Monday, July 21, 2008

Agawam Diner

Rowely, MA

I love this place. There is only one diner that compares as far as I can tell (The Millbrook Diner in Millbrook, NY). I first read about it in Saveur Magazine and knew I had to go. To make matters even more exciting, a few of our college friends lived near by. I rallied the troops during a trip to Massachusetts. Jack stays with his friend who introduced us and I stay with my best friend Liz. We met up on Saturday morning for breakfast and headed over to the diner. Both of our friends had been there, but did not realize it was an event. Something to be excited about. Liz used to come by for a slice of pie on her way home from swim practice. Our other friend said that she had an uncle who would stand on line early on Thanksgiving mornings waiting for any flavor of pie he could get.

I prickled with enthusiasm. This was what I had read! The diner itself is a landmark. Somewhere where eggs and bacon and toast and coffee are all presented quickly and with love. I have always said that love is the most important ingredient in eggs other than eggs themselves. You can love your powdered eggs as much as you want, they will never ever count as an ingredient. Sorry cafeterias! Anyway, diner, eggs, love. Agawam does it! I ordered my standard diner test: Corned Beef Hash, 2 eggs over-easy and a toasted English muffin-dry. From there, I set to work on my egg/hash pizza. English muffin bottom. There is no need for butter on this baby, it is going to have enough fat and flavor in just a second. Then comes the hash. I have to admit, while I enjoy a home-made hash, there is something sentimental about the canned stuff. My mom used to sauté it till it had a caramelized crust on the bottom. Mmmmmm. So there it goes. And on top, I gently put the egg. Then, I actually eat it like a pizza. I cut tiny little pie slices out of it. Bite by bite.

And the Agawam Diner was there for me. They make their own hash. I know, I was nervous too. And I hope that they will not hate me when I say, it was like canned! It had the same consistency, a slightly less processed color (probably just as well) and tasted even better than mom’s canned hash. Hooray! I can now say I like home-made hash…as long as it’s like canned.
The potatoes are great. There is virtually no crispiness to them. They are firm enough to still be potatoes, and cooked with some sort of seasoning (bacon grease) that gives it meaty layers and a softness on the outside. Honestly, they are great! Different from the hash browns I look for generally, but perfect as they are.

They also do a flawless egg and cheese sandwich. Not too much cheese, an egg cooked so perfectly that it runs when you bite the middle, but doesn’t cover the entire plate with goo. I recommend it to anyone. They also use an old fashioned register so the receipt comes out old and typed and old fashionably-low.

And then, there is the pie. Have you read the article yet? Are you in the car on the way to the diner yet? There is a man in this family owned, generationally owned place, who spends day after day in the basement, cooking miraculous pies. And they are. Miraculous. The article said that he can tell just by the feel of the crust if there is enough ____________ in it. I have tried the Lemon Meringue, the Blackberry, and now the Blueberry. Jack suggested that we take one to our host (my great uncle) in Maine as a welcome/thank-you present. I thought it was a great idea till the waitress said, “oh. I only have Lemon Meringue and …[something else that she wasn’t excited about]” then she said, in response to our said faces “let me go ask him.” “Him!” I whispered to Jack. “he’s here! The pie master!” and she returned with a far more interesting list. We chose Blueberry and off we went to see my diabetic grand-uncle and to eat almost the entire pie.

As you read the Maine entries, please before and after each one, “and then I ate the best darn Blueberry Pie ever made.”

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