Last Friday night Tim Sullivan dug a large hole in his back yard. He backed a truckload full of lumber and firewood up to the hole, unloaded the wood into it, and threw in a match. A good, hot fire began spitting flames.
Sullivan, the burly bearded bagpiper and maple syrup purveyor at the Rockport Farmers’ Market, then stirred together soaked kidney beans, maple syrup, onions and a few mystery ingredients in a large black caldron. He placed the lid on the pot, and set it down into the hole of now inferno-worthy embers. Grave-digger style, he shoveled the dirt back on top of all, burying the pot of beans within the glowing coals. Then he turned back into his house, had dinner, and went to bed.
That same Friday, I pulled out the best cod cake recipe I know, from Gloucester’s Gino Mondello at the Dory Shop. I made a bechamel, which mixes gently into a bowl of freshly steamed cod and potatoes. I tossed in an egg, and a few stray ingredients, mixed all, covered the bowl, and refrigerated it. Then I went to bed.
Early Saturday morning, Sullivan shoveled the soil off his sweet, bubbling, ruby-colored beans; I patted my mixture into fishcakes, rolled them in breadcrumbs and fried them in a pan shining with a shallow layer of hot olive oil. All this while, Mike Ciaramitaro was mixing together his Trupiano’s sausage, like he does every week for Saturday’s Rockport Farmers’ Market.
This – the steaming brew of smokey beans, the tender fish cakes and the grilled savory chunks of Trupiano’s sausage – we served for a very special breakfast at the Rockport Farmers’ Market last Saturday.
Admit it, you’re sorry you missed it, right? Besides lumber camps in Maine, and maybe some history-serious boyscouts, nowhere in the world are people still making baked beans this way. Homemade sausage is the only kind to ever have. Gino Mondello will serve you fishcakes browned in a big copper pan on his woodstove, but you better know when he’s making them.
Proceeds from the breakfast went to benefit The Rockport Farmers’ Market. This is the kind of quirky event we do at Rockport Festivals, the group that manages the Rockport Farmers’ Market – events that blend old and new, always with a nod to the granite, ocean and history that is Cape Ann. Thanks to Tim Sullivan and Mike Ciaramitaro for donating their time and deliciousness. – and thanks to Tim Sullivan for most of these photos.