Monday, June 29, 2015

best thing i ate last week: shrimp and eggplant dressing at Mignonette

I don't always think to take a picture of the side dish. It is, after all, just a side dish, right? And when there's a huge, whole roasted redfish literally flopping off either end of its plate as the main course, well, that has a tendency to draw some attention to itself.

That was the scene at Mignonette last Tuesday, as the restaurant hosted its first "Shucker Series" dinner, the first guest of honor being New Orleans chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon and Cochon Butcher).

There were also Pemaquid and Fat Bastard oysters served raw on the half shell, more of those Pemaquids slathered in chile butter and roasted, a ruddy, soul-lifting shellfish and tasso gumbo, a crudo of golden tilefish with favas and mustard greens, and a lemon and blueberry buttermilk pie that would make your eyes cross.

But what hit me hardest was the shrimp and eggplant dressing served alongside the fish. Such a great combination of the flavors of ocean and earth: bits of shrimp, creamy eggplant, surely some Cajun trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery), maybe some cornbread crumbs binding it all together, and a judicious addition of spice.

You can just barely see it, blurry and out of focus, in the bottom of this picture, as Stryjewski and Mignonette chef Daniel Serfer move one of those redfish out to the dining room. (You can see all my pictures from the dinner in this Mignonette Shucker Series flickr set). As I was busy dissecting our fish, Mrs. F was surreptitiously eating almost all of the dressing. Not fair. Because it was the best thing I ate last week. If you're in New Orleans any time soon, it's a staple on the menu at Cochon: get it.

210 N.E. 18th Street, Miami, Florida

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