As these Southern days grow colder, we start to crave warmer, stick-to-your-ribs fare in the mornings, trading cereal and fruit for muffins, oatmeal, and grits. Similarly, the urge to bake (and indulge) kicks in — the colder the weather, the stronger the sweet tooth. At least for me.
Charleston Grill's pastry chef Emily Cookson has combined these two cold-weather cravings into one dessert that rewards diners brave enough to order it. The Grits Souffle Pudding ($10) with blueberry gastrique and lemon tarragon ice cream comes out looking almost disturbingly like you think it should. A molded dollop of grits is front and center, with tarragon leaves scattered on top along with a few pieces of sauteed sweet corn. You'll probably wonder if you accidently ordered from the appetizer menu, but not to worry — this dish is all dessert.
Dig into the grits and you'll find they're delightfully light and sweet. Cookson mixes the cooked grits with semolina flour and folds in egg whites, then bakes them in a mold to serve them souffle-style. Combined with the sweet-tart blueberry gastrique, the subtle lemon flavor of the ice cream, and the slightly crunchy wafer, these grits are sure to taste like nothing you've ever tried.
Sommelier Rick Rubel suggests pairing the dessert with Darting Scheurebe Beerenauslese '07 (Pfalz), $15.
Still not convinced you should try this unique dish? Charleston Grill offers more traditional choices, like their signature crème brûlée, plum tarts, and ricotta cheesecake. But for comfort food with a really fun twist, try the Fried Banana Cream Pies ($10).
For this warm dessert, Cookson takes banana-flavored pudding and wraps it in pie crust, which she then fries. The concoction comes out looking a bit like a beignet, full and dusted with sugar. The two "pies" sit atop a swirl of cherry cola syrup, buffered on either side with a smattering of crunchy peanut brittle. A small serving of marshmallow ice cream finishes the dish. The end result comes out tasting like a state fair favorite disguised as a high-end dessert.
Stop by Charleston Grill's bar and lounge area any night of the week to enjoy jazz and cocktails with your dessert.