What it means
When Andorra comes up in conversation, the topic is usually tiny countries, skiing destinations or tax havens. But the country sandwiched between Spain and France is also home to a vibrant tradition of searing food on extremely hot metal plates, or planchas. Bon Appetit last summer instigated a minor gourmet grilling craze by outlining chef Eric Ripert's method of placing a slate tablet over an open flame ("if you are concerned, just stay clear of it while it heats," the magazine advised), but restaurants are more apt to use a steel flattop grill for "a la plancha" cooking.
Where we saw it
At Stars, the upper King restaurant which has made plancha preparations a hallmark of its menu. (Plancha-seared jumbo lump crab cake, $13.95)
Where else you can try it
Fish grills its flounder, grouper and tofu steak on a plancha; Social, Husk, Ted's Butcherblock and The Ocean Room also have served seafood cooked on planchas. Jacques Larson's new Sullivan's Island restaurant, The Obstinate Daughter, "will rely heavily on (a) plancha," according to a press release.
Where to buy it
If you don't want to fool with slate, kitchenware retailers such as Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma sell planchas designed to be set atop grilling racks. Prices range from $30-$100.
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