Eating my World

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39 Rue De Jean Day 9


As is starting to be my pattern, I arrived back at my hotel at 6:30pm last night with two equal but opposing forces working upon me. The first was utter exhaustion from working for 12 hours straight, which in and of itself would not be that big of a deal, but this work involves the sitting or standing in one spot for 12 hours and writing down numbers.  This “work” is incredibly taxing on my soul. It feels as if I am sitting with tablet in hand and Sears power vac in my ear, removing every ounce of soul I once had. Some might argue that said soul was devoid of any value anyway and therefore is no great loss, but I contend I need this soul for drive to live and eat, eat… Oh yeah! I was going to talk about eating and hunger. Hunger is the other force pulling me and as hunger can really get the best of any other force acting upon a person. I decided to continue my quest for culinary greatness instead of going straight to bed.  Anyway I pulled out the now mounting list of waitress and Lucca friends recommendations and start going through them to see what looks good. I thought about McCradys but that is clearly a dress up and make an evening of it type of place and is highly touted as the best restaurant in Charleston. I don’t doubt this as I see the menu looks fantistic and I also see that chef Sean Brock is bucking for a James Beard award. Just to be in the running for that, means you are the at the very least as good as me in the kitchen! HAHAHAHAHAH  OK sorry. I will save MCcradys for my one day off so I can get all dolled up for my solista cena. On my lists I came across 39 Rue De Jean and get online to view its menu. The place is french, duh, and as I am sitting there the menu opens and as it does my eyes lock on to the Roquefort Fillet. In the space of about .39 (Rue) seconds I have seen the dish, made the decision, and heading for the door.

I arrive there and unlike the other places I have been to here in Charleston, the waitress takes pity on me and places me in a corner. I have not forgotten my camera this time and this table will be better for taking photos, which is always uncomfortable in a nice place. As soon as I sit down I start to take a picture and the waitress walks up and gives me the “what are you doing” look. I tell her I am nuts and to just ignore the camera for now.


I have seen the wine list and have spyed a Malbec. You know I love Malbec and chose a Zucchardi “Q” , Mendoza, 2003. Next I needed a salad, I had read that the Mesclun Salade (you know its going to be good when they spell things with an extra E on the end of the word) with baby greens, candied
nuts and aged red wine vinaigrette and French Goat Cheese was popular so I ordered one of those. Goat cheese is a little like bacon in nature, in that anything it touches becomes pure goodness. The light dressing, the candied pecans and goat cheese combo was A MAY ZING.


You already know what I chose for my entree. I chose the Filet Roquefort with Frites, and as much as I would like to tell you it was great, it wasn’t. It was good, but wasn’t great (Much like the complete bomb of a photo I took of it). The lamb chops from La Fourchette were great, this was just good.  I can’t believe I am typing these words but there was actually too much cheese on the steak and it really over powered it. There was also red wine based demi glace sauce on the plate, I know the French love their sauces but Roquefort and Demi Glace combined are too much.  I couldn’t even taste the meat. I found myself scraping all the cheese off just to find the meat. The fries were good and maybe they could have used the cheese instead, ala The Majestic Cafe.


Desert on the other hand WAS great. I ordered the Dark Chocolate Pate with dark chocolate cream, creme anglaise and raspberry coulis. I love cream anglaise. When I was on that goofy protein diet I used to make this stuff when I was jonesen for sweets as it is just egg yolks, heavy cream, vanilla beans and sugar (I used artificial sweetener). Sure its heart attack on a plate but I figure if the french can eat this stuff all the time and have a low instance of heart disease then clearly its OK. And oh man was it ok.  You could smear this desert on a dead road cat and it would be delicious. I mean just look at it!!!! (yes my photo of it is fantastic also:)  Anyway I rolled out of there 60 in change poorer and 60lbs and change heavier but all in all it was worth it.


Lucca Trattoria Day 6

The work gods also known as managers have in their infinate goodness allowed me to cut my work hours to 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday I raced back to my hotel like a little kid, excited at the prospect of actually seeing Charleston in the daylight. Something that after almost a week I had not done, save for the area right around where I am working.  I got to my room changed into some shorts grabbed the camera and luckily at the last minute decided to grab my camera bag (attention, spoiler alert).  I went to downtown Charleston to take spme pics and see the sights. It was a little cloudy and as I got out of the car a couple sprinkle hit me. UGH, the one day I have off it rains. At least it was warm. I head out and walk around town and take some pics. The clouds meanwhile are getting darker and darker.  When I was about 3 miles from my car, the heavens opened up and rained holy hell upon my head.  I was grateful that this once I had brought my camera bag.

I tried to kill some time by ducking into a restaurant and eating hoping it would stop raining while I ate. It didn’t. I had BBQ which was just OK, AND it was still raining when I left. I walked back to my car in the near dark, by the time I got there I was drenched, wet dog drenched. Saturday was a bust food wise. I would try again tomorrow.

Sunday was another 8 hour day and I decided to hit Lucca Trattoria. The first thing was I left 45 minutes early for a place that was 5 minutes away. I must have some sort of moisture induced ESP here because I could not find the place. Its in a neighborhood that no one would ever guess would house such a place. They must have gotten a steal on the newly renovated building. Its a beautiful place on the corner and has windows on two sides to see it. I went in and was about 1 minute early for my reservation made about an hour before. The waiter sat me next to a table full of women, literally inches. I was thinking “well this is kind of like eating dinner with someone else”.  I ordered wine (name escapes me) and was told by the waiter that on Sundays the menu is “family style”. I said “UGH! that is not going to work, as I am by myself” He explained that maybe family style is not the word to use (and it wasn’t). It is actually a set menu. 8 courses, 35 dollars per person and let me tell you it was the best value in food I have ever had.

I said that yes I would like the 8 course dinner, he said they would get started on it. As I sat and drank wine it became appearant that the table full of classy, well dressed women next to me were my kind of people. I listened to them talk of food and great restaurants in the area, and knew I was going to have to butt in and chat with them. And knowing me, you know I did. I spoke up and told them I am from out of town and in search of the holy grail of southern culinary greatness. They said “We were saying when you came in that we thought you were a food critic”. I told them I was a critic of food, just not the kind they think I am.  Anyway they said to pull up a chair and chat with them. They provided much insight as to where I should eat and visit while I am here. One of them (Gail) even owns a restaurant in the area. I don’t remember the name (I will edit it back in when I remember) but its a wine and cheese specialty place. She gave me her card and said to call her and she would set up a special dinner. Ah most excellent, this is exactly what I am looking for. I told them that I need a restaurant suggestion for Thanksgiving as I am going to be here over the holiday and need a place for dinner. At that, Katie (the woman closest to me) says that I must have Thanksgiving with all of them at her house. She said that every year they take in strays, yes she said strays. She said I will have to come in a cab as there is much wine consumed and I would not want to drive back to my room.  Even better, Thanksgiving with the locals! I graciously accepted and pronouced this outting a success even before I got any food.

Oh yeah the food. My first course came and it was Chetchie Bean puree with olive oil and parmesan cheese. It was kind of like thick hummas and was served with toast points.  Very very good. Next was thin shaved pickled beets with a small frisee salad with pine nuts, shaved garlic and olive oil. This was my favorite thing of the night. You wouldnt have guessed these were even beets. They were amazing, crisp, tart. Oh man they were good. Next was a plate of 3 different types of cured meats. Which I liked all but one. The one tasted like bologna. Next was shrimp and zuccini tempura which was really good but clearly not Italian and didn’t seem to fit with everything else. Next started the entree courses, the first was a pounded and fried pork loin over mashed potatoes with a caper lemon butter sauce. This was REALLY good.  Next on the list was pasta. To be honest, I didn’t like it. It was a noodle that I can’t remember the name of with egg plant, sausage and tomatoes. There was about 87 other things in it, but there were so many things that really it all kind of blended together. The worst thing was that I hate egg plant, or rather I hate its texture so every so often I would get a bite of egg plant goo, which I loathe.  I didn’t eat much of this. Next came Steamed monkfish with panchetta and mushrooms. This was another hit. It was really good and how could it not be, it had bacon!

At about the pasta point of my dinner the ladies next to me got their desert which was Tiramisu. Oh man anyone that knows me, knows I LOVE Tiramisu.  But by the time I got to desert I was SO FULL I could not even move let alone eat more. I forced myself to try a couple bites of the Tiramisu and then asked to take the rest to go. As I sit here typing this I am thinking that they never did bring it back and I didn’t remember about it when I left and I JUST GOT SCREWED OUT OF MY DESERT! That is one desert I will never get back. You know on average a person only gets 29200 chances in their lifetime for desert and one of mine just got tossed out the window. I am going to have to eat TWO deserts on some other day to make up for this.

This was a great dinner but really the find on this night were the lovely southern ladies that sat next to me, that provided me with dinner conversation, more places to visit and a Thanksgiving invite.