Back to birthday week. It wasn’t quite 31 courses for 31 years, but it wasn’t too far off either. If you remember, Birthday Week went something like this:
Iris > House Party > Country Club > Italian Feast (Hog & Hominy > Andrew Michael > Hog & Hominy) > Iris
The Hog & Hominy sections have already been discussed, so let’s jump back in time to the middle of the great Italian Feast of 2012 and the dinner at Andrew Michael that was the meat of the Italian Feast sandwich, er panini.
The whole idea of this birthday dinner was to take a group of friends out and eat family style, meaning we would eat whatever Mom, or in this case, the chefs, cooked. So, after a few (more than a few) snacks and appetizers at H&H, we headed over to the fancier older brother of a restaurant and settled in for some serious eats.
Ryan got us started with some cold drinks and let us know that the other Ryan would be cooking us up an awesome dinner.
First course came out Southern style in a cast iron dish with a lot of fried, bite-size bites for us to share. What happens when you get two headcheese appetizers at two restaurants in the same day. An outbreak of #whiteboyproblems and #firstworldissues.
Here’s the Andrew Michael version, and let me tell you, it was awesome. Those are crispy garlic flakes on the top. As you can imagine after having two similar dishes in about an hour’s time, we had to have a serious discussion over which was better. I liked the popper style of these but loved the watermelon and egg in the dish at H&H. The argument went on for a bit, ending only when the Counselor declared a hung jury while grabbing the last one and splitting it with me as a peace offering.
I reckon at this point I’ve posted a couple photos of the Andrew Michael Breakfast appetizer. It has been such a hit, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen it off the menu. And really, who isn’t going to like grits, a perfectly poached egg, some crispy pork belly, and a handful of homemade pork rinds. This dish just screams “SEC football meets (really, I just tried to spell that as M-E-A-T, oh dear) culinary school,” am I right? Here’s a pro-tip for you, in case it wasn’t obvious, cut up the pork belly first and break the egg. Then spend the remaining time scooping up combinations of everything on your plate with those frito shaped pork rinds, chicarones if you want to get technical and fancy. The bite with the grits, egg yolk, and pork belly on the lightly spiced, ready-to-dissolve-the-second-it-hits-your-tongue pork rind is a little bite of heaven.
Pasta to Nourish, Pasta to Flourish
Here’s where Ryan stepped up and showed off a little bit. The fun part of the dinner was that we all had the same menu, so we were about to eat like a family, and talk it up. However, the pasta course was like eating family dinner with a pro. Instead of giving us all the same dish, he just sent out plates of all of the pastas.
Tarjin, spaghetti with salami ragu and fish meatballs, Maw Maw’s ravioli, and the gnocchi “chicken cacciatore.” It was awesome. Here’s how I stand on these. The ravioli is famous for a reason; the spaghetti is rich with flavor due to the salami ragu; the tarjin is the light choice with lemon and green veggies, which is great if your meal is ultra-rich; and who doesn’t love a good gnocchi, especially one with 12-hour cooked chicken. What was really fun was getting to try a bunch of different ones. My recommendation? Get smaller pasta portions and share them.
To the Sea
A multi-course dinner has to have a seafood dish, and this dinner was no exception.
Sea scallop with a grapefruit relish/salsa/something on top all piled on a delicious bed of corn, okra, and sauce. It was an awesome light touch.
Back to Land
From the bottom up a bit of asparagus, some delicious onion, some perfectly cooked eye of round, and a little bit of seared foie gras on top. Not much to say about it other than how awesome it was. It was totally awesome.
Off to H&H
If you read the earlier birthday posts, you know that we packed up our stuff and walked across the street to see the rest of the AM/H&H team at Hog & Hominy. There they finished the birthday off in style with an (enormous) selection of desserts. Read about it. It was savage.
As you can tell, Andrew Michael is one of my favorite places, straight up. I’ll tell anyone to go there, and you’re no different. But like I said in the Hog & Hominy part, the food is really special, but the people make that place what it is. We’re lucky to have them.
You want to go to there:
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
712 West Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117