Charleston Knows Food
So here is what you wont see in our Charleston show. An entire city engaged.
Impossible to define, like the Supreme Court definition of pornography (“you know it when you see it”), the people of South Carolina and especially in Charleston know food. On a basic and intrinsic level, they have pitch-perfect taste. We had one free evening when we shot that week (well, that means we were done by 8 after a 13 hour day) and I met my pals from Perennial Plate at FIG, Mike Lata’s amazing restaurant that has helped jump start the Charleston food explosion. It was a Tuesday evening. Slow night. Wrong. Place was packed in ‘off season’ on a ‘slow night’ and that was also the case all over town. People love to go out to eat in Charleston. Anyway, like all the other great restaurants in this city, FIG offers simple recognizable food, nothing fancy or convoluted, nothing but perfection in every dish. Mike was out of town the night we were there and it’s a testament to his staff that the evening was a seamlessly excellent as when he is on premise. A rarity in the restaurant world.
On the flip side of the equation, there is TW Graham’s in McClellanville, just outside of Charleston. We had a rain out on a story one day, needed some content and the restaurant opened their doors to us. You will see it in the show. What you wont see was the two hours we spent eating across their whole menu after the shooting wrapped. Without doubt one of the best crab cafes I have ever come across, but the owners make a chowder that will curl your toes. They graciously allowed us to have their recipe. You can’t go wrong. That being said, the recipe is less than tight. Its designed for cooks that have a lot of touch. I suggest simmering the shrimp shells in the stock for a while before using and I think you need to simmer the chowder until cream is thickened. Play around with this recipe but BY ALL MEANS get down to TWG and have lunch, then head into town and dine at FIG. You will thank me later. Catch the episode of Bizarre Foods America: Charleston tonight, Mon., March 5, at 9|8C on Travel Channel.
Crab and Shrimp Chowder
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 small jalapeno, fine dice 1 large sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large baking potatoes, unpeeled and diced
1/2 lb raw chopped shrimp
1 lb fresh crab meat
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1 qt chicken stock (I think they use some crab/shrimp stock also, but go ahead and experiment)
1 qt heavy cream celery salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Saute vegetables, except potatoes, in butter. Add potatoes and sauteed vegetables to stock; cook until potatoes are just tender. Remove from heat, and add shrimp and crab. When shrimp have turned pink; add heavy cream, corn, celery salt, and pepper. Return to low heat, and simmer very gently.