Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Rare Visit from the Parents and the Resulting Foodie Weekend

 At McCrady's Saturday for Dad's bday celebration

So, the parents came in town this past weekend for my dad's big 6-0, and we all enjoyed a tightly scheduled food-and-drink oriented weekend in honor of the occasion.  The last time they managed to escape to Chucktown from our quiet little hometown of Morganton, NC  was for their 30th anniversary, over a year and a half ago, so we (rightfully) made a big occasion out of it.


The first night they were in town, I buckled to my mother's gentle but persistent urgings to cook for them, and went with a fun, regionally-inspired theme.

To start, I made fried green tomatoes with a ginger-peach relish.  For the relish, I simmered some skinless, chopped peaches with ginger, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, red onion, and jalapenos.  I let that bubble for about an hour, until it reduced a good bit, then let it chill in the refrigerator.

For the green tomatoes, I sliced them up and breaded them with flour, egg wash, and a mixture of panko and breadcrumbs.

 Heated some oil in a skillet and pan-seared them until they were nice and brown.

 Topped them off with the peach relish and some sliced green onions.  They turned out remarkably well! I was really pleased with the flavor of the peach relish against the slightly tart green tomatoes.

For the shrimp & grits, I started by making a shrimp stock with the fish fume I made a couple weeks ago.  By using the fume instead of tap water in the stock, I was really able to build a nice flavor base.  I've been freezing shrimp and crab shells, so I tossed them in, along with some onions, tomatoes, celery, parsley, and a couple bay leaves.  I let that simmer for a bit, then strained it a few times.

The stock turned out nice and rich, with a mildly sweet flavor from the shrimp.  Next, I gathered the ingredients for the saute.  I used the stock, leeks, garlic, concassed tomatoes, andouille sausage, and local shrimp.

While I was getting my chopping done, I put the grits on to start cooking.  I like to start with 1 part grits, 2 parts water, and 1 part chicken stock. Once it gets boiling, I add more chicken stock and cream alternately, much like a risotto.  This can cook for a long time, like an hour, at a low simmer.  Just let them get all lovely and creamy.

After the grits were on, I browned the andouille sausage.

For the saute, start by cooking the leeks and garlic in a little oil until they are soft and translucent.

Then, add the shrimp stock, the tomatoes, and a splash of white wine to taste.  Let simmer until slightly reduced.

When the sauce is reduced to your liking, add the shrimp, sausage, and a touch of cream.

Cook the shrimp until it is no longer translucent.  Serve the whole mixture over a bowl of grits, and top with scallions.


I was really happy with the way this dish turned out!  Nice and rich and full of flavor.  After dinner, we headed out to see a Brazilian jazz show at the Cistern, and really enjoyed it.


Saturday, we hit up the farmer's market, the beach, and finished it all off with a decadent meal at McCrady's. We had an amazing time and were all collectively blown away by Chef Brock's tasting menu.

Before the parents left town, we hit up High Cotton.  The boys in the kitchen really outdid themselves, and we were stuffed before we even ordered.

Overall, all three of us had an amazing weekend.  The only thing that could have made it any better was if my sister, Margaret, could have made it down. She stays pretty busy, though. Next week, I'll be traveling up to Chapel Hill to visit her and to take my first level sommelier test.  Kinda nervous about that. I'll keep you posted.


Margaret said...

I like that blue and black dress/top.

Mom said...

We had a wonderful time!

William R. Barker said...

Hey Dani!

Sounds like you had a great time celebrating your dad's 60th.

My wife and I had a great time on our visit to Charleston a couple weeks back.

(For details see:

Short and sweet version... had great meals at Robert's (now closed, soon to be re-opened by Robert's daughter and son-in-law under a new name and theme) and Fulton Five.

Have you ever been to Awendaw? There's a place right on Rt. 17 called See Wee that we went to one night - I had black & bleu shrimp - and it was so good that on our way back to MYR several days later we stopped in again for lunch... and they were kind enough to "re-create" the B&B Shrimp dinner special for me and serve it as my lunch!

Let's see... what else...

We enjoyed happy hour one late afternoon at Carolina's where I had a "snack" of shrimp and grits that knocked my socks off. (Cocktails were good too!)

While pounding a few ales at The Griffon one night two of our fellow imbibers clued us in to Hominy Grill and we ended up there for brunch one day. (Gotta luv that "Big Ol' Nasty Biscuit" they serve there!)

Our first night in town - with our nephews in tow - we hit the Mellow Mushroom and I tell ya... very impressive beer selection and darn good pizza and calzones. (And this from a New Yorker!) Great atmosphere!

Oh..! Oh...! Can't forget "Perfectly Frank's" in Summerville! Great fun; great combo dogs!

My bro-in-law and nephews live in West Ashley so one afternoon we "snacked" at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ. Yummy brisket!

Oh...! Oh...! Reds...!!! Nothing like bloody marys late morning on a weekday while perched "on the tower" overlooking the boaters, kayakers, and yes... two dolphins "playing" with the kayakers!

Anyway... to anyone who "stumbles" upon this blog the way I did while planning a Charleston vacation... you're gonna LOVE Charleston!

Thanks again for your past advice, Dani.


Bill Barker - Harriman, NY