Brookins serves the souse as a small charcuterie board, with a dollop of pungent horseradish mustard, pickles and sous chef Luke Conrad’s addictive gluten-free crackers.
“We’re quietly gluten-free,” Brookins mentioned. The cooking traditions of Appalachia are all about corn anyway, he added.
Do people from these parts know what’s grown and raised here? he pondered aloud. Besides Brasstown Beef, there’s trout from Candy Mountain. Brothers on Farms offers shiitake mushrooms, figs and lamb. Mercier has all the apples he could want. 7M Farm in Blairsville has honey. SMM Farms in Brookins’ new residence in Hayesville grows the goods for a shelled pea salad.
“I want to generate a drive for what’s around here to support local farms,” Brookins said.
In these early days for the Crown, Brookins has embraced Appalachian culinary traditions. “Preserve, pickle, dry. All the homesteading out here — I love it,” he said.
But he’s looking to funk things up with new-school items like a mountain ramen featuring a spicy pickled duck egg and broccoli greens in lieu of seaweed.
Brookins stopped to ponder where he’s at — 23 years into a food service career, with a growing family and living life in the mountains. “This decision was so hard because Portofino was the most awesome job I’ve had. But I had to go try this thing and move out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve even had some tables come up here from Buckhead, which blows my mind. I think we’ll be OK.”
7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. 139 Emily Lane, Brasstown, N.C. 828-516-1672, Facebook: The Crown Brasstown.
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