Today, in search of a snack, we stop by 61 Local, the Boerum Hill public house that puts the spotlight squarely on local brewers, bakers, butchers and makers, to chat with barista and events coordinator Cristina Martin.
So Cristina, lots of tasty looking options on the menu here. What are you liking these days?
I’m a big fan of the Veg Out toast. It’s got something called ‘Faux Gras,’ which is made by a woman named Ella Nemcova, who lives here in Brooklyn. It’s a really tasty lentil, miso and walnut puree, served on whole grain toast with sautéed mushrooms, red pepper, scallion and parsley.
So you get the creamy, nutty, earthiness of the Faux Gras, and more of that rich earthiness from the mushrooms. Those are balanced really nicely by the bright acidity, sweetness, crunch and color of the red peppers, and the bright, super-fresh aromatics of the parsley and scallions, both of which come from BK Farmyards.
I think the bread itself works really well too. It’s from Orwashers Bakery, and it’s got a lot of great grain flavor that comes out nicely when its toasted, but the flavor of the bread doesn’t overshadow any of the other elements. It’s the perfect vehicle.
So I love the Veg Out because it’s really richly flavorful, but it doesn’t weigh you down. It tastes kind of decadent, but you don’t feel like you need to take a nap after you eat it. [laughter.]
What’s the Faux Gras? I’m always kind of suspicious of ‘faux’ anything…
I know. Me too. But I really love this stuff. It’s so good. I don’t think of it as an imitation of foie gras, or an attempt to recreate it with vegetarian ingredients or anything like that. It’s more inspired by it. The lentil base with the miso and walnuts give it a really rich, earthy, nutty flavor and creamy texture that I think is really delicious, without actually being heavy. I think that all of the good adjectives you’d use to describe the flavor of foie apply to the Faux too. [laughter.]
What beer should I order with it?
This toast definitely goes really well with a beer. I think it goes particularly well with the Craven, a Belgian red ale from Barrier Brewery, whom we’re big fans of here at 61 Local. I’m not always the keenest lover of Belgian-style beers, but this one has a more subtle bitterness and some complex, but not overpowering flavors going on that compliment the flavors in the Veg Out really nicely. It’s got a little weight to it, but it’s really refreshing. When I finish my shift and order this toast, this is the beer I order with it.
How did you end up here at 61 Local?
I was living in Atlanta for about five years, working for CNN, actually. I liked it a lot for a while, but what I really loved was cooking and doing things like volunteering at a literary magazine, helping some friends open a food business, and working at markets on weekends. I realized at some point that while my job allowed me to pursue those hobbies, I was actually starting to want to find a way to make those hobbies into a job. [laughter.] I wanted a change.
I started spending a lot of time looking at listings on this awesome website called Good Food Jobs. One day I saw a posting for a position here at 61 Local. I did some research and loved everything I was reading about the place – about their interest in the community, and in developing relationships with the brewers, bakers, butchers, and everyone making the products they feature on the menu here. I also loved the idea of moving to Brooklyn. So I came up to interview and I got the job and moved up here a month later.
That was in the spring. Here I am today, and I love it. I love working here, and I love Brooklyn. I wanted a change in my life and this job gave me the chance to make that leap into doing something I really wanted to do.
61 Local is located at 61 Bergen Street, between Smith and Court, in Boerum Hill.
Photography by Morgan Ione Yeager. All rights reserved.