It’s summertime and if you look around, you’ll notice that tomatoes are ripe and abundant. They’re in salads, they’re on sandwiches, they’re in your gazpacho. They’re everywhere! So here’s a recipe for something a little different from Will Artley: a tomato jam. The chef suggests serving it on scallops, on toast, and I think it would even go quite well on some roasted chicken. Plus, if you are a little more advanced, you can can the jam and have it last for months. Click through to find the full recipe.
Will Artley greets me with a bear-claw handshake, wearing bright Nantucket red pants and a matching hat that succinctly and accurately states, “No Farms, No Food.” After a quick cup of coffee, the executive chef of the Evening Star Cafe suggests we head out to the restaurant’s small “farm,” a gorgeous and overflowing vegetable patch about a mile away. “I put the doors on my Jeep since I knew you were coming,” he laughs. “I figured you wouldn’t want to ride on the motorcycle!” Will takes the opportunity to educate me on the “Jeep wave,” which has different protocol depending on the varying degrees of Jeep-ness.
I had met Will before at a few food events, but it quickly became clear that Will is a character in the best sense of the word. He’s incredibly friendly, but if you saw his serious face, you probably wouldn’t want to mess with him. “I like the instant gratification of cooking,” he says. “You can change people’s mood with food. They can have sat in traffic and be in a bad mood. But if you give them one taste and it changes their attitude, that’s rewarding.” Will adds that he also volunteers time each Monday at the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority teaching low-income families how to cook and eat healthy. “Cooking can change lives. If you’re in this business, you should be in it to make people happy,” he says.
In my humble opinion, cheese shops are too few and far between. Americans settle for the lactic crap that comes in baggies at super markets and fail to enjoy the finer aspects of one of God’s greatest creations. Sure, cheddar melted over tortilla chips has its place, but there’s so much that goes unrealized in the world of cheese. Fortunately, there’s a place in Del Ray called Cheesetique: it purveys the wonders of excellent fromage to the greater DC area.
Cheestique is, perhaps, the brightest star in the glimmering neighborhood of Del Ray, Alexandria. Over the past few years, this quaint area has been a haven for simple, unpretentious restaurants that serve excellent food to the many young families that occupy the neighborhood. None is as well conceptualized or executed as the Cheesetique. By day it serves as a specialized grocery with dozens of excellent cheeses and decent bottles of wine. By night, it’s a wine and cheese bar that is the first stop for a date night, or as the romantic destination itself. The former iteration was my first exposure to it.