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Posts from the ‘Travel USA’ Category
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
The bar was pretty full for a weekday morning *not judging* and had a good Victorian vibe that was more timeless.
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
Macaroni and cheese, with country ham and aged gouda.
I have never understood chicken and waffles and yet they were somehow right. Sweet Potato Waffles with sorghum butter. Dang!
French toast with infused cream and berries. Champagne macerated raspberries, mascarpone cheese, and candied pecans.
For the non-adventurous breakfast seeker, they have you covered with the “Ike’s Down Home Breakfast”
Everyone shared these famous buttermilk biscuits. See the link below for this recipe.
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.
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….
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.
- Unless you want to be in a crowded Victorian hallway with strangers, do make reservations. You may make them via Resy. Poogan’s Porch
- Parking is scarce, there is a parking lot located on the opposite side of the street.
- 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
-   Gullah Geechee Peoples and travel rankings
- Link to Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage website. Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Site
- Link to Michael Twitty, Food Historian on YouTube by SCETV Origins of the Lowcountry Cuisine | Between the Waters
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”
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.
I love his hard hitting truth. Some of my favorite quotes came from this contraption and here are a few.
A place that takes on shapes and forms of another world and my imagination went in many directions.
If you are a bourbon enthusiast, a history buff, or just looking for something interesting to do in Louisville, you too will be interested in this fun-filled historical bourbon tour.
Oh, and if you are not a GB Packer fan, no worries, I can not tell you how often I meet fantastic people from every N.F.L corner who have traveled to Green Bay to experience this historical story. Incidentally, yesterday, August, 11th,2016 was the packer's 97th birthday. Here's to a fantastic 98!
The story of her Marguerite's life and how the chapel came to be seems like a storybook; with pages that turn themselves.
A few weeks ago, I spent some time in Northwest Alabama, visiting the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery is now a highlight on my Alabama Bucket List. It turns out that I’m not alone. It is said that over 7,000 people visit this curiosity each year.
I left Tuscumbia and quite literally drove off the beaten path onto a curvy hilly road. It is a beautiful wooded and remote area. You know, the kind of place where there isn’t cell phone reception.
Because I was alone, I was somewhat questioning my sanity as I pulled into the cemetery; I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw three women visiting. The women told me that they drove about the country visiting strange and unusual places. I felt an immediate connection with these kindred spirits, and we exchanged phone numbers. Turns out we live about 40 minutes apart.
Together, we walked around and viewed the sites.
In 1937 Key Underwood buried his faithful companion “Troop” in this beautiful setting that was a hunting camp.
Key’s brother later buried his dog in this location and it was decided to lease the land from a lumber company so that it may remain sacred.
This one time hunting camp is now a park known as Freedom Hills Wildlife Management. Although the land belongs to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association cares for the cemetery.
I lost an elderly hunting dog a few years back. As I walked about, I felt sad and happy at the same time. Thanks to this dedicated group for honoring this group of loved canines; this long and winding road has led them home!
- Yes, this one and only Coon Dog Cemetery inspired the scene from the movie Sweet Home Alabama.
- Only Coon Dog’s are buried in the cemetery.
- The Coon hunter’s Association has a 3 part process before a dog may be buried in this cemetery.
- Dogs from throughout the United States are buried in the cemetery.
- Noted in the book entitled-Alabama Off The Beaten Path Guide To Unique Places.
MEGastars; I loved checking this site visit off of my list. Because it is a one of a kind stop made with love, I give this stop 5 *****MEGastars; If I ever find myself with a dead coon dog, this would be my top choice for a forever place.
- Interested in unique places? This is a great stop. Nearby you may eat lunch in a cave structure, see a shoe tree and covered bridges.
- The graveyard is open every day during daylight hours.
- There is an outhouse and a water spring on the premises. Plan as such. Take a picnic!
- If you visit, don’t forget to sign the guestbook.
- I love Claunch’s Café in Tuscumbia. Open at lunch hours. Check hours first but this place has some really great food.
- I visited several restaurants listed as “100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.” These dishes will be upcoming on Tasty Tuesday’s. Next write is a burger in a cave.
- This entire Northwest Alabama is gorgeous. There are so many fascinating places to visit and gorgeous natural outdoor activities. Allow at least several days to explore this wonderful area! http://alabama.travel/places-to-go/the-shoals
- Coon Dog Cemetery 7 miles west of Tuscumbia on U.S. Hwy 72. Turn left on Alabama Hwy 247, and travel approximately 12 miles. Then turn right, and follow the signs. Remember this is a remote area and take precautions as such.
Today just happens to be National Milk Chocolate Day and I was so fortunate that I was able to get a taste of this “Sweet Home Alabama.”
English Toffee at Morgan Price Coffee Company, located in Decatur, Alabama is my 100 Dish MEGabite stop. Number 21 or 80 on my countdown. This family recipe is made from buttery toffee and frosted with premium chocolate and sprinkled with toasted almonds. This deliciousness is described as “…the perfect sweet, salty and crunchy treats…”-Alabama Tourism Board.
The shop is a fun stop. The woman who was working nicely stopped to answer my questions. You are able to see the kitchen and racks of various candies along with some unique shop items.
The English Toffee and was every bit as delicious as it was described. I also bought the Macadamia Toffee. They were both so over the top delicious; I had to take some home for myself and a few packages for gifts.
A really great stop, this is truly Sweet Home Alabama. I give this dish 5 MEGastars *****
*** for tasting out of this world, melt in your mouth delicious
*for wonderful people and a really nice, clean and inviting shop.
* Meets the criteria of local food with Alabama pride.
- Can’t get there? You may order on-line. They also have some fantastic baskets that would be great gifts or raffle donations.
- Playing 100 Dishes? Located next door to Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q., you have the ability to stuff your face and knock off a few dishes.
- Try the Macadamia Toffee-yum! I simply loved it!
- Located about 15 minutes off of 1-65, it is a pretty easy stop.
*100 Dishes to eat in Alabama before you die is a compilation of food to chow down on Bama style. Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.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. Download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbertville 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 BBQ to James Beard recipients. I use a 5 MEGastar system. If I give one of these dishes a 5th star, it means, I nearly died and went to heaven eating the dish, Loved it and don’t you miss it!