Monday, August 20, 2007

The Black Strumpet

The first time I had Spätzle (a diminutive of Spatz, "small sparrows"), a German form of noodle, I was at a tacky German restaurant in Florida. Not very authentic, but still very tasty. The second time I had Spätzle, it was cooked by a German friend of mine. Very authentic. She pushed the dough, consisting of eggs, flour and salt, through a sieve into boiling water. She then baked it with cheese. YUM!

Since that time I have not seen Spätzle on too many menus around Boston. So you can imagine my excitement when I spotted on the menu of a quaint Portsmouth restaurant, 'Cashew-crusted Fried Chicken with wax bean-watermelon salad and SPAETZLE.' It was my lucky night (and I wasn't even paying!) The Black Trumpet is a two-story bistro and wine bar in the heart of Portsmouth’s historic old port. Both floors offer views of the Piscataqua River and tugboats that still escort enormous tankers into the harbor. Sadly, the first floor dining room was booked for the night, however, the upstairs bar had an equally intimate and convivial setting. We took our positions by the bar, ordered some drinks and waited for a table by the window to open up.

Maybe it was the darkened old floor boards and candlit low beamed ceiling, or perhaps it was the lovely view of the water from the quaint window seats? In any case, the place oozed historic charm and if I hadn't been so amused by a very untalented and somewhat apathetic juggler parked outside the window, I might have been rather annoyed by the hour-long wait for our food. When the dishes finally did arrive, they were hot and steamy; cooked to perfection. The classic "button" variety of Spätzle (Knöpfle) was served with a dash of cinnamon, which went amazingly well with the delicious fried chicken. Tops to whoever was back there in the kitchen, growing and harvesting the grain, raising the chickens and shelling those cashews for our meal!

I may have to try a hand at Spätzle-making myself. After all, it can't be that hard, right?

The Black Trumpet
29 Ceres Street
Portsmouth, NH

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