Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, but between the stress of last-minute gift buying and the oldies station playing “Christmas Shoes” every half-hour, you’d think people were going out of their way to make you miserable this holiday season. The dishes in this week’s Eat This Tonight will cure both hunger and seasonal affective disorder (this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA).
Chef Craig Deihl at Cypress is serving up tonnato tonnato, a dish inspired by Deihl’s time spent in Italy for Terra Madre. Deihl describes the dish as “tuna in two preparations:” cured and cooked in oil and served over tuna with a white anchovy and tuna mayonnaise-based dressing, all served over parsley, celery, capers, preserved lemon, red wine vinegar and charred cherry tomatoes. (We got a taste of this at the Slow Food luncheon yesterday, and it’s good. Really good.)
“I’ve been trying to create dishes with ingredients people can relate to, and if there’s one thing Charlestonians can relate to, it’s pimento cheese,” Deihl says. Enter his pimento mac and cheese, served next to a dry-aged ribeye. “It’s two Southern classics coming together — just a little more upscale.”
Head over to the Glass Onion where Sarah O’Kelley is serving up comfort food that she says will brighten anyone’s bad day. Their shrimp and grits dish changes from season to season, but O’Kelley is particularly fond of the latest variation. It’s served with local shrimp, white cream sauce, and beet greens. “Most people don’t know you can eat the tops of beets,” O’Kelley says. “But they’re sweet and similar to spinach, and they pair well with the shrimp. Both of those balance out the savory taste of the Anson Mills grits and artisanal bacon really well.”
O’Kelley is also warming people up with the Glass Onion’s gumbo, a dish she says epitomizes the restaurant. “We use a dark roux base, it’s almost a dark chocolate brown color. It’s very rich and very filling.” It’s loaded with chicken, okra, and a spicy Andouille sausage from Lousiana. Lousiana’s also the home of Glass Onion Chef Chris Stewart, so you know this dish is done right.
Chef Nico Romo at downtown eatery Fish is serving up the traditional French dish coq au vin. The dish is comprised of braised chicken, gnocchi, mushrooms, chestnuts, and bacon. If that doesn’t sound wintery enough, it’s soaked in red wine. “It’s the perfect dish for this time of year,” Romo assures us.
Chef Meredith Adams at the recently opened Eurasia in Mt. Pleasant is serving up some unique variations on some classic Southern dishes. Start things out with the restaurant’s sweet potato bisque, complete with Carolina wildflower honey, white truffle, and topped with country ham. For an entrée Adams recommends a dish she drew up on a bar napkin. Dubbed the Off the Hook Rockafella, the dish is served with the fish of the day, fried oysters, creamed spinach, fontina, smokehouse bacon, stravecchio, and mashers. For dessert try “coffee and donuts”: Van Gogh Double Espresso creme brulee served next to homemade donut holes.