After weeks of unseasonably warm weather, even by Lowcountry standards, the biting coastal chill seems to have finally set in for a bit. Fortunately for Lowcountry farmers and chefs, our growing seasons persevere all year long, save for a very rare below freezing cold snap. Those of us who survived the holiday hustle followed by the blur that is Charleston Restaurant Week are granted an opportunity to re-focus our menus with the bounty of our local farms.
Our patience has been rewarded with the plethora of the winter harvest.
The coastal humidity and blistering heat around Charleston doesn't allow many delicate vegetables to grow in the late summer and early fall. Therefore, many of the farmers we work with harvest from parts of western South Carolina and especially the mountains of North Carolina. In January, however, those farmers are warm by their hearths planning their spring planting. Our farmer friends nearby on Johns Island and Wadmalaw Island are hand-picking their non snow-covered fields.
This week we received beautiful field spinach from Rooting Down Farms on Johns Island, a perfect example of our mild winter crop. The spinach has very large leaves and is thicker than your everyday spinach you may see at your typical produce aisle at Publix. Although still very tender, the leaves have a pleasant bite and mild flavor that is only enhanced by extra virgin olive oil, aged vinegar, and a pinch of sea salt.
Right now, we are featuring this amazing spinach with Lowcountry creamery Greek yogurt seasoned with a touch of Meyer lemon, blood orange supremes, grilled early spring onions, and crispy guanciale. The heartiness of the spinach makes a perfect vessel to display all of the garnishes in perfect harmony.
Chef Matt Canter