Patio Time - It's that time of year, just when spring is breaking, when the patio might be open on any night, and is most of the time, expanding a wintertime-snug Crook's to twice our capacity. And with daylight extending to seven or so, the bamboo patio is a great choice spot for early drinks or dinner.
Just weeks ago Joe Spring (an actual person) rolled into town, up from the tropical Folly Beach, SC, to visit our kitchen and interview and video tape Chef Bill Smith making desserts. Now Joe Spring's videos and article "The Wandering Chef" in Outside Magazine are published. He did such a good job! Click here to view the story and videos.
Butterscotch Pudding is a hit. Even when the convincing Lawrence Winn recommends this as his favorite dessert, it is often just the first spoonful of the molasses-butterscotch pudding which will convert regulars to temporally forego their favorites-classics like Bill Neal's Mt. Airy Chocolate Soufflé Cake or Bill Smith's Good Banana Pudding. If you haven't yet tasted this pudding, you really should.
Then, last Wednesday, the Lee Brothers (Matt and Ted) up from SC, stopped by on their Charleston Kitchen book tour. They came in late, just in from the five-hour drive up from Charleston to settle in for their three-day tour of the Triangle. They brought a copy of their book to share. The new book is terrific. These recipes have the sense of Southern cooking we love at Crook's Corner: Fish in Paper (an Edna Lewis version, similar to Bill Smith's and back on the menu this spring at some point) as well as the old-fashioned dessert Syllabub (similar to Bill Smith's Sabayon), which we'll see here as soon as we get some ripening berries.
The Wilted Confit Duck Salad we noted on WUNC last week is soon if not now gone, but here's what's coming on: Eastern NC Corned Ham! We'll have this dish on the next two Saturdays: March 23 and 30. These Eastern NC-inspired, house-cured hams are very popular and often don't last till Sunday.
We also have Hard-Crab Stew. "It's a refined version of the Eastern NC stew, like I served at Charleston Food & Wine Festival," said Bill Smith. Bill is gathering recipes for his new book on Crabs & Oysters.
I Heart Cheese Pork is on for only a few more weeks..... Now is the time for your last-of-the-season taste of the Southern Schnitzel with mashed rutabagas & a Madeira sauce.
We are also in our final weeks of Fried Oysters -- from Exmore, Virginia. April is the last month with an "r" in it until September when they will return. Better come soon.
Last night, we hosted the staff & friends of Our State Magazine for their April issue launch party. This issue has a feature on Bill Smith's memories of church picnics (in Eastern NC). He says, "the Catholics had Kibbi, the Presbyterians had layer cakes." We'll have gratis copies of Our State at the bar until they run out......
Bar Notes: With spring fast approaching, we shift our wine feature from rich, wintry French wine to lighter Italian wines. A new favorite among the staff is the Sanbastiàn, a Barbera d'Asti from Agliano Terme. This wine is fresh, bright and clean. Made entirely in stainless steel barrels which allows the flavors of red cherry and sun-ripened raspberry to shine through a subtle herbaceousness with hints of pepper. The Sanbastiàn makes a delicious companion to the Wilted Duck Confit Salad, Cheese Pork or Carolina Sampler.
On the Walls: Paul Hrusovsky's vampire bunnies and other portraits in a style reminiscent of the classical 1950's. Great show. His work will be up for the month of March.
Hope to see you soon, and as always, thank you for your friendship & patronage -