seriously. Was ever a restaurant more anticipated? Maybe, but not by me. I don’t know what it was. The romance of the south? Gin cocktails? Pork in numerous incarnations? Whatever it was, I was so there! Cask and Larder is a new restaurant in Orlando that is devoted to the pantry[ref]
[/ref] and to booze [ref]
[/ref]. As soon as I could conjure an excuse (two rough and tumble months of work finished!) I set a reservation through opentable for Saturday night with all the beautiful people that Winter Park, FL has to offer.
Our table was ready when we arrived and we goggled in looking over the room, tall white millwork lined with rows of preserved foods that were only vaguely identifiable. The menu is set and printed each day and I stole it and put it in my purse for reference. They also deliver spicy cheese straws in a julep cup and a clipboard with sheets for brews, cocktails and wines with a charming red stamp that reads 86 for items that have run out. I ordered the gin & jarred which arrived with curly top skewered bread and butter pickles. Quite crazy that cocktail. It held ransom smalls gin, dolin blanc vermouth, house pickling liquid, bittermens habanero shrub. Really? Shrub? A shrub is a beverage unto it’s own and is made from fruit (in this case habanero juice), sugar and a liquor. Not my usual. It wasn’t sweet nor did it have heat. The pickling liquid was probably the most prominent. We ordered a ham tasting with three different southern hams. It included a sweetish one, one more cured and one that was aged 400 days-nice dry and salty. They were served on a wood slab with flaky biscuits and crazy interesting accompaniments-pickled green (like unripe) strawberries, farmer cheese and a sweet chile jam. Crazy good. Who even thinks of pickling green strawberries? Ok, Z ordered grilled lamb heart for his protein. Weird right? I know it. It had some crazy popcorn grits, apples with peanuts and was he said, grilled on the outside and beating on the inside. I tried it. A little rare for me and I had to not be a thinker in that moment. I myself ordered the brisket. Braised and sitting in a big juicy puddle of jus. The brisket was sitting on a smear of mustard and had really nice acidic freshly pickled giardiniera. So tender and two tiny rolls on the side to bring it home. I am going to make some giardiniera. Maybe this weekend actually. The proteins are large enough to share and the sides are definitely designed that way. We had the creamiest succotash filled with corn, squash and ham hocks. I have a hard time with some of the chew on the hocks. Mentally I had a hard time with the foot thing but I ate it.
Somehow we spiralled out of control at that point and ordered two desserts. Home-brew doughnuts and caramel pudding topped with thinned sweet glaze for dipping that we spooned through when the doughnut bites ran out. Ridiculous. We also had the sweets treats plate which that day was a trio of sugar: soft individually wrapped salty caramels, soft smore bites and rich buckeyes. A fantastic food experience. I couldn’t wait to go and I am so excited to go back.