It was the chance of a lifetime.
Every week I canvas our nation’s newspapers and periodicals to glean articles about the charcuterie kings of right now. If there’s a man in North Dakota making a notable pancetta, I want to know about him.
If there’s a woman in Alabama curing a world-beating guanciale then she’s on my beat and needs to have her work broadcast. This is the method that drew me into the world of John Ostrowski and the famous Polish sausages of Baltimore.
Unfortunately it was in the form of an obituary as the charcutier had passed away and was being lionized by Maryland media for producing some of the best sausages on the Eastern seaboard.
Then it happened.
I was hovering over the Twitter stream last week when a thread announced that Ostrowski’s new owner, John Reusing of Baltimore bar Bad Decisions fame, was in New Orleans with an ice chest filled with hot links from his Baltimore concern. Spitfire Bar in the French Quarter was the host and the entrepreneur would be setting up a grill to sell sausage po boys to the gathered drunks.
Walking into Spitfire I immediately fall into a depression. Katie Perry is booming on the hi fi and a fucking dog is standing on the bar. Dogs are noble creatures but the real estate of a bar top is a sacred space reserved for cold beers, mixed drinks and elbows, not dog feet.
The Katie Perry is another matter entirely.
No matter, we’re only in it for the sausage. $6 gets you a kielbasa cooked over a hot fire and served on a split po boy loaf. Since I want to make love to that sausage I request no condiments or toppings of any kind.
I want to taste the meat-and the meat is good. Simply seasoned with plentiful garlic and plain salt, the fine grind of the farce has all the character it needs. I imagine John Ostrowski smiling down from the heavens.
Next up: the Italian. Another simple po boy construction with nothing but meat and bread. This allows the sausage to shine without the flavor being muddled by any extraneous toppings. I immediately and openly fantasize about what this (delicious) fennel-heavy meat would taste like strewn across a pizza from Domenica.
This sausage would not be out of place at their chef Alon Shaya’s temple of cured meat over on Baronne.
Eating sausages from Ostrowski’s of Baltimore was something I’d had an idle dream or two of with little hope of those dreams actually coming to pass.
But sometimes a dream comes true.