Sunday, July 11, 2010

FISH Swimming In Excellent Waters

In the decade since its inception, FISH has experienced several waves of change. New chef's faces, altered menu "themes," and a sea of new competitors on what's become a very crowded and delicious restaurant corridor on upper King. The restaurant proves that hard work, honing, and upping the ante will ultimately right the ship. FISH is rolling along at full steam these days. No longer floundering in occasional bouts of mediocrity, the restaurant is in full-on excellent mode under the talent infused leadership of Executive Chef Nico Rimo and his professional staff.

Rimo's a native of Lyon, France and a recent recipient of the rare and much coveted Master Chef of France (Maitre Cuisinier de France) award. A recent visit to FISH proves that awards follow excellence, not the other way around. Rimo's brand new summer menu is awash in fresh and local goodness, one of FISH's most ardent and enduring mantras since day one. Somehow, Rimo brings it all to a new level with a simple menu of petite plates, dim sum, cheese plates, soup/salads, a short list of sides and "large plates," each of which reflect his love of all preparations Asian and French.

His infusion of the two marry beautifully across the board, but dock especially neatly in the dim sum (choose four for $6) berth of the menu. A creamy, almost French center of chunky crab wrapped by a crisp, super hot wonton is nestled in a pert, plum sauce. Arranged beautifully on a long, rectangular white plate divided into four sections, it competed for attention with a cold, ultra crisp and fresh spring roll in a verdant pool of cilantro and mint and a mellow balloon of steamed Chinese bun filled with butter-tender shards of duck confit. Execution of each of the dim sum and their sauces was of the highest caliber.

These were preceded with a small basket, lined with a reproduction of a French newspaper, of freshly fried bread. The bread tasted like a combination of brioche and beignet and melted like hot pockets in my mouth, kicked into an even higher gear with the cayenne laced, fruity dipping sauce. Fun yet contained, this is one of the sweetest, most whimsical bread baskets around town.

Fresh from the sea scallops ($20) is a must-have dish here. The summer menu's version has the virginal white gems perched atop a bed of coconut rice and peas with an impeccable, fragrant beurre blanc. I also enjoyed the naked fish (market price), a fat wedge of firm, buttery black grouper over a bed of sauteed wild mushrooms threaded with crisp, fresh green beans.

The addition of extra seating in FISH's most recent renovation is welcome. The large dining room off to the right of the entrance is awash with sophisticated, cooling maritime touches, including a wave of cobalt blue votive candles arranged on one wall, and muted mirrors on another. Comfortable banquettes, sporting a checkered pattern of cream and aqua-hued patches are sophisticated and comfortable and flank the dining room with a welcome hush that's suited for a quiet, romantic dinner as much as a night out with friends.

FISH offers an abbreviated yet complex wine menu with something for all tastes and budgets and the excellent staff proves its knowledge in pairing with well-trained panache and a refreshing air of pleasantry.

FISH
442 King Street, downtown Charleston
(843) 722-3474
www.fishrestaurant.net

3 comments:

江冠彭珮李佳宏陽筠 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

I Love your articles about the great local food. Charleston definitely has a lot. You may be interested in a local site just launched that lets you search through Charleston Restaurants and even has a search box of only Charleston area restaurant menus.

Charleston Restaurants Search Engine

Thanks again for all the helpful information

About Holly Herrick said...

Thank you, Brian. I just checked it out. That's great - a great resource for Charleston and CHarleston fans! I am following you on twitter.

Culinary Cost-Cutting 101

Coupon Crazy

When I was a little girl, I marveled while watching my Great Aunt Frances sitting at her linoleum-topped kitchen table, cutting coupons from the daily newspaper in the tiny Kansas town she lived in until she was nearly 100 years old.

It seemed like such a waste of energy in order to save a few pennies on, what I thought, were probably things she wouldn't normally buy anyway. But, I was naive. She, a thrifty survivor of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, had her coupon system down pat and it's probably one of the reasons she made it through a long life of hard times, many of them spent alone.

The latest bout of monetary unpleasantness, however, has created a market for New Age couponing systems. The internet now has a number of hot coupon sites (I like couponmom.com) which provide free, brand-name coupons and more if you select to register as a member. They're just a click, a printer, and five minutes away. In addition, many grocery stores' websites offer lists of daily specials. And, here's the kicker. Many provide selections from the kind of items you usually purchase, anyway. That was it for me. The last straw supporting my long-standing anti-coupon mindset finally broke its resistant back.

Harris Teeter's online specials shopping list became this list-hater's new best friend. I dipped into it with reckless abandon. With a little practice and increasing knowledge, I'm slowly forming my own semi-profitable coupon system. By combining the free manufacturer's coupons from sites like couponmom.com with a daily special shopping list constructed from Harris Teeter's web site (harristeeter.com) , my handy VIC card, and an extra dose of concentration at the grocery store, I have scored some serious savings.

The best yet happened last week. Granted, it was a big sales day at the downtown Teeter. The store was offering buy one get one, two or even three, all over the place on big ticket items like beef, coffee and wine. Since I'm expecting company in a couple weeks, I decided to stock up on these and other staples. The net result was a whopping $67 total savings. In essence, I bought three weeks-worth of groceries for less than I usually spend in one week!

My heart raced with anticipation as I watched the basket cave with the weight of my cache and the numbers creeping slowly higher on the cash register. Then, as the cashier started calculating in the selected coupons, the numbers amazingly started going down. It was like getting on the scale after a week of gorging Haagen-Dazs only to find you'd lost five pounds. I was beaming. She was beaming and said, "You did good today!"


Admittedly, a follow-up trip to replenish the fresh vegetable drawer just one week later only yielded $10 in savings, but next time I'll do better. I'm on a coupon-crazed mission. Intelligent use of coupons and smart shopping add up to saving a lot more than pennies. And, I'm not in Kansas anymore.

One Plucky Chicken, Four Marvelous Meals

With grocery costs rocketing to the stratosphere, it’s imperative to save wherever you can at the supermarket without eliminating taste. In addition to reaching for reduced daily specials, what you buy and how you put it to use in your kitchen can happily translate to huge savings with bodacious bite.

In this era of grocery gouging, chicken can become your new best friend for just pennies per four ounce serving when paired with practical pantry staples like pasta and veggies. Low in fat, high in protein and exceptionally versatile, chicken marries equally well with the exotic (think truffles or saffron) to the humble (think roasted potatoes and rosemary).

For these reasons, it’s a regular menu guest at my house, where I pride myself on transforming a single, four pound chicken (preferably organic and purchased at a reduced rate) into four fabulous feasts for a group of four. That’s sixteen meals, folks! A four pound chicken runs anywhere from $6-$10 (depending on where and how you shop), throw in a little change for ingredients to flesh it out into a meal (4X), and you’re looking at less than $20. A night out for a family of four at any fast food favorite will set you back the same amount or more faster than you can say “heart attack”.

Gotcha? Let me tell you how it’s done!

Meal #1: This is the launching pad for the meal plan event(s) – a whole roasted chicken. Since it’s going to be transformed several times, keep the seasoning simple – ground pepper, a nice crust of coarse salt and a rub down with olive oil. Roast at 425 until done (about 20 minutes per pound) and top it with a few love pats of butter to sink deeply into the bird. Allow the roasted chicken to rest and re-absorb its juices. Cut the both legs and thighs away from the chicken (reserving warm). Cut the breasts away from the rib cage, cool and store in your refrigerator for later use. Serve both legs and both thighs with steamed vegetables and roasted potatoes for a satisfying, nutritional meal. Go ahead and prepare a pan gravy with a little roux, white wine, chicken stock, Dijon mustard and fresh tarragon to dress things up, but hold on to the carcass!

Meal #2: Start this after the roast chicken dinner to prepare for tomorrow’s old-fashioned and DELICIOUS chicken noodle soup. With a sturdy chef’s knife, cut up the reserved carcass remnants – the rib cage and spine – into four or five coarse chunks and put them in a two quart soup pot with a quartered onion, carrot, celery stalk and a clove or two of garlic to make an impromptu stock. Add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf and fresh thyme for added flavor. Bring it up to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer over low heat and forget about it for three to four hours. Allow to cool and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
About thirty minutes before you’re slotted to serve dinner, skim off any accumulated fat off the top of the stock, strain it, discarding all solids except any bits of chicken flesh. Finely chop an onion, carrot and celery stalk and sauté them in the same pot with a tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Season, return the strained stock to the pan and bring up to a boil. Add reserved chicken and about ¼ pound of dried pasta (flat noodles, spaghetti, linguini – your choice) and cook until tender. Serve with a drizzle of fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, or thyme will do) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A small, fresh salad and warm baguette make this a meal.

Meal #3: Chicken Salad Deluxe! This is where you can really have fun with chicken’s flavor/texture marriage versatility. Cut one of the reserved breasts into chunky, ½” cubes and toss in a bowl with coarsely chopped dried cranberries (or another dried fruit like figs or currants), coarsely chopped roasted almonds, fresh herbs, a dollop of Dijon, a dash of mayo and vinegar, salt and pepper and you’ve got a meal in minutes over a bed of greens. Other flavors that work in tandem with chicken include curry, paprika, cinnamon and almost any fresh herb imaginable. Make this your own!

Meal #4: Chicken Sandwiches Supreme! Again, versatility and imagination set the stage for show-stopping chicken sandwiches prepared with freshly roasted chicken breast. Go for the best quality bread you can find, from baguette to whole grain, and fill it with thinly cut slices of the remaining breast and toppings. One sliced breast will handily complete four sandwiches. Zip up mayo with fresh basil and Dijon mustard for a fresh, personalized sauce, top with a slice of red onion and crisp romaine. Go whole hog and add a few pieces of browned bacon and a slice of avocado if the mood moves.

Chicken never tasted so good for so little.