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Amuse-Bouche:

October 8, 2012

Butter Up with Linton Hopkins

The Restaurant Eugene majordomo sings the praises of golden butter

By Nancy Staab

The James Beard Award-winning chef turns poet when it comes to his favorite cooking fat. Read on for his witty poetic dedication to butter in the manner of Romantic poet John Keats.

Chef Hopkins and his roasted sweet potato soup with sorghum butter (perhaps homemade?) and duck cracklings Chef Hopkins and his roasted sweet potato soup with sorghum butter (perhaps homemade?) and duck cracklings

As President of the Southern Foodways Alliance, we expected Chef Linton Hopkins to praise lard to the moon, but who knew he also has a sweet spot for butter? Not only that but the James Beard Award winning Best Chef of the Southeast turns out to be quite the poet. (We always knew he was bookish. To wit: his hallmark Author Dinners at Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta).  In the manner of Romantic poet John Keats’ “Ode on  a Grecian Urn,” Hopkins has penned his own purple verse in honor of butter’s silken-sweet goodness.

We were so taken with his poetic skills and praise of butter that we decided to reprint his blog entry as it was originally posted on the Restaurant Eugene blog on Oct. 14, 2011 [restauranteugene.blogspot.com/]. And we have to give a special shout-out to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival founder Dominique Love for calling our attention to this little gem.

What’s next, a paen to pork or sonnet for sorghum from the clever chef/owner of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman and Finch Public House and H&F Bottle Bar? We can only hope! And FYI you can enjoy Hopkins’ Southern culinary goodness, including house-made, home-churned butter at Restaurant Eugene any dinner night of the week. www.restauranteugene.com/

 

Ode to Butter: An Introduction

By Linton Hopkins

Hopkins showing off his house-churned butter Hopkins showing off his house-churned butter

It makes savory dishes pleasing to the palette, and adds an inimitable richness to desserts. Whether cold, hot, or somewhere in between, butter has transformative power.  Perhaps it's because butter itself is the result of something more like transmutation--white liquid milk into golden, creamy heaven.

We love butter so much at Restaurant Eugene that we've started churning our own, and serving butter courses every night to accompany our various breads. But that's not all. The contemplation of perfecting house-made butter actually led Chef Hopkins to write this ode. In the style of Keats, it's Chef's attempt to capture in words everything Vollon did with paint [see his classic painting of butter below], and what we all feel with that first bite of the sweet, creamy, salty wonder that is butter.

  

Ode to Butter

 

Thou still unravished bride of promises

a child of art and craft

fixed with many suitors eyes

born of Thracia from capra and aries

reaching perfection with the cow

 

A painting of a mound of butter by Antoine Vollon, circa 1875 A painting of a mound of butter by Antoine Vollon, circa 1875

bursting from chicken kiev

laced with chive

my first experience

a joy I still recall

 

 

Vollon,  still life's master

Conjured you in 1875

Escoffier's contemporary,  he knew who you were:

a foundation.

 

In ancient India you were clarified into one of their most elemental of foods.

GHEE,  sanskrit for "bright"