When I travel, I seek out exceptional, local joints. I’ve found some real gems this way (like this Cincinnati joint, sadly now closed).
On a recent trip north of Philly, I had an evening free so I made a bee-line to the Geechee Girl Rice Cafe in Mt. Airy, PA.
I’d been wanting to go here ever since I saw it on Triple D. I recreated Chef Erwin’s signature North African Chicken dish. My version is really good, but I wanted to try the real thing.
I got there early on a Friday evening. The place was almost empty. Just one other table had customers. The staff was really nice and very attentive. I guess that was easy, since there were only three of us in the restaurant.
I told the hostess why I had come. About 10 minutes later, Chef Erwin came over and introduced herself. We talked for about 5 minutes about her business, the neighborhood and her food. She stopped by several more times while I dined.
I started with soup of the day. It was a white bean and smoked red pepper. Like most of the food here, it was a simple dish. Much more comfort food than haute cuisine. The base of the soup was a clear broth. Chef Erwin added celery, beans, smoked peppers and herbs to make a light, flavorful starter.
After that I had Chef Erwin’s version of the North African Chicken. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. I’m happy to report that my version is very close. Mine’s good. Chef Erwin’s was better.
I think the biggest difference between the two dishes is that Chef Erwin uses a much smaller bird than I had been using. Her’s are about 3 lbs. I’d been using the 5 to 6 lb monsters you get at Safe way. Her’s have better flavor and, because they cook more quickly and evenly, are moister through.
Next time I make this, I’m getting a better quality bird.
I don’t usually get dessert, but I don’t know if or when I’ll ever be back. So I loosened my belt a notch and asked to the the dessert menu. There’s the typical brownie sundae and rice pudding and pecan pie. I homed in on the Gingerbread.
Good choice. It was excellent. Light and tender with a warm, almost pudding like center. Topped with whip cream it was a great way to end the meal.
I said goodbye to Chef Erwin and headed home, happy I’d made the trip.