Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fried Green not Tomatoes

Kegs and eggs seem to sprout up every year around Saint Patrick's Day.

A pub or restaurant will open in the morning, and serve breakfast items and, of course, beer. (Compare with the more formal presentation as at Royal Mile Pub's recent beer breakfast.)

PGA Tour Grill in Rockville, Maryland did something similar yesterday. A very good restaurant, its fare is on a much higher plane than standard pub grub. It carries Clipper City beer on tap and stocks several in bottle.

Bar Manager Rob Benning of PGA Tour GrillThe Grill's bar manager Rob Benning had previously been a bartender at Sean Bolan's Pub in Baltimore. He was tending bar there on the night it closed.

Rob and I chatted about those good ol' days and the beer breakfasts there ... the latter being why he had invited me to attend this breakfast at the Grill.

But what caught my attention were the Flash Fried Memphis-Style Dill Pickles on the menu.

The last time I had enjoyed those guilty pleasures was a few years back at Sean Bolan's Pub. There, it had been wonderfully wacky bartender Warren Gofstein who had convinced owner Ken Krucenski to put this southern American fare on the menu. It quickly became a popular choice. Here at the Grill, Rob successfully suggested it to the chef; it's cornmeal dusted and served with a pesto-ranch dipping sauce.

Click for a Fried Pickles recipe from a blog on vegan cooking. The recipe calls for quartered dill pickles. PGA Tour Grill instead cuts its dills into small coin-like rounds and applies a tempura-thin batter. I prefer those.

I ordered a plate. And when it arrived, and when I nibbled on those Fried Pickles, I was suddenly hit with a surprising, almost somatic, wash of memories of those happy days when I lived in Federal Hill only a few blocks from Sean Bolan's. It's remarkable how smells and sounds and tastes can trigger intense memories.

Fried dill pickles ... who knew?

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