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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life-Changing Culinary Moments

Have you ever had one of those life-changing culinary moments???  You're invited to lunch by your "sometimes" friend / work associate.  She's dying to try this new spot downtown everyone has been talking about.  You haven't heard anything about it, but no wonder, you haven't been away from your desk in eons because you have a fuckwit boss who chronically tasks you with menial chores, then belittles you some more when he asks you if you know how to cut and paste - throwing you into a blind rage - making lunches away from said desk next to impossible.  You decide to tell asshole boss to fuck himself for the day (in your head) after (imagining) you have stapled a note saying "kiss my fat ass" to his head.  You're going to lunch with your "sometimes" friend.  And you're taking your whole hour for lunch whether shitbag boss likes it or not.

"Sometimes" friend brings you to a tiny little hole in the wall.  Clean, bright, with seating for exactly twelve.  You're sure that you're in for a nice little bout of salmonella or botulism.  But you order a sweet tea and house specialty, shrimp and grits, and try to enjoy the office gossip.

The hipster waitress brings you your lunch.  It's a thing of real beauty.  You taste your first bite and instantly you're catapulted to the grand veranda of a beautiful plantation house overlooking a long Live Oak lined drive and you find yourself saying things like "Bless her heart."  You've had shrimp and grits before, but never this well presented.  Never this complex.  You hear "sometimes" friend chatting about the office banality, but it's like she's a million miles away.  The flavors of the dish meld with each bite.  The texture of the grits perfectly accompany the shrimp and sauce which is artfully prepared and expertly flavored.

As you're eating, you notice this huge guy gracefully moving around the small kitchen.  The brute of a man (in stature alone - I hear he is a charming guy) elegantly plates each dish with love and care.

This was my experience the first time I went to Catch, a sweet little seafood restaurant in Wilmington, NC.  I returned with anyone who would go with me as long as I lived in Wilmington.  My mother has been there and had preconceived notions (of the negative sort) regarding shrimp and grits.  She was a changed woman after her Catch experience.  My grandmother still talks about the "restaurant in a closet" we visited when she was my guest.  Though not quite a regular, I thoroughly enjoyed my food at each visit.  I miss the genius behind Catch, as there is nothing comparable here in Fayettenam.

I guess I wasn't the only one with this experience, as chef Keith Rhodes of Catch and Deluxe will compete on Top Chef this season on Bravo.  I know he will provide those celebrity chefs with the same life-changing culinary experience he did for me.  Best of luck to him this season.

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