At SAVEUR, our obsessive quest to unearth the origins of food and discover hidden culinary traditions sends us from our test kitchen in New York City to far-flung destinations, and sometimes into our own backyards, documenting the whole thing as we go. Come October, we seek out fall feasts and comfort fare to warm us for the coming cold weather. From Johnnycakes in Rhode Island to biscuits in Charleston (and California and Brooklyn), here are all the ways SAVEUR editors ate the world this month.
West Kingston, Rhode Island
This month, I went back north to visit my folks in Rhode Island. We passed the time, as yankees do, scarfing down fish n’ chips and slurping local oysters by the shore. Scarf season was kicking in, but it was warm enough to enjoy a margarita outside, overlooking Narragansett Bay.
One morning, we piled into Mom’s convertible for a joyride through the postcard October foliage and we ended up at Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston. Kenyon’s has been stone-milling whole grains since 1696 and the brand is known throughout the state for their fine white cornmeal – the preferred brand for making crispy, unleavened, corn flatbreads known as Rhode Island Johnnycakes. We stopped off at the mill’s gift shop to load up my overnight bag with cornmeal and a enough hearty oat flour pancake mix for whole winter’s worth of weekend brunch. — Kat Craddock, test kitchen associate
Brooklyn, New York
On a sunny Saturday, we hit the Smorgasburg, an open-air food market by the East River waterfront in Brooklyn, to try Ghost & Grits from chef Sonar Saikia. Back in 2011, my husband helped Sonar enroll in culinary school, but he came with cooking chops first learned from his mother on the family farm in the tea- and ghost pepper–growing Assam region of India. When he married a woman from South Carolina and moved to Tennessee, he fell hard for Southern food, barbecue in particular.
With Ghost & Grits, he melds these influences into an enthralling, addictive fusion of flavors and techniques. The tasty Bengal Biscuit (shown) sandwiches blue corn–crusted eggplant, creamy saffron, and wild mushrooms in a fluffy biscuit. His grits are creamy goodness with the sweet heat of ghost pepper jam dabbed on top. But what blew me away was his smoked pork shoulder sandwich with ghost pepper aioli, purple cabbage raita, and preserved lemon on brioche. The lemon teased, the aioli tingled, the pork was meltingly tender, and it all came together in a mouthwatering way. —Donna L. Ng, copy chief
East Lansing, Michigan
I love pizza, and I mean all pizza. I love a $1 New York City slice, I love the fancy hand tossed stuff, I love Chicago deep dish, and I even love Bagel Bites. I think it’s hereditary since my dad always said, “he’s never met a pizza he didn’t like.”
My girlfriend grew up and went to college at Michigan State. She would always talk about this place that makes Detroit-style pizza that she and her friends would get delivered to their tailgates and other “hungover situations.” It wasn’t until I started going to Michigan with her that I discovered how amazing the style actually is.
There is no slice like a square from Jet’s Pizza. Jet’s makes their pizza in rectangle, well-seasoned, black deep dish pans. The cheese cascades all the way to the edges of these pans, melting into the dough, forming an ultra-crisp, lacy crust. The dough to sauce to cheese ratio is also perfectly engineered, yielding a pizza that is somewhere in between focaccia and Sicilian style pizza—all baked to perfection.
The best part is, each slice is a corner, so if you are a fan of those crispy brown bits of crust, you get to enjoy double the amount of them. And you always eat the entire square, never wasting this prized crust, similar to the socarrat of paella. We order the 8- corner pepperoni pizza with a squeeze bottle of the best tasting ranch I’ve ever had (no joke, I love the stuff… #puremichigan). But, if the ranch thing seems too far-fetched, keep an open mind, it will change your life for the better. Although this place originated in Michigan, luckily they’ve expanded to 19 other states so you can get this corner pie in other parts of the country. —Dave Kaplan, test kitchen intern
San Francisco, California
I was out in San Francisco for our upcoming cover shoot and decided to make a slight detour north on the way back east to spend a weekend hiking in Banff National Park. With a little help from some knowledgeable locals, the tea house at Lake Agnes would be my Sunday morning destination. Waking up before sunrise, I drove the meandering mountain backroads up to Lake Louise through the most cotton candy-pink painted sky one could imagine. Followed by the most vibrant turquoise glacier waters, and from there it was all up hill.
After a few kilometers, just as I was craving breakfast, a small cabin came in site, along with crowds comparable to West Village during prime brunch time. Greeted by the most delightful, hardworking crew of women that run this off-grid tea house that’s been in operation since 1905, I had their homemade biscuits with tea and mountains bars with peanut butter, graham cracker, coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and nuts. Also popular with the crowd was their hot chocolate with marshmallows as hikers could sit on the deck enjoying the breathtaking views. Fueled up enough for the return back down, I already started planning my return visit which would kick-off with a breakfast at the other nearby tea house at Plain of Six Glaciers. There was too much snow to make it in this trip. —Michelle Heimerman, photo editor
Brooklyn, New York
New York is currently experiencing a weird summer-to-fall-and-back-to-summer transition. Mid-October has given us several days of temperatures in the mid-70s, and apparently we aren’t done yet – my weather app has just informed me that Friday’s gonna be back up in the 70s. And I know that some people really can’t wait for cooler weather to go with their colorful foliage and pumpkin decor. But I am not one of those people. In fact, I will hold desperately onto the last vestiges of summer by doing things like going to a raw bar happy hour in mid-October and stubbornly insist on eating it outside. This plate of shellfish from the Kittery in Brooklyn might be my last summer meal (but I’ll stretch it out if I can). —Katie Whittaker, associate digital editor
Charleston, South Carolina
It had been almost a year since I’d had a proper cheddar biscuit. So when I saw that a biscuit bar was on the docket for the SAVEUR Blog Awards in Charleston, I knew I’d be in for a treat. And boy, did Callie’s Charleston Biscuits deliver on the dream of flaky, hot, soft biscuits. First, there were the cheddar biscuits, which I filled with salted-just-right country ham; then, the plain biscuits which I of course smeared with the house pimento cheese. And, even though I’m not a huge fan of the sweet biscuits, the cinnamon variety were perfect with a dollop of jam. Later in the month, when Carrie of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits (Callie is her mother) stopped by our office to make some for the SAVEUR team, I was the first in line for another plate. —Dan Q. Dao, deputy digital editor