Once in a blue moon, Tim and I go out to eat. Not this kind of eating out, but just regular, old-fashioned, date-like behavior.
The reason? Not only does the moon have to be blue, the stars must also align:
- One of us must think farther than 6 hours into the future, in order to make a plan.
- The plan must then be communicated to the other person, not telepathically, since that doesn’t really work yet.
- We must
cajole a good-natured friend to keep our kids for freefind a sitter.
- Our kids must remain healthy and in good working order during the 24 hours that pass between nos. 1 and 3.
- We have to be excited enough about a restaurant to pay them money to cook for us. Seriously, this is where the plan falls apart most of the time. This has everything to do with the fact that we are lazy, cheap homebodies.
But last weekend, all of the above did happen, in just 24 hours. I’d been hearing rumblings, good ones, of a new place downtown called Black Market. A plan was made, a friend was cajoled, we were out the door, even managing to rope Nathan and Sarah into our excursion. No sooner had the four of us walked in, sat, and started menu-browsing than I began mildly hyperventilating.
The menu. Pulling a Pavlov, I began salivating just reading the simple, pub-inspired but urban-twisted offerings. There were local, limited-edition brews on-tap. I think I felt my eyes brim with tears.
The prices were reasonable. The atmosphere was somehow comfortable, welcoming, brooding, and magazine-worthy. The server was warm, honest, and knowledgeable. I was giddy.
Amongst our quartet, we shared 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 3 desserts. Vegetarians be warned: we ate meat, six times over, and then dessert. Duck, lamb, beef tongue — one entree was over-salted, one was under-salted, and that was the extent of my complaint. The desserts were delightfully simple, the star being a campfire shortbread that was a cookie layered with dark chocolate ganache and a bourbon marshmallow. Sounds humble, but in those layers somewhere was a delightful salty punch, and campfire or not, I could’ve eaten a dozen.
The standout entree was a burger. Something I would’ve never ordered had my arm not been twisted (everyone chose a “non-negotiable” from the menu) — the only time I order burgers is when I’m at a sports bar (which means I’ve ordered exactly 2 burgers at restaurants in the past decade). I mean, what can you possibly do with a burger?
Well, for starters, you can use a combo of good local beef and lamb. Second, you can cook it well (i.e., don’t over-do it). AND THEN you can put herbed goat cheese and pickled green tomatoes on top — apparently, this is the step that takes a burger from Something-You-Order-Once-Every-Five-Years to Oh-My-Goodness-Let’s-Order-Another-One.
Which Sarah really did do, and didn’t share it at all. But I’m not bitter, because she inspired me by trying to recreate the burger the next night at her house. You can read about her attempt here — but the gist was that while Trader Joe’s supplied the herbed goat cheese, she still lacked the star ingredient: the pickled green tomato.
We were planning to grill burgers on Sunday (I don’t order them at restaurants but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat them at home) and I got An Idea In My Head. On Saturday, I stopped by my beloved Goose The Market and picked up a pound of green tomatoes. I googled away, looking for a recipe that would do the job in just 24 short hours (must everything in my life revolve around that time frame?). I found one at Food & Wine — and within the hour I had a jar pickling.
Friends. I am here to proclaim: you have not yet lived until you have eaten a burger on which rests a pickled green tomato. And if you aren’t into burgers, then might I suggest them as an excellent topping for black beans, or thrown into grain salads, or just about anything to satisfy the strongest craving for a thing pickled.*
Our jar was gone in — you guessed it — just 24 hours.
One last thing before getting to the magic of the PGT: if you live in Indianapolis, for the love of good restaurant food — please patronize Black Market. It’s located at the very end of Mass Ave, where it hits 10th St, and I would very much like for it to stay there (as will you, I am confident, after you partake).
Recipe: Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes one quart.
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like raw unfiltered)
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbsp minced fresh dill
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 pound green tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick
- In a small saucepan, warm the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- Add the peppercorns, herbs, and garlic to the brine.
- In a clean quart-sized canning jar, layer the sliced tomatoes. Pour the brine over the top. Press tomatoes down so they are completely covered by the brine. Cover loosely with a lid, and let sit at room temperature for 3-8 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator.
- Will last a couple weeks in the frig.