December 22, 2014

Favorites, 2014 Edition

A quick reflection on some favorite things in 2014. From the home-cooking files, a few dishes I was happy with. The ricotta and fig salad above hit the right notes when fresh figs were in season back over the summer.
Fried oyster and steak tartare with pickled red onions and chive oil. Made this for a dinner with friends. I stole the idea from Mike Lata's rendition at The Ordinary in Charleston.
I've gotten pretty good at making ramen and pho at home. Let's just say it's good enough to scratch that itch when I don't feel like driving up Buford Highway and I get the satisfaction of knowing I can pull it off at home. For ramen, I really like making Ivan Orkin's seafood stock version from his Ivan Ramen cookbook, which is also one of my favorite things this year.
I like Kenji's recipe for tradtional beef pho, but I also find myself gravitating to the clean, pure flavors of Ed Lee's chicken and country ham pho from his excellent book.
Domaine Olga Raffault makes great Cabernet Franc from Chinon that can age a good while. This 1990 was one of my favorite wines of the year. Great Cabernet Franc that won't break the bank.
I also reaffirmed my love for Savart's Champagne this year. One of my favorite wines. I drank a good bit of this in 2014. While it took me a while, I'm fully on board with the fact that Champagne is not just for special occasions. I drink Champagne regularly now, it goes with everything.
Summer of Cheeseburgers with my son. We had a good time, he ate a lot of cheeseburgers. One Eared Stag's Meat Stick came out on top for us, but General Muir, Holeman & Finch, and Bocado were all winning burgers.
Charleston Eats: Still one of my favorite cities to visit. So much good food, and several new places came out swinging in 2014. I made multiple visits to Edmund's Oast, The Obstinate Daughter, and Leon's Oyster Shop this year. Strong stuff. Can't wait to go back!
Beer! Drank some good beer this year. Including the cult favorites Heady Topper and Ghandi Bot. The Maine Beer Co are always solid, and a nod to my favorites from the south: Westbrook Brewing out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. It was a good year, see you in '15.

December 9, 2014

Grand Champion Bbq at Krog Street Market

Krog Street Market, I can't quit you. If I keep visiting Krog Street Market multiple times in a week it isn't going to end well for my wallet or my waistline. That being said, I was easily talked into another visit to KSM with a friend who had not yet been. This time, Grand Champion Bbq was open, having been the most recent addition to the growing food offerings. Having established themselves as a serious bbq contender in the OTP bbq scene, the outpost at KSM is Grand Champion's first foray ITP. Based on the compact size of the food stalls at KSM, we thought Grand Champion might be smoking there meats offsite and bringing it in, but sure enough, they managed to maximize their space with a decent size smoker behind the counter. The ribs and brisket were excellent, fully of peppery spice, smoke, and tender goodness. Huge sides of gooey mac-and-cheese and collards (that lacked a little oomph) would certainly feed more than a couple people.
The brisket. Nice bark, melting-ly tender, and full of smoke and pepper. Very good. It will be hard to resist return visits to Grand Champion and they are definitely another winning addition to the KSM food scene.
Despite stuffing our faces with bbq, we saved some room for more snacks at Fred's and Yalla. The smoked catfish po-boy above can be added to your list of can't miss sandwiches at Fred's. One of the keys here is the bread from jedi-bread-ninja Rob Alexander who has conjured up a respectable recreation of Leidenheimer- style french bread that makes po-boys in Nola so special.

For dessert, some more snacks from Yalla, including the pita special with sweet potato, maple labne, and cracklings. With, of course, banging fresh pita from Rob Alexander and crew. Until next time, Krog Street Market, and it won't be long...

December 1, 2014

Yalla at Krog Street Market

I think Krog Street Market is going to be problematic for my wallet and waistline. After a visit to Fred's Meat and Bread for lunch earlier in the week, I returned for dinner at Yalla on Saturday night. From the same team behind General Muir, and Fred's,Yalla is a middle eastern food stall right adjacent to Fred's. They are only doing dinner at Yalla for now as they adjust to the huge crowds at both stalls. 
Our first visit was great, though the staff was clearly struggling to work through the many variations one could make to the menu. Proteins and mains can be ordered as pitas or platters, each fully customizable with numerous roasted and grilled vegetables as well as things like labne and tahini. Each of the five dished we tried were strong, many flavors true to what I remember from my Syrian grandmother's kitchen as a kid. The falafel above offer a lighter rendition of a chickpea fritter packed with mint, cilantro, and parsley flavor.
Sabich pita filled with roasted eggplants, eggs, and pickles. This was excellent with fresh pita made just prior to service.
Blurry picture of the excellent schwarma platter with added pickles, labne, harissa and roasted onions and eggplant. I could see eating at Yalla often, with numerous options and variations there are multiple ways to approach each meal, and by today's standards, there is a good bit of value for what Yalla delivers.
One of the many cool things about KSM is that you have numerous options for dining and drinking under one roof. For example, after strolling and shopping a bit we stopped in to The Luminary for drinks and snacks before our dinner at Yalla. Good drinks at The Luminary; the smoked wings had decent smoke flavor and a curry aioli that added a nice spicy lift.