Chef Michael Kramer’s Favorite Creature Comforts

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With his new restaurant, Jianna, chef (and cyclist) Michael Kramer is helping turn Greenville, SC, into a foodie destination.

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Here’s how he makes the most of his downtime.

Supreme Suds: Cheap Beer

I studied in England and stayed for five months afterward, traveling, racing bikes, and visiting breweries. I got so used to pilsners and lagers. I understand guys taking beer to other levels, doing wheats and raspberries and pumpkins and winters and falls and springs. But I’m a simple-beer guy, and I find nothing wrong with a PBR or a Miller High Life that wasn’t made by somebody and his brother in a garage. Overly hopped beers are like overoaked chardonnays; they just don’t do it for me.

Danilo Agutoli

Nice Rice: Carnaroli

For risotto, carnaroli’s a step above arborio and cooks up much creamier. Add your stock slowly, and once the rice is ready, add a little butter and cheese—and really whip it into the risotto to create the rich texture. Some guys add cream at the end, but to me that’s sacrilegious.

Diana Miller / Getty Images

Quick Getaway: Travelers Rest, SC

It’s this tiny town seven or eight miles outside Greenville. It started as a rest stop in the days of the horse and carriage between Greenville and Asheville, NC, and it has kind of blown up over the past few years. There are a bunch of independent little places for tacos and barbecue, and there’s a creperie called Tandem, where a lot of guys will stop for a crepe and coffee on their way back from a bike ride.

Courtesy of Tandem

Better BBQ: Mustard Sauce

I moved to South Carolina from Texas, both big barbecue areas. I’m a pulled pork fan, and here in Carolina there are two schools of sauce: vinegar based and mustard based. Any barbecue place here typically has both, but I always go mustard. It’s sweet and spicy, with more richness than what you get from the vinegar.

James and James / Getty Images

Road Rage: Cycling

Cycling is huge in Greenville—pros George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Bobby Julich all live here. I hit the 21-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail on my new baby, my black-and-yellow Felt F1, which has electronic shifting and Zipp 303 wheels. It gets really hilly, great for training, especially as you go into the mountains near North Carolina. Cycling keeps me fit and lean and keeps me out of trouble.

Danilo Agutoli

Date Night: Simple Pasta

If a girlfriend is coming over, I like to keep it really simple: pasta and nice bottle of Montepulciano. I usually cheat a little by taking pasta from my restaurant Jianna—we make it all in house—but sometimes at home I’ll make gnocchi with the first tomatoes of the season, garlic, basil, and granapadano. It’s delicious, and you can do it in one pan.


Yuki Kondo / Getty Images

Kitchen Essential: Wooden Spoon

They’re getting harder to find—most are plastic or metal—but there’s something that’s soulful about a wooden spoon when you’re making soups or stews or risotto. It’s thicker and feels better in your hand.

Suchart Doyemar / Getty Images

Recipe Every Man Should Know: Eggs Benedict

It’s something cool that the average person never makes. Cook the hollandaise first by setting up a double boiler [a bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water] with three egg yolks and a tablespoon of water. Whisk until it’s thick and ribbonlike, then turn off the heat and whisk in two cups of clarified butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and Tabasco. Then all you need to do is toast your English muffins, warm up Canadian bacon, and poach four eggs in simmering water with a little bit of vinegar for about five minutes. Put it all together, and top it with warm hollandaise.

Danilo Agutoli

The post Chef Michael Kramer’s Favorite Creature Comforts appeared first on Men's Journal.


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