1 FRIED GATOR
Alligator tail, like venison or ostrich, is an exotic treat for the truly adventurous carnivore. The basement level restaurant Alligator Soul specializes in preparing this rare cut of meat allowing foodies to try the dish with no gator wrasslin’ necessary! Created by Executive Chef Chris Dinello, this distinctive, signature appetizer begins with fresh, farm-raised Florida gator tail, thinly sliced, then lightly fried and served with a Creole-spiced gravy. It’s then seated next to a bed of crispy, fresh mesculin greens, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing and topped with a vibrant red pepper coulis. According to Mike Finkenaur, sous chef, “We kept trying until we hit upon the best way to prepare it so it wouldn’t be too chewy. First, we soak the gator in alcohol, lemon, and buttermilk. Next, we pound it with a meat tenderizer to soften it up even more. Before frying, we dip it in flour, egg and a special Cajun seasoning patented right here in Savannah by the original owner, Hillary Craig.”
114 BARNARD STREET, 912.232.7899, ALLIGATORSOUL.COM
2 BABY OCTOPUS
Ta Ca Sushi & Japanese Fusion
People aren’t the only ones creating a space for themselves on Facebook. Food has edged its way in there, too. In February, there were 342 loyal fans on the “Eating Baby Octopus” Facebook page. Through them, the experience of consuming these tiny mollusks has come out of the dark and into the limelight. Judging from comments such as “OHHHHH YYYYYYEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!,” and “I’m having a MAJOR craving!,” these miniature creatures have captured the attention of diners the world over. Mike Ta, Ta Ca’s executive chef and owner and formerly the sushi chef at Kyoto Japanese Steak House, grew up in Vietnam and has proudly brought this unusual delicacy to Savannah. Eight steamed tiny baby octopus are first marinated and then gently placed on a bed of cooked seaweed, garnished with a delicate, thinly-sliced cucumber fan, and sprinkled with savory sesame seeds and crispy green scallions. Octopus, when cooked properly, has a luxurious and meaty texture somewhat akin to a scallop, but with a tad bit more chew to it. The flavor is unique, yet mild.
513 E. OGLETHORPE AVE, 912.232.8222, TACASUSHI.COM
3 BRAISED PORK CHEEKS
If you’re wondering to which “cheeks” of the pig we are actually asking you to sink your teeth into, take a guess. Cheeks are one of the best cuts you can buy for braising, which is exactly the approach the chef at Noble Fare uses. “The inspiration for this dish came from my grandmother’s pot roast, which was slow cooked all day and oh, so good.” says Patrick McNamara, the executive chef and owner. First, he marinates the cheeks in red wine “to add flavor and tenderize.” Next, they’re braised by browning them in a little fat and simmering them in liquid. Cheeks are not suitable for fast cooking. They need a low, slow heat to allow all the fibers, made tough from activity, to break down and become soft. McNamara serves up these rich braised pork cheeks nestled in a pool of cauliflower puree, lying next to fresh, perfectly-cooked, bright green haricot verts, a dollop of crunchy, sweet corn relish, and a drizzle of basil oil.
321 JEFFERSON STREET, 912.443.3210, NOBLEFARE.COM
Photography by Katie Dunkle
Tags: adventure, Aligator Soul, Dining, downtown, Food, Noble Fare, Savannah, Taca
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