As one of my favorite writers, Virginia Woolf, once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Well, Bill and I will be thinking, loving and sleeping superbly after experiencing a midday meal today in the Fowler Dining Room at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach.
Having made our reservations more than a month ago, we were very excited about this totally student-run dining experience, and trust me, the students did not disappoint! Menus are created using a wide range of cooking techniques with emphasis on color, texture and creativity, and local ingredients are used exclusively.
Many of our friends and followers tease us about the food I showcase as we traveled the country – Is that all you and Bill do? Well, get ready, because today was totally about food, and we enjoyed every morsel!
Our server was Charlie, who is in his last year of training before receiving a degree in Culinary Arts. He plans to continue for an additional year in order to secure a degree in Pastry Arts as well. All of the servers are completing a 7-week course wherein all they do is serve during the four days a week that the Institute’s dining room is open for lunch. It’s not just about honing the skills of a server, but as Charlie explained, they need to know the menu inside and out to be able to answer any questions that diners may ask regarding the items on the luncheon menu. About half way into the 7 weeks, Charlie shared that he feels very comfortable with the menu – and it showed.
In this interactive blog post, use the menu – and the photographs – to vicarious enjoy our feast!…
We were first presented with what they called the “Chef’s Snack Board” which was a collection of meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables. With this came a basket of warm focaccia bread. As an extra treat, Charlie asked if we would want to sample buffalo turkey gizzards. Open to everything culinary, we concurred and he went on to explain that the class had traveled to a turkey farm in Charlotte, cleaned the turkeys, and returned to Myrtle Beach with 30 pounds of gizzards! The students were “cheap labor” as he put it, but the gizzards – fried and tossed in buffalo sauce – were delicious! Who knew?
Next up, I had selected the Napoli flatbread while Bill sampled the mushroom soup – complete with duck confit, various mushrooms, a little foie gras and black truffle. Of course we tasted each other’s, as it’s all about sharing.
The entrees were served next – Maccheroni Rigati alla Genovese for me and Grilled Steak for Bill. I had never seen pasta in the shape it was in this dish and learned that it was “student extruded,” meaning “pressed out or shaped.” The dining experience was also quite the vocabulary lesson as well, which I, of course, loved!
The pace of the entire meal was very relaxed and slow, to which most people are not accustomed -ourselves included – but we commented later that that’s the way all meals should be approached because even with an abundance of food, neither of us was uncomfortably full.
We did, however, have another commitment – no food involved – so we did have to ask for our dessert to be boxed. We weren’t home long before we were sharing a Mountain Apple Cobbler along with a Creamy Baked Chocolate S’mores Tart – both providing a very satisfying ending to a magnificent repast!
Every diner was asked to complete a comment card, which of course we did. We received 5-star service on a stellar meal and our only less than perfect comment was that both of our entrees were tepid rather that warm or hot. Our server, Charlie, said that such comments are of great importance to the Head Chef – a teachable moment if you will.
We were informed that next semester, 8-10 course dinners will be served on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then in the summer, the Institute presents farm-to-table experiences, focusing on various regional American foods, while giving the students more of a banquet serving experience! Bill and I would both highly recommend taking advantage of this culinary experience if you are ever in the Myrtle Beach area. I got hungry again just writing about it!
Stay Calm and Travel On…