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Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day in SC

     Greetings, y'all.  Late January in Charleston is the slowest period of the year for the large and normally vibrant Charleston restaurant community.  To counter that effect, special promotions are called for.  Therefore, this week is restaurant week in Charleston.  Probably a hundred establishments participate from the inexpensive touristy spots to the top end of fine dining.  They offer a multi-course, prix fixe meal for $20, $30, or $40 depending on the class of the restaurant.  Cindy, Durelle and I decided to try the Tratoria Lucca.  It is in a residential area bounded by Rutledge, Spring, King and route 17 in the northern part of the Charleston peninsula that is characterized by narrow, one-way streets and no small number of abandoned, boarded up two and three story residences.  They are essentially adjacent to a church, so their liquor licence is limited to wine and beer.  Their forte is Tuscan Italian so a bottle of Chianti Classico was just fine anyway.  In spite of the location, the place is a small, elegant restaurant with a well-known Charleston chef, warm decor, and attentive service.
     Monday night is their family night, which they maintained in spite of the promo.  There was no menu, and the meal was $38 each.  I guess there were seven courses.  They started with fresh baked bread with a seasoned, fruity olive oil, followed by a salad with roasted radicchio, a few slices of a spicy salami, smoked salmon, a bulgur wheat dish, and a pasta dish with a homemade pasta like no pasta I have ever seen.  It featured duck sausage, oyster mushrooms and marinated veggies and, of course, some good cheese.  Cindy, thanks for the research that identified the pasta as Paccheri pasta.  The long, large, almost hose-like tubes were invented in the 1600s as a means to conceal the garlic cloves from southern Italy as they were smuggled into Prussia where they were banned.
     The entre featured roasted pork cheeks with pureed potatos and veggies.
     Everything was served family style with one serving dish at a time per table.  As Cindy said, "There is no way I would have ordered duck sausage or pork cheeks from a menu, but everything was truly outstanding."  But perhaps the most unusual combination of unimaginable flavors came in the dessert...a mostly chocolate pudding with olive oil and sea salt!  You would be amazed at how well it worked.
     It was a fun evening that was topped off by discovering while driving home that the cataract surgery had also restored my night vision.  Thanks, Dr. Kulze.
     I should also include a couple of backyard wildlife shots from this morning.
     The spotted fawn puzzles me because I thought they were born in the spring and outgrew their spots by fall.
     We now have a new special eating place to take visitors in addition to Magnolias.  C'mon down!
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