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.

May 4, 2015

May Home Cookery: Szechuan and More

I kicked off May with some home-cooking. Was out of town good bit in April, and it was good to get back in the kitchen for some weekend cooking projects. Above is a pic of some spicy Szechuan treats I made last Saturday. Pictured are hot and numbing beef, dry fried green beans, twice fired eggplant, and smashed cucumber in chili oil. I threw in some General Tsao's chicken for the kids. Fuchsia Dunlop's understated book, Every Grain of Rice is an essential resource for these dishes.
If you hear "hot and numbing beef" and think, maybe I shouldn't drink wine with that, remember German Riesling is your friend here. The Spatlese above showed a rather youthful and rich white fruit that soothed the fire from the food and really worked well with all of the dishes.
I also made this decadent lasagna bolognese following Kenji's Food Lab recipe. I think I refer to Kenji for recipes as much as any other cooking authority. Per usual, with Kenji's stuff, this lasagna rocked. The three hour bolognese with veal, lamb, and pork was a good place to start.