High quality, high fat, unsalted butter really does matter. Out to dinner at THE BUTCHER SHOP in Boston's South End many years ago, the waiter casually brought a thick rectangle of pale lemon colored, salt crystal dusted butter to the table. Sharing the same plate was a dollop of Vermont honey and, to the side, was a basket of Irish soda bread. After gobbling up far too much of this delicious "on the house" plate and trying hard not to cancel the food order and opt for another platter of humble bread and butter, I asked the waiter what the secret ingredient was. He only said, "the butter matters" and scurried off to attend to other guests. That weekend I bought 6 different butters and a baguette and set off on a butter journey to discover the absolute best tasting churned cream. Ever since, I consider myself somewhat of a butter connoisseur. My thoughts about butter changed forever. Thinking I might be onto something, I served a similar appetizer at a gathering of six couples. Unsurprised, but pleased with myself, we found guests sneaking back to the dining room for one more piece of bread slathered in butter and dipped in honey.
The best unsalted, all purpose, everyday butter stocked in the Boston area is Kate's Farm Fresh from Maine Homemade Butter. Great for cookies and sautéing vegetables. For morning toast, Kerrygold Pure Irish Salted Butter reigns at our breakfast table. Both these butters are made from hormone free milk, and both a bit pricey. If baking huge quantities, Plugra European butter may be a more affordable option without giving up too much on taste. All three of these butters have more fat than their average butter cousins which allows for flakier pie crusts, higher rising cakes and more evenly crisped cookies.