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Southern Food Meet Midwest Value and NOLA Pizazz at Grits & Groceries Seeking The Best Food Of South Carolina’s 46 Counties *Recipe Links*

 

What’s up With Meg?

I’m on a South Carolina food journey to chow down at the best restaurant in each of the 46 counties while seeking the Top 100 Food Dishes To Eat In South Carolina While Alive, Or, Before Dead, Whichever Comes First.

Why This Stop?

Tasty Tuesday – This visit to Anderson’s County’s ” Grits & Groceries”

This is the sixth blog on my quest to try the best restaurant in each of the 46 South Carolina Counties.

There have been many articles written and T.V. interviews, regarding the Grits and Groceries phenomenal food and their following.  All of these articles tend to mention that the location is “rural, off-the-beaten-path, destination food, and a road trip.

It may be out in the boondocks and literally at a crossroads but unlike most rural diners, this is a story of two professional chefs who moved from post-Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, to be near family and live a different lifestyle. They have given care and attention to detail, their craft. With a motto of “real food done real good’ customers are drawn from near and far.

The Place

Many of the directions say to look for the chicken. That is because there is literally a chicken/rooster in front of the old country store that Grits and Groceries now call home. Lucky for me, my friend Lamar was navigating because it really is out in the sticks.

g&grooster

The famous Rooster of Grits & Groceries in Belton, SC

grits and grocery

Grits & Groceries Restaurant and outdoor eating space. Belton SC

Inside the diner, there is an open cooking area where the chefs are busy preparing the food. The walls are lined with shelves of days gone by and many of their goodies are for sale to take home. There is no pretense and a comfortable place to dine while tasting the “big city food.”

The Chefs

Joe Trull was a Pastry Chef for Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans and Heidi Trull was a Chef and managed the famous Elizabeth’s, also located in NOLA. Both of these places are on many “places to eat list” for the city of New Orleans. Elizabeth’s is the place that many of you may have seen on various travel-foodie shows for their famous praline bacon. And guess what? I have a link to a recipe for praline bacon from Chef Heidi Trull.

Together, this couple along with their staff have taken the typical South Carolina nibbles, given them a NOLA twist, and threw some “sophisticated magic” into their creations and surprisingly, at Midwestern value.

The Food

Country Ham Balls with Pepper Jelly. An appetizer of crisp-fried orbs made of country ham and pimento cheese rolled in corn flakes and presented on this delicious sweet-hot pepper jelly.  I don’t know if my friend Lamar had not been with me if I would have ordered this dish. Of all the foods that I ate, this was my absolute favorite.

GRITS AND GROCERY BALLS

Country Ham Balls from Grits & Groceries SC Photo thanks to Lamar L.

MEGathought I wondered about the origin of this recipe. It reminded me of a French Croquette, a Dutch Bitterballen, or where I grew up, the German Saurkraut and Ham Balls.  Iowa, where I once lived, has their non-fried version of ham balls.  I love food that makes me curious.

MEGastars 5 *****

Fried Cheese Grits and Tomato Gravy – Another of the appetizer dishes that evolved when pig tails, literally, did not sell well. People reportedly loved that gravy. I read through the recipe and I love that this dish is made from leftover grits.   I found the gravy to be sweet, it was like nothing that I have ever had before.

GRITS AND GROCERY GRITS

Grits & Groceries Fried Grits in Tomato Gravy South Carolina

MEGastars 5 *****

Hattie Mae Tomato Pie Another appetizer that both Lamar and I took home to try, is said to have been from a past family cook. This dish is also famous, having been on The Today Show. Also said to be their most popular item and at one time cooked about 100 per day. That feat in itself is stunning since the pastry shells are made from scratch by Joe. The dish reminded me of a mini quiche and I loved trying something that was not just the usual ho-hum. Although I have had tomato pie before, the pastry crust set this dish apart from all of the others. This dish almost reminded me a bit of cold Chicago style pizza-NOM

G&Gtompie

Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie Grits & Groceries South Carolina

g&gtompiein

Grits & Groceries Tomato pie dissected South Carolina

MEGastars 5 *****

Although it was difficult for me to decide on a menu item,  the staff encouraged me to try something that is not always on the menu. We both tried a daily special.

Miss Linda’s Broccoli Salad made with Parisi Farms broccoli (local and pesticide free, ) red onions, pecans, cheese, and golden raisins, tossed in a creamy sweet and sour salad dressing.   Topped off with grilled chicken. Really great menu salad. I especially loved the smoky grilled chicken. MEGastars I initially had wanted to give this salad a 4-star rating, check out the broccoli edges, but after talking it over with my friend Lamar, and for the same reason that I had rated the other dishes a 5 star, not at all the usual and the way that it was put together with “bits” in every bite. We absolutely loved the dressing.

Grits and grocery salad

Miss Linda’s Broccoli Salad South Carolina

MEGastars 5 *****

“Smitty’s Chicken”  – Panned chicken over creamy pasta with Cajun sausage and the holy trinity, parmesan cheese, and cornbread. My friend Lamar me taste this dish and it was really delicious. He gave it a 5 star and said that there was not one thing that he would change. So is this one really a Lamar-a-star?

grits and grocery pasta

Grits & Groceries Chicken Pasta Salad South Carolina

Lamar-a-star 5 *****

Stuffed but…On a shelf in the restaurant, there were deserts and cakes on display. Between the visuals and the chalkboard that listed all of the house-made desserts and ice creams, it was tough to pass on the dessert.

Blueberry Jam cake. A lemon drop pound cake made layers of blueberry jam and icing.  A delicate pastry cake with filling, What is not to like?

5 MEGastar ****

g&gcola

Lemon drop pound cake with blueberry jam at Grits & Groceries Belton, SC

Fried Apple Pie Another specialty of the house. I brought this one home to try and I liked the pie. There were extra flavors and the sugar coating that made me give this pie a higher than average rating. (In all fairness, had I eaten this pie warmed a-la-mode, I may have given this a higher rating.)

MEGastar 4 ****

grits and grocery pie

Famous Fried Apple Pie from Grits & Groceries Belton, SC

Cola Cake A rich and dense chocolate cake drizzled in syrup again and Lamar let me try it.

Lamar-a-star 5 *****

It was a great experience and am thankful to have spent a beautiful Halloween day driving through sunny SC, eating fantastic food with a friend, while meeting new friends.

grits and grocery goats

These adorable goats ran over to meet my dog Mulligan (with his twine leash)

We did visit a Haloween murder site nearby but that’s another story.

MEGatips

  1. Link to the G & G Website with hours, location, menu, and anything else that you might need to know before your visit. Grits & Groceries South Carolina
  2. The location will have you guessing if you made a wrong turn. Located at or also known as Saylors Crossing, the junction of 185 and 284 near Belton, SC
  3. Bring Cash.  *****I did not check out this information ahead of time. I scraped my purse for cash and fortunately, my friend brought enough cash.
  4. There are many foods from your visit that you can bring home, such as the pepper jelly and a cookbook to help recreate the experience.
  5. Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie is available when the farm-fresh tomatoes are in season from March through October.

Recipe Links and MEGathoughts To get the exact recipes, it may be necessary to purchase the cookbook that is available on their website through the above link. The first three items are on one link.

  1. Praline Bacon Greenville Journal Grits and Groceries Recipes
  2. Fried Cheese Grits and Tomato Gravy *See Link Above
  3. Country Ham Balls-  SeeLink Above. *note, the recipe from Grits and Groceries as linked is called Clemson Blue Cheese and Country Ham Balls.  MEGathoughts-This linked version is made with blue cheese, which I think, would be out of this world. To make without blue cheese. 1]I would substitute any mild cheddar. Hoop Cheese made with salt is just that (Don’t get me started.)  I think I might use a mild white cheddar so that the flavor of the ham would come through but like the blue cheese, an extra sharp might be really complimentary. 2] Purchase the G&G Cookbook or you may purchase a pepper jelly at many specialty stores or your grocery store.
  4. Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie MEGathoughts – Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie- The Anderson Observer I note that there are many versions of this recipe available online. There are a few things that I for sure would do, and would want to consider and try. 1] Are the tomatoes peeled? If I compare this recipe to others, I certainly would think so although it does not state.  *Peel before slicing. To peel easily, pop them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, put them into an ice bath, and peel with your fingers or a knife when they are cool enough to handle. 2] To prevent the beautiful crust from getting soggy, use as much salt as the recipe calls for. The salt will draw moisture out of the tomato. The salt is rinsed off after. DON’T MISS THIS STEP 3] Several of the recipes also call for hoop cheese. See my thoughts under the ham ball recipe. I know that Paula Deen makes a tasty tomato pie and she uses half mozzarella and half cheddar. 4] If Duke’s Mayonnaise is not available, use a high-quality mayonnaise I am partial to Hellman’s make an “X” on the bottom of a tomato. 4] Of course you may use a pre-made crust. To make the mini’s cut a bit oversize for your muffin tin, probably use a large muffin tin.______________________________________________________________________________________

    This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each South Carolina Tasty Tuesday post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes South Carolina escapade, this may be helpful information.

    Follow along on “Tasty Tuesday’s” A culinary trip across scenic and historical South Carolina, as I make my way like Miss Pacman in yet another state that I call home. Unlike my “Alabama 100 “quest where I followed a formal list from Alabama Tourism, and to my knowledge, there is not a formal South Carolina “100 list.” I am making my own list the Meg way.

    *I select stops based on convenience of location and they are in no particular order. The blogs will be available under the South Carolina 46 Best tab.  I am loosely following the list of “The best restaurants in each South Carolina County for 2016.”

    Maybe the food from these chosen restaurants will make it on my list, and maybe they won’t. I often refer to this list as “46BestSC”

    [1] sncksofjax.com

    I have been visiting places that vary from the Mom and Pop diners to the white cloth James Beard recipient eateries. A quest to find tasty dishes, unusual settings, and great foods that highlight folks who are dedicated to local food with pride and a whole bunch of South Carolina style.

    I use a 5 MEGastar system.  For the most part, I am traveling a distance to try these dishes and these places get one shot at how I view the food and experience.   I will not be taking an average of three visit experiences and I factor this in when I give my star rating. That said, I’m very easy to please, I can overlook quite a bit and have worked in the foodservice industry.  I am not a *schooled food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on the experience.  I try to follow my own star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.

    • *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can? or,  the place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in South Carolina.   This has happened to me a few times and is always a difficult write for me.
    • ** passable – the food was “ok” but the place was not “ok” or vice versa.
    • *** good but not outstanding or unique.
    • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Meg. Local food and/or truly highlights South Carolina Pride.
    • ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. And/Or, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else.

 

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