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Published: November 8th 2009
Sous Chef John shows us the hanging salami for months. White mold forms on the outside of the salami when it is finished turning into delectable delights.
Grace wanted to go to Charleston to visit Executive Chef Craig Deihl of Charleston's best restaurant - Cypress. They met last July in Huron, Ohio while they were attending a fundraiser at Veggie U to educate kids to eat healthy - they especially wanted kids to eat more vegetables. Farmer John holds the event every year at his Chef's Garden (http://www.chefs-garden.com/). Grace met lots of great chefs, but Chef Craig gave her a free copy of his book and I'm sure they talked about food into the wee hours of the morning. To seal the friendship, Grace lost the book and promised to return to his resaurant to have him sign it again. We fulfilled that promise with this visit.
While they were pushing vegetables on the kids at Veggie U, their main connection was charcuterie - cured and aged meats. Craig and his team have been making all kinds of jerky, salami, head cheese, sausages, pancetta, and prosciutto. These aren't ordinary production meats either - they're the artisan variety. I was amazed that he's aging some of them for 2 years - possibly more.
I took some pictures of his meals up close, but Chef
Aged Prime Rib
These prime ribs and ribeye steaks are aged for 60 days to make them extra tender and flavorful.
Craig has much better pictures on his website and in his book. Check them out here: http://www.magnolias-blossom-cypress.com/
If you want to learn more about his charcuterie and see some naked pictures of hogs, check out his blog at: http://therealdeihlchef.com/
From the layout of the restaurant to the service, Cypress is a must-see and must-eat restaurant if you're in Charleston. We were treated with custom tours of the restaurant and then we got to eat a superb meal - with complimentary champagne and some appetizers. Chef Craig drives the team to be very eco-friendly. One example is that he recycles waste by feeding the kitchen scraps to the pigs that he will eventually turn into sausages. When the farmers drop off whole pigs for butchering, he send the kitchen scraps back to the pigs. A virtuous cycle where the pigs end up in hog heaven. He uses every part of the pig for stocks or trotter tots - an appetizer specialty where he collects the meat from the shanks of the pig foot, rolls it up into delectable snacks and serves it with pork rinds over cajun boiled peanuts - fricking delicious. We really enjoyed the tours and one
You want some of this?
John's pointing at the prosciuttohams that are stored behind plastic flaps. They have a whole walk-in freezer just for these aged and cured meats.
of the best meals we've ever had - thanks John and Craig.
After Charleston, we headed for Carolina Beach near Wilmington, NC. I was there to visit the world's largest fiber optic manufacturing plant, but we also got a chance to visit my cousin once removed - Dylan. Dylan is a young southpaw pithcer and is going to UNC Wilmington. We had a great Thai dinner and a nice visit.
The next night, we moved on to Cary, NC to see my cousin Steve. I hadn't seen Steve since I was a teenager so I didn't know what to expect. He turned out to be like most Kipps - straightforward and very friendly. He'd been living in Florida until a few years ago when they wanted to move, so they looked up the best places to lived online and the Raleigh metro-area seemed to fit the bill. Steve, his wife Patty and their sons Dylan, Perry and Cole moved into a beautiful home and love the Raleigh area. They've been busy raising three athletic boys and doing a great job at that. While Patty took Cole to a Catholic confirmation meeting, Steve took Grace and I
Executive Chef Craig Diehl is showing off one of his prosciutto hams that has been aging 1 year this month. He plans to age them for another year before he cuts them up. That's a lot of meat.
out to an excellent Indian restaurant. We talked the whole night through and I got to sit in my Grandma Kipp's rocking chair that is over a hundred years old and still rocking well. Great to see more Kipp's doing well.
We've been able to visit quite a few friends on the trip. Doug Coleman was one of the main reasons I came to North Carolina. Doug attends the same meetings I do every other month and has invited me out to see Hickory and the Corning facilities. Doug and his beautiful and intelligent wife Eleanor stopped by the RV to see some trailer living. He stopped by 45 minutes early and pounded on the door demanding a deposit - impersonating a campgound employee. He caught us off guard and even caught me working the vaccuum cleaner which is a very rare event - especially since there's only a few square feet of carpet. We ate some of Grace's appetizers over Proseco and wine. We all fit in the booth rather well as you can see in the picture.
The next night we went to Doug and Eleanor's mansion and we were joined by another Corning
Grace and Craig at Cypress
Craig Deihl's restaurant seats up to 300 and does a brisk business. He says it gets slow sometimes though, so that's when they do their charcuterie.
co-worker/friend Alan and Vickie Ugolini. Doug fixed some Johnny Walker Black Label drinks while we drank champagne again. We went to a great dinner at the Hickory country club and had a great time as always.
One other frined that I've wanted to mention was my friend Mike. Mike lives in the Orlando area and we spent a night with him before we went to West Palm Beach a couple of weeks ago. I studied in England with Mike a few years ago and we've kept in touch over the years. I've visited him in St. Louis, Albuquerque, San Diego, Los Angeles, Jacksonville and Orlando as he's moved around the country writing software for video applications. He's got some amazing computers as you can see in the picture and a growing family with Tammi and thier children Christopher, Elizabeth and Emily.
Alls well and boring
I'm sorry that I don't have any gross or exciting stories about sewage disasters or wrecks. Instead, we've been enjoying many beautiful sunsets, great meals, sparkling champagne, and beautiful fall weather. After staying in 5 places (including one Walmart) the last week, I'm looking forward to spending a week here in Ashevill.
Sunset in Charleston
A beatiful woman in front of a beatiful sunset. Grace has really taken to the trip and is the happiest I've seen her since we were honeymooners.
Today I even plan to watch a bunch of football in the RV - we have cable! Grace has done most of the driving since the wreck while I work on the computer in the back seat. We've gotten to practice backing up the vehicle too, so that is even getting manageable.
Hope you're doing as well as us and taking time to feel the moment.
The RV Guy
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