As I was reading the July issue of Food & Wine I came across two well accomplished chefs in Nashville that are reinventing the way we look at Southern cooking or Soul Food. Over here we are all about reinventing traditions, making new with the old, or as Marcus would say, "Taking a step back, before we take a step forward". Especially when it involves adding tea and spices to the mix.
The Chefs: Erik Anderson is a vet of The French Laundry and Noma. Josh Habiger comes from a background at Alinea and The Fat Duck. Together they came to Nashville and founded TheCatbird Seat, a name that suits their enviable 32 seats. The cherry on top? Anderson and Habiger cook up a surprise menu for your viewing pleasure and lovingly serve it up to you as well. "The experience is what you make of it" say the two culinary phenomenons. Some menu items include Maple-and-Thyme Custard served in an eggshell with bacon crisps and a drizzle of barrel-aged maple syrup or this take on a Nashville Favorite: Tea-Brined and Double-fried Hot Chicken.
The Brine: Their inventive brine uses sweet tea as a way to infuse more flavor into the chicken (which as you all know is right up our alley!). The "delicate and sweet" of the brine is the perfect contrast to the crispy, and crunchy, spicy and tangy exterior.
The Double-Fried Hot Chicken Sauce: The chile mixture they use to coat the chicken after it's been double-fried is an impeccable way of fusing various cultural flavor profiles. By adding *gochujan (a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt) they are able to give their Nashville classic a Korean kick. Their food is familiar yet different; a remix of old and new; a refreshing homage to the past. And that's exciting.