to those with the aforemen- tioned dietary restrictions. A pain- fully simple grilled round of sharp, strong, salty provolone is marvelous with some olive oil and Caminito’s homemade buttery rolls. Provoleta, as with much of Argentine culture, is a transmuted remnant of Italian influence stemming from an influx of Italian immigrants in the nineteenth century. The cheese is scalded on both sides before it finishes in the oven, and it takes on a slightly Joe Gionfriddo half-whispers. But the 2002, Joe learned the ropes in the kitch- charred, smoky flavor. metamorphic nature of melted cheese en at Roberto’s across town. Armed I know what you’re thinking. “It’s suggests that the dish requires careful with no certified culinary training, the just hot cheese, right?” Wrong. The attention. Too cool and it’s just cheese; Southampton-bred chef instead majored layers of texture a round hunk of cheese too hot and it’s a molten puddle of in plant and soil science at UMass, con- takes on when fried and then baked are grease and protein. “People tell me it’s centrating on sustainable agriculture, transformative. As the cheese cools the best fried cheese they’ve ever had,” entomology and food crops science. and hardens, it offers an eating experi- Joe says. It’s certainly a far cry from “I knew throughout my studies that I ence much different than that offered mozzarella sticks. wanted to focus on aspects of agriculture by its fresh-from-the-kitchen earlier Something tells me Joe has had occa- that pertained closest to food and the version. sion to cook his fair share of pro- restaurant industry, with the hopes that “I don’t really like telling people voleta. Before coming on as a cook one day I will own a restaurant with a how simple it is to make,” chef/owner at Caminito shortly after it opened in greenhouse, small farm or orchard,” Joe Preview Massachusetts 41Preview12diningview-lo 41 11/10/10 10:15:21 AM
  3. 3. explains. “This is something to which I still aspire very much  ... .  I want to be able to harvest fruit as well as fruit woods  to  burn  in  my  wood-fired  grill  and  have  outdoor  space  for  truly authentic asado-style Argentine barbecuing,” adds the  chef,  who  spent  some  time  working  at  the  Mount  Holyoke  Botanic Gardens after graduating, while he was also working  full-time at Caminito.  For the time being, the restaurant side  of his interests won out, and in 2006, Joe acquired Caminito  from its then-owners Luciano and Susan Sappia. It was the Sappias who introduced Joe to Argentinean cui- sine. But he has spent much of his spare time  since  reading  travelogues,  history  books  and  traditional  recipes  to  famil- iarize himself with Argentine cuisine and traditions.  And it  If there’s any time to enjoy a All Gift Certificates come with a logo pint glass “gift box” meal like this Explore • Create • Indulge • Enjoy 35 Wines By The Glass • 21 Beers On Tap one, it’s winter. seems his study has paid off.  The menu is full of Argentinean  favorites:  various  cuts  of  meat  cooked  in  the  asado  style,  lightly  seasoned  with  only  sea  salt  and  grilled  over  a  wood  flame  at  a  lower  temperature  than  at  American  barbecues;  pasta dishes noqui (gnocci) and ravioli that again reflect the  Italian influence; house-made chorizo grilled and served with  Serving an eclectic mix of chimmichuri; and, of course, the provoleta small plates and appetizers  The provoleta itself is intensely rich.  Splitting it between  two people with a bottle of bonarda would make for a beau- Grilled entrées are paired tiful evening snack.  Prefacing a giant platter of meat needs  with your selection of sauce & two sides more time than my companion and I allowed.  But our paril- lada—a  mound  of  beef  ribs,  skirt  steak,  chorizo  and  veal  Book your sweetbreads—was  delicately  smoky  and  had  just  the  right  holiday get amount of char.  together here! Though  the  country  is  home  to  some  of  the  best  steaks  in  the  world,  it’s  impractical  for  Caminito  to  import  meat  Creative American from Argentina. “Our steaks are in fact not from Argentina,  Fare but  are  actually  raised  domestically,  and  sourced  to  have  Waitstaff been  farmed  in  a  similar  style  as  those  found  in  Argentine  41-A STRONG AVE., NORTHAMPTON • 584-1150 pastures,” explains Joe.  The beef is “certified natural black  www.thesierragrille.comPreview12diningview-lo 42 11/10/10 10:16:43 AM
  4. 4. diningview Angus … hormone-free, vegetable-fed only” and raised in a at the CORNER OF RTE. 116 & BAY RD. SOUTH AMHERST, MA 01002 “non-caged, cruelty-free” style. Tel: (413) 253-9528 or (800) 594-9537 The meat itself is only half of what goes into the asado selections at Caminito. For cooking, the restaurant buys hard woods like oak, maple, cherry, apple, and hickory from local Gifts of farms and orchards. Part of Joe’s vision is to one day grow Good Taste! his own orchard and use the prunings from those trees to fuel Let Atkins deliver a Specialty Gift Basket or Gift Box to his grill’s fires. friends and family locally or “You need to eat at the Argentinean pace,” Joe coached us anywhere in the U.S. Food gifts are hand selected and when we gawked at the prospect of dessert. But we went with packed to preserve freshness a small helping of slightly bitter chocolate mousse, which was Fruit Specialty Gift Baskets plus nicely done with fresh whipped cream. At Joe’s suggestion assortments of apples, cheeses, maple syrup, honey, butters, jellies, coffees and teas, fudge, cookies, bakery treats and more. Gift Certificates Gift Certificates Make A Great Make A Great season withtime this holiday Save Savory Suppers! MakeMakewith Savoryworth of seasonmonths Suppers! a a months worth of Holiday Gift! Holiday Gift! meals mealsless than 22hours! in in less than hours! Please call for a color brochure (413) 253-9528 • Shipping orders must be received by Dec. 10th. 3006477 Order online at: Lomo a la Mostaza, a filet mignon with mustard creme sauce and noisette potatoes (“It will help you digest”), we also tried the South American steeped drink Yerba Mate, served traditionally at Caminito in a gourd with a bombilla (a straw engineered with a filter to keep out the leaves). Yerba mate is made from the leaves of an evergreen and has a bitter, acerbic quality one might expect from that family of plants. Sipping it piping hot from the bom- billa almost feels like smoking a pipe. But after the rich meal of cheese and meat, it made a good palate cleanser. If there’s any time to enjoy a meal like this one, it’s win- ter. One seems to feel the energy storing up as one eats; it’s almost time to hibernate. And while there are a couple of options for the vegetarians among us (vegans might have a harder job), the asado productions from the wood-fired grill are what set Caminito apart from other steakhouses. At Caminito you can enjoy the meat and potatoes of a classic American steakhouse, but with the bright and subtle flavors brought out by buttery Argentinean wine, tart chimmichurri and delicate smoke. P Gift Cards Now AvailablePreview12diningview-lo 43 11/10/10 4:00:00 PM
  5. 5. diningview PROVOLETA “Most people will laugh at how simple this recipe is, but this simplicity is what I want to come through here,” says Caminito chef Joe Gionfriddo. “Argentine food is best when uncomplicated, and to me the most influential recipes have always been those with very few ingredients. When this is the case, quality is of the utmost importance, as is the attention the chef pays to the cooking. For this dish, and for Argentinean cooking in general, the two most important factors are having a well-seasoned cast iron griddle or pan, and having a comfortable working relationship with medium/high heat.” INGREDIENTS Aged provolone cheese, cut into rounds 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick (Get the best, most dense provolone you can find from your local Italian deli or market, and have your deli man slice it for you to your desired thickness, as a smooth flat surface is key.) Extra virgin olive oil Diced tomato Dry oregano Sea salt TO PREPARE Preheat your oven to 350. Get your cast iron skillet evenly heated to medium/high, or just before the point of smoking. Lightly oil your provolone, one side only, and wipe off any excess. It should be well lubricated but not saturated. Carefully place your provolone firmly, oiled side down, on your cast iron griddle. Let the provolone sear for about one minute, or until the corners of the cheese start to brown lightly and rise from the griddle. With a flexible metal spatula, carefully lift the provolone off the griddle, being careful not to disrupt the seared surface. It should not stick to seasoned cast iron, and should be light to medium golden brown. Too much searing will result in a bitter taste. Place seared side up in an oven-safe casserole dish. Bake for about 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese begins to bubble and is soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and drain off any excess oil/ grease. Top with a pinch of diced tomato, oregano, and a little olive oil; season lightly with a small pinch of sea salt. Provoleta is best when eaten still warm, with some crusty bread or a mixed green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette.Preview12diningview-lo 45 11/10/10 4:01:19 PM