Good Taste January 2020

Photograph by John Antaki

 

EAT – Knuckle Sandwiches

If you’re driving down the 1100 block of Broad Street and you blink, you might miss Knuckle Sandwiches. The unique hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop at 1149 Broad doesn’t have a huge flashing sign, but it doesn’t need one. Throughout Augusta, people have come to know its secrets, and it has gained a following of regulars.

When Joshua Detchemendy opened the eatery on Dec. 4, 2010, he had no idea what to expect. He knew he liked good sandwiches and figured other people might, too. He had a wealth of experience behind him, which certainly didn’t hurt. After moving to Augusta as a child, he grew up cooking with his Portuguese mom. Between her background and his dad’s experience traveling the world with the Navy (as a boxer), Detchemendy was exposed to food with an open mind. As an adult, he worked his way into the world of restaurants run by Michelin-starred chefs from all over the world, including France and Japan. One of the chefs even invited him to move to Mallorca, Spain, to help open a restaurant. There, he continued to build on his global knowledge of food, cooking and sampling his way around the island.

One of the things he noticed in Mallorca were the popular sandwich shops and other cafes that catered to the island’s nightlife. So, when he moved back to Augusta a few years later, opening a shop seemed like a logical next step. Little did he know that his small building would eventually become a favorite not just with the evening crowd, but with the lunch crowd as well. He’s now open starting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday, serving up sandwiches like the Uppercut Cheese Steak and Blackeye Chicken. The favorite by far, though, seems to be the PBR-B-Q – a toasty, meaty sandwich of beer-braised pork shoulder and melty cheese, served up with a house-made red sauce. The impressive dish even introduced Detchemendy to his wife, Sadie, who loved it so much she introduced herself, wanting to meet the man behind the sandwich. His insistence on good ingredients and his background as a chef permeate the menu that insists on quality of quantity. Knuckle Sandwiches has teamed up with Augusta To Go to deliver locally, and the eatery stays open until it runs out of food Wednesday through Saturday so you can dig into one of its sandwiches, guaranteed to “hit the spot.”

 
 

SIP – Savannah River Brewing Co.

I must start by admitting that Savannah River Brewing Co. is one of my favorite places in the CSRA to spend time – the beer is good, the staff is welcoming, the events are engaging and, as I sit here writing this article, impressive musicians are playing live Irish music in the background. It’s the place I like to be on an evening when it gets dark early and it’s too cold to be outside but I want to spend time with good friends.

The beers it has year-round cover a wide variety, but I always get excited about the specialty batches. Since dark beers tend to be my personal favorite, I was particularly intrigued when I heard Savannah River Brewing was coming out with a new stout for winter.

Slightly sweeter and more complex than its previous stout, The Beacons Are Lit is an impressive balance of chocolate, coffee and traditional milk-stout flavors. Even more impressive is the brewery’s ability to utilize local resources. Its Wired Dynamite Brown, a coffee ale that is part of its regular list of options, is made with Buona Caffe coffee, so for this beer the makers decided to support another talented local roaster – Ubora Coffee. They carefully selected a blend of beans from Rwanda and Colombia, a middle-of-the-road blend that wouldn’t take away from the chocolate-forward flavor of the beer.

As for that chocolate, if you’ve ever been to Condor Chocolates up the road in Athens, Ga., you know it is known for its quality and is the perfect choice for the newest stout. With the chocolate and coffee paired with the additional milky flavor from a touch of added lactose for body, it’s almost like drinking a dessert beer without being too thick. Adam Fuller and Ann Wohlstadter, the creative brewers behind the scenes, wanted to make a winter beer that was unique and flavorful without the heaviness of some stouts in the industry. The result was a 6% ABV beer that’s perfect for colder weather. The can even features a happy hobbit, head down in a cask of beer, feet in the air, giving off the fun and old-world vibes that surround this cheerful winter brew.

 
   

Artisan – River Bluff Honey

I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school, it never occurred to me that I could start a business. I figured you had to either be 8 years old and selling lemonade or a college graduate. Needless to say, I’ve learned that business ownership comes in all shapes and sizes and that in actuality you need neither lemonade nor a college degree to start a business. Thankfully, William Helfgott learned that lesson a lot earlier than I did. At age 16, he now runs a thriving honey company in his free time between class and basketball practice.

River Bluff Honey was founded just a few years ago, when William moved to North Augusta with his family from River Island. He’d learned about bees in a 4-H program at age 12 and even won a beehive as part of a raffle. After a couple of false starts – beekeeping isn’t easy – he decided to jump all-in in 2015. William has a wonderful support system behind him in the form of his mom and the rest of his family, but he got his bees with the understanding that this was all on him. The first thing he wanted to do, other than get the bees, was learn how to best care for them. By the summer of 2016, his bees were making more honey than his family could consume, so he packed up a big bag with jars of his wildflower honey with the intention of going around the neighborhood to see if anyone was interested in buying any. When he sold out in less than a half hour, he knew he had a good thing going.

Running a business is more than just having a good product, though, so the next summer he did an internship with Master Beekeeper Alan Johnson to learn more about running a honey company, in addition to getting his official South Carolina Beekeeper Certification. Over the last couple of years, William has worked hard to take care of his bees, grow his apiary and run his business. River Bluff Honey can now be found in 14 locations, including The Purple Hull Market and High Cotton Downtown in North Augusta and at Augusta & Co. on Broad Street. Age is irrelevant; the sky is the limit for William and for River Bluff Honey as he continues to expand his business and share his love of honey with the Augusta area!

Lagniappe

River Bluff Honey is working on a collaboration with previous Good Taste feature 2nd City Distilling Co. Beekeeper William Helfgott is using one of the distillery’s whiskey barrels to infuse the flavor (no alcohol involved) into his honey.

Appears in the January 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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