THE BITE: Many of the Eastern European markets in our area have what used to be called a salad bar. I still refer to them as salad bars, but in reality, they offer so much more.
Gourmet Boutique, 3688 Nostrand Avenue, has one of the largest salad bars in the area. Actually they have more than one. They offer up everything from a plain old salad to beef stroganoff. They also have a huge baked goods selection, a large variety of European beers and just about everything else you’d find in a standard supermarket with the exception of Diet Coke.
For this week’s Bite, I’m going to talk about their “veal cutlet with mushrooms.” This is avaialable by the piece and is priced at $4.99 per pound. I don’t know how the cashiers keep the food bar prices straight. Every item on the salad bars is priced differently.
The veal cutlet is about the size of a hockey puck, but it is not a cutlet at all. According to the food dictionary at Epicurious, a cutlet is “a thin, tender cut of meat (usually from lamb, pork or veal) taken from the leg or rib section.” This patty is combination of ground veal and breadcrumbs.
This is a veal meatball that is breaded and most likely fried. Now I don’t know if this dish is supposed to be eaten hot or cold, but when I got home and nuked it, the oil in the breading sizzled and dripped onto the plate.
This hockey puck of veal and bread is topped with a curious mound of mushrooms, held in a spherical shape by a sauce that tasted very much like sour cream. How sour cream held together a ball of mushrooms escapes me, but I could see myself pondering that very question for hours. These mushrooms however had the distinct taste of being previously canned. While canned mushrooms aren’t my favorite thing, I much prefer fresh, the mushroom tennis ball was the tastiest thing on the plate but not enough to save this dish.
After I ate half of this veal cutlet with mushrooms, I pushed it away and commented to myself, “That was truly awful.” My comment was met by laughter from my editor. Damn, I thought I said that low enough not to be heard. But, unfortunately, the cat was out of the bag. And now you know it, too.
I do have to give props to the store for the presentation of this dish. I am somewhat intrigued by the ball of mushrooms and will be trying to replicate that presentation, but not the flavor, at home.
Gourmet Boutique, 3688 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 332-4412.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.