After a brief stop in Nevada, we return to Arizona and the fine city of Tucson. Located in southern Arizona, spring is a time of fresh fruits and vegetables. Located in slowly warming New Hampshire, it always is surprising to me that other parts of the country already have access to locally grown produce. The Abbey is one of those fortunate restaurants.
Although a younger restaurant, opening in October 2010, there is nothing infantile about it. Under the guidance of Executive Chef Virginia “Ginny” Wooters and restauranteur Brian Metzger, this restaurant serves distinctive yet simple food. We were able to speak with Chef Wooters to learn more about their spring menu.
TT: How many new dishes have you added to your menu?
CW: We have added six items to the menu.
TT: Reviewing your spring menu, I noticed that one of your items is Baked Brie Wellington with Roasted Grape Jam, which sounds amazing. What is it served with? What type of grapes?
CW: We use red grapes, which we roast in a pan until the skins gets brown and soft. Then we purée them and add pectin and a little sugar. We serve it with sliced Granny Smith apples.
TT: Out of the spring dishes, which is your favorite menu item?
CW: It’s a toss up between the salmon and scallops. The salmon, right now, is served over carrot ginger purée (which gives the feel of a mashed potato), pan-roasted brussel sprouts with bacon lardon, baby beet greens, and a white balsamic orange juice carrot juice reduction. The scallops are served with a salad on top and pan-roasted fingerlings with bacon. The salad consists of butter lettuce, fennel, grapefruit, red onion, and a brown butter balsamic vinaigrette.
TT: Are any of the ingredients in these dishes locally sourced?
CW: Some of the ingredients are local, such as the tomatoes, lettuce, and meats. Some of our specialty items can be difficult to get. For example, the English peas have to come from California.
TT: For how long will these spring items be available?
CW: One of the great things about Brian (Metzger) is that we do menu printing in house. If an item is not going well, we can change it pretty quickly. However, typically a special menu lasts two or three months.
TT: What makes your spring menu unique?
CW: Everything is homemade and so fresh. Our menu has a comforting feel, like it is something you have had in the past, something you can identify with. No matter what time of year it is everything is made from scratch. Homemade buttermilk biscuits are the crust on our pot pie. Our meats are cured in house. Our desserts are made in house. We’re so busy it’s almost hard to keep up with it. All the work is worth it, though, as it gives our restaurant a comforting, familiar feel.