Gone are the days when Latin American food meant chips, salsa, and cheese-sauced enchiladas in many parts of Dixie. Now, serious chefs across the country are looking south of the border for inspiration. And in Athens, Georgia, farm-to-table pioneer Hugh Acheson has teamed up with Whitney Otawka, a California native who ran the kitchen at shuttered local favorite Farm 255, to explore the flavors of the deep, deep South at Cinco y Diez.
Taking inspiration from cuisines across the Americas, as well as ever-changing supplies of local meats and produce, the dishes at Cinco y Diez follow a meandering course driven more by freshness and flavor than by any geographic boundaries. The spring menu marries hen of the woods mushrooms with chiles and garlic crema, grilled asparagus with potatoes and creamy Peruvian huancaína sauce, and Allan Benton’s famous country ham with refried beans, queso fresco, and roasted tomato salsa—on a torta, no less.
For a taste of the menu at home, try Otawka’s recipe for roast Georgia trout. Paired with a salsa verde made from bitter dandelion greens and a fava bean and hominy salad based on a traditional side dish from Ecuador, it’s simple, seasonal, and just a little bit exotic.