Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

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Francophile Alert!

A very authentic taste of France has arrived in Charleston. Chez Nous is authentic, charming and delicious. And, she joins a gaggle of tasty new French enterprises in town.

A recent sampling from Chez Nous' menu, which changes daily - swordfish in a tomato, garlic and saffron sauce with fresh min.

A recent sampling from Chez Nous’ menu, which changes daily – swordfish in a tomato, garlic and saffron sauce with fresh mint.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

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For the Love of Leon’s

I’ve got it BAD for this new oyster and poultry destination on Charleston’s increasingly
“upper” Upper King Street.

Here’s a picture of the fried chicken:

Leon's fried chicken comes out of the fryer smokin' hot and very spicy.

Leon’s fried chicken comes out of the fryer smokin’ hot and very spicy.

 

Please remember to pick up a copy of my latest cookbook release, The French Cook – Soups and Stews (Gibbs Smith, Sept. 1, 2014).  I’m happy to send signed book plates to anyone who asks for one to afix to their new book!

 

As always, bon appetit!

The French Cook-Soups and Stews

The French Cook – Soups & Stews

 

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Sweet Street Newly “Glazed”

First there was Cupcake, then there was Macaroon (now with a second location). With the recent and closely timed openings of P.I.E. and Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts (both within a chocolate quarter’s throw from one another), Upper King Street just got even sweeter.

It’s a nifty and whimsical trend that’s well-suited to the eclectic crowd – from farmers’ market denizens to COC students, families and business types – that flock to this hip part of town for food, art, and drink.  For Pastry Chef Allison Smith, who opened Glazed back in early October, it’s all for the love of pastry, especially doughnuts. A 9- year veteran of the F & B business, the Culinary Institute of Charleston grad left her most recent post at Anson to dedicate herself entirely to her funky, fun and delightfully delicious new doughnut shop. For Smith, the time to make the doughnuts is 3 a.m. on weekdays when she joins her staff of two bakers to crank out a daily array of at least 8 – 10 rotating doughnut flavors.

Doughnut Lover's Glaze Over with Choices at Glazed

 

Smith has two core recipes for the doughnuts: cake and yeast. While the cake doughnut is crumbly, tender on the inside, and crunchy on the outside, it’s the yeast doughnuts (almost exclusively the “glazed” variety) that truly shine, in more ways than one. She tweaked her recipe over the years, comparing and contrasting it with “tons” of others she encountered to come up with her own. The results are airy and irresistible. It’s the kind of doughnut that slightly resists with sweet crunch as you sink your teeth into it, then slowly implodes and melts into its delicious self, until it’s all gone, leaving a lingering happy memory in its admittedly fattening wake.

Glazed cranks out at least 8 to 10 doughnut flavors daily. Glazed fans can count on at least 7 doughnut regulars daily: raspberry glazed, berry-filled, cream-filled, “some kind of chocolate,” and two “seasonal” doughnuts. Right now, the seasonal choices include Ginger Cranberry and The Sweet Potato topped with a brown butter glaze and pecans, that is until Smith comes up with something new.

Mexican Chocolate and Raspberry Glazed Doughnuts on display at Glazed.

 

As far as coming up with her exceptionally creative and balanced flavor inspirations ( a huge part of the fun for both her and her customers), Smith just rolls with “whatever combinations I like to eat.” For example, yesterday, it was a banana pudding doughnut based upon the “most amazing banana pudding,” she says. Other days, it’s been as inventive and delicious as Strawberry Lime Basil, Salted Caramel Apple and The Purple Goat filled with berry goat cheese and a lavender glaze. It’s pairings such as these that give some of Glazed doughnuts an almost savory edge; a kind of true “cook’s” doughnut not unlike the many delicious mixed drinks being muddled and concocted at nearby bars and restaurants such as The Cocktail Club and The Belmont.  At the latter, the drinks seem more like a layered, complex meal to be savored, while the former definitely are a testament to Smith’s ability to think and bake her way well-outside of the mundane doughnut box.

While a little pricey at almost $2 a pop, Glaze offers a worthwhile indulgence for any bona fide doughnut lover. There is coffee, too, and the always welcome service with a smile.

Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts

481 King Street, Charleston

(843) 577-5557

www.glazedgourmet.com

Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

 

 

 

 

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Macintosh Polished to Perfection

Nothing makes me happier to see talent and hard work finally get their due. For a decade in New York and another near decade subsequently in Charleston, Jeremiah Bacon has been quietly and diligently honing his craft and defining his style. Locally, first at Carolina’s, where he made a deserved splash, but it wasn’t big enough to turn the James Beard heads in New York, as the respective splashes of local super chef talents Mike Lata (FIG), Sean Brock (Husk and McCrady’s) and Robert Stehling (Hominy Grill) have in recent years. Then, Bacon took over the reins at OAK, where once again, he carved a niche in the steak kitchen, etching it with his extreme dedication to locally-sourced product and pristine classic French technique. Tongues started wagging in deserved praise. But, it wasn’t until the opening of The Macintosh six weeks ago, that Bacon finally donned his ultimate culinary crown, his very own restaurant baby where he can truly stretch his personal chef legs and showcase his immense talent.

Bravo to The Macintosh’s Managing Partner Steve Palmer for recognizing Bacon’s huge talent and helping create this spotlight under which he can shine. As Executive Chef, Jeremiah Bacon orchestrates a small army of hand-picked talent (many coming over from his days at Carolina’s) in a kitchen-in-the-round that operates like a well-conducted orchestra. It’s all visible from the dining room, a beautiful blend of rustic, antique wood tables and copper and mirrors, the latter elements providing just the right urban edge to render Macintosh equal parts rustic and equal parts urban.  It’s the perfect balance mixture of visual and mood candy on this block of increasingly hip and sophisticated Upper King Street.

Though The Macintosh serves a more steak and seafood-intensive dinner and late night menu (also slightly more pricey with entrees running from $19-$28), I visited for Sunday brunch, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Grouper Brandade with Alabama White Sauce

At 1:30 p.m., the house was packed, with a lively, mostly young and local crowd, clamoring for the Bloody Mary bar, Bottomless Mimosa’s, and, of course, Bacon’s stick-to-your-ribs fare with a go-ever-so-lightly, classical touch that is the soul of his culinary style. For example, the grouper brandade ($8), pictured above. Typically a rustic French dish prepared with salt cod and potatoes and served in a gratin dish, the Johns Island native puts a local twist on the matter, using local, fresh grouper (which is briefly brined in salt), purees until chunky smooth and folds it into the lightest, whipped potatoes. These get rolled into chunky balls, lightly rolled in breading, and are fried to order. The result, especially when dipped in the creamy, vinegar-laced, slightly garlicky Alabama white sauce, is absolute flavor and texture nirvana. And, like so many things at The Macintosh, they come served in precious, fire-engine red, miniature Le Creuset Dutch ovens.

Bacon’s “Mac Attack” ($13), which features his signature bone marrow bread pudding, pork belly, and a quivering poached fresh egg, heaping plates of fried chicken served with waffles ($12), and sizzling plates of Bacon’s (also) signature Pecorino truffle frites ($5) were being plated and served literally left and right.  All looked and smelled divine, but my appetite was leaning towards lighter, so I ordered the Sauteed Scallops with Cauliflower Puree, Arugula and Brown Butter Meuniere ($13).

Sauteed Scallop at The Macintosh

Pure beauty, this dish is Bacon’s style personified: restrained perfection with major over-tones of his classical training swirled with youthful whimsy and homegrown roots. The scallop, sweet, milky and massive, was so fresh it could not have been off the local boat for more than a few hours. The gorgeous seared, caramelized crust yielded sensuously to pressure from my fork to an opaque cushion of crustacean deliciousness. The cauliflower base, simply roasted and ultra-aerated with a bit of cream, was practically as light as a souffle, but bore the deep, rich flavors of autumn. A flash saute of green in the peppery arugula and a swath of nutty brown beurre Meuniere sealed the entire dish with huge aplomb.

It’s impossible not to draw parallels between Sean Brock and Jeremiah Bacon. Both young, both Southerner’s, both humble, passionate, talented and extremely hard-working, both overseeing two kitchens and restaurants, and both backed by successful restaurant groups with proven track records, their paths have been similar. Like Brock, I do believe it’s Bacon’s time to shine and he’s found his ultimate polish at The Macintosh.

The Macintosh

479-B King Street (near the corner of Ann Street)

Charleston, SC 29403

(843) 789-4299

www.themacintoshcharleston.com

 

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