[UPDATED] [RECIPE] A Big Bad Menu Announcement from “Johnny Snack”: City Grocery Pizzeria!

Update: Eric Larkee has the wines set for tomorrow night!!! Check them out here and get your tickets before they are gone.  It’s going to be an amazing evening. Hope you can join us to send out pop no. 20 and the last of the year with a BANG!

The two week countdown has begun for James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence’s takeover of Harry’s Pizzeria on Tuesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m., and we have a sneak peek of John’s pretty-much-rarin’-to-go City Grocery Pizzeria menu for you here.  And there’s a bonus, too: the juicy details of NOLA Oyster Stew straight from the pages of his cookbook – your take home gift for the evening – Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups. Whet your whistle with a piping bowl, some American whiskey, and settle into the story of a cook hungry for life and finding his roots in southern cooking.  This culinary adventure is a personal one, shaped by mom’s home kitchen in New Orleans, trips through western Europe as a youngster when the family moved to Scotland, and then Louisiana again, this time in the tiny intensity of Gautreau’s and an unexpected trip to Oxford, Mississippi to visit his best childhood friend from which City Grocery was born.

Although I didn’t realize it, my formative experiences in those years were building a foundation got what my food would ultimately become.  The lightning bolt of understanding stuck in the summer of 1998 on an extended work-play trip to the south of France.  At the end of my second week there, I began craving everything I knew was exploding out of the ground in our garden back home.  I wanted lemon-sauteed squash, sliced heirloom tomatoes, skillet-fried corn, and fresh green beans more than I had ever craved anything in my life.  I wanted those Sunday suppers from my grandmother’s garden and table.

On my last day there, we made our daily trip to the outdoor market in Cannes, and the chef I was working with approached me with a pod of okra and accosted me with questions about this curiosity he had never experienced  We returned to the house with exactly all of the okra from the market, and I launched into an afternoon tutorial. We prepared boiled okra with black pepper, pickled okra (page 61 of the book), stewed okra with fresh tomatoes (page 55), fried okra, and summered seafood gumbo chock-full of okra.  We were both blown away– him with the possibilities for this ingredient and me with the immediate understanding that his response to this food that I would never have considered bringing to the table at City Grocery had just become the centerpiece of my food philosophy and what would propel City Grocery into the brewing conversation about Southern food.

Now John brings City Grocery to us, and aren’t we lucky.  Among what you’ll enjoy at City Grocery Pizzeria passed are Smoked Scallop Crudo, Pig Ear Frites with Comeback Sauce, Okra and Green Onion Hushpuppies with Herb Tartar Sauce, and White Pizza with Chicken Liver Pate and Roasted Pickled Shiitakes.  Smoked Beets with Buttermilk Crema will start you off with a punch, before you settle into a southern groove with said NOLA Oyster Stew, and maybe some Bourbon Braised Pork Cheeks next? How ’bout some Creole Cream Cheese Grits and Wilted Greens, too? We should mention the sweet ending of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, with a Shot of Ice Cold Milk.  John’s still working on the welcome cocktail, struggling between two from the book at present, but one thing’s for sure: expect the unexpected and a whole lot of fun when John and Michael get together!  Click here for tickets and here to print the recipe PDF!

A QUICK REMINDER: We’d be remiss not to mention another spirited event of the American kind, as a prelude to the above shenanigans: the Craft Spirits & Beer Festival’s American Whiskey Pairings Dinner with renowned author and expert Chuck Cowdery, to be held down the street at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink on Friday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. Click here for tickets and read all about it previously on the blog, including our interview with Chuck.

Cheers to sending out our 2013 with a big bad bang, good people, good times, and a whole lot of whisky : )

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