Blood, Bones, Butter, Smoke & Applause
It isn’t often you stumble upon a whole lamb roasting on a spit along Peachtree Street in Atlanta. But Chef Linton Hopkins
and Chef Gabrielle Hamilton
raised the bar (the one holding said lamb
) for Restaurant Eugene’s
author series last night, welcoming guests for al fresco cocktails around a smokey, homemade rotisserie reminiscent of the opening scene in Hamilton’s descriptive first book, Blood Bones & Butter
. Although the spring roasts of Hamilton’s childhood took place in rural Pennsylvania, this one practically transported us there. After twelve hours sizzling street-side, it was served with crispy yam, fresh herbs with grapefruit and fennel, and a welcome 2008 Domaine de la Jannasse Cotes du Rhone. In spite of the evening’s centerpiece, I appreciated a baby-lamb-free vegetarian interpretation that was, I think, even more interesting and delicious.
While we waited for the main course, munching radishes and sipping an Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Hamilton read aloud the four-minute story of her first, somewhat accidental, encounter with what would become her highly praised New York City restaurant, Prune
. From its unsavory start, she told us her haven now is a place where,
“when we’re feeling well,” applause rings out for no particular reason. This became a practice the packed house at Restaurant Eugene enthusiastically adopted.
Our evening was spent in great company thanks to Atlanta-based interior designer, expert cook and arbiter of all good taste, Mimi Williams
. Williams assembled a crowd of nine around the chef’s table who were given to acts of spontaneous applause until well after the last bite of dessert: a gritty/smooth, salty/sweet cornmeal pound cake with rosemary syrup and tart tangerine sorbet. Tricky to handle a fork and clap at the same time, but somehow we managed again and again. Afterwards, at home and very satiated, I indulged in the first chapter of Hamilton’s rich, well-constructed memoir and found it every bit as difficult to put down as that fork. I can’t wait for more.