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04 March 2012

Tonight's Episode: The Girl's Favorite Chef

We get asked all the time "Where is your favorite place to eat?" There are so many ways to answer that one: price point, style of food, occasion. One question we are asked a lot is a little easier to answer. "Who is your favorite Chef?" For The Girl it is Anson's Jeremy Holst. He is, after all, the man who taught her to like fish.
Chef Jeremy (Center) with cookbook author Michael Ruhlman (Left) and Zack (the guy who looks like a not-sleazy Ari Gold from Entourage) 

My favorite thing about dining with Chef Jeremy is just trusting in him and letting him decide what I'm going to eat. Menu? Who needs it. His creativity and technique are on par with any of our James Beard award-winning chefs. Here is our most recent dinner at Anson.

Not fair how pretty this is

First course is a crudo of scallops with beets, watermelon radish, and a cucumber-jalapeno sorbet. Not only a beautiful dish, but perfectly balanced and clean. The flavor profile was so well thought out it is scary. The sorbet has a clean flavor, with the essence of heat, that rounds this dish out perfectly.

What, no saltines? 

Next are oysters on the half shell with a ginger mignonette and a tomato gremolata. The ginger again gives you the thrill of spice without hurting your tongue, and the gremolata is cool and refreshing with the wonderfully briny oysters.
My type of finger food

For my "app" I went with the country paté ($12), with bread and butter pickles and pickled green beans, chow chow, and mustards and onion relish, and a kitchen sink, and a......Well, if you are a paté fan then this dish is money. I could take this on a picnic in France, pop a nice Bordeaux, and be happy. No flaws, only happiness.
Waste of toast, just need a fork

The Girl, true to her sick obsession, orders pimento cheese ($8). She packs it away into a to-go box so it will be her breakfast AND lunch the next day. I'm sure you could pay her in this cheese. 
Think local, eat a neighbor

Folly Creek clams? Apparently we have those. Cook in some white-wine and some andouille and you have yet another winning dish.
Scallops. 'Nuff said

Perfectly cooked scallops ($27). The Girl judges every chef on how they cook the little mollusks. Check out the tittle to this post to find out just how perfect they were.
Reason #4,493,603 why I can't keep Kosher

For my entree, Chef Jeremy sent out a Keegan-Filion Farms double cut pork chop with a cherry-pork jus ($24). The sauce was decadent, the vegetables perfect, and the pork was tasty as hell, though I like seeing more pink in my pork, but that's a personal preference.

Anson has many things going for it: location, a great wait staff, fantastic chef. I wish they would promote Chef Jeremy more. Go to their web page and there is not a mention of this talented chef with a bright future. I suggest you take a trip to Anson before the critics realize just how good their chef is and reservations become scarce.

The Scores:
Ambiance: 4/5
Food: 9.5/10
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Overall: 22.5 out of 25  A Chef with immense talent, worth the visit so you can say you were there BEFORE he won a James Beard

Anson on Urbanspoon

Tonight's Episode: Paired Perfectly

One of the highlights of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival is, in my mind, the Perfectly Paired Dinners. A host of local restaurants welcome in world-class chefs from around the country to craft a singular dining experience. Tickets for these dinners go on sale 6 months in advance. Many of them sell out within minutes. When they went on sale at 10AM, I was ready and waiting, and boy did we score.

Our dinner was at Tristan, home of one of Charleston's most imaginative chefs, Nate Whiting. Nate has a whimsical grasp of modern cuisine that deserves recognition far in excess of what he receives. Joining him are two Top Chef Masters. First, Portuguese impresario George Mendes, the man behind NYC's Aldea  The second, Canadian superstar Hugh Acheson, Chef/Partner of Five & Ten in Georgia. Also joining in is Andrew Rich, owner of Andrew Rich Wines of Oregon's Willamette Valley.
 I am not sure what George is doing, but Hugh is waxing philosophic

Chef's Compliment, one bite to please them all

We start the night with a Chef's Compliment from Chef Whiting, King trumpet mushrooms with aloe-peach condiment, espelette, and lemon argumato. This one-bite wonder is elegantly smooth, earthy, and bright. Wonderful start!

I would rather this be stacked like a sandwich, but thats just so I can eat it faster

First course, from Chef Mendes, is cured foie gras with Bosc pear jam, radish/nasturtium, and Canadian maple syrup, paired with a 2009 Andrew Rich Tabula Rasa White. This iteration of foie is creamy and smooth, and tastes faintly like an earthy sorbet. I love it. The Girl finds the richness a little overpowering, so I enjoy a half-portion extra. The Tabula Rasa has a floral acidity, and a nice weight, but maybe a touch too acidic for the foie.

Yes, those are beets, she doesn't like beets. I LOOOOOOVE beets. 

Second course, also from Chef Mendes is a Bacalhau confit with burnt bread emulsion, smoked baby beets, and spiced yogurt, paired with a 2009 Andrew Rich Pinot Noir Verbatim. Bacalhau is a Portuguese salt cod and has a firm texture and beautifully clean flavor. The burnt bread emulsion has a delightful caramel flavor. The smoky beets give this dish a presence. The smoke also changes the character of the wine, which has dark berry and licorice notes. The smoky beets and the wine combine to exude an even deeper layer of flavor.

Genius on a plate

Third course, from Chef Whiting, may be one of the most memorable dishes I've ever had. Even now, days later, I have the taste of the sauce firmly in my mind. This is a lobster & veal marrow agnolotti with pomelo cells, carrot puree, and sea urchin & ginger espume. The pasta on its own has such a depth of flavor, add in the filling and sauce and you have a buttery rich, decadent, and all around BAD-ASS dish. The wine with this dish is a 2007 Andrew Rich Roussanne Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. This wine has massive fruit and acidity and is perfect for the rich raviolis.

Yep, thats a can 'o soup

Chef Acheson's first dish is a playful and simple-seeming Quebecois pea soup in a can with tiny fried gnocchi, deviled ham meatballs, and pickled radish. The meatballs were way too much for The Girl, but I loved them. The depth of flavor in this soup is amazing, and the pickled radish gives it a fantastic balance. This was paired with the 2008 Andrew Rich Pinot Noir The Knife Edge, a wine spectator 90 point behemoth of crushed raspberries, restraint, and acidity. One hell of a Pinot.

Chef Hugh can do elegant too

Chef Acheson's second course was a Gum Creek pork loin with lard, Brussels & barley risotto, pickled blueberries, spring onion soubise, and hard cider. The pork was spot-on, perfect, amazingly good. The Girl, surprisingly, loved the risotto. So there is a way to get her to eat Brussels sprouts after all. Her one complaint, not enough blueberries. These pickled blueberries taste more blueberrish (that is a word) than any I've ever had. In probably the best pairing of the night, we have the 2009 Andrew Rich Syrah Prometheus, a blueberry and licorice blend with an amazing mouth feel. 
Andrew Rich, bringing a little taste of Oregon to Charleston

Desert, sadly for The Girl, not chocolate

Our final course comes from Tristan's Chef Amanee Neirouz, captain of the After-Dinner menu. A Meyer  lemon curd with cardamom biscuit and aerated pistachio. For me, with my dislike of really sweet desserts, this is a home run. For The Girl, it is somewhat of a let down. She really wanted SWEEEEEEET. For the sweetness we turn to the 2008 Gewürztraminer Vin de Glace, packed with tropical fruit, this almost-ice wine is sweet but has enough acidity to not be cloying or syrupy.

I think he is surprised at how good things are going

This dinner was exceptional. Having one chef turn out a meal of this quality is hard enough, never less having three men coordinating. These three pulled it off. The Girl is beyond pleased, which means I'm beyond pleased. The only down-side? Not being able to order these dishes on the regular menu.

The Girl and Chef Mendes

#Forkandtell #Charleston #Tristan

02 March 2012

Charleston Wine and Food Opening Ceremonies

March brings to Charleston one of the premier food festivals in the country, the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival.   The brain-child of Executive Chef Marc Collins of Circa 1886, this year's festival kicked off today in Marion Square. For this 7th iteration, we had Mayor Joe Riley praising drive and vision, Chef Sean Brock continuing his "taking over the world" tour, Mickey Baskt being his charming (and emotional) self, and two charities bringing home big-ass checks. What a wonderful, 90 degree Charleston day!
The Man, the Myth, the Legend...Circa 1886's Chef Marc Collins

Mayor Joe, praising our Culinary Family

I'm a sucker for Le Creuset 

Charleston Wine + Food Festival Director, and all-around Superwoman Angel Postell

 Chef Marc, getting his well-deserved moment in the sun

Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's and Husk, accepting an award and thanking the great Charleston Chefs who paved the way.

Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill accepting a check for $25,000 for Feed the Need

$15,000 for Lowcountry Local First, growing the next generation of farmers

And because Charleston is so beautiful:


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