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Posts from the ‘Fun Places To Eat’ Category

Islamorada Fish Company And My Bad

  I wanted to like it, I really did.

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Le Spice The Great Melting Pot Goes Uptown At LeSpice in Spartanburg, S.C. Seeking The Best Food in South Carolina

Sometimes, some of the best things in life get tossed into the soup pot and all mixed into one glorious result. French-Thai fusion,  with a few not “yo daddy’s southern dishes.

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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.

Celebrate The Strawberry Moon in June

here are two of my favorite places to extend some strawberry love until that strawberry moon passes this way again next June. 

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Getting Lucky 52 Tuesday’s – Tasty Tuesday’s MEGapicks from 2017

Third Annual MEGapicks from 2017 Tuesday Blogs

Although I didn’t quite hit 52 new Tuesday blogs in 2017, I reached my goal of eating “100 Foods To Eat In Alabama Before You Die” and I look forward to trying to eat more from this list. Hint, there are on any given day about 231 dishes.

*Disclaimer, Tasty Tuesday writes and picks from 2017 are heavily slanted towards Alabama. Following the “100 Dishes” list, I have eaten some of the best food in the world, and my bar will now forever be set quite high.

Best Restaurant Bottega, Birmingham, Alabama.

 

 I chose this restaurant for my 100’th dish experience because it is one of Chef Frank Stitt’s restaurants. Although my visit did not go as smoothly as it had at Stitt’s Highlands Grill and Chez Fon Fon; the Bartender, without serving me alcohol, saved the day and the food was outstanding.

From my September 19, 2017, blog on Bottega-

“Chef Frank Stitt and his wife Paradis own Bottega. In prior blogs,  have written in more detail of this royal couple’s restaurant empire. Trust me, I am not writing in a cynical manner. This couple along with their dedicated and professional talented staff has given me some of the best food that I have ever eaten, and in general, some of the most incredible dining experiences of my life.   As a restaurant group, they are masters of perfection. In fact, the meaning of Bottega per Miriam-Webster Dictionary literally means. : the studio or workshop of a major artist in which other artists may participate in the execution of the projects or commissions of the major artist.”  Executive Chef; Frank Stitt and Chef De Cuisine John Rolen.    I did not catch the name of the Professional Bartender. This group should be extremely proud of his customer service.”

The salad of the day was Heirloom Tomato Salad. Made of various heirloom tomatoes, field peas, arugula, and mozzarella, it won my heart.  I have tried to duplicate it several times over and thus far unsuccessfully. Absolutely delicious!

My 100th dish on Alabama Tourism’s 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die was the Parmesan Souffle at Bottega, an appetizer that blew me away.  Outstanding!

bottega parmesan suffle

The signature appetizer at Bottega in Birmingham, AL is the Parmesan Souffle

“MEGathoughts. Of course, porcini mushrooms were used. Known often as “the King of mushrooms,” they are collected from nature only, have a great texture and an amazing woodsy flavor. And, of course, prosciutto di Parma was used in this dish. Made from a certified heritage pig located in the Parma region of Italy and cured naturally without preservatives. [2] This is not bacon.

Because at the Stitt Restaurants, only the best will do!

MEGastars 5 ***** This dish will rank amongst the BEST appetizers that I have ever tasted.”

Appetizer pasta and dinner pasta

The appetizer pasta was Garganelli Neri made with corn, chives, and Gulf crabmeat. The Garganelli was housemade pasta with squid ink. Simply perfect paired with the creamy crab sauce. This dish was outstanding. 5 MEGastars. *****

Pappardelle Pasta with house-made fennel sausage, pasta, chanterelle mushrooms, and marjoram. This is a dish that I would not order on my own because I lean away from meat-based dishes. Again, I felt privileged to taste this dish because it was simply exceptional. MEGastars 5 *****

Best Restaurant Runner-Up 1. Chez Fon Fon Birmingham, AL

Another Frank Stitt Restaurant.   January 31st, 2016, Tuesday Blog.

fonfon

How beautiful is this? Scallops served on cauliflower puree. Chez Fonfon

Exceptional food in a casual fine dining setting was another 5-star experience in a Frank Stitt Restaurant. I was especially curious about the Scallops with kumquats, capers &a cauliflower purée. This dish shocked me in a good way. Although I love scallops and cauliflower, I am not crazy over capers and I could not fathom the cauliflower puree coupled with scallops.  I have to say that these were some of the best scallops that I have ever eaten and are only next to scallops that I tried on the west coast of Ireland. Right on Birmingham, Alabama and the Chef Stitt and staff! However, I was there for the dessert.

Best Restaurant Runner-Up 2, Ovenbird Birmingham, AL

From my May 30th blog

Another Chef in Alabama with awards and accolades to back up the success, including two nominations for a James Beard Award in the category of Best Chef in the South. An interesting menu with small plate dishes of local seasonal, fare, cooked with the live fire that according to their website, was inspired by food from the likes of Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina and the American South.

From the Oceans and Estuaries Menu, I checked out the Alabama Shrimp And Clams. I had to look up lots of words to understand this dish. Fideos, Aioli, Chorizo, Sofrito. I really enjoyed the interesting food and will never be able to recreate those gorgeous deviled eggs made with. Anchovy, Curtido, Romesco.

 

Best Dessert Chez Fon Fon Birmingham, AL

From my Jan 31st blog. “Likely I can count on one hand, the number of times that I have ever tasted any dessert made by a James Beard nominee. Had it not been for this Alabama list, I may never have eaten at Chez Fonfon and certainly, I likely would not have eaten dessert; missing out on some of the best sweets of my life. Tasting the desserts made by one such nominee, Chef Dolester Miles helped expand my understanding of culinary excellence.”  5 MEGastars ***** Just WOW!

Best Dessert Runner-Up

  1. Bertolone’s Clanton, AL

From my March 27th blog. Although not on the “100 List,” Mama  “Nonna” Bertolone bakes a cake to die for. Bring friends because, after a large Italian meal, you will want to have dessert.  My favorite is the strawberry cake pictured above is my absolute favorite(tied with the seasonal peach cake.)  yes, there are Cannoli and Tiramisu.

Best Unicorn Dish Bertelone’s Clanton, AL

Bertolone’s, where you can #TasteTheLove is one of my favorite places to eat in AL.  I especially LOVE Nonna’s Stuffed Green Peppers.  I call this a unicorn because I have never had, nor seen, this dish elsewhere.  I tried to get the recipe without luck so, from my November 28th blog, I tried to recreate the recipe.  I called this recipe Meg’s Italian Peppers and gave myself a C+ on the dish.  I will keep trying!  See blog for the recipe.

Bertelones Italian Pepper the Meg way

Bertelones Italian Pepper the Meg way

Runner Up Unicorn Dish Shakey’s in Auburn, AL

I love Shakey’s pizza and Mojos.  Why a unicorn dish? From my May 2cnd, 2017 blog, I describe how this pizza chain was once found in the Midwest where I grew up.  They are now in California and this one place in Alabama.  Yes, a nostalgic pick for me, but seriously, those Mojos are patented. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found the place.   And that broasted chicken-Yum!

 

Best Steak Micahel’s Steaks & Seafood, Homewood, AL

michaelsbutt

Michaels in Homewood, AL Butt Steer Steak

Michael’s Signature “Steer Butt” is a 12 oz. tender and juicy, hand cut in-house, from the top of the tenderloin.  Since 1953, Michaels has been serving the highest quality steaks. Yum!  From my August 8th blog.

Best Pizza MPK Kitchen Prattville and Montgomery, AL

 

March 28th blog. MPK has consistently great food, service, and pizza.  Cooked in a brick oven = perfection.  With unique toppings on the menu, they always cook my pizza my own way.  I am a pizza purist.

Best Chicken Cypress Inn Tuscaloosa, AL

February 21st blog. Cypress Inn Smoked chicken with white BBQ sauce at Cypress Inn in Tuscaloosa. Smoky and saucy, just the way I love my chicken. *To note, this was a smaller lunch plate. Oh, and the grits are made with Gouda.  Now I am not a fan of grits but dang, anything tastes amazing with Gouda.

Best Seafood Jubilee in Montgomery, AL

 

From my April 18th, 2017 blog. Oddly, my home was only a 25-minute drive and yet I had never visited.  A humble restaurant with some bang-up seafood.  From the salads to the smoked tuna dip to the Redfish, Destin Pampano Fish with Tarragon Butter, Tripletail with lump crab,  Grilled Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi Ginger Sauce, to the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with pecan praline sauce, the food was a joy to eat.

Best Bar Food Capitol Oyster Bar Montgomery, AL

April 11th blog. Hands down the Capitol Oyster Bar is my favorite place to slurp down some scallops, listen to jazz, and view the Alabama rover and Montgomery skyline.  I love this place!

Best Setting Georgia Dome, Atlanta Georgia

January 24th blog. Why? It was a Green Bay Packer-Atlanta Falcon’s Game in the Georgia Dome before it was torn down.  Nostalgic, I suppose.  My sister bought me a “Hail Mary” sandwich the size of a pool cue.  The Packers lost that game but it was fun to see the stadium before it was torn down for the new.

Best Street Food– Calle Ocho Carnival and The Cuban Smackdown, Miami Florida

March 15th blog I LOVE Cuban Sandwiches, so it was a thrill to go to the third annual Cuban Sandwich Smackdown and taste the competitor’s sandwiches.

“The Kiwanis Club welcomes visitors from all over the world to Calle Ocho where visitors numbered 1-1.5 million.  NBD.   On the streets, there is music stages on every block, dancing, and conga lines, food, vendors, children’s areas and more food.”

The street food was incredible.

Sandwiches and sides galore!  On this day in the year of our Lord 2017, I became a fan of Elotes.  Take some corn, roast it, spread on cheese and pepper flakes, and go to heaven!

 Pork is king at this festival but not to be undone by the colorful sides, arepas, and tamales.

So there you have it,  a few of my “bests” from Tasty Tuesday blogs.   I hope this inspires you to try new foods, food travel, and fun eats.

Thanks to my readers and Facebook page followers for hanging in with me this past year when I traveled a lot and had life changes that stopped me from blogging each and every Tuesday.

I have a new gig; I look forward to Tasty Tuesday 2018 and a new MEGAchallenge with South Carolina foods in each of the 46 counties and make a new 100 list the Meg way.

Happy New Year! Eat on and stay healthy.

Meg

2] Parma and Proscuitto Parma

Shucking n Grooving At The Capitol Oyster Bar – Montgomery Alabama

I head down Shady Lane to 617 Shady Lane. Every fun story should have a shady Lane, right?

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Calle Ocho Carnival Miami & The Cuban Sandwich Smackdown

The Kiwanis Club welcomes visitors from all over the world to Calle Ocho where visitors numbered 1-1.5 million. NBD. On the streets, there is music stages on every block, dancing, and conga lines, food, vendors, children's areas and more food.

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A Packer Fan And The Other Hail Mary

On a Saturday night in Georgia, this was not quite the Hail Mary that I was expecting during the Packer-Falcon playoff game.

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100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die-Limeade at Gilchrist Drug

In this era of Wal-Mart and Target, the five and dime with the soda fountain are much like finding a wheat penny, very few exist.

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One Day of Gluttony in Madison Wisconsin

My friends be jealous, this delicious and much coveted beverage can only be purchased in Wisconsin.

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