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December 9, 2009

Grits: trendy new food -- at least in Baltimore


The other day I was cleaning off some shelves and pulled down the obligatory grits (obligatory in my house).

For some reason, I looked at the expiration date, and it was 1996. I was astounded. I haven't made grits often in recent years, but I know it hasn't been that long since the last time. ...

Had I been poisoning my family? Would they be full of bugs? I threw them away without (shudder) opening them.

In my family, grits aren't a cereal. If you have them for breakfast, you have them with butter, salt and freshly ground pepper with eggs and crisp bacon. You might have them for a starch at night with a slice of ham. (When did we last have ham?)

Anyway, since then I'm seeing them on every restaurant menu -- or at least it seems that way. Are grits the new trendy food?

We had grits at Mr. Rain's Fun House in the American Visionary Art Museum with shrimp, pheasant sausage and kale. I see from Suzanne's In Good Taste blog that the new Langermann's in the Can Co. will feature grits on its southern-style menu.

And it goes without saying, of course, that you'll find them at Charleston.

By the way, when I was writing this I couldn't think of the word for the cardboard cylinder grits and oatmeal come in. Box doesn't seem right, or container, or carton. Is there a word?

(Tasha Treadwell/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:05 AM | | Comments (38)


petit silo.

I've always called it a box, but I like Laura Lee's answer better.

I like them with butter, salt, pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce.

Hmm, now if you preview a post you get two captchas:
pier muddles
nesle special

Grits are kinda trendy for evening dining now because of Low Country Cusine finally getting more recognition, IMHO.

You still don't find them in every breakfast place on every plate ordered or unordered like you do in the "real" south though.

I like them with cheese, butter, salt and papper.

oops. that's "pepper". I didn't want to preview because I didn't want 2 captchas!

I like my grits loaded with sharp cheese, chopped bacon, a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt, who needs the eggs or toast?

we call it a "canister," but we are not official southerners. spending 4 years of college in north carolina should count for something, though!

I've always been a fan of blander type foods. You can eat them plain or add whatever other ingredients that suit your taste.

I've loved grits from the first time I had them, as a small child traveling to Florida. I eat them the same way I do oatmeal - with loads of real butter and salt.

Lovely thing, grits. You can do a million things with them, all comfort food.

The Shrimp and Grits at Brewer's Art and Manor Tavern in Monkton are top notch.

Being originally from the Midwest, I was surprised to see grits as ubiquitous on the menu at fine restaurants in Nashville (I lived there during college). The grits were usually "fancified" by way of enticing adjectives. Grit cakes fried in duck fat, rosemary garlic grits, and other such options were common in a city that has tried to create its own style of fine southern cuisine.

Mmmm, I just had some really good grits on Saturday at General's Kitchen in OC. A pat of butter and salt and pepper does it for me. GK is also home to the best creamed chip beef around, in my humble opinion.

prefaces community

I believe canister is the word used most often down here.

I'm not a big fan of grits, but maybe I'll give them another try.

an appropriate captcha: in tasters

The Shrimp and Grits at Rocket To Venus in Hampden are the best I've ever eaten.

Are grits being served with anything other than shrimp in these here parts? If not, then it's not the grits that are trendy, it's the whole "shrimp and grits" thing. The version at Louisiana is delicious. Had them at Harry's Seafood Grill in Wilmington too and they were also delicious. I find it interesting that no two places have a similar version.

And I call it a "box."

Excellent point. EL

Love shrimp and grits. I've had them at RTV and liked them, especially for the price, but none compare to Charleston.

Off topic, I drove by the former Freda's Kitchen this morning and it looked like the new place was open, although it could have been just staff in there. No signage to speak of and I couldn't find a web site. Any news?

Me; Grits, please.

Waitress: Hominy grits?

Me: I dunno, but I think three or four should suffice...

I absolutely love grits, i was raised on them. My mom use to fix them for me and my siblings. She would cook the grits and then add scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, butter, pepper, a little salt, a little sugar and a teaspoon of grape jelly. Mix it all together and serve, It is delicious. I still make it the exact same way today.

I've always based good diner food on grits, and Jimmy's in Fells is my top contender. When Greg Nalley still owned Harvest Table in Locust Point, he had a amazing dish where grits covered a homemade biscuit and egg, then the whole thing was topped with bacon, cheese and tomatoes...I think it was called the "Mother" - or at least that's what he called it.

spammer at 10:16

I just made cheese baked grits to go with our pot roast and sauteed collard greens from the farmer's market on Sunday! Really good and simple, and I think they've been "trendy" for a few years now.
But whenever I encounter them i have to quote My cousin Vinny. "What's a grit?"

Sorry for the double post. My computer is being squirrely.

Grits and apple butter for breakfast desert.

This is our second year doing shrimp and grits at Brewers -- when we hooked up with the Marvesta shrimp folk, s&g was the first menu item that used them, and they have been consistently popular when on the menu. It is my go-to recommendation when my friends ask me what to get.

"$10-billion carefree".. apparently captcha has a political agenda

I really miss Barry Rumsey's cheese grits from the Bicycle. Simple, creamy and just really freakin' good. I worked there for five years and they were my after dinner-service snack nearly every night.

Obviously brunch is the most popular time for grits in the Baltimore area. Victoria's Gastropub and Woodberry Kitchen both offer the grit-snob brand of Anson Mills grits, Victoria's made with jalapeno and cheddar. Jack's Bistro ups the ante with jalapeno, bacon and smoked gouda grits on it's dinner menu. Volt also offers grits on their brunch menu.

Thanks for reminding me that Woodberry has had them on the menu. I guess I have tried grits in the 15 years I've been here.

Color me forgetful.

I used to love going to Bob's Big Boy when I was a little boy for the breakfast buffet. After a plate full of greasy goodness, I'd always go back for dessert. A big bowl full of grits with lots and lots of strawberry topping (originally intended for Belgian waffles, i guess). So good.

Miss Shirley's grits are delicious-heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, chives, applewood-smoked bacon & tomatoes. Yum!

Expensive gourmet grits just seems so wrong!

000 flamed

Ruby: "Mmmm, I just had some really good grits on Saturday at General's Kitchen in OC. A pat of butter and salt and pepper does it for me. GK is also home to the best creamed chip beef around, in my humble opinion."

Yes, I've had their creamed chipped beef and it is good, but mine is better. :-) My then 5 year old daughter was used to me calling it S*** On a Shingle. We were on our way to DisneyLand, stopped for breakfast, and she announced to the waitress that she wanted S*** On a Dingle. The waitress broke up, my wife was mortified. From then on it's been SOD at our house. In fact we had it for dinner last night over homemade baking powder biscuits.

The best grits I've ever eaten were from FATZ cafe. a chain of restaurants in the Carolinas. Creamy, with cheese and just perfect with their Calabash Chicken Tenders

Yankee that I am, I came to grits late. I always hated its northern cousin , farina. (I'm dodging the brickbats already). Ryleigh's on Cross Street started serving shrimp and grits as a small plate on one buck oyster nights at least a year ago. Now its a regular on the menu (had it last week) and to my geographically challenged tongue, it's great.

Tip Carter had them on the menu regularly when I worked at Brewer's Art. I get them from the same supplier as he did for both personal and professional use.

Every place that wants to be appropriately trendy with low country does a variation on shrimp and grits. I'm thoroughly tired of that dish. Instead, I use them in place of risotto on main dishes and apps.

My father used to make grits for breakfast, then pour the leftovers into a small bowl, which he stuck in the fridge. Next morning, the grits were solidified. He'd slip the whole lump out of the bowl, slice it thin, then fry the slices in bacon fat from "slab bacon" from Cross Street Market. Oh, those carefree days when cholesterol was just some word in a medical dictionary!

mededitor, now they call that "fried polenta".

BTW, is there a difference between polenta and grits? I've heard from some Chefs that it's the exact same thing and others swear it's totally different.

Polenta is not the same as hominy grits, but apparently not all things called "grits" are made from hominy nowadays.

gnarlier don't


Great story about your daughter! I may have to start referring to it as SOD myself now, hahaha!

Zevonista, you made me laugh so loud that I woke the cat! And your story is great, Jack.

I grew up eating Farina and always loved it, but I haven't seen it in a long while. Is it even sold anymore?

I LOVE creamed chipped beef, over biscuits for breakfast or mashed potatoes for supper. Now a question: I was always told that SOS was creamed hamburger, not dried beef. I think we've had this "conversation" before, but I can't find it. Anyone want to weigh in? Thanks.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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