Poole's and the Pitmaster

For those of you unfamiliar with Ashley Christensen, please let me take this time to introduce you. She is the brilliant woman and driving force behind Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken+Honey and many other Raleigh favorites. Ashley discovered her passion for cooking early on. While most of us were attending sorority/fraternity parties and football games, she was cultivating her creativity and using her college living quarters as her first official test kitchen. Throwing dinner parties for her college friends came naturally and ultimately helped her secure her first official cooking gig. After spending significant time in the kitchen and refining her personal style, Ashley opened Poole's Diner in 2007. Little did we know, that would be the first of many establishments in her restaurant empire. In 2014, the James Beard Foundation recognized what the rest of North Carolina already knew and awarded her the Best Chef: Southeast.

Christensen recently completed her first cookbook, "Poole's Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner."   The stars aligned and I was fortunate enough meet her while she was in town. Pitmaster Pat Martin, of Martin's BBQ, held a reception at his new downtown location showcasing some of her classic Southern comfort food.  Below are some of the mouthwatering bites that were served:

  • Wake County Cooler

  • Pork Ribs with Mustard Sorghum Sauce

  • Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

  • Crab Churros with Piquillo Pepper Mayo

  • AC's Deviled Eggs

In all honesty, I was lucky to snag the few pictures I did.  These bites went faster than a kid chasing an ice cream truck. My two favorites of the evening were the Wake County Cooler and AC's Deviled Eggs. 

Sitting my the pool on a scorching hot day? Come home from work and need a quick drink to unwind? In serious needs of thirst quenching refreshment? The Wake County Cooler will cure what ails you.  While the ingredients are rather simple, lemon juice, simple syrup and black tea vodka, it delivers.

As the holidays approach, most of us will be looking for quick and easy appetizers or "Classic Counter Snacks" to take to various events.  Look no further than AC's Classic Deviled Eggs. I never thought eggs could be THIS good. Confession: I may have had 4 or 5 of these that evening. Can't Stop- Won't Stop!   Using a combination of Creme Fraiche, Cornichons, Dijon mustard, shallots, butter and salt, these will literally melt in your mouth. Trust me, this is nothing like what you have had at your church picnics or work potluck. (Not even in the same league.) I hope my friends are ready because they will be seeing these on repeat during the next few months! 

While I haven't finished reading the Poole's, I am smitten.  Her approach to southern comfort food is both approachable and delicious!  Pick up the book today. I promise you will thank me!