Benefiting the infamous Cozy Corner BBQ (as a result of their recent fire and temporary closure), Swine & Wine singlehandedly gathered a community for a successful evening of gratitude and gastronomy. While this evening is an annual event, 2015 struck loud chords of purpose and passion throughout the chef roster and 150 attendees.
Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman hosted the ultimate progressive dinner in their Brookhaven trifecta -- one that you and your neighbors would dream of for decades! Seventy-five guests began at Hog & Hominy, while the other 75 were seated at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. Three chefs were featured at each with a small plate to taste and savor; while over at Porcellino's, other chefs and barbecue mavens were preparing for the block party finale with pick-up food and drinks.
I first arrived at Andrew Michael and grabbed a gin and (house made) tonic at the brand new bar, which reminds me of my dream kitchen interiors: neutral palette, rustic finishes, and Southern hospitality in every accessory. If you're ever in Brookhaven and need a sophisticated cocktail, here's your new neighborhood spot.
All courses obviously included the "swine" and "wine," so pork took center stage in all six plates. The wine pairings, hand-picked by Andrew Michael's sommelier, were no short of wonderful. Chef Patrick Reilly of Majestic Grille served a plump, perfectly pan-seared scallop with cannelloni beans and pancetta. I love the rich, buttery texture of the white beans, proving that a carb or starch isn't always necessary.
...Though the carb Andy and Michael prepared next was basically the best pasta I've ever put in my mouth. A spinach raviolo surrounded an egg yolk, which oozed out upon the first forkful and created a rich wave of color amongst the parmesan garnish and brown butter. It was light yet so decadent. I would've eaten five!
Jackson Kramer (of Bounty) prepared a remarkable pork shank version of a crab cake (called a crepinette) with unusual yet wildly flavorful texture. Hazelnut and charred broccolini decorated the plate, pairing with a rich cabernet. A winter wonderland of a plate, if you ask me.
The seventy five of us strolled over to Hog & Hominy, where communal tables were awaiting with bottles of wine and large plates for sharing and passing. The Hog & Hominy team provided a variety of vegetables, ranging from ribboned rainbow carrots to kimchi brussels and butter beans. Chef Ryan Trimm (of Sweet Grass) served a kick-ass tamale with sweet, pepper-studded hominy and a mole verde salsa. Fabulous.
Chef Kelly English's (of Iris and The Second Line) Newman pork belly with flash fried bok choy, peanut, and black fungus was un-freaking-believable. The szechuan spice lightly numbed the mouth, taking everyone's palates on a daring adventure of sweetness and spiciness. The dish (among all others) proved these local chefs' wide range of talent and skill beyond their individual restaurant's focus. Chef Kelly, who is known for his sophisticated cajun cuisine, wowed me with a Southern-Asian infused concept. Swine & Wine clearly provided a platform for Memphis culinary talent to create and innovate. I was thrilled to witness such experimentation and variety.
I'm proud of the Memphis food scene (as I tend to say over and over again) and its pure, authentic Southern camaraderie. As a result of Swine & Wine, Cozy Corner has announced their reopening across the street from the original location. I, along with the rest of the city, am rooting for the Cozy Corner family.