More than three years ago, on what was to become one of the two happiest days of my life (the second being the day the Gravy Baby was born), I married the hubby here in Charleston, at the French Quarter Inn. We had a morning ceremony followed by a brunch reception downstairs at Tristan Restaurant. Thinking back to that day now, it’s a blur of memories, but really I just remember smiling so hard that my face hurt.
Our three appetizers (hey, I’m pregnant, I eat a lot these days) were, from left to right, top to bottom: a braised octopus with a delightful smoky potato salad; crispy fried gnocchi made in-house with brussel sprouts and smoked grapes; and a Lowcountry “carbonara” made of sous vide quail, a bacon crema and spaghetti threads made out of onion, topped with a runny quail egg
A few weeks ago the hubby and I ventured into new territory: we went on an overnight trip without the Gravy Baby, our first in two years. It might not surprise you, if you’ve been a devoted Gravyhead, that I’m kind of a highly risk averse person (case in point: my biggest nightmare as a child was having to go on a school trip to an amusement park because I was so afraid roller coasters and really didn’t want my classmates to see how much of a wimp I really was when all I would go on were like, the toddler rides). The hubby had wanted us to go overnight to Savannah while the Gravy Baby stayed with my parents, but all I was willing to do was to go to … drumroll please … downtown Charleston. Yes, you read that right. We traveled a whopping fifteen minutes from home.
Hay-smoked spaghetti, made in-house, topped with fresh peas and grana padano with a fresh corn cream sauce. Run, don’t walk, to try this dish. It is that good.
Undeterred, the hubby arranged for us to go back to where it all started to share a memorable meal at Tristan. We have reason to celebrate these days because we’re expecting our second baby, whom I’ll be referring to as Gravy Too, in January! Yes, we’re pretty excited around here about it, even the Gravy Baby. He likes making new friends.
We were thrilled when Tristan didn’t disappoint. One appetizer in particular blew our minds — a Lowcountry “carbonara” made of a quail roulade, topped with a bacon crema and with onions that had been finely shredded and blanched to taste and look like pasta. We’d forgotten that chef Nate Whiting spent extensive time in Italy, and so much of his food is Italian-influenced. We also liked the use of smoke in several of his dishes, including a mind-blowingly delicious hay-smoked spaghetti with fresh peas and corn topped with grana padano shavings. Weeks later, I am still tasting that dish in my head.
Given how much we were fangirling over the carbonara and the hay-smoked spaghetti, we felt bad when we gave a delicious sous vide rib loin short shrift by enjoying, but not squealing constantly, over it. Given that we’ve had a lot of delicious, perfectly medium-rare steaks in this town, we’re not sure that this dish in particular would bring us back to Tristan, although those two pastas absolutely would.
Oh, but dessert — well, that’s a different story. A layered, wobbly passion fruit pudding cake accompanied by a Thai basil and lemongrass soda that was tart, sweet and soft without being too much of any of those things had us congratulating ourselves on having the good fortune not only to eat at Tristan again, but to have had the good sense to have gotten married there.