Monday, August 31, 2009

Vegetarian II

I write this on the eve of one of the most daunting and challenging days of my life.

The sword of Damocles is dangling above my head. I am encompassed by a sense of foreboding and live in fear that much wailing and gnashing of teeth is looming just around the corner.

Our country might be in the worst financial straits its seen since the Great Depression, but that is the last thing on my mind, today. Tomorrow the boom is lowered. Life, as I have known it for 47 years will cease to exist. Pain and suffering are real and near and I’m counting the hours.

I haven’t been asked to appear in court as the defendant in a complex legal matter. I’m not about to run a marathon, or compete in an iron man competition. I’m not getting prepped for major surgery, and as far as I know, the Attorney General and I are in good standing.

My pending doom is much worse than that. Tomorrow I will become a vegetarian. This hunter-gatherer is abandoning the hunt and embracing his inner gatherer. My Damoclesian sword is made out of bean sprouts.

Several weeks ago, I made the decision to become a vegetarian for a month. That day has finally come. I began to have second thoughts yesterday, but it’s been printed in over 30 newspapers across the South and I’ve spent three days answering questions and emails about my upcoming dalliance into the world of herbivores. I’m locked in.

I know nothing about being a vegetarian. Up until now, I have always believed that “Vegetarian” was just an old Native American word for “Poor hunter.” I come from a long line of carnivores. My daughter tried to be a vegetarian once. It lasted two weeks. Once she learned that vegetarians aren’t supposed to eat bacon cheeseburgers, she threw in the towel.

Actually, I have learned that I will be a Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian— no beef, pork, poultry, fish, or seafood— nothing with a face or a tail. I could have been a Lacto-Vegetarian, but I like eggs, and milk and I’m going to need all of the non-tofu protein I can get.

Being a Vegan was never in the cards. I’m a milkaholic and staking my success on copious amounts of cereal, oatmeal, cheese, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs with cheese, and ice cream. Besides, the name “Vegan” sounds like a villain on Star Trek. Weren’t the Vegans those green-skinned people from the Crab Nebula?

One of my all-time heroes— Paul McCartney— is a vegetarian, and has been for a long time. I will draw inspiration from that

I’ve received a few dozen emails from readers who plan to “go veggie” with me during the month of September. Who knew that I, a lifelong and devout carnivore, would ever be the Pied Piper of the Bean Sprout Set? I hope I don’t let them down. I don’t think I’ve ever gone two days without eating some type of meat.

The newspapers that publish this column do so on different days of the week. No matter which day it is published, it is always written on a Monday morning. Today’s column is being written on Monday, August 31st— my last day before crossing over to the dark side. Depending on which paper you are reading, I might have been a vegetarian for one day or six days. As for this day, I am on my way to eat a bacon cheeseburger— my last one for at least 30 days. I had both sausage and bacon for breakfast, and I’ll be eating steak tonight.

Keep me in your prayers.

Spinach Madeleine

2 packages Spinach, frozen and chopped

3 /4 tsp Celery salt

4 Tbl Butter

3 /4 tsp Garlic salt

2 Tbl Flour

1 /2 tsp Salt

2 Tbl Onion, chopped

1 Tbl Jalapeno, fresh, minced

8 oz package Cream cheese, cut into pieces

1 can Evaporated milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Vegetable liquor

Red pepper to taste

1 /2 tsp Black pepper

Buttered breadcrumbs

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquor.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth and blended. Add onion and cook until soft, but not brown. Combine milk and vegetable liquor until you have one cup of liquid. Add liquid slowly to onion/flour mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add seasoning and cheese. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach. Place in casserole dish and top with buttered bread crumbs. Yield: six servings

Monday, August 24, 2009

I am about to be a vegetarian.

I’m not going to be one of those I-still-eat-chicken-and-fish vegetarians. I am going to be a die-hard, I-eat-nothing-with-a-face-or-a-tail vegetarian, a hardcore vegetarian, a no-turkey-with-my-tofu vegetarian.

For the entire month of September, I will abstain from eating beef, pork, poultry, fish, or seafood of any kind— nothing with a face or tail. For those who have followed this column for the last 12 years, this development will come as a 90-degree fork in the road. Some might think it a ruse. It’s not. While veg-heads have always been an easy target for this column, I am doing this for real. I’m taking that fork in the road and loading it with broccoli. This devout carnivore is about to become a yogurt and sprout eating bunny hugger.

There’s been a big stink in the news lately. The animal activist group PETA, posted a billboard in Florida with a photo of an obese woman in a bikini with the tag line, “Save the Whales, Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.” A lot of overweight people were offended. I’m a fat person, and I thought it was funny. If I had my choice, I’d rather see PETA’s scantily clad model campaign, but I don’t mind a good chuckle at the expense of a fellow fat person.

I wasn’t offended, though I was intrigued by the premise. Could I lose the blubber by going veggie? It sounded like a challenge to me, so I’m going to take the challenge.

The next five columns will chronicle my journey into the dark side of living as an herbivore. No ribeye steaks, no barbeque pork ribs, no cheeseburgers, no bacon sandwiches, not even a can of tuna fish. As of September 1st, it’s sayonara sushi, hello beans and greens.

Some people might find it easy to make a decision like this at the spur of the moment and hang in there for a month. Not me. I have put a lot of thought into it. My career revolves around food. Creating food, serving food, writing about food, and— most importantly—eating food. For the past 47 years beef, pork, poultry, and fish have been at the center of my writing, the center of my heart, and in the center of the plate.

As I’ve pondered this, I have actually begun to look forward to the challenge. I like the hip, cool way that I say, “I’m going to be a vegetarian.” Sometimes when I’m feeling really hip, I just say, “I’m going veggie.” I think it makes me sound like I know what I’m doing. My wife says it just makes me sound like a dork.

I feel cool typing it. V-e-g-e-t-a-r-i-a-n. Ahhh. I’m no longer the overweight hunter-gathering carnivore. I’m a vegetarian. A 21st Century man. I’m going to find my Birkenstocks, buy some clothes made from hemp and break out the nuts and seeds.

I’m taking the PETA challenge. Some friends have asked, “Why now? Why September?” Others have guessed that I chose a month with only 30 days. Stay tuned for answers to those questions and many more.

Two things are for certain— on August 31st, I’ll be eating steaks and hamburgers, and a month later, on October 1st, I’ll be eating sausage, bacon, and ribs. But in the meantime, I’ll be living off of legumes, fruit, and bread. I’ve got a free pass on the cheese train. Hello pizza. Hello French fries! I might actually be the first vegetarian who gained weight by giving up meats.

Pineapple Pico (grilled fish topping)

1 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, small dice

1/4 cup red onions, small dice

2 Tbl green onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp fresh garlic, minced

2 Tbl. cilantro, chopped

2 tsp fresh jalapenos, seeds removed and minced

1 cup pineapple, small dice

1 tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best if made 2-3 hours in advance. Serve atop grilled fish.

Canned Peaches

My friend David invited me to lunch at his club in Jackson. The club was nicely decorated and comfortable. In one room there was an upscale buffet and in another a salad bar.

I don’t eat at many buffets. Actually, since my neighborhood Thai joint changed hands, I don’t eat any buffets. I have nothing against them; it’s just a personal quirk.

As I was browsing through the club’s salad section, I saw a bowl full of peaches— not fresh peaches, even though we’re in prime summer peach season— canned peaches. I was ambivalent about the salad bar anyway, so I looked at the canned peaches and said— why not?

I skipped the lettuce, chicken salad, slaw, cheese, and creamy dressings, and opted for a small plate filled with peaches.

Back at the table, David looked at my plate, and then looked at me with a quizzical stare. “It’s peaches.” I said

“Yeah, but they’re canned peaches,” he replied.

Note: If you are a chef or a restaurateur, or a cookbook author, or a food columnist, people study what you eat in public places. If you’re all of those things at once, people scrutinize your choices even more. They ask questions like, “Why are you eating here?” To which I reply, “For the same reason you’re eating here.” Some people expect me to eat different foods than most. I don’t. I might eat more, but what I consume on a daily basis is fairly basic.

Back to the peaches.

“I haven’t eaten canned peaches in years, “ I told him. “These taste good.”

As a child, my mother followed the food pyramid of the day and made sure we ate fruits and vegetables. In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the 1960s, availability of fresh fruit was limited, so we ate mostly canned fruit.

Supper at our house always consisted of one portion of canned pears, peaches, or fruit cocktail. It was automatic, if supper was being served; one of those items was going to be on the plate.

There were no low sugar options back then. It was a can filled with fruit and thick, sugary syrup. I imagine there was some degree of health benefit, but it was probably overshadowed when I was found flopping around on the bed like Linda Blair on a sugar high, trying to go to sleep after drinking all of the peach/pear juice from the can

Canned peaches don’t really taste like peaches, but they taste more like peaches than canned asparagus tastes like asparagus. Canned asparagus tastes nothing like asparagus. It tastes like English peas.

I hadn’t eaten canned peaches in a long time. It took me back to my youth. Our taste buds seem to have a direct line to the cerebrum. I can go decades without eating something and then can be instantly transported back to the last time— or the most memorable time— I ate that dish.

I love fresh peaches. To me, nothing tastes more like summer than fresh peaches. Whether they come from Chilton County, Alabama, Georgia, or South Carolina, they are my favorite fruit. I have spent my adult life waiting for summer, and the peach harvest. That day at the club, I made a vow to extend my summers and eat the fruit of my youth— canned peaches— more often.

Peach Ice Cream

2 cups Peaches, fresh, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 /4 cups Sugar, divided

1 Tbl Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbl Peach Schnapps
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 /2 cup Milk
1 /2 Vanilla Bean
2 Egg Yolks

In a bowl, combine peaches, 1 /4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and peach schnapps. Cover and refrigerate 2- 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove peach mixture from refrigerator, drain, and reserve the juice. Return peaches to refrigerator.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and— in a medium-sized saucepan— combine remaining sugar, heavy cream, and milk. Heat just until just boiling.

In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk egg yolks. While whisking, slowly add 1 /3 of the boiled cream mixture. Stir well. Add remaining egg mixture to cream mixture. Return to low-medium heat and continue stirring for 5-7 minutes. Just as it begins to simmer, remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over ice. Add the reserved peach juice. Stir well until completely chilled.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream begins to stiffen, add the peaches and continue to freeze until done. Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Frozen peaches can be substituted

Monday, August 10, 2009

The St.John International Culinary Field Trip of 2009

I just took a trip around the world with my family.

We ate in Italy first, then Japan on the first night, followed by Mexico, India, Austria, Viet Nam, China, Cuba, Morocco, France, with a few stops in different regions of America and at friends and family’s homes along the way. We were supposed to eat in Spain and Ethiopia, but last-minute changes to our schedule got in the way.

Actually, I took my kids on a culinary field trip— 10 days, nine states, 2,500 miles— with the intention of eating in as many exotic and international restaurants as possible.

The plan was developed for two reasons: 1.) We were on our way to Washington D.C., to see the Paul McCartney concert and were going to be in the family truckster for 10 days. I didn’t want to live off of fast-food drive-through crap. 2.) I wanted my kids to experience as much of the world’s cuisine as possible. Well, actually three reasons: 3.) I wanted to eat as much of the world’s cuisine as possible.

My 12-year old daughter has a sophisticated palate. She has always eaten whatever we have ordered. The eight-year old boy, on the other hand, usually decides he doesn’t like something even before he has tried it. The battle ensues, we make him try it anyway, and seven times out of 10 he says something like, “Hey, that’s good. I like that.”

For the purposes of this trip, we gave the boy one veto and one fake stomachache. He used the fake stomachache at an Indian restaurant in Asheville, NC, but never used the veto. Good stuff, that.

The daily journal entries from the trip can be found on my Facebook page for those who are friends, or my blog .

The Top 10 Highlights of the St.John International Culinary Field Trip were:

10.) Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream Syrup in Nashville

9.) Milk Chocolate Mousse lollipop at my friend, Donald Barickman’s restaurant, Cypress.

8.) Tie: Indian food in Asheville at restaurant Mela— and—Watching my kids eat Mexican popsicles for the first time.

7.) Pork Belly appetizer with a port wine reduction at Muse in Charleston.

6.) Thai in Winston-Salem at Downtown Thai.

5.) Sunday brunch at Kuba Kuba in Richmond, VA

4.) Breakfast with my friend in Winston-Salem (a lady made my grandmother's brownies for the road)

3.) Lunch in D.C. at a friend's house overlooking the Potomac. Beautiful

2.) Watching my son sing "Hey Jude" at all-out, full volume, while he thought no one was watching during the Paul McCartney concert.

1.) A 12-course dinner at Cypress in Charleston with cousins I haven't seen in a long time— the most memorable item being a Candied Pork Belly appetizer. Great food, close family, and engaging conversation, always make for an excellent evening.

My children might score the trip differently. I am sure that Mexican Popsicles in Nashville, burgers and fries at Top Chef winner, Spike Mendelsohn’s joint in D.C., or the Milk Chocolate Mousse Lollipop would reign supreme on their list. But I’m betting that the family memories we created in those 10 short days will follow them well into adulthood, and way past the food recollections.

In our Washington hotel, just above the breakfast buffet, there was a humorous photograph of a man in an old-world setting who was holding a dining table off of the ground using only his teeth. Basically, he had the whole table in is mouth. That image became a metaphor for the trip.

I am the man with the entire table in his mouth. It’s my lot in life— that, and being a dad. Good stuff, indeed.

Pilates, anyone?

Candied Pork Belly with succotash fricassee

Courtesy of Chef Craig Deihl, restaurant Cypress, Charleston, SC

Succotash Fricassee

6 cups water

3 tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup butter beans

1/2 cup crowder peas (black eyed peas are a good substitution)

1 cup hominy

4 tbsp. butter

¼ cup minced chives

2 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. white pepper

1. In a heavy bottom saucepan combine butter beans, crowder peas, water and salt.

2. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 25 minutes, skim off any scum that rises to the surface. The beans should have a firm skin with a soft and creamy inside. Remove from heat and shock the beans.

3. Mix the beans and the hominy together.

4. With a sauté pan over medium high heat add the butter until melted, add the hominy mixture and cook until hot. Add the chives, salt and pepper. Incorporate evenly, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Pork Belly

2 Lb. Pork Belly (skin On)

2 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. White pepper

1 tbsp. Fresh sage Chopped

1 tbsp. Fresh thyme chopped

2 tbsp. Garlic crushed

¼ cup honey

2 tbsp. Sherry or Apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Butter

2 tsp. Kosher salt

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Using a sharp knife score the skin of the pork belly in a checkerboard design.

3. Rub the pork belly on both sides with salt, pepper, sage, thyme and garlic until evenly coated.

4. Place pork Belly in a roasting pan skin side. Place in the oven and back for 3 hours, turn oven to broil and cook for 10-12 minutes until the skin puffs up evenly.

5. Remove from oven and let rest for 30-40 minutes at room temperature.

6. Using a serrated knife Cut the meat into a ½ inch thick pieces and reserve.

7. Place the honey, vinegar, butter, salt and pepper in a large sauté pan. Place the pieces of crispy pork belly in the pan.

8. Place over high heat and cook until honey is syrupy and glazes the pork belly.

To plate

Place a small pile of succotash in the middle of a plate. Place the pork belly on top of the succotash. Using a ladle, nape the pork belly and place some of the sauce around the plate.

Yield 6-8 people

Sashimi Tuna and Kumomoto Oysters

with cilantro lime glaze and pineapple wasabi

Courtesy of Chef Craig Deihl, restaurant Cypress, Charleston, SC


1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 tablespoon chopped mint

2 tablespoons squeezed limejuice

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

3 tablespoons mirin

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Sambal chili sauce (Sriracha Chili paste can be substituted)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

  1. To make the glaze combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. The glaze can be made a day in advance.

Pineapple Wasabi:

3 tablespoons pineapple juice

2 tablespoons ground wasabi powder

  1. To make the pineapple wasabi combine pineapple juice and wasabi and incorporate evenly.

20 fresh Kumomoto oysters (in shell, stored on ice)

small bowl salt water

1-pound sashimi grade tuna

4 cups crushed ice

Cilantro leaves

  1. Scrub the oysters free of dirt and debris using a small brush.
  2. Using an oyster knife, remove top shell of oyster; detach the bottom of the oyster leaving it in the half shell. Check the oyster for any shell or grit. If there is excess grit, rinse with saltwater; otherwise leave the oyster in the shell.
  3. Cut the tuna in 20 equal size blocks, about the same size as the oysters. Place the tuna on top of the oysters.
  4. Place 1 teaspoon of the glaze on top of each oyster. Finish with a small dot of the wasabi.
  5. On 4 serving platter place the crushed ice and top with leaves of cilantro (this will be used to keep oysters cold and from sliding). Place all of the oysters on top of the cilantro and crushed ice and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 Servings

Culinary Field Trip- Day One

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 8:42am

We hit Birmingham around lunchtime. I had a quick business meeting and then we went to Bottega for lunch.

I am a fan of Frank Stitt and have eaten at Highlands Bar and Grill, often. The meals have always been great.

Bottega was an overall disappointment-- slow, unconcerned service, long waits from the kitchen, and only one entree that was memorable.

Strike One.

We made it to Nashville late in the afternoon and I wanted to take my kids to Las Paletas to have Mexican popsicles-- closed on Mondays.

Strike two.

We went to Gi Gi's cupcakes instead.

To cover the Vietnamese leg our our international culinary tour, I had planned on dining at Kien Giang. This was high on my list. They, too, were closed on Mondays.

Strike three. We're out!

We ate at a sushi restaurant in our hotel-- Hotel Indigo on West End Blvd. They had a band in the lobby and an art gallery opening, too. Good rates, large rooms, wireless internet. Highly recommended.

My iPhone is acting quirky when I try to upload photos. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Here's hoping that day two will be more productive. We're on our way to the Pancake Pantry for Sweet Potato Pancakes before heading to Asheville.

Culinary Field Trip-- Day Two

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 10:09pm

Breakfast at The Pancake Pantry-- it was the kids first trip there, they loved it. Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream Syrup rock!

Lunch at a Mexican chain-- kid's choice, tableside guacamole, though-- excellent! Good salsa, too.

Mexican Posicles at Las Paletas-- I had a plum popsicle, son had mango, daughter had lime, wife = strawberry and cream. All are homemade and made fresh every day. I am glad there's not one of these at home, I'd be 100 pounds heavier and singlehandedly change Mississippi's obese statistics.

Long drive across TN and western NC in the rain

Staying in a new hotel in Asheville-- The Grand Bohemian, just across from the Biltmore's front gate... a little garish, though cool in areas... best in-room a/v system I've ever seen... ever... worth the tackiness.

Dinner at Mela-- Indian cuisine-- killer naan, daughter loved the Tandori Lamb, son was not a fan of Tandori Chicken, but he ate it anyway. I have given him one "free no" to use on this trip. He decided not to use it here. He did, however, have a fake stomachache. Good shrimp.

Hitting the road early in the a.m., so hitting the sack right now.


Culinary Field Trip-- Day Three

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 9:53pm

Breakfast in Asheville-- Bavarian, potato pancake, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, and a poached egg... Austrian chef, Austrian-owned hotel. Typically, I'm not a fan of German/Austrian food, this was good, though.

Lunch in Winston-Salem-- Downtown Thai-- killer Thai cuisine, nice visit with the owner, great downtown, heavy on the arts... good stuff, that.

Afternoon snack at Five Guys-- great homemade french fries. My Buddy, Bill Latham, has purchased the franchise rights to Mississippi... can't wait (my waistline can, though).

Dinner with friends in downtown W-S.-- Meridian--The plan is to visit as many international restaurants as possible -- 10 days, nine states, two children. Tonight's meal was continental (I didn't choose). Though we went to a place for dessert-- Sweet Potatoes-- that was Southern (sometimes considered a foreign country).

Tomorrow-- Breakfast in Winston-Salem, lunch in Durham, dinner in Washington D.C. (hoping for Spanish tapas).

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to eat it.

I'm going to need a colonic!

Culinary Field Trip-- Day Four

Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 9:58pm

Breakfast in Winston-Salem-- met my friend for coffee at Chelsee's while the family was sleeping... joined by several locals, one of whom had read my column about how my grandmother used to give my family a batch of brownies for childhood vacations. Before I left the coffee shop, she handed me a Tupperware container filled with brownies she had prepared the night before-- I was very moved, and extremely grateful. Thanks, Gena, they were great-- as good as my grandmothers (by the way, I just realized I spelled your named incorrectly when signing your cookbooks... sorry)

Across the street to my friend's loft for breakfast-- eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and sourdough toast-- good food, great company.

Headed to Durham for a business meeting, toured the Duke campus at the request of my son. He says that's where he's going to college, said a quick prayer for future college scholarship opportunities

Ate a few brownies.

Hoped to do Brazilian for lunch, but my daughter got sick to her stomach in the van, and again, and again. Said a quick prayer hoping it wasn't a stomach virus, grabbed some fast food (three of us, at least), and headed north.

Ate some more brownies.

At the recommendation of friends, we ate dinner at Four Sisters in the D.C. area, to make up for the Vietnamese dinner we missed in Nashville on Monday night. Joined by the friends, the day ended up being a success, despite the noon setback.

Brownies for dessert.

Sharing a meal with friends is one of life's greatest pleasures.

Culinary Daily Field Trip Day Five

Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 7:29am

At the midway point, we were forced by our schedule to take a break from the International food mission.

Breakfast at the hotel.

A driving tour with my son highlighting all of the D.C. landmarks. I gave him a lecture on representative democracy (he actually payed attention... was interested, even)

Lunch at a friend's house high above the Potomac. Beautiful.

A quick visit to Good Stuff Eatery for a mid-afternoon snack

Dinner with family in Maryland. Fun.


Family, friends, food, and fun... all day long. Great day.

Culinary Field Trip Day Six

Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 10:32pm

Smithsonian air & Space, and the National Gallery

Lunch in Chinatown-- Eat First... great food... the real deal

Had to skip dinner to drive to Maryland for the McCartney concert. He was 1 1/2 hours late! We could have eaten dinner after all.

Got home at 1am

Not much time to squeeze in food

Paul McCartney Set List

Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 12:14am |

01. Drive my Car

02. Jet

03. Only Mama Knows

04. Flaming Pie

05. Got to Get You into My Life

06. Let me Roll It/Foxy Lady

07. Highway

08. The Long and Winding Road

09. My Love

10. Blackbird

11. Here Today

12. Dance Tonight

13. Michelle

14. Mrs Vanderbilt

15. Eleanor Rigby

16. Sing the Changes

17. Band on the run

18. Back in the USSR

19. I'm Down

20. Something

21. I've got a Feeling

22. Paperback Writer

23. A day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance

24. Let It Be

25. Live and Let Die

26. Hey Jude

1st encore

27. Day Tripper

28. Lady Madonna

29. I Saw Her Standing There

2nd encore

30. Yesterday

31. Helter Skelter

32. Get Back

33. Sgt Pepper's reprise/ The End

Culinary Field Trip Day Seven

Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 10:38pm

Trying to squeeze in as much International/exotic cuisine as possible, we ate at a great Cuban restaurant in Richmond on our way to Charleston-- Kuba Kuba. Great food. Great atmosphere. A small, corner joint in a nice neighborhood. Unconcerned service, but it works in this atmosphere. Grumpy chef in an exposed kitchen- looked like Jerry Garcia. Friendly waiter working the floor looked like a young Castro. Interesting. One of the best meals of the last seven days.

Dinner at a Mediterranean place in Charleston-- Muse. Ate late. Great Hummus. The sauce with the Pork Belly appetizer was one of the best I've ever tasted. Made with a Spanish port.

Drove all day-- 12 hours due to traffic outside of DC. Worn out (yet full and happy).


Culinary Field Trip Day Eight

Monday, August 3, 2009 at 10:37pm

Breakfast at the hotel on King Street

Lunch at Fast & French-- hot ham and brie on a croissant. Great Cream of Broccoli Soup.

Dinner at Cypress with Charleston and Carolina cousins. The candied bacon and the milk chocolate lollipop were as good as any dish I ate at The French Laundry two weeks ago

Sashimi Tuna & Oysters

cilantro-lime glaze, pineapple wasabi

House Cured Salami

Barolo, Tuscan, Coppa, pork puffs, arugula

Candied Bacon

bbq Sea Island red peas, melted leeks

Beef Spring Rolls

spiced cucumber, soy caramel

Scallops & Bacon

hominy fricassee, pork reduction

Almond-Fried Brie

cranberry-walnut chutney, baby greens, champagne vinaigrette

Lobster Bisque

Carolina shrimp, fresh chervil

Dry Aged Ribeye

roasted cauliflower, mustard butter, steak sauce

Filet of Beef

Boursin cheese, fingerling potatoes, asparagus, Madeira sauce

Steak Diane

New York strip, wild mushrooms, Gruyère potato fondue, truffle peppercorn cream

Keegan-Filion Farm Chicken

andouille gumbo, okra & tomatoes

Bread & “Butter”

grilled Tuscan points, pork butter

Crisp Wasabi Tuna

edamame, shiitake mushrooms, ginger-garlic glaze

Beef Oscar

jumbo lump crab, asparagus, crispy potatoes, béarnaise sauce

John’s Island Canteloupe Sorbet

compressed local canteloupe, basil-mint syrup

Coconut Tapioca Crème Brûlée

local peaches, blackberries, white peach sorbet

Milk Chocolate Mousse Lollipop

house made dulce de leche, chocolate chip cookie crumbs

Thanks to Donald and:

Craig Deihl ~ Executive Chef

M. Kelly Wilson ~ Pastry Chef

Onward to Atlanta

Culinary Field Trip-- The Last Entry

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 7:42pm

Great lunch in Atlanta at Papi's-- Cuban

Dinner last night at Nava-- Southwestern, killer lobster tacos, a great banana dessert

Lunch at Taqueria Del Sol-- Fish Tacos, yumm

Highlights of the 10-day journey:

Indian food in Asheville

Thai in Winston-Salem

Breakfast with my friend in W-S (a lady made my grandmother's brownies for the road)

Lunch in D.C. at a friend's overlooking the Potomac

Watching my son sing "Hey Jude" while he thought no one was watching during the Paul McCartney concert

Dinner in Charleston with cousins I haven't seen in a long time, but look forward to reconnecting with in the future,

The food item of the trip was a candied bacon (pork belly) appetizer at Cypress in Charleston

I'm going to eat nothing but oatmeal for the next few days... nah

2,500 miles and no major arguments from the back seat.

I will find out how much damage was done when I step on the scales in the morning. I'm guessing six pounds.

RSJ signing off