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Grit’s Sunday Supper reinterprets Southern flavor

Grit restaurant in Taylor is hosting the first of their Sunday Supper series tonight, which will feature locally sourced ingredients and modern interpretations of classic Southern dishes.

The concept for this dinner is “Hill Country’s Winter Bounty,” and it will feature a variety of vegetable dishes, all grown locally. Angie Sicurezza, co-owner and wife of chef Nick Reppond, says the dishes are designed to appeal to both the vegetarian crowd and those who prefer the traditional meat-and-three.

“This dinner is a little more daring, because there are some real true carnivores that come, and there’s no meat on the menu,” she said. “We want to be able to open people’s minds up and show them we’re not just serving lettuce. They’re going to be satisfied.”

The produce used at the dinner will be from Chicory Market, a local grocery store that specializes in farm-fresh vegetables and locally sourced merchandise. Several of the ingredients in tonight’s dinner come from places like Native Son Produce, Two Brooks Farms and Homestead Farms, all located in Mississippi.

John Martin, of Chicory Market, says the ingredients are all things guests can buy from the store and use in their own homes.

“We’re a full-service local grocery, and we’re geared for the home cooks,” Martin said. “This time of year, people don’t know we’re still getting vegetables like greens, kale, roots. All that stuff is very hearty and has a lot of the same things you’d get from meat in terms of protein and vitamins.”

The dinner will be one seating, served family-style and will cost $50 per person, $65 if the guest chooses to have wine with their meal. The first course will be a radish salad with winter citrus and rosemary vinaigrette served over baby kale, followed by a dish of smoked white beans, fennel and green tomato chow-chow.

The third dish, and one Reppond says he is especially looking forward to, is a coal-roasted greenhouse baby eggplant, served with quinoa and house-made yoghurt.

“We’re getting these little bitty eggplants from this greenhouse,” said Reppond. “What happens is, the plants start producing and flowering and making these little eggplants. So they have to start trimming and harvesting until they can put [the plants] outside in the spring. They transfer the plants into the fields to grow the big ones, but until then they get these nice little sweet eggplants that are the same size as a fig.”

Following the eggplant dish, Reppond’s team will serve up a roasted and stuffed winter squash, filled with wheatberry, charred onion jam, collard green chimichurri and pine nuts.

The dish Reppond says will inspire guests to broaden their horizons the most features fermented Mississippi black rice, roasted hydroponic tomatoes, fried brussels sprouts and peanuts.

“All these flavor profiles, with the tomatoes and the rice, to the brussels sprouts and peanuts, they all blend so well into this round, spicy, almost Asian flavor,” he said. “It’ll be something that doesn’t sound familiar, but once you taste it you’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s something I know, it’s comforting.’”

The last main dishes are confit sweet potato with a warm olive salad, beet hummus and toasted cashews, and pecan oil-seared carrots, with spiced honey and whipped goat cheese. Like all the dishes on the menu, Reppond says the seared carrots remind him of growing up at his grandparents’ table.

“A lot of people in the older crowd, like my grandparents, were on a fixed income. They grew gardens, and there were nights that we didn’t eat meat and had an all vegetable dinner,” Reppond said. “That’s what brought me to this idea that we don’t have to have meat every night. There’s things out there we can get and feel satisfied and full and get the protein we need. We want to introduce that to people and make them aware.”

The final course will be a dessert made of beet sorbet and carrot spice cake, topped with buttermilk cream.

Martin says he hopes people walk away from the dinner with a sense of being a part of the community.

“With vegetarianism and eating organically, there’s a big emphasis on health, but we like it when you have that health focus intersecting with local farmers and food makers,” he said. “Because in treating yourself right, you’re also able to help your community. That’s how it should be, not just about the consumer, but about everyone involved.”

In addition to the quarterly Sunday Supper series, Grit is hosting Tuesday wine dinners and other soon-to-be announced specials. For more information, visit their website, www.grittaylor.com, or call 662-638- 3922.