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Supper á Deux

February 2012
Supper á Deux
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
Next Door chef-owner Ben Berryhill creates a five-course menu for two that's sure to inspire romance

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, bringing with it many high expectations for an enchanted evening. This year, why not step up your game by reserving your table for two chez vous? We’ll keep it our little secret that chef Ben Berryhill of Mount Pleasant’s Red Drum and Next Door restaurants stepped into your kitchen with the menu.

We tasked our culinary cupid with including aphrodisiacs in the dishes he created for a sensual supper à deux—oysters, Champagne, nuts, chiles, crab, olives, and even garlic. “The dishes also represent a combination of silky and crispy textures that should awaken and stimulate the senses,” Berryhill explains.

Indeed, the avocado married to the oyster adds a buttery richness to the briny mollusk. The squash soup is sumptuous with the addition of exotic cardamom and spices. The risotto is rich but tempered by the smoky heat that the chiles lend. And Berryhill’s rustic approach to the lamb—with herbs, mustard, garlic, and hand-torn croutons—makes it earthy and uncomplicated. “Unquestionably,” the chef adds, “the dessert’s chocolate, caramel, and port are a combination of ingredients from the heavens.”

<p>Oysters and Champagne served by candlelight are a combination sure to set the mood. Berryhill selected Carolina Cups, local singles with a cuplike bottom shell and the briny flavor profile of Lowcountry clusters. The Champagne reduction base of the dressing can be prepared ahead, allowing this first course to be a leisurely start to a romantic evening.</p>
<p>Having made his mark with dynamic Southwestern cuisine at his Red Drum restaurant, Berryhill feels free to present a menu at Next Door that is textural, colorful, and sensual. As evidence, take this soup—light as silk, smooth as satin, and, with its swirl of cardamom cream, as sexy as it should be for a Valentine’s Day supper. Once again, his menu planning is thoughtful: the soup can be made up to two days in advance; the candied walnuts up to a week.</p> <p>The wine pairing could go two ways.
<p>Imagine the essence of our tidal waters and you have this dish—rich risotto imbued with the fresh flavor of local crab. And you needn’t worry about breaking the tempo of the evening to stand stirring at the stove. “The crab stock, petite croutons, and the risotto itself can be made a day in advance,” Berryhill advises. “Just cook the risotto to the point of adding the cream, butter, and crab meat and refrigerate it. Warm the risotto, add those ingredients when you finish the crab topping, and serve.”</p>
<p>It’s important to have variation within a menu,” Berryhill says on selecting lamb as the main course. “And it’s good to come down out of the mystical clouds of Champagne, chocolates, and romance and enjoy something earthy and uncomplicated, too!” The bite of the salad cuts the unctuousness of the meat, and the bright fruit and savory elements of the wine complement it. A half bottle of Cristom 2008 “Mt. Jefferson Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir may be all you need.    <br />  </p>
<p>Since it can be prepared the day before and baked during dinner, this dessert is a guilty pleasure one can enjoy at one’s ease. Indulge while sipping on a glass of a vintage tawny port like Warre’s Otima 10-Year, a fitting ending to a Valentine’s Day labor of love.<br />  </p>
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