Inn at Easton chef/owner Andrew Evans, who lived and cooked in Australia for years, gets a lot of attention for the down under delicacies (Moreton Bay Bugs, wattle seeds) he serves at his Eastern Shore restaurant. But Evans is just as obsessed with local foodstuffs. The vegetables he uses come from Dogwood Farms, an organic grower on nearby Tilghman Island.
Organic baby bok choy, baby snow pea tendrils, and heirloom tomatoes all have that “plucked from the backyard taste,” says Evans. “They’re grown to the weather. There’s no greenhouse, nothing hydroponic.” At the same time, the climate can be unpredictable, so you might find barrumundi (an Australian fish) napped with lemon verbana beurre blanc and melted leeks one week, but not the next.
Evans has been celebrating summer with “super sweet” softshell crabs, which he gets from a local purveyor in Talbot. Deep fried in a light tempura batter, the crabs are set atop a mound of succotash made with broad beans, zucchini, herbs, and butter. The whole thing is ringed with a nage of smoked tomatoes, an excuse to crank up the restaurant’s smoker.
Read on for some more of his favorite eats.
Favorite condiment: Sriracha hot chili sauce. Use it when you want more spice in barbecue sauces or Asian dishes like pho or pad Thai. But best of all simply squirt it over a bowl of sour cream, and dip away.
Favorite junk food: At the moment, deep fried chicken and cheese taquitos dipped repeatedly in sour cream and Sriracha.
Favorite music for the kitchen: Trance, Grateful Dead, and bluegrass.
Favorite food flick: Big Night.
Favorite food city: London is the origin of contemporary dining both in food and style. The sleek restaurants so common today started in London under the design influence of Terence Conran. I love the mix of old and modern, and Asian/ethnic foods right next to western/French styles. Kind of like the Inn at Easton.
For food, would you pick city or country?: City, because of the ethnic food and cafe culture and people- watching. The city has more reasons to eat all day long.
Favorite cookbook: Gordon Ramsay’s Passion for Flavor. Gordon’s style of straightforward, clear flavors without a fuss has been a model for my cooking.
Little known fact about you: I studied Zen Buddhism at UVA (University of Virginia) for my B.A.. Their idea of attaining enlightenment through action—whether it be flower arranging, archery, et cetera—applies to cooking. Having a dish in such harmony that you instantly taste it in the moment without wanting or judging is a Zen concept. I think I have created only one dish in my career that accomplishes this—our fried oysters with spicy butter sauce. The unsolicited response uttered by almost every guest is that they are the best oysters they have ever put in their mouth.
Worst dish you ever made: Braised pork shoulder glazed and served in an Asian broth—the meat was exceedingly dry.
Favorite family dinner on your day off: BBQ chicken thighs or ribs. I use a BBQ sauce made with molasses and chilis — it’s taken me two years to perfect my chicken thighs.
Favorite breakfast: Waffles with my uncle’s syrup and my homemade bacon. We cure our pork belly with salt, brown sugar, and pepper, then smoke it with hickory. The syrup is made in Athens, Ohio and is sold commercially. It’s called Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup (available by calling 740-662-2726; or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
Favorite place to eat on the Eastern Shore: Smokey King on Route 50 for the rib sandwich.
Favorite dish your mom made: A pizza that had thin slices of ham on it and eggs that were cooked sunny side up so the yolk was still runny.
Dish that changed your life: Green papaya salad at the Green Papaya in Australia—I got up from the table and asked the chef/owner for a job in her kitchen.
Best meal you had in Australia: Level 41 in Sydney. We ate lunch on the 41st floor overlooking sparkling blue Sydney Harbor. I remember eating braised leeks in miso and seared rare tuna. Try as I might, I have never been able to recreate the leeks, so it remains just a great food memory.
Favorite restaurants in DC: I eat at the Eden Center, grazing on Vietnamese food and searching for new flavors. I always ask what the waitstaff like to eat and see what happens.