Sausage Fest 2011 at Dante: Sizzlin’!

My expectations for this event were very high, and they were far exceeded. I will be smiling for a long time about this funny, festive, food-filled afternoon.

The anecdotal stuff:

“Fences” (Phoenix) was playing when I walked in. Solid.

Jamie Bissonette stopped me! Okay, so I try to keep the dorky, adolescent idolatry to a minimum, but I’m new to the Boston food world and often feel like an outsider. Being recognized positively by a well-known chef feels pretty good.

Funniest moment by far was when Dante himself thought I was trying to ditch my un-sampled sausage in one of the patio planters. Dear Mr. DeMagistris, I know how bad that must have looked. I swear to you I was only balancing those little containers there long enough to write down the ingredients in each sample. I would never disrespect you or your property that way. So sorry!

I’ve been to enough of these events to start recognizing other attendees…mostly by their tattoos.

Love, love, loved that the circulating staff was bopping to the techno as hard as I was.

Inferno Cider Hot Cider, Becherovka, Devil’s Cut Bourbon, Spices. Good.

The Sausage:

Holy Moly! 16 stations, plus Dante was offering pink clam chowder “‘Cause every sausage needs a clam” and a green minestrone “Eat your veggies dammit!” Kimchi, cranberry, jalapeño and complicated seemed to be the three themes. Most sausage came with, in or on bread or another starch. Every morsel came with a wet, flavored counterpoint. And if you were studying for some sort of condiment vocabulary quiz, the offerings would have been a great review – coulis, aioli, relish, jelly, and chimichurri all made appearances.

What was great about it? Well sausage, duh. But, honestly the two best aspects were the execution and the atmosphere. This was a really, really well-run event. I don’t know what the experience was like for the chefs, but as an eater everything seemed seamless. There were plenty of utensils and napkins and yummy things to eat and spaces to alight. The chefs were right there! I mean if you muttered something to your friend about “Oh my God, I loved that.” The chef who made ‘that’ heard it and said thank you and maybe even started a conversation. And everyone was in a really great mood. Maybe it was the 60 degree weather in November. Maybe the room was stacked with friends of the chefs who were all becoming friends with each other. Maybe the whole thing is just so ridiculous because it’s totally embarrassing to say you’re going to a sausage fest, but it’s totally delicious to be at a sausage fest. I’m not sure, but being in the room and on the patio with a couple hundred strangers actually felt a lot like being at someone’s big, inclusive family dinner. “It doesn’t matter if you’re related! You like sausage doncha?” It was great.

If you did go and you got there after 4, I’m sorry. By 3:30 I had already missed the clam chowder and two stations because they ran out. Here’s what I did try:

  • Bissonette – Toro – Thai Sausage w/kimchi
  • Byrne – The Truth Hurts – Smoked Venison Sausage w/ cranberry-apple jam
  • Caturano – Prezza – ran out before I got to them, appeared to have a classic sausage & peppers
  • Dandro – ArtBar – Wild Boar + Cherry
  • Deluty – Stella – Pork Sausage w/ Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onion & Citrus Aioli
  • DiBiccari – Storyville – Braised Lamb Sausage, Ricotta, Hazlenut
  • DiPaola – Damiano – Giant Sausage Bolognese Arancini
  • Henry-Zoubir – Church – Pork Sazerac Sausage w/ jalepeño relish on white grit hoecake
  • Kovel – Catalyst – Pork Fennel Sausage in a cherry pepper w/ parmesan crumbs, roasted onion & garlic coulis & green sauce
  • Lynch – Gruppo – Pork sausage w/ pickled carrot, pickled mustard seed, harissa yogurt
  • Murillo – Avila – Spanish Pork Sausage w/Fried Yucca & Lime
  • Abell & Nookie – Red Sox – Turkey sausage w/cranberry sauce & stuffing
  • Orfaly – Pigalle – ran out before I got to them
  • Poe – Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake – Turducken Sausage w/jalepeño & something else relish (sorry Brian!)
  • Smith – Tico – Chorizo w/ citrus chimichurri & tempura pig skin (& a jalapeño element?)
  • Yeo – Om – Kimchi Stew w/ duck sausage
  • Ziskin – LaMorra – Boar Red Wine Sausage w/ kumquat jelly.

Ultimately, I voted for Stella, Church and Tico though I do not remember in what order. Stella’s offering was served on a round of dough that was soft, white and reminiscent of pork buns. Tico’s chorizo was just plain good. Church was tasty and had a lot of whimsy. I cannot resist whimsy. Avila’s yucca was cooked to perfection. The Red Sox Thanksgiving-themed offering was a guilty pleasure. The Truth Hurts had really great smokiness. ArtBar served their sausage on french bread carefully cut to the shape of a tiny hot dog bun and grilled. Brilliant and adorable. Brian Poe is a real gentleman. I ran into him several times crossing the crowded spaces and he was always chivalrous and warm.

Long live Sausage Fest!

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3 thoughts on “Sausage Fest 2011 at Dante: Sizzlin’!

  1. I saw the briefest pic of the Sausage party, looking for more info I came across your post.
    What a treat, you are a very good writer, your charm and enthusiasm are uplifting and
    your attention to detail made the reporting informative, you made me wish I had attended.
    Good piece! Thanks fir sharing it.
    David Vos

    1. *blush* Aww shucks. Seriously, thank you for taking the time to read the post and the time to respond. And if you’re ever on the fence about attending an event, drop me a note, I’m happy to offer an opinion :) Happy eating!

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