Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Field Trip: McCrady's, Charleston, SC

There is a distinct possibility that Sean Brock, executive chef of McCrady's in Charleston, SC, may have stumbled into a time machine fashioned by Eli Whitney somewhere around the turn of the century.  Better yet (and capitalizing on recent media trends), perhaps he is a vampire.  That might explain the fact that he never sleeps, which I am guessing there isn't much time to do so as he tackles the dual role of executive chef and gentleman farmer.  Or quite simply, farm-to-table was the norm for his rural upbringing.  Whatever the case may be, he is both an old soul and an innovator.  In the soft-spoken monologue above, he exudes passion for food, stresses the importance of creating a sense of place, and outlines some of his efforts to undo more than a century of agribusiness food fuck-ups.

Upstairs, where I drank way too many bourbon and cola cocktails, I got the pulse on the Charleston wedding scene from Kiah Stone, who was also pivotal in getting me an audience with Mr. Brock (and more importantly, rattling off his many accolades and food philosophy before I sat with him).

Prior to the interview phase of the evening, I ate what could have easily been my last meal. Passed h'ors d'oeuvres included fried green tomatoes--a single bite of brittle cornmeal surrounding tart and juicy flesh--and crab cakes that posessed a subtle crunch and delicate meatiness (that's a good thing).

As an amuse, a perfectly cooked scallop presented with oyster mushrooms (I think) and asparagus (maybe a bit more than an amuse).

For the first course, a charred marshmallow slowly melted into a rustically textured sweet potato soup.

The main course was a standard filet mignon that was anything but. It was perfectly executed, and the flavor of the beef needed little more than salt and pepper.

For dessert, a duo of chocolate mousse cake and something that everyone was calling, "oh my god, did you try the banana cake?" It was perfection from start to finish, and I'll be shocked if Mr. Brock doesn't take home the Beard award in the coming weeks. Given the time and resource, I would go back to Charleston just to eat here. If your travels take you to the dirty south, I recommend you do the same. Buen provecho.

McCrady's is located at 2 Unity Alley in Charleston, SC. All pertinent info regarding reservations, etc. can be found on their website  Some tooling around on the internet helped me locate Sean Brock's blog as well. Much props to both Kiah Stone and Sean Brock for taking the time to talk to me.

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