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08 September 2012

Tonight's Episode: 1886 Reasons to love the Guerrilla

  If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook (which you should), then it is no surprise to you how much I love Chef Marc Collins's cooking. The dishes he turns out at Circa 1886 are always elegant, thoughtful, and balanced, blending local fresh ingredients with high-end technique. Getting a chance to see him at work during a Guerrilla Cuisine dinner was a no brainer!

If you haven't heard of Guerrilla Cuisine yet, go back and check out our first dinner here. Okay, you're back? Pretty cool, huh? Well this dinner not only has a great chef, but a great location, The Property Owners Beach House at Dunes West, on the Isle of Palms. There is something about eating fantastic food while watching the ocean lap at your doorstep that I find rather inviting.

Joining the Girl and I are two of our friends, Florida transplants Wife Thrilla from Manilla and Husband the Jellyfish Kid (picked the wrong sea creature to wrestle with), and it is their first Guerrilla rodeo. The four of us, and 20 more of Charleston's coolest people, wander about before the dinner, conversing, and taking turns glancing at the microscopic kitchen they would be working in. Think of the kitchen at your average Extended Stay Suites. Eesh, glad Chef Marc is talented, I could barley make popcorn in that kitchen.


The cramped quarters in no way cut into the quality of the dishes presented. Starting off with a Scallop Ceviche with mango noodles, and raspberries. The clean, bright, super refreshing taste make this a perfect summer dish. The use of mango as noodles was both fun and beautiful.

The second dish was mildly controversial at our end of the table. A Blue Potato Vichyssoise with smoked salmon caviar, goat cheese mouse, prosciutto, and blue potato crisp. All four of us agree the grey color that it came out was a little odd. I, personally, would have played with that more, maybe finishing with some black sea salt. Some of the others found it off-putting. The Girl and I both enjoyed the dish, especially the interplay of the smoke on the caviar with the goat cheese.  Thrilla did not care for the fact it was a cold soup. I blame her lack of faith in cold soups on the schools, failing our children again.

For the third course out comes a Braised Chicken Thigh with Carolina Gold broken rice, chantrelle mushrooms, and a cherry coulis. This was the consensus best dish. The rice almost had a rice-pudding quality to it The bone-in chicken was succulent and paired with the cherry coulis it was beyond delicious. The best part, however, were the mushrooms. Heaven on a plate. If I was still having trouble convincing The Girl to like mushrooms, all I would need to do is give her these.

For the final meat dish, Chef Marc sends out a sous-vide tenderloin with hollandaise grits, and a red wine reduction. If you are not familiar with the sous-vide technique, it is a method that originated in Paris by which you cook food in vacuum sealed bags, in water, at a constant and lower-than-normal temperature. When done right you are able to perfectly season, and perfectly cook, the meat. Chef Marc does it right every time. The meat is tender and rich, with a beautiful mouthfeel. For me the grits are amazing, and we all know how much I hate them. The Girl doth protest that the grits are too rich, and need to be cut so they don't overpower the dish. We stare at each other, knowing the other is wrong. Luckily desert comes before it turns ugly.

And what a desert it is. Imagine banana pudding....as an ice cream sandwich.....the size of your face....with salted caramel.....and caramelized pop rocks (yes, the carbonated candy)....oh and there is a super-rich chocolate truffle, too. This may seem a simple dish, and since I suck at pastry it might be, but what it also happens to be is amazing. The entire table looks like a class of Fifth Graders as we eat our sandwiches. Bite, dip in caramel, dip in pop rocks, bite again. SOOOOO FUN!


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