Kicking Things Off
Two featured cocktails: a Peach Shandy and a Sweet & Sour Shrub "with drinking vinegar they've had going for six weeks."
"I don't know any chef who wouldn't say this is their favorite time of year," Currence said; "The garden's just overflowing right now, and what we're not cooking with, we're canning." The succotash salad showcases the vegetables Currence brought north, which were "in the ground on Tuesday, picked and packed Wednesday, served to you Thursday." With crisped-up butterbeans, roasted corn, heirloom tomatoes, roasted fingerling sweet potatoes, and greens.
Okra and Corn Fritters
"At the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, I'm doing a seminar on fritters—from the Caribbean up the Mississippi through the Mississippi Delta—so these are a farm version of something frittered." With roasted tomato, a cucumber / onion relish, and a sweet corn vinaigrette that Currence is "particularly fond of."
Black Pepper Fried Gulf "Royal Red" Shrimp
"We're in the middle of a two or three-week harvest of these crazy shrimp," said Currence, "and they cook up bright red. (Sorry we covered them up with fry.)" With a scallion-bacon-chickpea pancake and a tomato peanut chutney, one of several Indian-inspired elements.
Crispy Seared Gulf Flounder
"Flounder is the bastard child of the seafood world," says Currence. "It's so underappreciated. It used to be you'd eat flounder on special occasions in the Mississippi Delta, but now it's gone out of vogue. But I love it, and we're in the middle of flounder season now." It's served over a bed of grits prepared in the style of upma—an Indian breakfast dish generally made from semolina and various spices, vegetables, and aromatics—with a green mango slaw and curry leaf vinaigrette.
Lady Cream Pea / Popcorn Rice Hoppin' John 'Risotto'
"I love this buttery Louisiana popcorn rice," says Currence, "and I use it in my play on Hoppin' John." He "cooks the rice to death, totally kill[s] it," whirls it in the Vita-Prep, and ends up with a thick starch that he stirs into the mix for that starchy-creamy risotto feel. With it are pickled serranos, crawfish tails, tomato jam, and ham powder—"Allan Benton is a dear friend of mine, but I ruin his ham for this powder."
Summer Peach 'Baked Alaska'
All the elements of a Baked Alaska—ice cream (grilled peach), meringue (spread on the plate and toasted), and cake (an almond pound cake)—deconstructed.