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Archive for May, 2011

[Above: Cornbread-stuffed Quail, Johnnycakes, Soft-poached eggs with Hollandaise at HUSK]

If you’re ever in Charleston, South Carolina and you’re looking for a bite to eat, head to the corner of King and Queen and take your pick from three highly-touted restaurants, two of which I can vouch for being terrific. [The other, 82 Queen, was raved about by others in our group].

They serve up classic southern fare at Poogan’s Porch, including the softest, most pillowy biscuits mankind has ever seen served with a delicious apple honey butter.  I had the Shrimp and Grits, they were absolutely spot-on.

Right next door to Poogan’s Porch is HUSK where Beard-award winning chef Sean Brock is doing some great things.  First:  The bar. It’s separate from the restaurant, in the alley between HUSK and Poogan’s Porch.  They serve up serious craft cocktails [a sip of their Monkey Gland was quite nice] and local brews.  Definitely worth a stop even if you’re not eating. Go up to the second floor and take a load off in the classy, red-leather decked, AC-blasted lounge area.

The restaurant itself is down-home but a little dressed up. The biscuits and gravy are a great starter, and my above pictured brunch was amazing.  And they serve house-made pork butter with their rolls.  It’s a little salty, but quite tasty.

After brunch, our wonderful waiter brought us each a small digestif of Txakoli (pronounced sha-co-LEE).  I can’t remember ever having it before, or even hearing of the grape.  Apparently it’s a specialty in the Spanish Basque country, and it’s exactly the kind of white wine I like – light, refreshing, citrusy, zippy, acidic.  It smelled like Cava and went down like Vinho Verde. I made a point to track some down when I got back.

On Monday, I stopped by Solo Vino on Cathedral Hill [easily the best shop in town if you’re looking to track down a Spanish wine].  Not only did they have 3 different Txakolis but 2 or 3 Txakoli Roses.

Make sure to hit up Solo Vino this week for their Spring Wine Sale – all bottles 20% off through Saturday.  I got the 2009 Amaztoi Txakolina [$15.99 on sale, $19.99 usually] and it’s a wonderful sip.  It’s a very pale shade of straw, slightly fizzy with a nose full of minerals and even a kind of wheat-like quality.  The sip has tingly acidity all over the place with some pears, more herbs and a dry, minerally finish.  It just screams summer wine – try it with seafood or, probably best, all by itself in the 90-degree heat.  Now if I could only track down some of that.

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[Spiral wine cellar I want, pic from dornob.com] I’ve developed the terrible habit of forgetting I have this blog for weeks at a time.  I have a bunch of good bottles to tell you about in the next few weeks, so sit tight just a bit longer.  In the mean time, here are a few odds and ends:

Food thoughts as of late:

Jim Norton at Heavy Table recommended to me the Chilaquiles at Uptown Cafeteria a long time ago.  Just had them last weekend, and I’m now angry I waited so long.  They’re hearty and just the right amount of spicy.  They’re also not topped with gravy or hollandaise like everything else on their brunch menu, so that’s a plus.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I can’t get enough of the sandwiches at Clancey’s Meat & Fish.  Rustica bread topped with their amazing meats (the roast beef is my favorite, though you can’t go wrong with any of them).

Specials to Hit this month:

Cork Dork Wine Co‘s Thurdsay May 12th tasting will feature some good bottles, and all the Carbone’s Pizza you can eat for $5.  Not bad at all.

May 13th – 21st is Minnesota Craft Beer WeekCheck out an event or two, and check out these beer specials:

  • Lake Wine & Spirits has Brau Brothers 6-packs on special for $6.49 all month.  The Scotch Ale and the Pils are both terrific.
  • Surdyk’s has Microbrews on sale from May 19th – 28th, 10-15% off or more.

Booze News of Note:

Kudos to MN House Legislators for passing HF1326, better known as the “Surly Bill” by a 127-5 margin.  In other news, the 5 representatives in opposition to the bill plan to jointly introduce new legislation later this month proposing new restrictions on sunshine, puppies and ice cream.

Michel Chapoutier, famed Rhone Valley producer, claims the ‘petrol’ taste  in Rieslings that many people prize and enjoy is an undesirable winemaking-fault [via Decanter].  I say, who cares?  People say the same thing about the peppery aftertaste in Syrah/Shiraz.  If it’s not a toxic fault, and people like the taste (I loved it in this Riesling from Ontario), what’s wrong that?  The fault, he claims, is caused by an over-agressive pressing of the grapes.  Ok, fine, if he thinks it’s poor technique, then he shouldn’t do it.  But I think I speak for the 99% of wine drinkers that don’t care how the wine got in the bottle when I say, so what?  Saying that it’s unequivocally a fault and is “wrong”, is the kind of high-handed snobbery that turns people off to wine.  Get over it, Mike.

I’m a big Thomas Jefferson-ophile, so I loved this snippet [via Serious Eats] on reconstructing Colonial-era brewing recipes.

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