This is our first letter reaching out to you this Spring - because finally, thankfully, it feels like Spring. P-A-T-I-O time. The garden made it through this hard winter mostly unscathed, only losing a few agaves. The pansies, ornamental cabbages & kales are blooming as well as the fragrant old-fashioned Viburnum bush and purple leaf Redbud. All looking good thanks to Seth Hand of Hands-On Landscaping. His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtbouillon (pronounced "coor-boo-YONE") is what you might hear it called in New Orleans describing a flavorful, aromatic stew with poached fish. Bill Smith's riff on a delicious Courtbouillon he had when last in Louisiana is exceptionally delicious with a chunky, meaty white fish, Gulf Coast Corvina, served with a vibrant, passionate orange-red pepper & tomato sauce. We'll have this healthy, light and aromatic-tasty dish on throughout the early Spring. It's a great dish for this weather and already very popular.
Add to this the new Wedge Salad: a crunchy classic wedge with our scrumptious, slightly pickley, light pink take on 1000 Islands dressing toped with a confetti of julienned roasted beets. A stellar, light dinner salad, or when ordered with sautéed shrimp or fried oysters, makes a filling entrée. This is what I have been chowing down on a lot lately.
The most indulgent dish right now, a super-food actually, is Bill's Sautéed Chicken Livers with avocadoes, onions and his Bourbon Brown Sauce. If you love chicken livers and haven't yet tried this, it's a must. David Robert of the Dead Mule Club stopped me just this morning to tell me how much he liked this dish. "Best chicken livers I've ever had " was his comment.
If you're in the mood for an outstanding soup, we have a cup or bowl w/ house mixed greens salad of Green Posole with pork & Mexican hominy ready for you. I love posole; reminds me of the colorful, lively markets of Mexico City, San Miguel & Oaxaca. Also, right now our vegetarian soup is Cream of Vegetable Soup.
Casseroles and such, for one or table-share, this early Spring is a Gratin of cauliflower, parsnips and Calvander cheese. These dishes, served in oval gratin wear, vary night to night.
Check our website for our complete Menus; http://www.crookscorner.com
Carolina 'Cue Wednesdays have become part of the fabric of our week. I'm having a wonderful adventure crisscrossing our state to the fine BBQ Houses. I head out every Wednesday morning to meet BBQ folks and talk and eat 'Cue and return by 5:00 with 25 lbs of 'Cue to feature on our Menu that evening. John Shelton Reed ( Dale, his wife, & he wrote the book Holy Smoke) went along with me 2 weeks ago to Jack Cobb & Son in Farmville. He has convinced me to stick with the wood-smoked BBQ. You can order either a plate with our Black-Pepper Cornbread & Purple Slaw or a sandwich on a Guglhupf brioche bun with slaw and a side of Jalapeno-Cheddar Hushpuppies. Both come with a cup of our Collards. And for dessert I would recommend Bill's Good Banana Pudding or the Atlantic Beach Pie.
Next up is B's Barbecue & Grill in Greenville (April 9). Their 'Cue is so good that they sell out every day. All you local Pirates take note. Check out this Southern Foodway's Alliance write up and video about B's: https://www.southernfoodways.org/interview/bs-barbecue
The Guest Carolina 'Cue Line-up is on the Crook's website now so you can mark your calendar for the Wednesday nights that we are serving your favorite or 'Cue from some place you'd like to try. (I've been doing this since last Fall so might be headed back to some places soon. Several of the Crook's staff made a road trip last week to Bum's because they liked it so much when we featured this Ayden establishment's BBQ a few weeks ago.)
Bill Smith says, No word yet on Honeysuckle. If you spy our favorite foraged food anywhere nearby, let us know. First five in the Triangle area to spot it and post a photo and location on our Facebook page will get a little something special ... let's say a Crook's dessert of their choosing.
On the Walls: Now we have a more graphic, a wild show with big-eyed birds, southern maps, and stilettos: George Spencer's first show at Crook's. http://www.stgeorgeart.net
We love artists at Crook's: like drive-by photographer Christina Flettes-Boutte, who took one of our favorite photos of Bill Smith ever and had hundreds of likes on Crook's and Bill Smith's Facebook page: Check out her website: http://cfletesboutte.com
And last week Sally Massengale showed up with an easel and painted Bill's portrait while he cooked the Court Bouillon. Two of Sally's three sons have worked at Crook's.
Crook's Corner Book Prize: Since the last letter I have finished the last 2 books of our Final Four. Rhonda Riley's haunting, mysterious The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope and Jon Buchan's politically insightful, captivating Code of the Forest. Both excellent reads so you might want to consider them for your summer reading list. I'm told that the entries for next year's prize are coming in and I'm looking forward to more entertaining reading. Check out the website for entry rules: http://crookscornerbookprize.com
Hope to see you soon, and as always, thank you for your friendship & patronage -