The Shop Tart once spent several minutes mocking a chef acquaintance for taking a job at a private club.
“Chicken fingers? At a wedding? Really, dude?”
He was a good sport about it. He laughed in the easy manner of someone who has just scored sweet health insurance and way better hours. Until she mocked the Wedge.
“Bwahahaaaa…” She howled, “From pâté foie gras…to the Wedge sal-”
“Hold on there.” He wasn’t laughing any more. His nostrils flared, just a little. “Have you tried the Wedge?”
In fact, she had not. He held court for at least five minutes, schooling her on the charms of a perfect Wedge salad. The final point was this: What’s not to love about a chunk of iceberg lettuce slathered in rich blue cheese dressing and topped with fresh, ripe chopped tomatoes and bacon? The Shop Tart got owned.
Her friend Lisa feels as much passion, if not more, for the Wedge. She has done a lot of research and declared the Wedge at Dianne’s on Devine to be the best in Columbia, if not the whole state of South Carolina. And — if we’re honest here — South Carolina is home to the best Wedges in the world. Months ago at Lisa’s insistence, the Shop Tart ordered the Wedge at Dianne’s to confirm. She also had a crisp, cool glass of Schug Chardonnay. Ergo, “The Wedge and W(h)ine” was born. The salad and chardonnay are essential, the whining is optional. The Wedge and Wine is the perfect end to a long, hard day.
Much like Perig’s beet and leek salad at La Fourchette, Chef Billy Prato’s Wedge at Dianne’s is distinguished by perfect proportions. Each ingredient is present in every single bite, so the diner never has to suffer, say, through a bite with tomato, lettuce and dressing but no bacon. Speaking of bacon, the ingredients of the Wedge are not negotiable. If you choose to serve it sans porc, you may call it a Vegetarian Wedge, but don’t fool yourself into believing you have served a Wedge Salad.
The Wedge, according to experts, should also be served cut-side up, so the dressing can seep in between the leaves of iceberg. There are other rules: The tomatoes should be chopped, not sliced, the bacon should be fresh – no Baco-Bits, please — the dressing should be…well, this turned into a rousing debate at Dianne’s bar last night. Everyone agreed that Clemson blue cheese was preferable when available. Two people — that would be Dianne and the Shop Tart — prefer Duke’s Mayonnaise. Two other people — Chef Billy and Wedge Connoisseur Lisa — swear by Hellmann’s. As much as it pains the Shop Tart to admit this, perhaps they are right. The superiority of Chef Billy’s Wedge is inarguable. Behold!
Just a note: If you do not have time to mix your own blue cheese dressing, Chef Billy says Marie’s is acceptable. The Shop Tart is a big believer in adding a bit of extra crumbled Gorgonzola to a store-bought dressing to make it seem homemade.
Before the Wedge, the Shop Tart enjoyed a bunch of little (free!) snacks on the bar, including boiled peanuts, olives, party mix, popcorn and these delicious balls of fresh, marinated mozzarella.
The Wedge and snacks were plenty for dinner because she had spent her day eating lunches. That’s right, lunches. She started at Cafe Strudel with the lovely Ebony Looney. Ebony has a great website that she is in the process of revamping. In the mean time, you should check out some of her videos. She is not afraid to show how a lady gets herself all gussied up, from start to finish. Love her podcast, too. In between talking about fashion, beauty, children and blogging, the Shop Tart enjoyed a steak salad. She was going to take home half of the steak, but it was delicious and she ate it all.
On her way back into town, Mr. Shop Tart called. He was headed to Motor Supply by himself to try an egg noodle dish he had been craving all week. It didn’t disappoint. The noodles were lightly dressed with olive oil and fresh herbs and tossed with loads of yummy roasted vegetables. How does the Shop Tart know this? Because she ate her husband’s lunch, at least a little. His tie is from Billy Reid. The Shop Tart loves Billy Reid because they always offer sour balls and drinks, from super-cold Diet Coke to bourbon.
After Motor, they popped in next door at Cloud Nine for a cookie to share. After a short argument — he wanted chocolate chip, she wanted anything but — they decided to get two cookies. While they were paying for their dessert, Russ came out from the kitchen with a sample of the day’s special, mocking them with its deliciousness. Chopped chicken salad with antipasti and cinnamon apples. Russ is really bringing it in the kitchen, y’all. The Shop Tart was full, but she ate it anyway. Delish!
Nothing wrong with a day full of lunches.
Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!