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Archive for January, 2010

Keegan-Filion Farms

On Friday, January 29th I took a quick trip to Walterboro, SC to visit Keegan-Filion Farms. Two friends came with me—the very talented photographer Austin Nelson (www.austinnelson.com) and his cousin, Alicia Seay, who is a wine purveyor and well acquainted with great food. The trip was interesting and worthwhile. We were received like old friends by Mark and Annie Keegan, who showed us around the farm and graciously spent their time telling us about the animals and their pasts as farmers. We were all really impressed with how naturally the animals lived and how healthy they seemed. These farmers are really nice people, not proselytizing or off the wall in any way (I am thinking about Joel Salatin who shows up in Food Inc and Michael Pollan’s books–he is a bad spokesperson for the movement to raise animals on pasture in my opinion). I am posting some of Austin’s really nice photos to show the farm.

Keegan-Filion is only open Monday or Friday from 1-6 pm, so plan accordingly. When you show up, you will probably have to call Annie who will come to help you right away. She has 4 freezers full of really beautiful pork and chicken products. The quality of the meat is visually palpable. If you’ve eaten in any number of nice restaurants in town (Fig, Cypress and so on) you have probably tasted these superior products. I was actually a little underwhelmed with the farm eggs sold here–I think that what Celeste Albers is producing is a lot richer, but this isn’t the point of visiting Keegan. I picked up a great variety of products; chorizo, bratwurst, whole small chickens, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, breakfast sausage, ground pork, and a bone for my boxer pup. Austin picked up a few pounds of marinated chicken wings. Alicia picked up a bit of just about everything for sale. Also available is a variety of offal, pork chops, pork butts, and some other pork sausages.

Mark Keegan showed us around and explained how raising animals in this fashion can be really cost prohibitive. I get the sense that for them, a lot of the richness of this life comes from the satisfaction of raising the animals properly and from making customers really happy. Keegan raises heritage pigs, mostly from the Tamworth breed, as well as heritage Turkeys, chickens, and grass fed Cattle, mostly Holsteins. Things work in season at Keegan, and you won’t find the total offering at any one time. Right now, there was no beef, bacon, or turkey available, though it should be pretty soon. I will certainly be going back for more, or meeting Mark Keegan in Summerville on Saturday mornings, where he delivers pre-orders to Charleston area customers. I really like what this farm is doing and wish them continued success.

contact Keegan Filion Farms:

http://www.keeganfilionfarm.com/

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Samos

I’ve been waiting to review Samos, Mt. Pleasant’s newest upscale Greek addition for almost a year now. I have been around since its inception so I have some inside scoop. First, let me say that it takes a lot of people more than one visit to get what is going on here. Samos offers Mezze style dining (small portions) of some classic Greek Mezze along with some new interpretations, and this can be off-putting to some diners. There are no massive greek salads here or gyro platters to speak of. The food is refined, and I think that the kitchen has become a lot more consistent and succesful over the past year.

What I love about this place in particular is that the menu takes some risks, like the charred octopus mezze (I dare you to find octopus in more than 1 other restaurant here) and the little whole fried fish mezze. These are both great dishes. I also think that Samos has really perfect Tzaziki–silky and rich, perfectly garlicky, with a nice hit of the appropriate fresh herbs. Other things on my favorites list and in this category are Samos’s other dips: The potato and garlic puree and the eggplant and walnut puree. These are versatile dips that could be packaged up just like hummus–maybe something to look forward to.

Another really succesful dish at Samos is the Shrimp, Feta, and Tomato bake that is served in a hot, personal sized cast iron skillet. I really like the presentation of this dish and find it very consistent. Best of all, this, along with all of the other mezze, are avaialable during happy hour for $5 ea. House wines and beers are $3. During happy hour, you can eat and drink really well, at a leisurley pace, for less than $25 for two.

The wine list at Samos is also really interesting and very good. The house white is a propietary blend of grapes that is complex, delicious, and most importantly, affordable. The rest of the list should keep any wine lover satiated.

Another big plus for Samos is the attention to detail that has been paid. The bread is warm and crusty, the olive oil is rich and green and tastes like olive oil should taste. The only major downside of Samos is the noise level, which can get pretty unbearable on a busy night. I’m not sure how much acoustic tiles could really help in this narrow space. Also, I would like to see some really good Greek Oregano, that most misunderstood and wonderful herb, in the spotlight more. I would also like it if the kitchen could source some wild Greek greens instead of using spinach for its greens. Regardless, Samos is very good and is the perfect place to enjoy some interesting food in a cool environment.

check them out on the web:

http://www.samostaverna.com/

visits: 5+

prices:

Happy Hour: around $15 a person

Dinner: around $40 ea with a drink or two

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I doubt that you have ever tried a truly great extra virgen olive oil, unless you grew up in an olive growing region or maybe if you have access to high end restaurant purveyors. This extra virgen, available only through http://www.latienda.com, is one of these truly great oils. It comes from a small hacienda run by the Vano family in the south of Spain, right outside of Jaen (the real olive capital of the world–no, Italy doesn’t come close). I really love both varieties of this–the picual is more robust and powerful while the arbequina tastes more fruity. Both have an intense, green taste and really great body–these oils are harvested early, which contributes to their greenness and full flavor. Early pressing produces less but better tasting olive oil. I can’t think of any sad supermaret brand that comes even close to these oils. Even most gourmet store extra virgens, which often come ¬†with a much higher price tag, cannot compare. ¬†This oil pours beautifully on the plate for dipping with bread and is amazing when used to finish hot soup.

One taste and you will know. Order a bottle or both varietals together at http://www.latienda.com

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