Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brief but tasty, and a preview of things to come - updated

I'm working on a post about The Cafe Alcazar, a restaurant beloved of St. Augustinians and visitors alike, charming for its location in the deep end of the swimming pool of what was once (circa 1890) the Hotel Alcazar and now houses the Lightner Museum as well as the offices of the City of St. Augustine. But I need to find some pictures and think about what to say, and as I was working on those things, the recipe for Cafe Alcazar's famed Curried Chicken Salad happened to arrive and it seemed unkind to make you wait for it. So through the brilliance of its original chef, Maureen, and the generosity of its last-but-one owner, our dear Lorie, Eat Here is delighted to share this little taste of perfection.

Some things to keep in mind before you mix up what might seem to be a simple chicken salad, and is, but needs a thoughtful touch: the quality of the curry you use is critical to the outcome, so use a good one. Lorie recommends Frontier, and it's a brand you can find in most health- or whole foods stores. And before you start, you need about 6 cups of cooked, finely chopped chicken, but you could also make this with tofu. If you want to do that and don't know how, please email me and I'll help you figure it out. Also, the original recipe is halved here for your convenience, to serve a regular-ish number of people rather than thousands.

Put the chicken into a large bowl and add half a rib of celery, finely chopped,
1-1/2 fresh green onions, finely chopped, 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 cup raisins (I like golden ones), 2 cups of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of honey, and 2tablespoons plus two teaspoons of the aforementioned curry powder. Mix well, and serve with fresh fruit, green salad and pita bread or crackers. Flavoring tips from Lorie, exclusively for Eat Here readers: if it's too bitter, add a little honey. If it's too sweet, add a bit of curry. And if it needs flavor, add both! And if you want the MadriGalz to come and sing at your Christmas event, you pretty much just have to tell us you'll have wine and some of this amazing salad. Odds are, we'll show up. Stay tuned for more Cafe Alcazar later this week.

Pictured: The Cafe Alcazar, St. Augustine, Florida (photo credit to Rodney Christensen); taken at the shallow end of the elegant, turn-of-the-century pool. Those shadowy figures at the back of the shot, one floor above the restaurant, are the MadriGalz, completely drunk on Curried Chicken Salad.

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