Given that downtown restaurants tend toward pro-Romney baroque trainwrecks like Soby's, or earnest but dreary farm-to-table bandwagoneers like American Grocery, it's no wonder there's a move to keep interesting food purveyors like Neue Southern far away.
Granted, it's a newspaper article about a scientific study, not an article in a medical journal, but the science seems kind of wack, in that "Southern food," for the purposes of the study, appear to be "food we already knew is bad for you. But, you know, just to be on the safe side, lay off the okra, collards and benne wafers.
It's worth noting that the lead author of this study is at the University of Alabama, which suggests that the clumsy deployment of the notion of "Southern food" may be a function of a reluctance to consult the experts on traditional food, who are of course at Ole Miss.
Was initially surprised to hear of plans for a Husk outpost in Nashville. The Cod is on the record as a fan of H. Sean Brock's work, but given that his thing is an intense focus on the local, it's odd to see him open a place that is 550 miles from his two Charleston places that are within a stone's throw of one another. I could imagine a similarly-conceived restaurant engaging w/ the foodshed of western TN as opposed to coastal SC, but it seems bad for the brand to slap the same name on it.
On the other hand, it might not be Brock's call. Husk and McReady's are owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which also owns two non-Brock properties, and the owners may well have a different vision of Husk than the chef does. More than one chef-owner has reminded me that Brock is not a chef-owner, and the existence of Husk Nashville may be evidence of that heirloom chicken coming home to roost.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that some of the grits news coming out of the 02139 is not terrible.* Right catty corner from the grits pizza nightmare is Christina's Spices & SpecialtyFoods, an offshoot of Christina's Ice Cream, (aka the East Cambridge ice cream store owned by a taxpayer). When the Cod is lucky enough to shop here, he feels like Pee Wee in the magic shop. Hand to God, I had an inkling this would happen before I saw the sign, but Cantabridgians can now purchase Anson Mills grits over the counter. Prep instructions are a little finnicky, but Anson Mills is the Real Deal. One of the mantras at the day job is "retention," for much the same reason that casinos promote retention of their patrons by injecting oxygen into gaming areas and by removing clocks. As such, one cannot but wonder if access to non Quaker Instant grits might have been enough to keep Quentin Compson out of the Charles River, thus improving Harvard's retention numbers for the Class of 1910.
Coco Chanel is famous for saying something like “Before you leave for the day…take one thing off…” or, "take off the last thing you put on." In any case, it's a dictum that comes to mind for a certain kind of restaurant that's a little bit ambitious and is likely in a town with an Airport with more gates for Southwest than for legacy carriers. They want to please, but they want that Beard nom, etc, so they keep on adding stuff, a la Todd English on an Adderall bender. Soby's, the restaurant where the Cod and cinetrix hit on this Coco-restaurant connection, (and the host for a recent Romney fundraiser), has an unusually compelling example this evening. Skirt steak w/ mashed potatoes? So far, so good, though the mashed potatoes seem out of keeping with the Gaucho vibe skirt steak wants. But then, grilled asparagus (in September? where does it come from, besides off the Sysco truck?), and a dressing that screams "scared money don't make none" - toasted garlic and chives? For a salad dressing?
And dessert. Bread pudding? Dayenu - in the right hands, bread pudding can be a ridiculously compelling dessert. But, this one, propped up w/ blueberries, and, uh, lemon curd, and an utterly confounding garnish of "fruit and nut white chocolate bark"? Is there any reason to imagine that the chef at Soby's has thought much about a) skirt steak or b) bread pudding? De La Soul has the answer:
So this whole Chick-fil-A/Gay thing is really starting to eat my brain, a la Gatesgate '09. On the one hand, folks who don't get that free speech is pointless if that speech does not have consequences, on the other folks whose commitment to civil rights begins and ends w/ not eating chicken sandwiches. But, there is a man in Greenville, SC who is living Biblically, specifically Ezekiel 22:30, And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it..."
In this case, the gap was a Chick-fil-A drivethrough, and the man was Jeffrey Martell:
Certainly, the good people at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University warm the Cod's heart with their linguistic precision (no "vodka gimlets" for them, one imagines), but they do have a dog, er, sturgeon in this fight, in that UGA produces its own sturgeon caviar. Considering that it says right on the can "They have Gatorade... we have caviar," in a not very subtle dig against the University of Florida, it's clear that Dr. Peterson, distinguished ichthyologist though he may be, is engaged in some good old fashioned SEC trolling of Louisana's caviar pretensions.
Evidently, the geographical confusion that has gripped college football has extended into the realm of condiments. Duke's Mayonaise, the beloved cultish secret of Southern cooks, is now available in parts of the South that are north of Canada! They are selling it -- openly -- in Pennsylvania! The new slogan is "the secret of great cooks." As a reasonably serious question, what happens when/if Duke's is available at supermarkets nationwide? What portion of the Duke's mystique lies where you cannot get it? The only intentionally regional brand that went national that comes to mind is Coors, and that's complicated b/c of Nazis and stuff.
In other regional news, regional supermarket chain Bi-Lo defines local like so. The Bi-Lo HQ is in Florida, and the chain's reach extends well beyond these states, but there is something reminiscent of the idea of the home counties in this notion. It's not as good as, you know, locally grown food, but better than trucking everything in from California.