Matt and Ted Lee might only live in Charleston part-time, but when it comes to food, they will out-local the most local localvores. Their Friday night dinner featured green peanut dashi with a dash of samphire (sea asparagus), muscadine sangria, and lemongrass from Nathalie Dupree’s backyard.
The brothers hosted a Launch for Local dinner at GrowFood Carolina Friday night as part of the Coastal Conservation League’s Quality of Life Fall Food Series. The warehouse on Morrison Drive was decked out in twinkling lights and filled with long tables topped with seasonal flower arrangements. Arriving guests grabbed a handful of cheese straws or pickled shrimp then headed to the ICEBOX bar, where the featured cocktails were the aforementioned muscadine sangria and a pomegranate Collins (a play on a Tom Collins).
The Lee brothers soon greeted the crowd, explaining that many of the dishes we’d be trying came directly from their soon-to-be released cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen. They continued to mingle with the crowd throughout the evening, explaining a bit about each dish while we were being served.
First up was the dashi, a salty peanut soup made with soft local mushrooms and homemade tofu. The brothers encouraged us to eat with our hands for the “snack” course, a platter of goat and skirt steak lettuce wraps served with toppings like oysters, tatsoi, and pear and mustard kimchi. It was served with a chilled shot glass filled with Johns Island muscadine rose. Next we were given a “quiet, cool moment, a fishy moment,” with a red snapper crudo bite dressed with a bit of sesame oil. Then, bellies already full, it was time for the main course: wild duck ragout over Charleston gold rice with pecans, okra, corn, tomatoes, and arugula. Somehow we were able to scrape the plate clean, along with dessert, a pear Huguenot torte with Rock & Rye whipped cream. Kudos to the team at Duvall for carrying out the Lees’ vision.
Seeing the menu beforehand, we expected our palates to be challenged, but every dish, though unfamiliar, was delicious and completely satisfying. We can’t wait to get our hands on the cookbook in February so we can get cookin’ — and increase our locavore street cred.