Monday, May 2, 2016

Steamed buns at Panciuto

The other night, a group of us ate dinner at Panciuto, one of the very best local restaurants and one of the restaurants in the whole world I love the most.  One entry on recent menus had made the visit irresistible:  steamed buns with bologna.  Even imagining what chef Aaron Vandemark could do with that combination set our mouths to watering.

When the menu for that day appeared online, the steamed buns were gone.

I called the restaurant and begged Lauren, Aaron's sister, to plead our case with Aaron for steamed buns with bologna.

We went, the steamed buns were not on the menu, and so we shrugged and ordered anyway.  Sometimes, you miss dishes.  We understand that.

Everything we ordered was, as always, wonderful.  My friend, Kyle, says that eating one of Aaron's dishes is like getting a hug, and he's right.  The food was great, delicious and rich and comforting.

In the middle of the meal, a gift from Aaron unexpectedly appeared:  the steamed buns with bologna. We were as excited as little kids.

The dish surpassed our expectations.  Every bite was amazing.

Talking later with Aaron, I learned that the steamed buns with bologna had not sold well.

I was stunned.  These steamed buns were amazingly good, so good I cannot imagine any meat eater not liking them.

Maybe if Aaron were willing to go all fancy and call them "Southern-style steam buns with local meat"--which they were--they would sell better, but Aaron tells you what you're eating, and I love that.  I love the way he takes local ingredients of all sorts and elevates them beyond what you would have thought was possible.

So, if you live near here, go to Panciuto, order whatever's on offer, enjoy it--and ask after the steamed buns with bologna.  If they're on the menu, order them, and prepare to be amazed.

Do this not just for the good of all restaurant-goers in the area, but also for me, because I'm already craving those delicious steamed buns.

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