Panelle Sandwich is back!

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This week we launched another seasonal sandwich inspired by a childhood memory, this time from a customer of ours.

The Panelle was inspired by an Italian visitor to HSQ. This customer told Ayr about panelle, a chickpea cake that he would eat as a kid when he came home from school in Sicily.

What’s in it? Panella is similar to polenta, but it’s made with chickpea flour. We make it at the kitchen. We add sautéed onion, garlic and rosemary. Then we deep-fry it at our locations. It develops a beautiful crust, but is custardy inside. We serve it with a salad made from fennel and kalamata olives; and there’s a lemon mayo sauce. We launched this last year, and customers were exclaiming that it might be the next chickpea fritter. Then we screwed up a few batches, and it became the worst sandwich we’ve ever made. After some materials science work from Ayr, we re-launched it, and now it’s better than ever. Try it and let us know what you think!

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3pm special: Hadley Grass

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I read this article the other day and couldn’t believe that asparagus has to be harvested every 24 hours. I got the chance to see Asparagus being harvested this weekend, and it was true. They were cutting it twice a day!

Hadley, MA used to be the asparagus capital of the world, and people still celebrate the arrival of Hadley Grass every spring. Sadly most of the asparagus we get in the US comes from other countries, mostly because of the need for year-round asparagus and the difficulty in harvesting asparagus.

But we’re lucky because for only 1-2 weeks during this time of year, Clover gets Asparagus from Hadley, the most fertile growing region in the state. We want to celebrate the great flavor of the asparagus, so we treat it very simply: we trim the bottom of the asparagus, simmer some water, cook the asparagus til it’s bright green, and top it with lemon zest and parsley. The recipe was inspired by a dish that Ayr had at a restaurant in Northampton.

 

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Sign up for a farmshare this summer

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It might be in the 40’s today, but I promise, summer is coming. And that means you only have a few weeks left to sign up for a CSA with pickups at Clover.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. You pay money to a farmer before the season starts. In exchange, you get a box of produce representing the harvest from the farm that week. It’s a risk – but one that usually pays off with mountains of produce that has been picked that day. It’s economically beneficial to the farmer and cheaper for you than shopping at the farmer’s market.

Want to join? For the 4th year in a row, Clover is turning over a portion of each of our restaurants to CSA pickups. Follow this link to learn more and sign up if you’re interested.

 

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Now pouring: George Howell Colombian Decaf

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We’ve only allowed a few decaf coffees into our grinders and this is one of our favorites. George sent this to Chris for us to taste at the Food Dev meeting a few months back, and we loved it. We’ve been serving it for the past few months.

Jardin is an area in Colombia that has been growing coffee since the 18th centrury.

 

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Pimento Cheese Sandwich: Year 6

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This week we launch the Pimento Cheese Sandwich. This was the first sandwich ever championed by an employee – me, back in 2010 when I was a team leader on the first MIT truck.

I grew up in Austin, Texas. My grandmother would always make pimento cheese sandwiches for family reunions and picnics. I think she learned it from her in-laws who were from Mississippi, or maybe from her mom who was from San Antonio. Either way, it was one of the major Southern foods I learned about as a child. It’s a grated cheese spread with mayo and some mild pimento peppers (you know, the things they stuff olives with). Usually it’s made with a basic cheddar cheese, and usually it’s spread on white bread or Saltine crackers. I told Ayr and Rolando about it. I thought it would make a good Clover sandwich. As New Englanders, they had never heard of it, but were willing to let me make up a batch in our kitchen. A little dev work, and we tested the Clover version on customers at the truck. And since then it’s been one of the best-loved seasonal sandwiches we do here!

It has a spread we make with sharp 1-year Grafton cheddar, mayo, roasted sweet peppers, dill, and capers, then it gets a layer of pickled celery, and thick cucumber slices tossed with Aleppo pepper. It’s rich and cheesy but also has a lot of fresh, pickled flavors. And once we figure out packaging, we’re going to be selling deli containers of pimento cheese spread in our new retail area at HFI.

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Clover NEW

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I receive a couple questions about our upcoming Newbury St. location every day. I’m really sorry, I don’t have a lot to tell you all. We thought we’d have it up in April. Before that we thought we’d have it up last summer. Before that last year.

The MBTA is really supportive about the process, but it’s been an extremely slow tedious process. Right now we’re waiting for final approval to get the slab leveled. I’ve been waiting for this approval letter since January.

Sorry I don’t have a more concrete update (that’s a bit of a pun, only thing left to get us open is to tear up that concrete pad).

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Street canvas

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That’s Dave Tree painting.

Somebody, I can’t remember who, had this idea to make this old side window into a sort of shadowbox that looks out onto a giant canvas (aka the wall of the building next door). Our kind neighbors at Viale were game, and now we have a giant rotating street art canvas.

We didn’t know what Dave was going to paint. Part of the deal is that I want to let artists do whatever they want. I didn’t know he was out there painting when I turned the corner from the kitchen to confront these awesome bands of color. It’s really fun. The final piece includes vertical shapes too (Birch Trees). An amazing start for our space.

We’re going to select a new artist every 2 months. And we’re putting up a little iPad below that window that advertises the artist and lets you know where to find more of their work. Dave Tree, our first featured artist, has long played an important role in Boston’s Hardcore scene. And he runs a Silk Screening shop and has a ton of art shows in the Boston area.

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First game of illegal pinball

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I snapped this pic opening day. A few hours later Sean got the 11 single-day permits that allow us to play pinball. I bought this kid his game (all kids are going to play free), so I’m hoping it’s not entirely illegal, as I wasn’t selling a play.

So if you’re curious as to the status of pinball at HFI, it’s not legal until something like midnight. Then it’s illegal for play until 7am or something. I think we should put up a sign or something to notify folks “Illegal after midnight.”

Really, what an absolutely crazy ordinance, right? If I had more time I’d lead an effort to get rid of this dumb law. But that’s the problem with dumb laws, right? Somebody put in the effort to get it made, then none of us have the time or energy to try to fix. It seems like momentum is strongly in favor of creation of new laws and regulations, and resists simplifying/ removing/ streamlining. It’s funny, in business we spend most of our time tearing up and replacing ideas that we’re great with better ideas. But I think government works more like nature, favoring entropy : ) Will there be a Heat Death of Government someday? (type “Heat Death of the Universe” into google if you don’t follow that reference)

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50 minutes to open

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I won’t pretend we’ve never faced a close opening situation. But I don’t think it’s been this tight. Our contractor had been trying to get the plumbing inspector in since last Wednesday, that was the only inspection outstanding yesterday morning. We finally got our permit issued at 11:10am, for an open at noon. We couldn’t bring food into our space until we got our permits, so it was a mad dash to get everything in place.

At 12:01pm I was fiddling with my computer trying to get our menu for the day posted, and I heard Dave (our new VP of Operations) taking an order. So we made it on time. I ran out and saw an absolutely enormous line. Look closely at that picture. I couldn’t capture the entire line in the image. It was nuts. And exciting. We sold out a bit faster than expected.

Now I’m surrounded by excited customers as we’re doing an open house today. Free coffee and parsnip fritters all day. We’re opening for real tomorrow. We try to give ourselves a recovery day (today) to catch up with the stuff that breaks on the trial run (yesterday). But tomorrow we open at 7am and we won’t be closing. 24 hours or bust!

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