I like lists. I like to plan. I like to practice, refine and try to perfect. Then I like to throw the whole lot out the window and live in rehearsed chaos, a world of improvisation where ideas, ingredients, aromas, accidents, pigs, figs, and farms drive the direction of the food we will cook. Cooking is all about understanding. Understanding is about knowledge. Knowledge is about having an open mind. Therefore cooking is an open minded endeavor which depends on practice and a willingness, an openness, to making adjustments.
We arrived in Charleston with ideas based on conversations with Sean and information about what is seasonal in this neck of the woods. As we set foot into McCrady's our minds started reeling. We looked about, asked questions, talked with Sean and his team and pulled ideas from the ingredients on hand. Our original ideas were left behind. Then we started calling purveyors. The list grew, some ideas evolved, some became extinct.
Then Sean loaded us and some pig food into the truck. Time to see the farms. During the drive to and on the farms we were exposed to Sean's radiating passion for food. We had experienced it before although here at the source the energy is much stronger, it exudes from him and easily affects everyone he encounters. As we toured the farms, picking, tasting, talking, our ideas improved. The list expanded and contracted. The ideas were gaining a pulse of their own.
We cut our farm trip a bit short since Sean needed to return to the restaurant for service. Though we did return with some incredible treats: fennel blossoms, coriander on the stem, basil shoots, wild eucalyptus, and sunflowers. The stream of consciousness approach to the dinner will soon be whittled down to a few of those lists I like so much. While they will provide a backbone for our organization and cooking, it will not dictate the our paths of inspiration.