Easter at Anson Mills
So indomitable were the polar vortices, freezing rain, and blizzards this winter that Glenn, shoelace-deep in tractor ruts, believed New England must have chewed her way South to ravage his Carolina fields.
Which is why we’d like to thank you, Easter, for your fashionably late arrival this Spring. Most years, we’re so tangled in layers of outerwear when you roar by that we simply ignore you and pretend not to care. It’s not very civil of you to be in such a rush.
But this year, we can take a moment to recall that Easter conjures prime Americana. In its beautiful cluttered way, our Easter tradition seems one part Christmas (Santa in a bunny suit), one part chocolate fetish, one part Gartenzwerg hiding tinted eggs under leaves, and a healthy dose of Old World religious celebration foods. And though we’d love to have all you folks over for some chocolate, or to seek eggs in our muddy garden, we thought a better notion might be in our rediscovery of two Easter delicacies.
This most ancestral Easter bread borne of pagan mother, hot cross buns, in their earliest iterations, made little pretense of tenderness. Baked once a year and unconsumed, they were talismanically charged with protecting home and hearth from evil. Later Christian associations link them to Good Friday and the Crucifixion. No such intimations of immortality inform our buns, which are borne of simple bread flour and yeast, the freshest possible spices, and dried and candied fruits soused in rum. Cosseted by ingredient and technique into yielding softness and fragrance, our buns are crossed simply with a flour paste and brushed with a memorably sticky gloss. Heaven.
We present, in shades of pastel yellow, Italian rice and ricotta pie. Silken with egg, smoothly opaque with fresh cheese, and ever-so-gently pebbly with rice, the filling is encased in the lightest, most buttery pastry ever. This pie manages even to smell spectacularly Italian. Of course, when we mention rice and pie, being Anson Mills, we feel compelled to mention Charleston and remind everyone that Charleston’s first rice farmers were, after all, from Italy. Plus, there is the fact that Italian rice pie everywhere but in Charleston is made with Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano. You probably see where we’re going here. But we can’t argue with the results.
Happy hippity hop, y’all, and Good Food!