Walking through Downtown Huntsville, especially with Spring approaching, is such a memorable experience. The weather, the sights, and the sounds set the perfect scenery for a Downtown picnic. But what can you do when this is a spontaneous decision? The second-best solution: Domaine South.
If you’ve ever seen movies featuring Paris, France, you’ll vaguely recollect picnics in the park with everyone feasting on wine, cheese, and baguettes. It all seems so foreign to be gallivanting without a care in the world. It doesn’t have to be. Domaine South, accompanied by their radish logo and “Life should be delicious” motto, embodies this spirit unlike any other in Huntsville.
Imagine my delight when Chef Luke (and owner Kristian) graciously extended a warm welcome to make these kinds of dreams a reality. Chef Luke told me about his background that helps create the experience you’ll receive. It’s by no mistake how the menu will remind you of a European bistro. Chef Luke is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has worked the full circuit of fine dining establishments.
Whether you’ve dined in upscale Nashville hotels or even Huntsville’s own Cotton Row over the years, chances are you’ve experienced the kind of flavors he brings to the table. Drawing from his professional experience and Midwestern-raised parents, he has the résumé to make the farm-to-table concept truly sing. Want to know where something is from? Just ask. He’ll tell you each and every detail about how the menu was sourced.
Here’s how Chef Luke built an unforgettable Charcuterie Board that you’ll want to share with a friend (or two):
La Brujula Yellowfin Tuna Belly “Ventresca” in Olive Oil, Galicia, Spain
Okay, this amazing creation will steal the show. This comes miraculously displayed in the can it shipped in from Spain. Don’t worry, this isn’t your average store-bought canned tuna which is evident in the quality of the olive oil. Tuna Belly is a fattier cut that brings a richer taste and a more delicate texture. Dressed with fresh gremolata (parsley, garlic, lemon) and purple microgreens, this dish has the certain visual “wow factor” you’d expect from award-winning restaurants. Domaine South also offers a Mussel and Sardine version.
Spotted Trotter Calabrian, Pork & Chile, Atlanta
This cured Salami may not have traveled far, but the flavors it captures will make you think it came from Italy. The Calabrian might remind you of a high-quality chorizo or pepperoni cousin but it’s much more. Slightly spicy and not greasy, it’s the perfect accouterment for some of the creamier cheeses up for grabs.
Smoked Duck Breast w/ Red Pepper Jam
If you like Duck, or on the fence because you’ve never tried it, give this one a try. This is one of the most delicate yet flavorful versions I’ve had. You won’t find that wild game taste that many are afraid of. The quality of Duck speaks for itself as your eyes wander across the beautiful fat marbling. The Red Pepper Jam, peppers courtesy of Chef Luke’s backyard, is made in-house. The freshness of the Jam perfectly complements the sophisticated nuances of the smoked Duck fat. This is decadence at its finest.
Tête de Moine AOP, Raw Cow’s Milk, Switzerland
This cheese’s name translates to “monks head” from its appearance, resembling the hair of a monk, upon shaving. Tucked away in its flowery crevices, this cheese is unapologetic and full of complexity. You’ll notice a creamier taste towards the base while the tops that meet the razor take on an earthier flavor, similar to a prominent Parmesan. This is a very well-versed cheese that will pair with anything you throw at it.
Brillat De Savarian, Triple Crème, France
Here’s a cheese that you can tell comes from France without hesitation. Creamy and sophisticated, this is like a baked Brie that never saw heat. The gooey creaminess is made possible by the high-fat content. While bound by the rind that adds the fresh lactic flavor, you might compare this cheese to a savory buttercream. The Spotted Trotter Calabrian pairs with this one masterfully.
Deviled Eggs – Chèvre & Herb Yolks with Fresh Herb Pistou
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually not a fan of Deviled Eggs. However, these popped out to the eye down the middle of the board, and I felt obliged. The egg yolk, mashed with Chèvre (and Goat Cheese), creates an airy, yet rich experience. You’ll find these topped with Huntsville’s very own Sweet City Micros and a special, house-made hot sauce. Don’t fear the reaper, though. This hot sauce is a Chili-pepper base that focuses more on flavor than heat.
Roasted Radishes, Bloomsbury Farm, Tennessee
There’s really not much to say about these radishes other than they are amazing. Hailing from Bloomsbury Farms (Smyrna, TN), these delectable vegetables will have you rethink what you believe a radish to be. These aren’t the slightly peppery ones you’ll find in the grocery store. Rather, they exhibit a much more subdued, potato-like quality. I ate these dipped in the side of Pistou (think: pesto without pine nuts) that came with the Deviled Eggs. I’m fairly certain the Pistou would taste great on anything, but it brought out the savoriness of the root vegetable.
Savannah Bee Company Honeycomb
Selfless plug for my hometown alert. I’m kidding, but if you’ve never had Savannah Bee Company Honeycomb, you’re missing out. I’ll admit, it’s strange seeing something I grew up with on the tables of restaurants everywhere. I may be biased but there’s a good reason. It acts as the perfect topping to any of your Charcuterie creations by adding a sweetness that will contrast with the savory ingredients on your board.
More in the mood for some comfort food? They have you covered with the Classic Butter Ham sandwich. Black Forest Ham of the highest quality is soaked in butter before preparation. Inside a hearty Baguette and House Herb Butter, you’ll love the textural journey from the crisp bread through the Melty Havarti. This is seriously a decadent sandwich that will hit the spot. Pair this with something from their Happy Hour wine selection (12 – 5 pm) for the perfect, budget-friendly gourmet experience.
Growing up between the Washington DC suburbs and Savannah, GA, Brett always found music and food to bridge the gap between the two worlds. Musician, US Army veteran, Software Engineer, dedicated home chef, Brett has worn a variety of proverbial hats and is used to traveling outside his comfort zone in pursuit of new experiences. Whether studying abroad in Greece or deploying to Afghanistan, food and the people involved in the process, became a way to relate to his ever-changing world view.
While an engineering career may have led Brett from Tampa, FL to Huntsville, more importantly, there was a flourishing food scene to explore. After discovering most of his coworkers had no idea what their city had to offer, he started a food blog to catalog his experiences and share recipes that demystify culinary techniques. He has found an audience in fellow foodies and industry professionals alike.
Aside from food, Brett also enjoys building his vinyl collection, sipping craft beer and whiskey, and building websites for small business owners. He loves exploring the city through the stories told by its long-time locals.
Follow Brett (RocketFuel HSV) on Instagram and Facebook.