Angus Strip Block with Corn Creamed Succotash, Guajillo Ketchup
On a recent Thursday evening, I was invited to join a group of bloggers for dinner at Global Restaurant. While media gatherings occur regularly throughout the city, I tend to shy away from them, considering myself more of a recipe and travel writer than a restaurant reviewer.
In this instance, however, I felt compelled to attend. Having grown up in Switzerland, five minutes from the French border, I'm drawn to all things from the region. And knowing that Bernard Brunet, executive chef and co-owner, is French, I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity.
That's how, over a selection of delicious menu items and wines, we talked about growing up in France and the vision he and wife/co-owner Shannon have for the restaurant.
Pickled Farm Devil Eggs with Benton's Candied Bacon
Originally from Nice, Bernard's culinary training is typical of chefs that rose through the ranks of old school French cuisine. With stories that bare more resemblance to military boot camp than culinary school, he talks about arriving fifteens minutes early each morning, so as to avoid being late. Which, if it were to happen more than once, would lead to the unequivocal end of one's culinary career. There are also tales of painstakingly cleaning kitchen stoves with a toothbrush, at the end of Friday night service.
Bernard jokes that when he and Shannon opened Global, people asked why they didn't name it "Chez Bernard". As a Frenchman with a cooking style rooted in French culinary technique, the name would have accurately conveyed Bernard's background. But, as he points out, it would only tell part of the story.
Shannon, who grew up in Boone, North Carolina, runs the restaurant's front of the house. Having met and fallen in love while working on a cruise ship, Shannon and Bernard spent years traveling the world. And while French culinary technique and Southern hospitality make up the restaurant's ethos, the source of their inspiration extends well beyond the boarders of their native countries -- it is global.
Focusing on seasonal ingredients and sourcing from local farms whenever possible, the menu includes an eclectic range of dishes from pickled farm deviled eggs to tempura avocado.
SC Mahi Summer Squash Salad with Strawberry Pesto
Of the different dishes, the one that most captured my heart was the 24 hour braised lamb belly. A lover of all things lamb, Bernard set out to make a lamb version of the ever-popular pork belly. The challenge, however, is that lamb belly is approximately one third the thickness of that of pork. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Bernard and his team developed a cooking method that joins three pieces of lamb together, creating one thicker cut. The result -- a deliciously rich and flavorful dish.
Rosen Lamb Belly - 24hrs Braised with Ramp Pesto Risotto and Aubergine Two Ways
Complementing Bernard's menu, Shannon curates a well balanced selection of wines from around the world. To accompany our lamb, she served an Argentinian Malbec, which I instantly fell in love with. She also crafts wonderfully inventive cocktails like the Lombardi's Limoncello, Pineville Punch, and my favorite, the Drunken Strawberry Margarita.
Over dinner, Bernard shared his vision for Global, "People think of French cooking as something fancy, reserved for special occasions. We want to change that." In addition to the formal second floor dining room, which is perfect for date nights and business dinners, the restaurant's main level has a sleek and trendy vibe seeking to appeal to families and couples looking for a more casual setting. As Bernard spoke, it occurred to me that I had always considered Global a great date night option but never thought to bring our children.
Ahi Tuna Crudo with Yucca Crisp, Cucumber and Compressed Cantaloupe
This realization sparked memories of my own childhood, when my sister and I would tag along with my parents on their dining adventures. To this day, we still laugh about the time they took us to a French Michelin starred restaurant. Wanting to cater to our young age, the kitchen served us non-homogenized milk and fresh house-made pasta. While my adult self would be ecstatic, the ten year old me was not impressed. There was no chance of someone convincing me that the milk fat floating in my glass was good or that my pasta wasn't overcooked.
Although I may not have embraced my young fine dining experiences as much as I should have, I've come to appreciate how much they helped shape my love of hospitality and establish a comfort level in more formal dinner settings. And while my boys may not be as enthralled with Global's lamb belly as I am, I'm confident they'll be won over when they hear "pomme frites" and Hazelnut praline.
Milk Chocolate "Pot de Cremachino" with NC Strawberries
(Photo Credits - Global Restaurant)