04 May, 2010

Home: Or why I haven't blogged in over a year

The past year has been pretty busy for me. I started working at A Southern Season and commuting between Raleigh and Chapel Hill. I work in the Deli at A Southern Season, something I knew little about when I started. Now I purchas a variety of unusual and interesting charcuterie for A Southern Season. Pretty exciting.

To get to that point I had to learn a lot about meat in a very short time. So there is one of my excuses for not posting.

I had some general awareness about meat and curing, but the finer points were a mystery until I read Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. While I haven't yet tried my hand at making my own, it is certainly on my to do list. There are a number of other tomes that I will be delving into this Summer in an attempt to refine my culinary education in general.

From Good Eats.

I am honored to work with a chef at A Southern Season who has experimented with making his own charcuterie in addition to filling the deli case with all manner of tasty dishes. He is Executive Chef Chris Holloway.

From Good Eats.
I am a terrible photographer

I also recently moved to Carrboro, NC. Mainly to be closer to work, but it also turns out that I'm in a pretty hot spot for local farming and general food interest.

Last night, I went to the YUM YUM Supper Club's Spring dinner. It was not only delicious, but there were 150 people that came together to show their support for local agriculture and great food. Everyone was very friendly and conversation flowed with a nice selection of inexpensive (but tasty) Spanish wines and a refreshing Languedoc rose.

Chef Holloway was responsible for the dinner along with his kitchen crew from A Southern Season. We started with a pork belly pho (a Vietnamese style soup with rice noodles and a big-ole chunk of slow cooked pork belly). Chris followed that with his Collard Green Rillettes. If you're wondering what the heck that is, you wouldn't have been alone last night.

The only reason that I know is because I got to watch Chris make them. Rillettes are normally a preparation of meat that has been chopped or shredded and cooked slowly in some type of fat. It is similar to a "confit" in that the fat penetrates the meat entirely and tenderizes it in a way that is almost unimaginable until you actually experience it. You might also call rillettes "potted meat" and it was a common method of preserving meat. So, for collard green rillettes, Chris cooked the collards in the standard way (boiling them) and then shredded them. He mixed the collards together with some bacon and onions and then poured in a good measure of duck fat. Beyond delicious - the collards were creamy in texture and well flavored. This was scooped onto a piece of toasted baguette and finished off with a white vinegar vinaigrette.

The entree was a pork chop stuffed with pancetta and cornbread over grits with a smokey red pepper puree. Finishing the dish was a garlic scape towering over the plate. A garlic scape, if you don't already know, is what you get when garlic sprouts (you know when you don't get to your garlic in time and it starts growing). These are slightly tough shoots that curl and soar surprisingly. It can be a bit overpowering for some, but I like to eat a lot of garlic. It would make a nice addition to a salad if chopped.

The pork chop was excellent and mine was perfectly cooked.

To finish us off, Chris walked past the table passing out small cans of Coca-Cola for the dessert: Jack and Coke Floats. Basically whisky glazed vanilla ice cream in a rocks glass. We finished off the dish by adding the Coke. When done correctly, you don't even need a spoon as the ice cream dissolves with successive pours of soda. There were also chocolate chip bacon cookies. Yep. You read that right. Chocolate chips and bacon. In a cookie. Awesome!

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So there's the story. There is definitely more to come soon.

From Good Eats.