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what: Brie and Anchovy Puff Pastry

where: Lula Drake, 1635 Main St., 803-606-1968, luladrake.com

cost: $13 

My go-to move at Lula Drake is to bliss out by sipping on fine vino between intermittent nibbles of their luscious cacio e pepe pasta made with pillowy ricotta gnudi and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is worth every penny of the $6 upcharge to add jamón ibérico de belotta, the delectable air-dried meat of the dark skinned and slender legged acorn-munching Iberian pigs who roam the oak and cork tree-strewn pasture of western Spain near the Portuguese border.

But with my pottery posse in tow (we’d just spent an hour fashioning beer-steins at the Art Center on Taylor), plates more conducive to sharing made more sense, so we decided to give a savory puff pastry starter a try. 

Creamy, silky cheese—in this case d’Affinois—is a natural tango partner to oily and delightfully salty minced anchovies. Lula Drake was meticulous per usual and got the ratio just right, such that the fishiness didn’t overpower or distract from the light, crispy and buttery pastry, while still delivering a subtle anchovy-umami taste torpedo in every bite. 

Lula Drake has inspired me to try my hand at approximating these crowd-pleasers. I’m going to have to poke around the freezer aisle and find some Pillsbury laminated dough and mess around.

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