So Trendy!Wednesday, February 17, 2010
...clearly designed as a decorous, tea-social alternative to the usual barbecue joints and fry houses that pass for southern restaurants in this Yankee town. The bar list includes several Confederate-themed cocktails (a Slushee-like julep spiked with pomegranate, a bracing Mississippi Mule made with ginger and rye instead of gin) and is accompanied by a variety of snacks, many of which are, in fact, fried and served on paper doilies. They include deviled eggs (with possibly not enough mustard); fat, golf-ball-size hush puppies and stacks of fried pickles (both overbattered); and excellent, plume-size cheese straws, served with appropriate ceremony, in a square, silver-colored cups.
...catfish po’boy (on a Parker House roll), and pigs in a poke (poached eggs, plus Andouille sausage, plus toast soldiers, plus grits). The lunchtime burger ($16) is fairly respectable too, provided you don’t mind your patty covered in an iridescent layer of pimento cheese spread (I didn’t). For dessert, the deep-dish apple pie (for two) is almost ample enough to make up for the lack of fried chicken, and the chocolaty grasshopper pie is a proper cough-syrup green. But the most satisfying of these crypto-southern confections is the eponymous Tipsy Parson, which is made with chunks of sponge cake, layers of fruit trifle, and just enough brandy to conjure up pleasant images of summer hats, green lawns, and church picnics in July.
Among the many culinary predictions for the new year is this bone-in, crispy-skinned, juicy-fleshed morsel: Fried chicken, the beloved American food, is suddenly hip, trendy and poised for finger-licking reawakening.
Several food prognosticators called fried chicken the toast of 2010 (Epicurious.com said it is the year's front-burner dish; restaurant consultants Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. proclaimed "fried chicken is the new pork belly").
In truth, the hot fat has been roiling for more than a year to produce this deep-fried moment. Top chefs such as Thomas Keller at Ad Hoc in Yountville, Calif., Andrew Carmellini at Locande Verde in New York and David Chang at his Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York have been sending foodies aflutter with fried chicken (in Chang's case, it's a double wallop of crispy bird: southern-fried chicken and triple-fried Korean-style clucker in the same entrée order). Expect to see fried chicken on the menus of hot new restaurants this year in addition to chefs tinkering with various ethnic interpretations of the classic.
Food experts say there are many reasons for the fried chicken renaissance: the poor economy, a return to the "basics," and the continued exploration of iconic American dishes.
Nothing beats the taste of a Southern fried meal--and host Bobby Bognar traces its amazing journey to your plate. In Alabama, Bobby wades among 275,000 catfish during feeding time--and discovers how each fish scooped from the pond becomes a fillet within just one hour. At a Louisiana alligator farm, he dares to grab a gator from its holding tank, and learns how gators owe their survival--in part--to those who eat them. Did you know that one popular Southern favorite, rice, reaches your plate by falling from the sky? Or what it takes to extract frying oil from a lint-covered cottonseed? Or what makes the South's favorite spicy condiment, Tabasco sauce, so hot? And what do giant fans, fire and cannons have to do with putting peach cobbler on the table?
Oh! And when I was doing the search about Southern food elsewhere, I found an article in Canada's National Post about the Toronto restaurant, Southern Accent, and what they're doing for Mardi Gras. They feature a recipe for blackened chicken livers. Gotta wonder about the poultry in Ontario when the first ingredient is "boneless chicken livers"! Cute. haha!