Friday, May 22, 2015

American Country Cuisine at Tarpy's Roadhouse

After our tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium during our California Central Coast visit, we headed over to the delightful dinning experience of Tarpy’s Roadhouse.  

Tarpy’s has carved out a place in the unique world of American Country cuisine.  The restaurant’s creative culinary vision was forged from Executive Chef Todd Fisher’s obsession to, “Live life like you mean it, every day!”  

Fisher, a Monterey native for over 20 years, was a pioneer of farm to table dining.  He is known for taking a practical approach to cooking magnificent food.   Chef Fisher has traveled the country as the Celebrated Host of “The United States of Bacon” on Discovery Networks.  He has also immersed himself into the local culinary culture, as the host of the “All American Carnivore” on KRML radio.

We quickly noted Fisher’s details in when Miss Julia Reed Nichols’ Hothouse Vodka Bloody Mary cocktail was garnished with celery, lemon, and a prawn.  Luckily for the Veg, my Turley “Juvenile” Zinfandel was not similarly adorned.   Full of red fruits and spiciness, it was the perfect opening pitch in a weekend of Monterey County wines!

We explored Chef Fisher’s obsession with down home dining by starting with some “Frickles” aka Fried Pickles ($5).  Battered in thickly caked corn meal the result was a crispy exterior that fortified an interior containing a savory tastiness.  Our Frickles were escorted by a green goddess aioli that was fully fluffy yet spicy on the tongue.

We followed our country roots with the classic coastal dish of a Castroville Artichoke.  Coal roasted with pesto aioli the dish was a full integration of tastes: grilled arti leaves surrounding a cavity stuffed with Italian bruschetta and finished with a tangy garlic lemon sauce.   Nothing could state Monterey County palate more than this dish!

For an entry Julia opted for the most popular item on the menu: Cast Iron Seared Sea Scallops with coffee-cocoa rubbed Baker’s bacon, sweet cream grits, roasted cauliflower, and bourbon syrup ($31).  Our server noted that it was the most popular item on the menu.  And with good reason, this is a dish of intricant counterpoints.  The bacon was thick cut and glistened in the candlelight.  The scallops, Julia noted, were cooked to perfection, something I could appreciate from my seafood sautéing days at Cassidy’s… there is nothing worse than an overdone scallop...

Since I’m a Veg, I chose the same two side dishes that accompanied the scallop meal as my entrée.  Sweet Cream Grits ($5) and Roasted Cauliflower Brussels Sprout Leaves with Bourbon Syrup ($5).  Simply put this is one of the best meals I’ve had in the last year!  The smoldering taste of roasted veggies drizzled with the thick smoky sweetness of this homemade bourbon sauce was divine vegetarianism.   Their Sweet Cream Grits were the best grits I’ve had in my life (and I went to the State of Louisiana’s Grammy party this year)!  Our server whispered this was primarily due to the use of sweet cream as the base ingredient (versus your standard water).  Fromage Blanc is then enveloped to complete the dish leaving a creamy flavor that is fit for a Cajun king!

From prawns in Blood Mary’s to grits with enough dairy to breech a levee, Tarpy’s isn’t for everyone.  But for the traveler looking for sophisticated culinary techniques paired with classic Southern America style it’s the perfect bite. 

Here’s to life being delicious and laissez les bons temps rouler!

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