The charm of the South is in the phrase


Like white on rice. Lower than a snakes belly. She could start an argument in an empty house. Elvis has left the building. He’s so dumb he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.

11 Plates - short stack of braised short ribs

11 Plates – short stack of braised short ribs

These are idioms of the American South. Crisp images that accelerate meaning. Ingredients harvested from what we see. Rice. Snakes. Boots. Elvis.

Want to taste more?  Check out the Examiner. They have listed the top 50 Souther-isms. And 50 more.

Or fly to 11 Plates in Austin. Chef Dominique Labeaud likes a twist of phrase. The culinary kind. He spins BBQ ribs into a tightrope exercise.  A careful walk between heady meat and sugar-smack sauce. A rainbow of pickled vegetables trumpets that there’s more than a pot of gold at the other end.

11 Plates - pickle garnish for braised short ribs

11 Plates – pickle garnish for braised short ribs

Or try fried brussel sprouts painted with lemon aioli. Not even close to how sprouts were hideously treated in the sixties. Gone are the days of boiled, green goo-balls. Today Chef Dominique rides the wave of roasting this cruciferous veggie to the next logical conclusion. A bath in 375 degree oil. Then zipping it up with tangy mayonnaise.

11 Plates - fried brussel sprouts with lemon aioli

11 Plates – fried brussel sprouts with lemon aioli

Pitched inside of a martini glass lounges Kraken rum, Earl Grey tea, Grand Manier and Elderflower liqueur. Whisper its name lest you wake it up. Bergamot. This sleepy, porch swinging cocktail is all citrus and plantation fans.  A cool breeze on a suhmmeh ahhfternoon.

Aptly described as the pear shaped cousin to the orange. The bergamot contains essential oils that find their way into perfumes and twelve dollar candles. This is a cocktail of Mark Twain’s ilk. Sharp witted without pricey vocabulary.

11 Plates - Bergamot: kracken rum, earl gray tea, grand marnier, elderflower

11 Plates – Bergamot cocktail

So goes the style of 11 Plates. They have personalized tradition. They have shown us the new in the familiar. They have given us updated metaphors.

None of which is out of reach for the home adventurer. The ingredients do not require the ingenuity of Indiana Jones. They are found in common grocery stores and liquor shops.

The point of departure is knowing on what soil you stand. What is the culinary history. What are the requisite facets. How might you find culinary synonyms.

What story do you want to tell?

It doesn’t take much.  Ask those who knew former Texas Governor Anne Richards. Sixteen very carefully chosen words pushed this Nation off it’s cognitive axis in 1988.

Bless her heart.

Now, what are you going to say with your own silver palate?

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