July 5, 2015

July's Kitchen Exploits

Seems a month has gone by since I updated this blog. Just don't have the time lately, and it seems that I get feedback more quickly dropping pictures on to Instagram where my legions of fans rush to double tap it. That being said, I've had some time for cooking. Here's the highlights:
Black vinegar-glazed pork belly buns from Kevin Gillespie's, Pure Pork Awesomeness cookbook. Pork belly is brined for a couple days, compressed for a couple days, then deep fried, and topped with pickled carrots, cabbage, and cilantro. I bought the buns on Buford Highway; I'm not that crazy. Tasty as heck, but too much work to make these with any regularity at home. I'm looking forward to Kevin's Revival, opening this month in Decatur.
I had some buddies over last week for a night of cooking, eating, and mass wine consumption. Like we did in the good 'ol days, circa 2011. Above, my dish of pickled shrimp (can't get enough pickled shrimp these days, I blame Edmund's Oast) on pumpernickel toast with fennel, radish, and chive oil.
Beef tartare topped with fried oyster and broccoli sprouts and balsamic reduction. Too much acid in this dish...live and learn.
My buddy Jimmy made these tasty sopes with beef that was kept sous-vide for four days. The beef was fall apart tender with great flavor. Always wanted to make sopes and now I get it and will do them again soon.
We drank some decent wines. It was a good night. I was moving slow on Thursday. Until next time...

June 9, 2015

Summer Homecooking

Some recent home cooking exploits as the weather heats up and my palate shifts to fresher and lighter flavors. Above, some-Szechuan-style pork dumplings in a spicy chili oil. A tasty dish, from a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop's great book, Every Grain of Rice.
Making dumplings isn't easy, and you need to dedicate some time to do it right. I  need to work on my folding, to get the traditional "water caltrop" shape, but I was pretty happy with how these turned out.
I also made this terrific pickled shrimp salad on pumpernickel dish. My homage to the great dish at Edmund's Oast in Charleston picture below. I'm developing a real love for pickled shrimp as a warm weather snack. While many southern chefs have renditions, I used the Lee Brothers' recipe for this dish. The shrimp plays great off the aioli, warm bread, and crunch from the fennel and radish.
Edmund's Oast's killer version that lead me down this path.

June 2, 2015

Recent Eats & Drinks

Biscuits and pastrami gravy at the always-excellent General Muir. I've never been disappointed with a meal at General Muir. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Excellent. Always.
Pretty pate with maple gelee, peanuts and flowers at Kimball House. I used to think of KH as just a go-to for drinks and oysters, but over the past year, the food continues to improve and impress.
Tagliatelle Carbonara at No. 246. I feel the same about No. 246 as I have for the past three years. It's good. It never wows, but never really disappoints. It's my go-to place in Decatur with out-of-town visitors with less-then-adventurous tastes.
This recent charcuterie selection at No. 246 was actually pretty strong.
Octopus and sausage at St. Cecilia. I like St. Cecilia. If it was on my side of town I would visit more often. Good dish, though it pales in comparison to Bocca Lupo's rendition.
With the onset of the southern summer my wine-drinking shifts to crisp white wines, and increasingly, Champagne. Ultramarine makes some ultra-rare and mind-bendingly good sparkling wine from California.
Even better, sparkling wine from Champagne. Savart rocks.


May 26, 2015

Charleston: Artisan Meat Share, Edmund's Oast, The Obstinate Daugter, Minero

I spent a long weekend in one of my favorite cities and ate and drank my share. I suppose it has to do with the fact that I'm on vacation when I'm there, but Charleston is like my Lake Wobegon, every experience there is above average. This is especially true when it comes to food. Our first stop in town on this trip was at Craig Deihl's new shop, Artisan Meat Share. Deihl is like a meat whisperer, he works magic with cured meats. AMS is a small deli-type shop with a large take-out business and a dozen small tables for eating on-site.
Pate melt. Creamy, silky, pate topped with swiss, pickled bitter greens and mayo on buttered and grilled challah. Beautiful stuff.
"Bun mi" with smoked ham, pate, pickled veggies and mayo. Somewhere between a banh mi and a bun, but clearly also somewhere awesome.
I pretty much went nuts over Edmund's Oast the very first time I visited last year. Having been there three times over the past year, I'm running out of superlatives for it. I love the place. The pickled shrimp on rye, a mainstay on the menu since opening, is just brilliant. I don't know why it works so well, but it does. Pickled shrimp, with fennel, carrot, radish, red onion, dill...and a creamy aioli on a warm piece of rye toast. It's freaking heaven, this dish. Ah, anyway, it's good. Go try it.
Made a return visit to The Obstinate Daughter on sleepy Sullivan's Island, a quick 20 minute ride from downtown Charleston. The OD is a another new favorite that seems to be getting stronger with each visit. Above is a perfect spring "salad" of peas and favas with prosciutto and Parmesan.
Also from the OD, chicken with farro and fried brussel sprouts and black truffle. Strong dish.
Saturday night we fought the crowds and got an early table at Sean Brock's newest Charleston venture, Minero. It's a taco shop, really, but like all of Brock's restaurants, Minero over-delivers due in part to the thoughtfulness behind the design, food, and execution. Good news for Atlanta people as there will be a Minero outpost at Ponce City Market this fall. We tried a few items, including five different tacos. They were all great in their own way. Not worth picking favorites but the charcoaled chicken, green chorizo, and carnitas were all certainly memorable.
Fun chip service with something akin to a Mexican-themed oven mitt used to hold the hot chips. Fun, and brilliant, as the chips stay warmer than when served in a traditional basket. The chips come with three salsas, a red-ancho based, green tomatillo, and a peanut-mole. While I don't have a picture, the star of the meal, aside from the tacos, were the charcoal grilled chicken wings. Holy crap, some great wings. The wait staff tosses the wings with Valentina-to order, tableside when your hot wings come out from the kitchen. Great touch. Great wings.
Cool custom tables at Minero feature drawers at each seat where you find your utensils. It's hard to not eat really well in Charleston. I'm ready to go back. Until next time.

May 14, 2015

Le Lunch at Le Fat

In an attempt to occasionally resuscitate my little blog here, I figured I'd post some pics of a recent lunch at had at Guy Wong's new-ish Vietnamese brasserie, Le Fat. Le Fat has been open for dinner for about six weeks and just started serving lunch on May 12th. The menu is compact and features a good number of classics one might expect from a Vietnamese cafe.
We started with the crispy spring rolls and refreshing and perfectly seasonal papaya salad. I'd visit again just for this salad with its crunchy papaya, mango, and apple playing nicely off the spicy, citrus-spiked, thai vinaigrette. Since we were sharing plates, our server split the papaya salad into two smaller bowls, it's actually larger than what you see above.
Bbq beef short ribs and pickles. Good flavor, smokiness, and char to the tender beef.
The wonton dumplings with spicy chili soy oil and crispy shallots. This dish is normally only on the dinner menu, but lunching with the Buddha does come with certain advantages. These wontons killed it. I want more. And more from Le Fat, but next time at dinner. However, now is when I lament that I live in Decatur (not really, because, well, Decatur) and getting over to the Westside is a pain in the ass most days, so I probably won't frequent Le Fat as often as I'd like. That's alright, though, I'll just wait patiently for Big Boss Chinese to open to see what else Guy Wong has in mind.