'Tis the season for classic Irish-inspired fare, and there will be no shortage of hearty, homespun dishes served from Savannah's kitchens this week.
Eating local is fast becoming another Savannah foodie custom, and the meaning of “green cuisine” takes on more layers than a Shepherd’s Pie when it’s prepared with sustainably-raised meats and organic vegetables from our local farming community.
In a quest to combine scrumptious traditions new and old, we asked four chefs known for their commitment to local ingredients what they’re plating this St. Patrick’s Day. (What, no farm-fresh shamrock salad? Maybe next year...)
Green Ravioli @ Leoci's Trattoria
Housemade spinach pasta pillows stuffed with creamy ricotta-mascapone cheese from Southern Swiss Dairy and topped with Kachina Farms’ fresh basil and parsley make this vegetarian entrée a veritable culinary homage to verdancy.
Chef Roberto Leoci has incorporated green ideals into his restaurant since it opened in 2009, showcasing purveyors on the menu and in his line of prepared foods and condiments. Both Leoci’s Duck Prosciutto—made with meat from Brooklet’s Hunter Cattle Company—and his Raspberry Jalapeño Jam are finalists in the Flavor of Georgia Awards taking place in Atlanta March 17-18.
The Montreal-raised chef was recently recognized by the state Dept. of Agriculture as a Georgia Grown Executive Chef for his prodigious use of regionally-sourced products.
As if he wasn’t busy enough, he and his wife, Lacey, are opening a second location on Bay Street in May: Pacci will seat more than twice as many patrons as the trattoria and bring more local flavors than ever to Savannah.
“Cooking with local ingredients is the way I studied in Italy, so it comes naturally. It’s great that people are embracing the concept.”
—Chef Roberto Leoci
Brisket n' Brussels @ Alligator Soul
Think of it as a deconstructed corned beef and cabbage:
Designed as an appetizer, this small plate features a thin-sliced fan of Savannah River Farms brisket that’s been slow-cooked in Southbound Brewing Co.’s Bad, Bad Cascade Brown Ale. Carmelized sweet rainbow carrots from Walker Farms nestle alongside Joseph Fields Farm Brussels Sprouts, which are really just adorable miniature cabbages. Comfort food and culinary sophistication collide in every bite!
If that whets your palate, take note that Alligator Soul offers a menu almost exclusively sourced from the South. Plus, if the crowds get too overwhelming during this party weekend, you can always duck down to this elegant underground location for some quiet time.
“For me, it’s a privilege through my talents and work to have an opportunity to nurture people’s mind, body and spirit through food.” —Alligator Soul Executive Chef Stephen McLain
Irish Stew @ The Distillery
The proximity of this historic saloon to the downtown revelry inspires the management to simplify its menu for St. Patrick’s weekend, but there’s no downsizing on the deliciousness:
Executive Chef Matthew Kubiak is preparing a pot of classic Irish stew for the occasion, slow-braising beef shoulder from Savannah River Farms with fresh-dug root vegetables from Joseph Fields Farms. Tradition dictates that this dish employs plenty of Guinness, and Chef Kubiak has supplanted the dark-as-night beer with Coastal Empire Beer Co.’s roasty-rich Savannah Brown Ale.
Befitting Chef Kubiak’s unwavering support of the local food community, each steaming bowl is accompanied with a thick slice of rustic bread from longtime Forsyth Farmers Market vendor Castra Rota Bakery.
“Local beer, seasonal food, all handcrafted by people we know—that’s what we do here.” —Distillery Executive Chef Matthew Kubiak
Shepherd's Pie (and more!) @ 22 Square
The sleek setting of the Andaz Hotel might seem an odd place to find traditional grub, but 22 Square Executive Chef Lauren Teague always has a few surprises up her sleeve.
No celebration of Irish cuisine would be complete without the rib-sticking goodness of a piping hot Shepherd’s Pie, and Chef Teague offers her take on this ubiquitous dish with grass-fed beef from Hunter Cattle blanketed with creamed potatoes and veggies from Walker Farms.
Also on the week’s menu will be local fish caught from nearby waters drizzled with Irish Butter sauce and served with traditional Irish colcannon made with more organic potatoes and greens from Walker Farms.
Chef Teague also serves as the hotel’s Food and Beverage director, and her commitment to the local community is evident in every on-site edible, from the dining room entrées to the minibar snacks. With its prominence given to its environmentally-conscious purveyors, 22SQ has fast become locavore ground zero.
“When we stay local, we minimize our impact on the planet and we also create community around good food.” —22SQ Executive Chef Lauren Teague