This is restaurant month in the Charleston area. It is a slower tourist time of year so the restaurants are trying to tempt the locals with less expensive prices. Last week there was a list of all the restaurants that are participating and what they have to offer.
In a full page ad we did not see one thing that tempted us, even though the food is likely to be half priced. The deal is a three or four course meal for anywhere from $30-$40. This would be like soup or salad, the main course, and dessert.
This is not a bargain for us since we don't normally eat a multi-course meal out. At least not one that is ala carte which means the salad all by itself would cost more than our entire meal for two at Burger King.
And besides that, we like to share. So, suffice it to say, we will not be venturing downtown no matter how good the deal might be.
There was a recipe and picture in our local newspaper of a special dish at Zero George Restaurant. It was called Pressurized Octopus. Doesn't that sound tasty? To do it you put one half cup olive oil, a fennel bulb, one large onion and six garlic cloves in a pressure cooker. Sprinkle this with salt and let it all sweat for three minutes.
Then add one and one-half cups red wine vinegar, one-half cup white wine and some red chili flakes. Bring this all to a boil.
Next you add the octopus. I have no idea how you find one, or how big it needs to be. The recipe didn't say. Now you secure the lid and set to full pressure. Once pressure reaches 15psi, cook the octopus for exactly 17 minutes. So, pay attention.
You are supposed to release the pressure and cut the poor octopus into three ounce pieces. After it is room temperature then you char it on a hot wood-burning grill before serving. (This already sounds like too much work.)
And to make matters worse, it is served with lamb belly, which is actually made with lamb breast that has been cured with a bunch of things like toasted fennel and coriander seeds and red chili flakes for 24 hours, then put in a Dutch oven covered in one quart of rendered lamb or duck fat and baked for three hours., Where do you get the fat?
Thankfully, you are to remove the lamb from the fat and press it between two sheet trays with a weight on top of it. In this position you refrigerate it over night and cut it into one and one-half inch diamonds.
The assembly of this strange dish is interesting, too. First you grill the octopus on a very hot charcoal grill until it begins to char at the tips. Then allow it to rest in a small bath of olive oil and sliced garlic.
Next, place the lamb on the coolest part of the grill and allow it to render and crisp for 5-6 minutes. Brush with barrel-aged soy sauce and keep hot.
There is also an egg plant involved here. It has to be roasted and put through the food processor with salt, pepper, preserved lemon skin (whatever that is), garlic and lemon juice. This is supposed to be shaped into a quenelle on the plate. Along with this you put the little piece of octopus and the diamond shaped lamb belly and a few sorry looking green leaves on the plate.
I have no idea how much this might cost, but from all the effort involved it must be a lot. Even for a deal during restaurant month, we would pass on this.