Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eclectic Fare at ACME Lowcountry Cantina

My first experience at ACME Lowcountry Cantina was just a pit stop with a friend for summer refreshments; a convenient and shady respite from the hot sun. The AC was on, the TV’s were tuned to sports and there was a Stormtrooper flag hanging on the ceiling… I knew we were in the right place. Our bartender poured us two SweetWater 420 pale ales and we started to make friends with the regulars. While we relaxed, I did some extra-sensory monitoring of a nearby plate of wings, which looked and smelled awesome. We left feeling recharged and I promised myself I’d be back to check out the food. This past week I did return, wondering what kind of dishes were on the menu. Every place I know called “ACME” is a bar with basic pub food. When I think of “lowcountry” I look forward to shrimp and grits and fried okra, and when I hear “cantina” I expect margaritas, burritos, neon signs and fiesta-ware. ACME Lowcountry Cantina delivers all of those things, and despite two pleasant experiences, I have spent all week wondering how to endorse it.

For starters, entering the appropriate portion of the restaurant seemed trickier than it should have been.  One of two doors led through a hallway to an empty host stand, and the other to the cozy bar where I’d spent my first visit. I’d scoped out the screen porch and decided to go in that side, but it was under construction. I turned back to the empty host stand and without inquiring about my seating preference, the staff quickly brought us to a booth in the dining room.  It is decorated with the same wooden fish and seashore knickknacks as pretty much every other restaurant on Isle of Palms. The drab wooden walls and chilly temperature made me wish the porch wasn’t a construction zone, as it seemed like a more welcoming place to enjoy a plate of wings and a beer.  There are definitely two distinct sections at ACME, the “Lowcountry” dining room for family meals and the “Cantina” bar and porch for getting a little more rowdy.

Things got more confusing with the menus, of which there are three; breakfast, lunch and dinner, all offered 7 days a week. The dinner menu offers 17 types of wings plus pasta, tacos, salads and nine sandwich preparations, which you can get with chicken or as a burger. Then there are 18 entrees, including five different surf and turf combos and a dozen sides. All those choices become tedious. Italian dishes like Flounder Piccatta and Shrimp Primavera don’t really fit with the rest of the “lowcountry cantina” theme. And speaking of the theme, the Lowcountry Eggroll didn’t sound bad, but they could have at least called it a taquito to fit the cantina concept.

We decided to ask our server to help narrow down our choices, hoping she’d steer us towards the lowcounty dishes, or towards the pub fare. I was disappointed when her recommendations fell all across the board because it didn’t help eliminate choices, but I’m not going to fault her since the overcrowded menu is really to blame. Finally, we decided on the tasso-crusted scallop special, the fried okra special, 3 types of wings, The Hunley combo and the Carolina Succotash.

The scallops were served over a bed of wilted local arugula. I personally prefer a bit more kick from tasso, but the subtlety here helped preserve the mild sweetness of the three nicely sized scallops. The okra was exactly as advertised and the chipotle-avocado sauce provided a sufficient amount of spice to perk up my palate. The wings were basic Hot, Cajun and “Baby Mama”, the latter of which were named for a pregnant bartender who kept asking Chef Klein to fulfill her cravings for garlic/teriyaki/buffalo wings. All three were just as juicy, crunchy and delicious as they looked.

Our main entrée, The Hunley, is named after the H.L. Hunley submarine, the first sub to ever sink a ship. Well this dish will sink a human. The 8 oz strip was of no special provenance, but was cooked beautifully and topped with truffle butter, which didn’t hurt. Accompanying the steak were two petite lobster tails, some local shrimp and a crab cake with dijon caper aioli… and a side of pimento cheese grits… and collards. The seafood was all cooked perfectly and I was excited about seeing a non-deviled crab cake in South Carolina though the dijon in the aioli was totally overwhelming, the cake had good texture and flavor on its own. The grits were less exciting than expected, actually somewhat bland, and the collards had too strong of a flavor and competed with everything else on the plate. At $28, The Hunley could be split between two adults and be considered a bargain. But a place which looks and feels as casual as this has no business serving a dish meant for one at that price. The Hunley is a good representation of what’s not working at ACME… it not bad, just a little overwhelming and lacking focus.

The highlight of our meal was the Carolina Succotash, which came highly recommended by the server. The combo of local shrimp, legumes and cream was delicious. I kept losing the location of my shrimp against the orange color of the plate, but they were so plentiful and flavorful that it was hard to miss one every time I took a bite.

In the end, the majority of what we ate was seafood, and each piece, though not always local, was fresh, flavorful and prepared just right, which is really what you want and expect from a restaurant/bar/cantina or anywhere else on the Isle of Palms.

At the end of the meal I had a chance to speak to Chef Klein about his 15+ year history in the local food industry and his influences. He is a delight to chat with and is clearly enthusiastic about experimenting in the kitchen. He explained that much of the menu was held over from the restaurant that previously occupied the same location, a decision made by the restaurateurs in order to retain as much of the clientele as they could… and it stuck. However, he is proud of his contributions to the menu, most of which began as popular specials. The phenomenal succotash demonstrates his ability to create dishes that can steal the show instead of competing with ramshackle beach house décor and neon shutters. Let the dishes do the talking, they really have a fabulous thing going on at ACME Cantina.

Find GFP at Eat This! Charleston

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sushi at New Heights in Mount Pleasant

Inventive dishes and fabulous service set Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill, in Mount Pleasant, apart from your average sushi bar.

After winding my way through a maze of a shopping center and walking through a small jumble of outdoor tables, I was caught off guard by the relatively chic décor inside Fuji Sushi. The majority of the surfaces are dark lacquered wood and the windows are covered with wooden screens and bamboo shades, yet the room seems light and cheery. The wooden shelves behind the bar create an attractive display for the generous selection of sake, wine and liquor. For sports fans or current Olympic junkies, the dining area and bar each have a flat screen TV, strategically placed in opposite corners of the restaurant. The atmosphere is casual enough for a quick lunch break, and classy enough to feel special on date night.

Before going to Fuji I took a peek at their menu online and I was prepared to spend some time sifting. They offer a huge selection of special maki ($11-13), in addition to nigiri or sashimi ($5-7), vegetable maki ($4), hibachi ($10-20), noodles ($9-10), appetizers ($4-12), soups, salads ($3-10), and rice bowls or bento boxes ($9-15) at lunchtime. In case that isn’t enough, they offer a children’s menu and they even have desserts like mochi ($4). I was overwhelmed with the decisions so I elected to start with the most interesting appetizer I could find and then ask for suggestions.

So I went to Fuji Sushi… and I ordered a pizza, of sorts. The Ginza ($7) is a flat pancake of rice fried to create a crunchy exterior and soft fluffy interior. There was a good amount of chopped spicy tuna on top and it was drizzled with eel sauce and a spicy Japanese mayonnaise. It was as if if okonomiyaki and yaki onigiri had a beautiful baby and I ate it. I’m seriously excited about the Ginza. Chef Qui Jiang really has a good thing going with this dish.

As if an awesome and unique appetizer weren’t enough to impress me, Fuji got double stars for service. My server was helpful, considerate and enthusiastic. When I asked for recommendations, she gave me meaningful advice that was pertinent to what I told her I was in the mood to eat and also recommended some things that sounded good enough to being me back for another visit. When I didn’t love my cocktail she noticed, and asked me pointed questions that made it easy to respond with constructive answers. Her only flaw was neglecting to warn me about portion size! Between the Ginza and two enormous sushi rolls, I had ordered enough food for three people. If you go alone, bring an appetite.

The rolls I ordered were another surprise. Until Fuji, I had yet to meet a special maki I truly loved. Most of the time the flavors of the ingredients don’t mesh well, the texture is unappetizing, and there is hardly any fish. They always seem like an excuse to use sauces to mask off-flavors and use more of the cheaper ingredients to make a profit margin. But at Fuji, the special maki are actually special. With some help I decided on the Halloween Roll and the White River Roll. Both rolls had fresh ingredients and balanced flavors. Both were mostly fish, not full of rice or cucumber and the textures were appealing. The biggest drawback to the meal was the $13 price tag on those special maki, but take advantage of their bento specials and it’s a relatively affordable restaurant.

The rolls are elaborate but its plain to see the care put into each aspect of the dining experience at Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill. Although I always expect great service in Charleston, Fuji was able to push the bar a little higher.  

Fuji Sushi Bar and Grill will be hosting their 4th Anniversary Celebration on September 15th 2012. As thanks for their loyal customers, they will offer all-you-can-eat sushi with open bar for cocktails and beer at $75 per person.

Find GFP at Eat This! Charleston

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bon Banh Mi

5-Spice Pork Bánh Mì

When you try a perfect food there is no return to sanity until you have satisfied all cravings. I don't remember the first food I obsessed over but I do know that bánh mì was definitly one of those foods. I tried my first and I just could not get it out of my head. Then I had to have another, and another, and when I couldn't get another... I had to get my hands dirty and make it myself. There is something about the fluffy bread, the crisp crunchy crust, the bright color of green herbs and cucumbers, the pillowy, creamy richness of the pate, the tang of the fish sauce, the last juicy bite where the the pickled veggie liquid has soaked into the baguette. Nothing compares.

Thats how it was for Jason Sakran of Street Hero and Bon Bánh Mì. Like me, Jason was introduced to bánh mì on the streets of Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. While living in the area he would explore the ethnic food scene at lunchtime. When he moved to Charleston without a bánh mì in sight, he was despondent.

Jason Sakran, Owner and Chef of Bon Bánh Mì

One afternoon Jason had an “overwhelming hankering” for a bánh mì and decided to experiment. He did some research and made a test sandwich similar to the 5-Spiced Ground Pork, currently on the menu. The sandwich was a hit with his wife and his best friend, now business partner Jeremy Spencer.

Adding crisp fried shallots. Yum. 

Months later Jason and Jeremy decided to test the chutzpah of these tasty treats by selling them at a few music concerts. After a particularly successful Phish show, Jason somehow convinced Jeremy to open the Street Hero stall at the Marion Square Farmer's Market in Spring of 2011.

One year later bánh mì seem to be everywhere in Charleston. Jeremy and Jason appreciate the competition. They feel that "as people get turned onto the sandwich it's only going to help us. We offered the bánh mì at the right time in Charleston, people are embracing it."


At Bon Bánh Mìand Street Hero they want to “offer the sandwich for the masses” while using organic, antibiotic free and local ingredients wherever possible. The baguettes are made fresh locally, the eggs are locally sourced and the pâté comes from Jason Houser of Meathouse (also available at the Marion Square Farmer’s Market).

Each protein is available as a "fixin'" for your baguette, taco shell or salad.

Jeremy and Jason opened their 400 sq. ft. space on Spring Street on July 28th. The new moniker Bon Bánh mì pays homage to the French origin of the sandwich (Bon meaning “good” in French). They will be expanding the menu from what is currently offered at Street Hero. The Spring Street location has added a salad option for those seeking more ruffage, and a pulled red-curry short rib to the 'fixin' list. They are expecting to offer a shrimp and a fresh local fish option in the future. Jason says experimentation has begun on some side dishes and a dessert that is certain to blow your mind. I’m not releasing details, but you should definitely keep an eye out. Beverages choices include $4.50 beers or $5 glasses of wine and their Homemade Iced Black Jasmine Tea. Eventually the menu will include Café Su Da (Vietnamese coffee) and Bubble Tea.

Rich Carly, Owner of The Charleston Beer Exchange, stopped in for a bite. That Avery White Rascal on the counter is mine though!

The Spring Street location has been packed every afternoon. With only about 10 seats the guys are counting on delivery and take-out for a majority of the business. I suggest you get in and get your fix before the lines begin to wind out the door. But if you can't make it over to Spring Street the Street Hero stall will continue operating Saturdays at Marion Square.

Working hard downtown on Saturdays
Sriracha one of the traditional ways to spice up Vietnamese flavors. Pictured above is the 5-Spice Pork Taco

This is how I roll... pork and egg? Yes, please. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Trucks and Tech Trouble Pete and Pete Style

I swear I'm working on a real post. Tendonitis is getting the better of me and my technology is on the fritz anyway.  Apparently either I have a metal plate in my head (Pete & Pete style) or my computer and cell phone got drunk and are hungover. Either way I am going to give my wrists and my tech devices a small break and I will be back next week with so much stuff you can't handle it.

Until then check out some food trucks in Charleston...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Get the Best Food in a Foreign Town (with Photos from Vietnam)

A Vietnamese rice paper roll-up with fresh greens,  zucchini,  cabbage,  carrot,  herbs,  grilled marinated chicken and fried "Vietnamese taquito devices" aka chả giò.

Ingredients for Bun Thit Nuong
Chả Giò - Vietnamese Spring Rolls
I asked our tour guide, the 80+ year old Retired Army Colonel, to take us to his favorite lunch spot in Hoi An, Vietnam. He stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me, and said "You must have a good life if you know to follow your stomach." I think that is one of the biggest compliments I have ever received.

When you travel to eat (which is how you should always travel), you should experience what the locals eat. This takes some practice. Sometimes it's not safe to eat what the locals eat. More frequently, locals will not want to share their haunts with tourists. Sometimes the locals only eat at chain restaurants. But if you follow some guidelines you'll be fairly likely to find yourself a good meal in a foreign place, be it Vietnam or Virginia Beach. 

This is how I go about it:

Ask questions.  This is probably the most important guideline. The concierge at your hotel will point you to "safe" options. Safe doesn't always equal tasty. Often it equals most expensive. In some countries the concierge get tips from restaurants when their guests book. Stop someone on the street, or at a hair salon, or the person turning down your sheets (they know the most affordable places). (US or Abroad)

If you are not in an English speaking country the menu CANNOT be in english.

NO MENU at all is a good sign.

If there is a menu displayed out front WALK the OTHER way. It will be pricier and the food will be worse.

Learn to say "house specialty" or "please choose for me" in the native tongue. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions learn to communicate those as well.

When I travel I always try to learn a few words in the native tongue. Simply saying hello, how are you, and your name will get you an in with most locals. Then you can ask if he/she speaks English. They will be more open to helping you if you can attempt to communicate in their language.

Learning how to order food is another advantage when traveling to eat. I try to say simple things like water, wine, and spicy. Podcasts are a great free way to learn a little bit of a language on the go.

More locals eating or waiting = better meal (US or Abroad)

If it's not busy, it's PROBABLY not good. This rule bends for lunch time and if you are not eating on the local schedule. (US or Abroad)

Trust your gut and your nose. If it smells funny, it probably is. (US or Abroad)

Be friendly and patient. (US or Abroad)

Show enthusiasm! If you're excited to listen and follow you'll get responsive guides. (US or Abroad)

Ok this is really the most important step... BE ADVENTUROUS. (US or Abroad)

Do these things and you are almost guaranteed to have a delicious and exciting meal.

The same roll ups with banh xeo (thin egg crepes) and mung bean sprouts. 

The Grandmother making the banh xeo. You can tell by all of the burners that they get VERY busy. I bet she can man all of them at the same time. 

Grandma and a daughter cleaning the greens.

One of the daughters showing us how to put lunch together. Dad on the right is enthusiastically stuffing his face.

My whole family being shown how to eat lunch. 

Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Egg Crepes with Mung Bean Sprouts

Grandmother and Daughter. The third generation was too fast for the camera.

Biere LaRue, the PBR of Vietnam. 
Check out The Ravenous Couple Blog for some recipes and information about the food we ate in Vietnam: bun thit nuong, chả giò and banh xeo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Once a Hiro, Always a Hero

Izakaya Hiro is serving Japanese food right. The flavors are focused. The atmosphere is calm. The cocktails are unique. 

Currently the menu includes Nigiri (fish on rice), Norimaki (rolls), Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Kushiyaki (other grilled skewers), Ramen (noodle bowls), Donburi (rice bowls) and traditional Izakaya style Soups, Salads, and Appetizers. Next week they expect to open for lunch and will begin serving a finalized menu. I'm personally hoping this will include some Onigiri (rice balls filled with fish or meat or veggies) and Chirashi (rice and sashimi bowls). 

The redesigned space has two large dining rooms and an extensive sushi bar. The front room is sleek exposed brick with wooden accents. Through the curtains in the back of the room is their Kushiyaki grill, hot kitchen, and more booth seating for diners. In a few months they will be introduce a private dining room at the back of the building where guests can enjoy karaoke. 

After two visits I'm totally hooked. The quality of everything has been impeccable. The style is simplistic and more traditional, rather than the common American Sushi Bar featuring futomaki with 5 ingredients and two types of sauce drizzled on the plate with tempura flakes. There's nothing wrong with that style, but I personally enjoy the more classic Japanese style.

With a drink included you can expect to spend around $25 per person. It's not the most inexpensive, but then again, good sushi is a always a bit of a commitment from your wallet.

Do yourself a favor and don't skip the drinks. Besides having charming names like Geisha Blushing and Lovers in Japan, the cocktails are something special. Izakaya Hiro is working with housemade drinking vinegars, traditional rice and barley wines (not the beer style but rather Japanese Sake or Shochu), and fresh fruit combinations. The Sake and Shochu are also available by the glass and can be enjoyed chilled, or heated in the hot sake machine behind the bar.

Beer drinkers rejoice. They have an exciting selection of craft beers including Hitichino Nest from Japan (on draft, which is quite rare).  They also offer bottles including Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale, Great Divide Samurai, the ubiquitous Kirin Ichiban, and Sapporo. If you don't drink they will pour any of their drinking vinegars with a spalsh of soda water for a refreshing and liver-friendly option.

Assuming the quality stays consistent and the fish stays fresh, Izakaya Hiro will do incredibly well. I'm really excited for the developing ethnic food scene in Charleston. Hiro is a leap in the right direction.

(I apologize for the iPhone photos. My stomach couldn't be bothered with the nice camera on this trip.) 

A table in the front dining room. 

Mackerel Sashimi

Karaage- Japanese Fried Chicken

Yakitori Chicken Skin

Shoyu Ramen

Geisha Blushing- Nigori Sake, Cherry Vinegar, Pomegranate, Soda

Clockwise from top: Spider, Eel, Ginger and Wasabi, Yellowtail, Spicy Tuna

Tako Su- Octopus Salad with Cucumber, Wakame Seaweed, Sesame Seed, tossed in Ponzu

Monday, July 9, 2012

On Reviewing

I have been working in the food and beverage industry for almost six years now. I started because I love food. I keep working in the industry for the same reason I write this blog, because I can't truly appreciate what I eat if I don't appreciate the toil that puts the food on my plate. 

I put out my accounts of the meals I eat because I feel people deserve the opportunity to access information about things on which they will spend their hard earned money. I also want to promote the hard workers of the industry, encourage restaurateurs to do new cool things, make exciting and interesting dishes, and I want them to do it well so we can all enjoy more great evenings. 

I write my negative reviews in order to make others aware of the possibility of a bad meal or bad service, but I am also responsible for making them see that my bad experience isn't the only type possible. A negative review has the potential to drive business away from a restaurant, and really that is the last thing I am aiming for. It doesn't make me feel good to denigrate someone’s hard work. When I write a review I hope that I am constructive and I hope restaurateurs see their errors and have a chance to improve. I also hope it helps eaters be aware of the effort and difficulty involved in their evenings out. 

Working in F&B I have begun to see how hard it is to pull off a flawless meal. If you work in the industry and give one sh*t about your job then you are a really hard working m-f'er. The best days at the job are when you make someone’s life better just for a moment. The worst are when you f-- up and everything snowballs, and people leave unhappy, and your coworker has to pick up your slack. It's challenging, it’s awesome, it's miserable, and it's rewarding. That doesn't even begin to touch the surface of the reality of working in a restaurant and I can't pretend I'm an expert. Nevertheless, I’d like to think I have a little credibility when I criticize a restaurant, because I have some idea of where things might have gone wrong. 

After posting my review on NextDoor's wine dinner, I'm feeling a little self-conscious. I often want to post about all the places I check out, but I find it hard to strike a balance between ebullient enthusiasm and critical direction. My post on NextDoor was particularly hard to write because I had some negative things to say about my experience. If I wrote well you will know that I have an incredible amount of respect for the work their whole team puts in and I think overall they are doing a fabulous job. I published the review publicly because I want other people to know that Next Door exists and they are hosting cool wine dinners at affordable prices, and about the awesome team they have, and the delicious food they serve. Not only have I had outstanding food there, I have had really great service from each employee that came in contact with me at the restaurant, on multiple occasions. 

Still, I had something negative to say and I chose to say it in a public forum. Before I published the review I read it over about ten times, trying to decide if I shouldn't just drive over to Next Door and tell the GM exactly how I felt about my experience. I wondered if it was cowardly not to say it to their face, or if it was wrong to make public my single negative experience.  I chose to put it out there, because I want the restaurateurs to know that I did not have a flawless evening. I want them to know what exactly went wrong. I want them to have the opportunity to improve for their own sake, and because in this case, I want other people to come back and tell me that their experience was 150% better than mine and I want them to love the place. (I mean really my goal in life is the populate the earth with only amazing restaurants, but that's another topic.) 

I want my negative reviews to serve as a cautionary tale to potential eaters, and a source of constructive criticism for the restaurateur. In order to be reliable source I must have the ability to accurately express my experience and gauge how likely it is for another person to return for a very similar experience later; be that bad or good. If I review a restaurant and say it was fabulous, I want to be certain that someone else who goes there will be able to say the same. Conversely, if my experience is awful, I don't want other people to have a bad experience. You have the right to know what you might be getting into, and restaurants have the right to some wiggle room, and first and even second chances to do it right. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Monthly Wine Dinners from Ben Berryhill at Next Door in Mount Pleasant!

The Next Door Crew
from left: Charlie Chance (owner), Lauren Levine (general manager), Ben Berryhill (executive chef), Nathan Hood (sous chef)

Last month Next Door Restaurant hosted their first in a series of dinners featuring a seven course tasting menu with regional wine pairings for $45 per person.  This past monday I had the opportunity to enjoy their second such event. 

Next Door is a newer venture from Executive Chef Ben Berryhill and his partner Charlie Chance, of Red Drum in Mount PleasantUnlike Red Drum's more constant menu, the one at Next Door is ingredient driven, regularly changing based on local and seasonal items. Luckily for the diner, Sous Chef Nathan Hood ensures that both menu regulars and special offerings are true delights. I've been going to Red Drum for close to 7 years now and I know to expect consistency and a welcoming atmosphere from Chef Berryhill. He and his team take a hands on approach and they are never far from either restaurant to ensure quality. Next Door, just shy of reaching its first birthday, is still working on gaining a solid following. Berryhill concedes that the pace has been slower than he would like, but he is confident in word of mouth. 

Guests enjoying their meal and wine.

The July 2nd dinner featured wines from Austria to Sicily, along the E-55 Auto Route. For me the wine stars of the evening were the white Borgo M. Friulano 2010 from Alto Adige in Northern Italy, and the red Cottanera Fatagione Nerello Mascalese 2006 from Sicily. Both of these are beautiful summer wines. The Friulano is a rich, nutty white which came with a creamy chilled cucumber soup and dill whipped cream. Both Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio lovers can agree to go gaga over a bottle of this. Nerello Mascalese is a fairly unknown red grape grown in the volcanic soils of Southern Italy. It has an inky quality balanced by acidity and the fruity flavor of fresh grape skins. Paired with a lovely light summer tomato sauce over al dente orecchiette, this combo could not be beat.  John Julius of Ben Arnold Beverage Company and Sous Chef Hood both pointed out how natural it is to pair Southern Italian wines with the summer foods we enjoy in Charleston because the regional cuisines both revolve around gorgeous ripe tomatos and tons of fresh seafood.

Although the food was very enjoyable and the wine pairings were spot on, the experience fell a little short in execution. The temperature of individual components seemed to be a problem. I also noticed a lot of variation in the doneness of the meat courses. Most importantly for me seemed to be the errors in service from this particular crew. The servers were unable to tell us what they were serving during multiple courses. Plus, the menus were incorrectly printed, leaving my table mates and I rather confused about what we were eating. As the front room filled with regular diners our wait got much longer. This left the wine drinkers to get a little rowdy, but on the plus side it allowed some time for John to teach us a little about why the pairings were chosen and the regions the wine came from. There were a few missteps, but I'm confident that these particular issues will work their way out as the servers gain more experience. On previous trips to the restaurant I have experienced flawless and confident service along with fantastic food. 

John Julius of Ben Arnold Beverage Company pouring some Grecante for a couple of diners.

As an added bonus we got to watch the guys uncork bottles of Movia Puro. I know that doesn't sound exciting, so let me explain a bit. This particular wine is made in a method champenoise stlye, the same way champagne is produced. The wine has sediments in the neck of the bottle from the aging yeast which must be removed. This process is called disgourging and is usually done at the winery. However, Puro chooses to leave the sediment in the bottle as a fun gimmick for restauanteurs and the like. Basically, you have to store the bottle upside down and open the bottle in water in order to clear the sediments. It creates a bit of hoopla for the viewers, and is a yummy wine for the drinkers.

Overall, I was impressed by the pairings and how well they suited the delicious food. Next Door just needs to polish their corners when it comes to wine dinners.  However, Berryhill is a fabulous mentor for the young Sous Chef Hood, and I think with a little more time the two will shine.