Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Charleston!

A little delayed (ok two weeks delayed) but here's the rest of my summary/pictures/eat-your-heart-out-food from Charleston. :)

Muse was amazing Tuesday night!! We decided to sit at the bar upon recommendation from several friends. When we got there the restaurant was pretty empty. We were obviously in the early crowd (or lack there of). The bar was totally snug in the front room (the restaurant is a converted row house) with a completely adorable and rather wickedly humored bartender. How entertaining! I won't divulge the nature of his humor, but we were thoroughly entertained the entire evening. Regulars wondered in throughout the evening, clearly on first name basis with Matt (the bartender). Really fun vibe, really fantastic food, great wine list, great entertainment! Cristina and I decided to be twins and order the same thing. We both had a pear, spinach, and prosciutto salad as a starter (YUMMO!). Then we had Gnocchi with Ragù alla Bolognese. Um, yum! Gnocchi is usually soooooooo rich that you can hardly eat much of it without getting tired of it (ok, well maybe that's just me!), but we both easily finished our bowl of yumminess. After nursing a glass of wine (ok two), we were both filled, happy and entertained.

Wednesday was a busy day at work and we were invited to attend a going away party for a co-worker who was ending her assignment in Charleston to move back home. We went to Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers on King Street. It's as mellow as it sounds but minus the shrooms (at least that I saw!). It's actually a really yummy local pizzeria with a great selection of local (and national) brews. Great place for a good pizza and a good beer.
Thursday was another busy busy day at work but we decided to end our final evening in Charleston with dinner at the must talked-about Husk on Queen Street. It's a total foodie's dream. Very farm to table with entirely local and regional ingredients. We had heard mixed reviews (either people LOVING IT or people being so-so). The menu changes daily based on ingredients available so I can understand folks perhaps not liking whatever was on the menu the day they went. But for us, WE LOVED IT! We went to the bar before dinner (which is actually in the building next door). Wickedly good cocktails (be adventurous and have the bartender choose!). We then wobbled -- um I mean walked next door for our dinner. What a fun dinner! We both ate grouper fish with peas and local beans. The dessert was the highlight with fried bacon beignets with carmel dipping sauce. OMG! We also had some kind of peanut butter carmel chocolate mousse dessert that just about made us want to fall over as well. Really, no complaints here!!

We had a rather early dinner so when we left it was the lovely twilight/dusk timeframe. Perfect lighting for a lovely walk back to our hotel. We got some great shots of the town (minus the usual daytime tourist traffic). Love this town!

Friday we had a short work day followed by BEACH TIME before our late evening flight home. What a delight to be able to chill (our burn as it turned out) at the beach for a few hours! We had no beach gear so we managed to just have a picnic with whatever random stuff we had along. We both got super sunburnt but it was totally worth it to be WARM for the first time in months. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This week I'm traveling to Charleston, SC for work. I'm here for just under a week with a dear friend and co-worker Cristina. We left on Sunday and had a little adventure and very very quick layover in Atlanta. We were supposed to have about 50 minutes (supposedly enough time to get from one gate to another) but our flight from Seattle was late giving us approximately 15 minutes to get from one end of one gate, down two escalators, down three train stops, back up and down to the end of another terminal. Running. Lordy, our lungs were on fire. Thankfully we made it and found out the airplane wasn't actually there yet. Awesome. After waiting another 30 minutes to "board the plane" we were boarded onto a bus which then took us to our plane. I thought it was hysterical (and stupid) that they boarded us from the terminal in zones only to have it be a free for all getting on the bus AND boarding the plane. What the heck was the point of that? Oh well. We made it to Charleston about an hour off our original schedule and were just in time for a lovely sunset. 

Sunday night we had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Mercato. A lovely Italian restaurant in the historic center. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures (we were both EXHAUSTED from flying all day) but the food was amazing. Cristina had Osso Buco and I had Tagliatelle Bolognese. Again, amazing. If you are ever in Charleston, great place for dinner. Very mellow, low lighting, brick walls, yummy wine list and live jazz music most nights. 

Monday was a pretty good day at work. We worked a little late and then hit up another favorite spot in Charleston, Blossom, with a friend and co-worker Jenn. We all ended up getting fish (all were fantastic) and shared several desserts. The apple pie was by far our favorite, but the Crème Brûlée was quite good too. The third dessert was a Red Velvet bread budding. It was a little odd, but still rather interesting. 

Today, we got off work a little early and rented bikes!! What a fun way to wander around Charleston! Ended up only costing about $7 an hour (for a total of $15 and change for 2+ hours). We rented from a great little place down from our hotel called The Bicycle Shop. So fun! We just wandered around the city, checking out all the beautiful old (and sometimes decrepit) houses. We made our way down to the waterfront and biked along the Battery. It's a beautiful day to day at about 80+ with a lovely breeze. Perfect bike riding weather!

After biking for the better part of 2 hours we were hot and thirsty! Ice cream seemed like the perfect answer. We had been given several recommendations to try a ice cream shop on Market (of course I don't remember the name!) but it's right next to the Harley shop on Market street so you can't miss it (at least I hope not!). It's a fun local place with fudge, caramel apples and the whole lot. So yummy! Cristina had sorbet and I had toasted coconut. Again, SO GOOD! Just what the doctor ordered.

We're having a great time! Tonight, I think we're going to a place next to our hotel called Muse. I haven't been there before but we've had several good recommendations for here as well. Should be fun!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday Food Awesomeness

Last week was Pete's birthday and we had a two parties to celebrate. One was Thursday evening with his family (minus his older sister and her husband who were at the hospital expecting baby #3!) and the second was Monday night with some of his current and former co-workers. Pete's isn't a huge birthday party guy, but I love birthdays so I wanted to make sure we celebrated and Pete had a fun filled birthday weekend. Especially because his birthday weekend was going to be spent with my family at my Momma's Masters graduation. What a good husband and son-in-law!

For Thursday night we decided to grill it up so we made Greek Burgers, Greek Salad, Sunset Margaritas and Grandma Florence's Apple Pie. I can only take credit for the burgers, salad and margaritas. Pete's mom made the wonderful apple pie (specially requested by the birthday boy). 

For Monday night, we decide to make our favorite stir-fry. We were trying to find something that was pretty easy to throw together but also fed a crowd. Oh and was yummy. As I had a surplus of vegetables this week, stir-fry worked out great.  

Here's the recipes I worked from -- Enjoy!

Thursday Recipes:

Greek Burgers 
Makes 12, 3-4 oz burgers

2 lbs ground beef and/or ground lamb (we used a mix of both)
1/2 red onion finely chopped (or blitzed in the food processor)
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
1/2 cup feta
salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt as the feta is pretty salty)
1-2 eggs
1/4 bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • Combine all ingredients and mix until well combined. Mix should not be wet and all ingredients should hold well together.
  • Form patties.
  • Grill 4-5 minutes per side (or to desired temperature)
Serve with grilled Ciabatta bread and Tzatziki! This recipe is also great as meat balls (cook in the oven for about 30 minutes) or as meatloaf. If you make it as meatloaf, I'd omit the feta and top with BBQ sauce and/or Ketchup.

Greek Salad
Makes enough for a crowd! This is an easily adaptable recipe. I kinda made it up as I went based on what I had on hand.

1 can Red Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans or Canalini beans rinsed
1 can articoke hearts chopped
2 cups chopped cucumbers
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped olives
1/2 cup feta
1/2 an red onion chopped

Juice of one large lemon
2-3 tablespoons of red wine or sherry vineger
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste. 

Whiz up in a mini-food processor or blender.

Mix all veggies and add dressing. Let marinate to develop flavors. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Sunset Margaritas
I made enough for a crowd, but you can make less using the recipe linked above. 
1 bottle good tequila (I used gold)
1 bottle triple sec
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup pomegranate (or other red/dark juice)

Mix all items except pomegranate juice and pour over ice. Pour a little bit of the pomegranate juice down the side of the glass. It will look like a sunset! Drink responsibly and enjoy!

Monday Recipe:

Szechwan Black Bean Sauce With Chicken
Recipe modified based on Seattle Times Recipe

This picture is actually from a previous time I made this stir-fry. This time around I used asparagus, broccoli and carrots. You can really modify this with whatever green veggies you have around.

Makes 12 servings

3-4 large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts thinly sliced
2 heads of broccoli
1 bunch of asparagus
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (may need more for stirfrying)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil or hot chili sesame oil (optional)

3 teaspoons EACH white wine, soy sauce, and corn starch

3 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic Sauce (Sunluck brand is what I use)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine
1. Combine 3 teaspoon each sake, soy sauce and cornstarch. Add to the chicken, stirring to coat. Marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour in refrigerator.

2. While the chicken is marinating, stirfry veggies in 1 teaspoon oil on medium high. Add ¼ cup of water to pan and cover for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until water has evaporated. You want veggies to be partially cooked and still somewhat crisp. Reserve veggies in another bowl. 

3. Put the nonstick skillet back on medium heat with 1 teaspoon oil (or hot chili sesame oil). When the oil is very hot, stir-fry chicken in batches adding more oil between batches as required. Reserve chicken on a plate or bowl. 

4. Combine all sauce ingredients. Dissolve the remaining teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water. Add to the sauce to pan with any juices that have gathered around the meat, stirring until lightly thickened. Add chicken and vegetables back to pan. Stir in the chicken and veggies, stirring until lightly coated with sauce.

Serve with sticky rice.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And so it begins!

Not gonna lie, I've been wanting to start a blog for a while. I think I really want to use this more of a living journal of the little (or big or medium) adventures in my life (and my hubs, friends, family, etc). I think it will evolve as I go but my favorite topics are usually food and travel. For example, Pete and I have a big trip to Italy in September that I'll probably try to write about. In the mean time, I'm just trying to figure out this whole blog thing. Need a new background and hopefully some coolio links and gadgets. Like I said, evolving project. :)

Hope you enjoy!


P.S. Here's some pictures from the last few days. Busy weekend with my hubs birthday, our newest nephew's birth, and my Momma's graduation at Gonzaga! Forgive the fuzziness, the pictures are from my phone.