Carolina Gold Comes To East Tennessee

I want to share a Southern treasure I’ve just recently rediscovered.  Carolina Gold Rice….it’s so delicate and delicious it’s known as “Charleston ice cream’ in the South. Having gotten a little bored with serving the usual side dishes of pasta or baked potato or steamed rice along with a meal, I started looking around for something different.  I found Anson Mills website, read up on their products and decided to purchase a few items.  It’s my opinion there is no richer, delectable rice I’ve ever tried in my 25+ years of cooking.

Anson Mills was founded by Glenn Roberts in 1998 and began as a sprawling metal warehouse behind a car wash in Columbia, South Carolina.  Among many other interests, Mr. Roberts became interested in architectural history and the history of food.  He worked on historic property restoration, with his geographical area eventually narrowing to just South Carolina.  He  turned to the broader aspects of redesign projects, which also extended to the hiring of chefs and planning celebratory dinners at each restoration projects’ end.  He discovered in his efforts to bring period-authentic dishes to the menus of these dinners that he couldn’t get the authentic ingredients.  They didn’t exist;  they were extinct.  He began to grow small-plot Carolina Gold in Charleston and worked with a rice geneticist in Texas to reinvigorate the seed; this passion became all-consuming to him.  Continue reading about Anson Mills’ mission.

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Carolina Gold rice, a long-grain rice of slender size and ambition, first surfaced in South Carolina just after the Revolution. Clean, sweet, and non-aromatic, it prospered in coastal Carolina and Georgia bogs and did its fluffy separate-grain thing in a traditional black iron hearth pot, or potje, complementing the African-style stews it attended. In colonial Charleston, African slave women hand-pounded and winnowed hulls from the rice grains with mortar, pestle, and fanner basket. The resulting rice, scrubbed golden white through abrasion, contained whole and broken grains, with germ and flecks of bran intact. Its flavor and texture were exquisite. Barely a long-grain rice by definition and nearly a medium-grain in its dimension and diversity of cooking application, Carolina Gold had attributes substantial enough to appeal to a broad international market. Continue reading on Anson Mills’ site.

I also ordered some of Anson Mills grits, cornmeal and Sea Island Purple Cape Beans.  All of the products can be purchased in bulk size or in smaller packages.  The day our shipment arrived, I decided to try some of the rice with that night’s dinner.   bowl of riceThe website warned to use their recipes, at least at first, to be able to get a feel for the delicacy of the rice.  I did, and was glad I did.  It seemed odd, the proportion of water to rice.  It also seemed odd to bake the rice in the oven after cooking on the stovetop, to ‘dry’ the rice out and let the butter melt.  But I followed the recipe and Wow! Carolina Gold Rice is amazing!  Amazing enough that I’m pretty sure I won’t be going back to the old bag of Mahatma from the grocery store.  Since I started ordering the rice online, we’ve prepared it with several meals and it always turns out delicate, creamy and absolutely delicious!   The grits are amazing, too.  The whole family’s looking forward to trying Anson Mills’ other products in the weeks to come.

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