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Megaschooled on Lowcountry Cuisine A Dead Dog And A Visit To Poogan’s Porch Charleston South Carolina

What’s up Meg?

Tasty Tuesday – at Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, South Carolina

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?

Charleston, South Carolina is a city that repeatedly ranks high on lists of cities to visit on this planet. As an example, in 2018, picturesque and historical Charleston was rated best city to visit in the USA for the sixth year in a row. In 2016, Charleston, South Carolina was voted the Number 1 city in the world, and the Number 1 city in the U.S. and Canada. You get the idea. [1]

But since my Tuesday blog is about food, and I am looking for good chow in South Carolina touristy or not, I wanted to check out the place for myself.  Although Poogan’s Porch is not on the list that I am following, it has received many accolades the likes of; Martha Stewart, Southern Living, The Travel Channel and so on. Apparently, since their opening in 1976, many celebrities, and politicians, worldwide globe circlers, and local people alike have come to visit and their photos line the walls like shiny awards. But it wasn’t the recommends nor the accolades that brought me there.  Specifically, I was looking for some good “low-country” cuisine.

Although I am no expert on the following subject, I would be remiss in not writing about some things that I have learned from this food stop. So, bear with me for a few paragraphs, and I will add a few links for further reading.

What I learned about Lowcountry cuisine, to me, is that it is southern food and it is not. I would liken it to the grandmother of southern food.

The “Lowcountry” is technically a place that spans from Amelia Island, Florida to Sandy Island, SC and into the sea islands of North Carolina.  These peoples and this cuisine is one of the oldest melting pots in this country. With colonists from Europe, trade with the Eastern world, and Native American inhabitants, many unique foods were combined.

However, it was these colonists who brought slaves from West Africa to work on the plantations. The Gullah-Geechee peoples descend from these peoples and some later migrated, left the area, and some went to the Sea Islands off of the South Carolina coast. Here the Gullah language is still spoken, and the history is being preserved. [5]

I love the definition of soul food from Food Historian Michael Twitty – “African American food is more than just soul food, it’s more than just down-home, home cooking, it’s actually the highest cuisine in the Western consciousness married with the great ideas of the oldest cooks in the world, the Africans. [2]

So, imagine dishes from the sea, wild game, and rice, combined with foods and cooking methods that this group of slaves brought to this shore. Some of the slaves would work in the kitchens of the plantations.

As pointed out by food historian, Michael Twitty, some of these peoples were working alongside and being trained by classic French Chefs. [6]

It is said that the popularity of many of these foods was then brought to the public from the owners of the plantations. Of course, the slaves had to make do with whatever foods they had available to them, including the now popular nose to tail use of animals.

Poogan’s is located in a high rent district, yet quaint part of Charleston in a restored Victorian home.

pooganout

Poogan’s Porch of Charleston, SC

The tight quartered first floor has dining rooms and a bar area, the second floor holds more dining tables. I found the place to scream 1980’s florals but it was cute enough.

Charleston Poogan's Porch

A dining room in Poogan’s Porch of Charleston, SC

The bar was pretty full for a weekday morning *not judging* and had a good Victorian vibe that was more timeless.

Charleston Poogan's Porch

The bar at Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, S.C.

I stopped in for a late breakfast and although at first glance, I found the breakfast menu small, it was not The Waffle House. I was able to try a good variety of foods off of the menu.

But, because this is America, and I am over 18, I went straight for the rich foods. She-Crab soup

Charleston soup Poogans

She-crab soup from Poogan’s Porch of Charleston, SC

 Macaroni and cheese, with country ham and aged gouda.

Charleston Poogans

Macaroni and cheese with country ham and gouda at Poogan’s Porch in Charleston.

 

I have never understood chicken and waffles and yet they were somehow right. Sweet Potato Waffles with sorghum butter. Dang!

Charleston Poogans

Fried Chicken and Waffles at Poogan’s Porch Charleston, SC

French toast with infused cream and berries. Champagne macerated raspberries, mascarpone cheese, and candied pecans.

Charleston Poogans

Not the ho-hum French Toast and bacon at Poogan’s Porch Charleston, SC

For the non-adventurous breakfast seeker, they have you covered with the “Ike’s Down Home Breakfast”

Charleston Poogans

Ike’s Down Home Breakfast at Poogan’s Porch, Charleston, S.C,

Everyone shared these famous buttermilk biscuits.  See the link below for this recipe.

Charleston Poogans

Buttermilk Biscuits from Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, SC

Even though I had said I found a small menu, I should have said small but mighty, or small but interesting, with items such as pulled pork Benedict, shrimp Etoufee omelet, and shrimp and grits with tasso ham, gravy, and peppers.

I did not spend time investigating the ownership but note that this restaurant changed hands in 2017 and that one of the owners had been a line cook in/since 1977. However, I did learn that Poogan’s Porch is on haunted Charleston tours. I also learned that Poogan was a dog who was either abandoned by the former owners who left in haste or, Poogan wandered in and was loved and immortalized forever.

poogangrave

R.I.P. Poogan Poogan’s Porch Charleston, SC  

MEGastars **** The food was above average and aside from the wait, I enjoyed my visit. I love that Poogan’s support local cuisine and take things up a notch. Overall, I would recommend this place to one who was visiting the historic area. On that note….

MEGathoughts

I am thankful to have learned about this unique history and learning more about Lowcountry cuisine. Where else in the world do we find this combination?

After listening to and reading the philosophies of Michael Twitty, I expanded my horizon about the gentrification of these foods and its history. I know he will likely never read my blog but I bet he may want to school me on this subject or maybe slap me across the head. But when I really looked, I notice that Poogan’s description says that their food is a “fresh approach to Lowcountry cuisine.” I now know better and will do better Michael Twitty. I even have bone to pick with this city and it’s history-stay tuned for that write on an upcoming weekend.

MEGatips

  1. Unless you want to be in a crowded Victorian hallway with strangers, do make reservations. You may make them via Resy. Poogan’s Porch
  2. Parking is scarce, there is a parking lot located on the opposite side of the street.
  3. Link to Poogan’s Porch Buttermilk Recipe and get this, they are made with shortening, no wonder they are tasty! Poogan’s Porch Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe
  4. [1] [2] Gullah Geechee Peoples and travel rankings
  5. Link to Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage website. Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Site
  6. Link to Michael Twitty, Food Historian on YouTube by SCETV Origins of the Lowcountry Cuisine | Between the Waters 

 

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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” as I make my way like Miss Pacman in yet another state that I call home. A culinary trip across scenic and historical South Carolina. *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

 

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 and have some food fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.

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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Never Been Earwormed by Kow-liga before? 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

Tasty Tuesday-My #42 try or #61 on the countdown.

After my first visit to the Kowaliga Restaurant to try The Fried Alabama Shrimp Platter, my curiosity got the best of me and I needed to figure out what Gulf Shrimp, Hank Williams and a lonely wooden statue had in common?

The Kowaliga Restaurant is near Alexander City on the beautiful Lake Martin. Technically, the lake is made from a reservoir and is 44,000-acre lake with 900 acres of shoreline. This is a popular area for weekend homes (some multi-million), outdoor enthusiasts and vacationers alike.

carlislepark

Wind Creek Stat Park-view from the tower

I visited in the evening just after the New Year, when the restaurant was dressed up for the holidays.  The restaurant sits on a lakefront peninsula with two dining rooms and wonderful outdoor seating areas, all offering picturesque views of the lake.

The Gulf Shrimp Platter is served with your choice of one side dish.  I chose the coleslaw and my Mother had salad.

kowaligashrimp

I left this photo large so that you might get an idea of shrimp size. The coleslaw was super tasty and check out these warm hushpuppies.  Large and juicy gulf shrimp is delivered every three days to this restaurant. It is fried from simple ingredients of; cornmeal, flour, buttermilk and is said to have just the right amount of salt and pepper.   Always served with fresh warm hushpuppies and your choice of one side.

MEGastars ****4 I am going to give this dish a 4 star.  It is a simple platter,  yet taken up a notch with these perfect Gulf Shrimp.  If you follow my blog, you know that I am a new convert to Gulf Shrimp.  I love the taste!  These shrimp were large enough to taste, (I LOVE that) yet the batter seasoning was not overpowering, and the shrimp sauce was perfect.  Alabama food made with Alabama pride.  I couldn’t find the Kowliga recipe for coleslaw, but it had a little kick to it. Trust me, it was really tasty and crisp.

Other food tried at my table. Check out these ribs, onion rings and Caesar salad! NUM

 

What I learned from this visit.

  1. Kowliga is pronounced kaw-ly-jə
  2. Currently owned by Russell Lands Corporation. (you may have heard of Russell Athletic wear.) This company has taken time to cultivate this area into a top notch Southern destination. Although it is a business, these people seem to truly care about their product. Every aspect for the visitor experience is top notch, from the landscaping to top chefs and clean fresh décor.
  3. This restaurant has been in operation since 1953, built as a cabin in 1946, and rebuilt after a fire as a tribute to Hank Williams and his music.  You will find interesting photos and memorabilia on the walls. kowligashop
  4. Legendary country singer Hank Williams wrote a song called “Kow-liga” at his Lake Martin cabin in 1952. In 1953, this song went to the top of the charts.
  5. Legend has it that Kowaliga was a Creek Native American man, who once lived on Lake Martin. He fell deeply in love with a beautiful maiden and asked her to marry him. However, her father had already promised her to another. She had to leave, never to be seen again. Heartbroken, Kowaliga swore to stand on the edge of this lake and wait faithfully for her return. He stood on that lakeshore so long that his feet finally took root and he turned to wood.  Sad. Arranged marriages suck. kowligastatue
  6. An earworm is defined as: a catchy song or tune that runs continually through a person’s mind. I always thought the word for this state of mind was “jazzbound” and yet I couldn’t find this word in a dictionary. Who knew?

MEGatips:

  1. Bring a friend for that shrimp platter and also try the catfish taco, it was named the “tastiest taco” in Alabama by The Food Network.
  2. The website link will tell you everything that you need to know before your visit.  For hours, location and menus click here. Kowaliga
  3. Prepare to get earwormed.  Check out the song  Kowliga on You Tube

4. You too can visit Hank Williams grave and other sites in Montgomery, Alabama.hankgrave

This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post of 100 Dishes. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful.  *100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die is a compilation of food to chow down on Bama style. Thanks to Tourism Alabamawww.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier. I am going to have some fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.  You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York. From the little old diner to the white cloth joint, it is an opportunity to explore and experience pride in the food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ cook to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama. From this list, I select visits based on convenience of location and they are in no particular order. I already have a few favorites and perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes.

I use a 5 MEGastar system. I am not a paid food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods, finding the story and sharing my two cents on these experiences. I try to follow my 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. The place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama.   This has happened to me a few times and it is a difficult write.
  • ** passable – the food was ok and above happened but the place or vice versa
  • *** good but not outstanding or unique
  • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/OR highlights Alabama Pride.
  • ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. OR, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else.
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