Charleston Culinary Tour

It’s no secret that I love to eat, so you can imagine my excitement that I was going on a food tour in Charleston after being sick for a week.  Brittney, Catherine, Katie, and I decided to be tourists in our own city last Saturday and went on the ‘Savor the Flavors of Charleston’ tour by Charleston Culinary Tours.

Going in, we had no idea what to expect.  We met at Hom at 3pm and went to the large reserved table with 12 others ready to eat.  Our tour guide kicked it off, and we all introduced ourselves.  Not too surprising, we were the only locals on the tour, but the rest were from all over the country, enjoying a weekend in the lowcountry.

Okay, to the food!  We started out with fried calamari, on top of a sun dried tomato goat cheese, and balsamic drizzled on top.  This was served family style, so we shared with a couple from Charlotte.

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Next up was the dixie flatbread with pimento cheese, pork confit, caramelized onions, bacon and arugula.  The flatbread was probably my favorite of our dishes at Hom because all of the ingredients on their own are good, but together — ahhhhh.

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Since I was the food allergy kid in the group, I got a special beet salad with goat cheese and root beer rosemary dressing.  I think this was the second time I’ve ever had beets (I know, I know), but wow this was good!  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this salad, and I’ll be coming back to Hom just for it.

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The last course at Hom was a fried chicken BLT with honey and herb ranch mayo.  So a few courses in and I think we all were starting to realize that we better loosen the belts… we were just getting started.

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We left Hom and walked down Cannon Street to R Kitchen on Rutledge.  It was such a gorgeous day, and the walk was really nice.  We stopped a few times here and there while the guide pointed out architecture, talked about various points in history, and upper King Street.

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R Kitchen came out with all three of the next courses at once for us to try, and their sous chef walked us through them.  From the right, there was a sweet tea brined pork chop with mushroom gravy, tomato & andouille sausage soup, and quinoa & veggies for the food allergy kid, but sweet potato asian noodles for the rest.

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While the pork chop was really good, I think the soup was my favorite here.  None of us had ever eaten at R Kitchen before, and we were definitely impressed by the quality of the food.  They call it a chef’s playhouse, and several guest chefs come and cook with their ever-changing fresh, local ingredients.

I had no idea how small the space was though!  It sits 16, and they will serve 3 dinners each night, joking that they “get it right by the last seating.”  On the way out, we walked through the front of the house and saw the chefs prepping for dinner that night — looks like won tons were on the menu!

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We went right next door, and headed to Lana next.  Lana started with a curry and coconut soup.  This is something I’d never order on my own, so am really glad that they served it to us because I enjoyed all the flavors!  Maybe I should broaden my tastes a little bit…

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The next course was a short rib risotto with bread crumbs.  Oh goodness, this was good.  On a normal night, I could probably eat a whole bowl of it, but 8 courses in, I was having a hard time finishing it.  I was seriously so stuffed leaving Lana, and looking forward to the walk back to King Street.

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We walked back down Cannon Street, to Coming, to Morris, then King Street and made a few more stops on the way back.  I will say that our guide knew her stuff, and even though we were locals, went to Cofc, and knew a good bit of local history, we learned a few things, especially about the Coming Street Cemetery.

The last stop was dessert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream!  They came out to SPARC when they first moved to Charleston, but I hadn’t been to their King Street place yet because it was so busy every time I went by.  Jenny’s can be a scary place if you have a tree nut allergy since so many of their crazy flavors have some kind of nut in them, but I settled on peanut butter & chocolate chip, and the employee got me a scoop from the back to make sure it wasn’t contaminated.  It’s the little things 🙂

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Overall experience: Amazing.  We came into the tour not knowing what to expect, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if there’d be enough food.  I left incredibly stuffed, and enjoyed all the 9 courses we ate, plus it was a great way to try some new places!

The 4 of us want to set up plans to get dinner at R Kitchen soon with all of our friends, and I want to try the Farmer’s Market tour, or mixology tour next! Who’s in?

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Hunter and I have really tried to be a little healthier in the last few weeks (aka Chickfila is only a meal once a week), so when it was my turn to make dinner I decided to turn to ole Pinterest and find a new recipe to try.  I had been wanting to make some lettuce wraps on my own for awhile, and after finding a great recipe based on a PF Chang’s dish, the thought of demolishing these wraps got me through my workout that night.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  • lettuce wraps11 T olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 C hoisin sauce
  • 2 Ts soy sauce
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T freshly grated ginger
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • 1 (8-oz) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 head butter lettuce

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks.

Stir in the garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chestnuts and green onions until tender,  season with salt and pepper, and serve!

To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style.

lettuce wraps3Edits: I didn’t add the water chestnuts or ginger.  To be honest, I hadn’t dealt with ginger on my own cooking before and that night wasn’t going to be the first time.  I also most definitely added more hoisin sauce than the recipe called for because I like it.  I also cooked some rice and filled the wraps with both the chicken and rice to make it a little more filling.

Results: YUM. I quickly ate three wraps without even thinking twice.  I kinda overfilled the lettuce too, so as meat and rice fell out, I scooped it up with a fork — the second time I put these together they were filled better.  This is an easy meal to make and even easier to pack and reheat for lunch at work.  I’m glad I added some rice to the mix too and actually might put a little more Sriracha on top next time!

Obstinate Daughter

Since I haven’t been making any new meals lately, I’ll start telling you about some restaurants we’ve been trying near us.  This past Friday night, Lauren, TJ, Hunter and I tried out Obstinate Daughter, the newest restaurant on Sullivan’s Island.  Their name comes from a battle at Sullivan’s Island in 1776, which was one of the first American victories against the British.  After the victory, a political cartoon in London labeled the Charleston defenders:  “Miss Carolina Sulivan, one of the obstinate daughters of America, 1776.”

I never went to Atlanticville, the previous tenant of the building, but apparently the owners did a great job updating everything and making an unique dining space.  I personally loved the reclaimed wood on the walls and ceiling, the cool rope lights and an old map on the wall.  Basically I was sold on the restaurant by the decor alone…

obstinate daughterWe didn’t have reservations (rookie mistake since they just opened), but the hostess was awesome and asked us to wait a few minutes while she worked her magic and got us a table.  We grabbed a spot at the bar and ordered some drinks.  Lauren and TJ had been that Sunday, so they knew what to order (dark and stormy’s are on tap, plus a great wine list), but the bartender Carlos was knowledgeable and hilarious as well.

We were seated at our table and I started drooling over the menu.  I didn’t even look at the starters because I was honed in on the pizza and pasta.  Any kind of pizza with a farm egg on it is hard to beat for me, but the pappardelle won out this time.  I loved the combination of the fat pasta, homemade sausage, tomato and basil.  Hunter got the gnocchi with short rib which was so creamy and delicious. I loved mine, but his was my favorite of the night.

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Lauren got the bucatini which was like a thicker spaghetti, with a spicy kick.  TJ went with a special for the night — soft shell crab.  It’s not in season long, so you have to grab it when you can (unless you have a shellfish allergy..)!  We all sampled each others’ meals before TJ and Hunter scarfed down their plates.

I highly recommend Obstinate Daughter!  All of the staff were very personable and super helpful, the food was delicious, and the ambiance was perfect.  We will definitely be back soon, so if you want to go, let me know!

Update: We’ve been another 5 times with friends and family, and I still can’t speak highly enough about the food!  Their pastas are always a great choice, especially with the homemade sausage.  I’ve never had something that wasn’t good – This is definitely one of my favorite spots!

Weekend Wrap-up

This past weekend was jam packed with lots of events, so here’s a recap of all the chaos..

Lindsey’s Bachelorette Weekend

One of Hunter’s best friends from Clemson is getting married in May and while Hunter was away in Murrell’s Inlet for John’s bachelor party, his fiancé, Lindsey, celebrated in Charleston!  Since I was busy with friends in town for Charleston Affair, I wasn’t able to join the festivities, but I stopped by the house on IOP Friday night to see the bride to be and the rest of the group.

Erin & Gibb are Engaged!

A moment literally years in the making (they dated in high school), Erin and Gibb made it official this past Saturday morning.  Gibb just got back from Afghanistan and came in town a week early to surprise Erin and pop the question.  She was thrilled to finally see him again, said yes and then family and a few friends celebrated at a brunch on the harbor.  Now there’s another engaged couple in the group!

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Charleston Affair

Saturday night was my 5th Charleston Affair, Cofc’s Alumni party.   We started the night at Catherine and Jim’s, then heaed to the Cistern to eat, drink, and dance the night away.  Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the food, but East Coast Party Band got the party going.  It was great seeing old college friends and getting together for a great night!

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Cinco de Brittney

We kicked off Sunday morning with brunch at Hall’s to celebrate Brittney’s 26th birthday.  Hall’s is always delicious, and this was no exception.  Charleston Affair typically falls around Brittney’s birthday, so it’s become tradition for a big brunch with the group before everyone has to head home.IMG_2062 copy

Kickball Championship

After brunch I ran off to West Ashley for the Winter kickball championship!  Our team made it to the “majors” championship again, and we had 2 games between us and taking back the big trophy.  We came from behind to win the first game to advance to the championship, and had to drive to a baseball field to face a team we had already beat twice that season.  Unfortunately, the ball just didn’t bounce our way and we ended up losing in the finals… but 2nd outta 90 isn’t terrible.

Engagement Boat Cruise

Once the championship was over, I rushed back to Mt. Pleasant to meet up with the group (and Hunter who was back in town) that went on the Osprey to celebrate Erin and Gibb’s engagement.  Sadly I had to miss the actual harbor cruise with everyone, but I was able to enjoy the beautiful Shem Creek scenery with friends and cheers a few more times for the newly engaged couple!

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Needless to say we’ll be laying low next weekend…

Chocolate Covered Football Pretzels

Every year our friends get together to eat and watch the Superbowl, and this year was no different.  We headed to James Island to eat wings, pulled pork, oysters, dips, etc, so I wanted to make a great “football themed” snack to add to the spread.  I found a picture on a little place called Pintrest, and decided to give the recipe a shot..

Chocolate Covered Football Pretzels, Filled with Peanut Butter

pretzels4Ingredients:

  • Peanut Butter filled Pretzels
  • Meltable chocolate pieces.  Baker’s has a microwavable container for dipping chocolate.
  • White icing

Start by melting the chocolate.  Since I used the Baker’s cup, it was super easy to just melt it in the microwave and stir.  If you go this route, get 2-3 of the cups.  I only bought one, and it was enough chocolate for about half of the pretzels (but there was no way I was going back to Publix for more).  Once you melt the chocolate, dip the pretzels in it and place on a baking sheet with wax paper on top.  When all the pretzels have been “chocolatized,” put them in the fridge to cool.

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Once the pretzels have cooled some (I waited thirty minutes, but would recommend 45min or more), it’s time for the laces of the football.  I just used white icing from a squeeze tube with a thin decorating top to apply the laces, but you could probably melt white chocolate and apply with an icing bag too.  Since the pretzels are small, I just put the top laces on, and then put them back in the fridge to cool and set again.

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When I was ready to go, I popped them off the wax paper, packed them up, and left.  From what I can tell, they were a hit since all of the chocolate ones were gone!  I loved how you got a salty and sweet taste in one bite.  The laces took awhile, but were worth the effort and I will definitely make these again during football season!