Some new items in the Cheese Shop you must try are the items from Anson Mills: Carolina Gold Rice, Island Red Peas, and Benne seeds. These are all from the south, where Carolina rice and grits are a staple of the cuisine. Carolina Gold rice has an interesting history, and seems to be making quite a comeback in culinary circles. Once a staple of the southern coastal marshes, this long grain rice became virtually extinct after the American Revolution. Sometime in the 1980s, a motivated farmer/plantation owner reintroduced the rice by procuring seeds from the USDA seed bank and planted this variety along coastal wetlands south of Charleston, and reestablished the heritage grain to its former glory. Carolina Gold is now grown in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Texas. It is beloved for its clean, sweet, flavor and fluffy grains of rice; perfect to use for Hoppin’ John or Red Beans and Rice.
As for Stone-Ground Grits, maybe you’ve seen them on the menu of high-end restaurants – chefs such as David Chang, Marcus Samuelson, and Sean Brock turn to Anson Mills for their grits and rice. Anson Mills is one of the handful of producers in the south that are planting many heirloom corn, grain, rice, rice, and seed varieties. They treat their products with great care and insist we keep them refrigerated to maintain the highest quality of freshness, quality, and flavor. We are selling a few of their items: stone-ground grits, Sea Island Red Peas (to make that Hoppin’ John) Carolina Gold Rice, and Benne seeds. We provide Anson Mills’ own recipes and cooking instructions, as these products will not cook up like your conventional grits, rice, or peas. If you are drawn to these wonderful ingredients as we are, I highly recommend Heritage by Sean Brock, and excellent cookbook full of recipes, stories, and history of the Carolina low country. A Votre Santé!
-Mary Richter, Surdyk’s Cheese Shop Manager
(photo credit: ansonmills.com)