Blue Bicycle Welcomes John Besh

beshFor food lovers worried they won’t get their fill of John Besh when he signs books at Blue Bicycle next week — and just in time for Christmas — the New Orleans chef recently launched the Besh Box.

The subscription plan features a monthly shipment of kitchen tools, ingredients and recipes; the first edition includes pecans, vanilla beans, a pastry cutter, a dough scraper, dishtowel and Christmas ornament, among other Yuletide treats. Buyers can sign up for one, three, six or a full twelve installments for $660, which includes a copy of Besh’s latest cookbook.

“I thought it would be an insight, something really interesting to share who we are and what we do, with the world,” Besh told the Times-Picayune’s Judy Walker. Continue reading

Anne Quatrano Brings Her New Cookbook to Southern Season

quatAtlanta’s Anne Quatrano is such an accomplished restaurateur that it’s somewhat mind-boggling that she’s never before published a cookbook. But the chef behind Bacchanalia, Star, Provisions, Quinones, Floataway Café and Abattoir this month halted the confusion with Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality.

Quatrano this Monday will appear at Southern Season to promote her book, which is organized by month. According to Quatrano, November is the month for buttered rutabagas, yeast rolls and hummingbird cake.

““As one of the first restaurateurs to transform a reverence for traditional cooking into a fresh, modern style, Anne Quatrano has inspired and nurtured a generation of young chefs,” Charlestonians Matt and Ted Lee say in a blurb for the book. “After reading Summerland, we can say with certainty that our entertaining will never be the same.”

The free event starts at 4 p.m.

Southern Season Hosts Advocate of Attractive Vegetarian Dishes

Eat-Your-Vegetables-Joe-Yonan-CoverBecause restaurant review dinners tend to include their share of pork products, and because I’m taken with what area growers harvest in early fall, I’m in the habit of ordering vegetables at lunch.

Commendably, most Charleston restaurants list at least one all-veg plate on their midday menus, no counting the DIY assemblage of sides that’s typically available. But I’ve frequently found myself wishing that the plates amounted to more than meatless heaps. Even when restaurant vegetables taste great, they don’t look very pretty.

I put the problem to my friend Joe Yonan, who’s in town today promoting his new book Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook. I’m admittedly biased, but the book’s been a hit with my vegetarian roommate and her usually-carnivorous boyfriend. (I gave her the book as a peace offering soon after we met, suspecting she assumed someone who worked as a food critic would harshly judge her dietary choices.)

Yonan agrees that even chefs who’ve come around to the idea that dishes without animal flesh can be imaginative, compelling and nutritious often fail to appreciate the visual opportunities presented by produce. Continue reading

John Currence Coming to Town

PP&W-CH-3-interior_thJohn Currence, whose City Grocery has functioned as a Southern Foodways Alliance clubhouse since the organization’s inception, is as indispensable to modern Southern cuisine as the pickles, pigs and whiskey celebrated by his debut cookbook’s title. Charlestonians who haven’t yet had the chance to dine at one of his four Oxford, Miss. restaurants can discover why next month, when Currence’s book tour alights on High Wire Distilling.

To celebrate the release of Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, Jason Stanhope (FIG), Sean Brock (Husk, McCrady’s), Josh Keller (Two Boroughs Larder) and Stuart Tracy (Butcher & Bee) on Nov. 19 will be cooking up evening snacks inspired by Currence’s recipes. The $85 ticket price includes liquor from High Wire, with cocktail assistance from Bittermilk; wine from Grassroots Distributing and a “special brew” from Edmund’s Oast. Currence is making punch (quite possibly with all of the above; as he writes on the book’s first page: “I’d rather punch you in the mouth with fantastic flavors than poke you in the eye with fancy presentations.”)

Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Tristan Milks Latest Dairy Trend

Buttermilk is a recurring item on Tristan’s menus, but the downtown restaurant is now planning a four-course dinner at which the humble beverage will be incorporated into every high-end dish.

At the Sept. 26 event, inspired by Vermont dairywoman Diane St. Clair’s The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook, buttermilk will brine the fried chicken; sauce the carbonara; soften the mashed potatoes accompanying a veal breast and flavor the cheesecake. Chef Nate Whiting describes the dinner as “an homage to buttermilk.”

St. Clair is quoted in a release as saying the menu’s also a tribute to buttermilk’s “amazing culinary versatility.”

Although St. Clair won’t be attending the dinner (she dined at Tristan while in town earlier this year to promote her book), you can score a ticket for $125. The price includes three wine pairings, since man apparently can’t live on buttermilk alone, and a copy of St. Clair’s book. To reserve, call 534-2155.

Edward Lee Brings Smoke and Pickles to Charleston This Week

edlee2It’ll cost $60 to watch Edward Lee demonstrate recipes at Le Creuset headquarters this Thursday, but the Kentucky chef’s planning to sign books for free.

Lee, while probably still best known beyond epicurean circles as a former Top Chef contender, is the author of Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen. He’ll cook from the book, which blends Korean folk traditions with classical technique, at a 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Guest Chef Series event at Le Creuset Atelier at Ripley Point; the admission price includes a copy of Smoke & Pickles. Online reservations are required.

On Friday, Lee will stop by the Le Creuset store at 241 King St. for a 5 p.m.-6 p.m. book signing. No reservations required.