Saturday, April 18, 2009
Charleston is featured in May's Gourmet magazine. The author, Christian L. Wright, has done her homework and hits a lot of the city's high points. Local chefs including Frank Lee, Robert Stehling, Jeremiah Bacon, Bob Waggoner, Michelle Weaver, Ken Vedrinksi, and Aaron Deal all get mentioned, though Sean Brock at McCrady's and Mike Lata at FIG are singled out as the two chefs who are "pulling way ahead" of the rest.
But it's not just the big downtown players who got noticed: West Ashley's Ali Di La and the Glass Onion get a nod, as do shops like City Lights Coffee and Caviar & Bananas. And, Glenn Roberts gets a shout out for his Anson Mills rice and grits.
It's great to see the city getting more national notice. Wright summarizes Charleston as, "lovely port city that’s fast on its way to becoming a serious food capital."
I still get a chuckle from predictable setups like this: "In Charleston sitting rooms, you can still hear the Civil War referred to as the War Between the States." Perhaps a few old ladies down South of Broad still talk this way, but I haven't heard this phrase (uttered seriously, at least) in quite some time, much less been in a "sitting room." Maybe I just don't travel in the right circles.
And this one made me wonder: "The city’s culinary heritage was besmirched, or at least belittled, by popular demand. For fried fish." Huh? Fried fish? Wright cites the lines outside the Noisy Oyster and Hyman's Seafood as if these were part of some older Charleston food scene that's now getting eclipsed by the better restaurants serving real food, but in my mind they are all part and parcel of the same thing--a two-decade growth in local tourism that fuels both high and low.
Minor quibbles. The best part is to see a magazine getting beyond the shrimp and grits and she crab soup (though both get their due) and notice some of the really interesting cooking going on in town.
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