TWO BOROUGHS LARDER HONORS THE SUMMER SOLSTICE WITH INVENTIVE MENU
The official start of summer brings with it a new level of energy. Interestingly enough, however, while an unmistakable excitement surrounds this change of season, the pace of life gets decidedly slower. People are apt to spend more time indulging in relaxation, enjoying a lazy lifestyle. Summer just feels luxurious. For me, and many others, as evidenced by the recent crowd at Two Boroughs Larder, one specific pleasure of summer is long, languid meals celebrating the distinctive ingredients of the season.
At a recent wine pairing dinner, Chef Josh Keeler and his small yet mighty team stunned a sold out assembly of diners with his creative and inventive dishes. One aspect I find particularly gratifying about Chef Keeler’s preparations is the way he effortlessly combines experimental, perhaps even avant-garde, tastes, yet always manages to put something down that is familiar. For example, the first dish of the night consisted of two oysters with hits of citrus and chili with a side of sanguinaccio, or in layman’s terms, blood sausage. Sanguinaccio is not something that regularly interacts with my palate, neither are chilies as I’m not a huge heat-seeker, but the richness of the accompanying soft poached egg and the brininess of the oyster are very recognizable to me and made the new blood sausage experience all the more enjoyable. Perhaps Chef Keeler is like our coach: pushing us to do our best, nay, try our best, yet not throwing us out there completely unawares.
After this beautiful course, Chef Keeler explained that Charleston has so many great restaurants serving dynamite lamb chops and loins, yet leaving many other parts of the animal untouched. He happily purchases these remnants and incorporates them in a variety of ways. So, lamb’s head it is! Served with Anne Amie Cuvee Amrita, this rarely used part of the lamb became a remarkable example of the luck in “finder’s keepers.” Nutty and buttery pecorino, earthy oregano and sauce gribiche rounded out this second course.
Upon reflection, I’ve decided the third course was certainly my favorite. Octopus, rudderfish, and barrelfish (oh my!) comprised Chef Keeler’s takae on brodetto, bouillabaisse’s Italian cousin. A rich smoky broth tied the different fish flavors together, and a potato purée quietly resting at the bottom of the bowl acted as a thickening agent to bring the whole dish together. Course three was paired with Tenuta Sant’Antonio “Scala” Rossa and complemented the soup with equaled spiciness. Had I not been with such excellent company, I might have tipped the bowl back for the final dregs.
The dinner started to wrap up with the fourth layer, sweet and sour rabbit. Chef explained that this was his Spanish version of sweet and sour with sherry vinegar as a base. Rillettes of rabbit, meatballs with rabbit liver and meat, and ramp spaetzle made this a close contender for best dish. It was paired with my favorite wine of the night, Bernebelva “Camino de Navaherreros” Granacha, a dangerously easy wine to drink.
Finally, it was time to indulge our sweet tooth. Handheld fried peach pie with smoked sorghum and crème fraiche was the perfect cap to the evening. A last minute adjustment to the menu had us drinking Dr. Loosen Riesling, and this varietal truly made the freshness of the peaches shine.
The team (maybe even culinary wizards) at Two Boroughs Larder clearly spent a generous amount of time on this special menu to share with us. Summer is a much beloved time of year and I can’t think of a better way to have commenced this steamy season than in their company.