Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm back

It's been a while since I've written anything. I had a slight accident in the kitchen and had to have surgery on my hand. I'm much better and very happy it's over. For almost a month I couldn't type. I'm not very good at typing with one hand while on codeine.

I'm currently working on a few posts. I had the chance to try out some places in the Surfside Beach and Socastee area. Hopefully I'll be hearing from some of you soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Charleston Cafe- A Hidden Gem

A few months ago I stumbled upon an ad for Charleston Cafe and at first it didn't attract me. It doesn't look like much on the outside and it only has a few parking spots. You can easily drive by it without noticing that it's there. That was me a few months ago, but the food I tasted at F.L.A.V.O.R completely changed my narrow point of view about them.

I decided to give them and try. And like i said before, it didn't look like much from the outside. I walked in and was pleasantly surprised. It made me feel like I was inside a boat. Everything is mostly blue and the wooden walls hang local art. The staff is very polite and attentive.

They are open for lunch from 11am to 2:30pm. They open back up for dinner at 4pm. They don't have their hours posted on the front of the building and they don't always lock their doors between lunch and dinner.

I showed up during lunch hours. I ordered the Pimento Cheese and The Trio. For the Pimento Cheese, I was expecting a traditional grounded cheddar cheese, pimentos, mayo and spices, but they serve it hot. I was slightly disappointed but, melted cheese always tends to make me happy. The cheddar cheese was bubbly, mild and had pieces of pimentos mixed in. It comes with fried pita chips for dipping and it was very comforting. The trio consists of half of the chef's daily sandwich choice, a cup of soup du jour, and choice of side. This specific day was the Tuna Melt on Marble Rye bread, the soup was Chicken Chowder and for the side I had Sweet Potato Fries.

Overall, the Tuna Melt was good. My only complaint was that it wasn't as creamy as I would have liked, but it wasn't dry either. It was seasoned very well and the pieces of celery and red onion were finely chopped. The pieces were so fine you couldn't see them but you knew they were there because of the crunch and taste.

As for the soup or chowder, it was a little too salty for my taste but still very delicious. It wasn't creamy but it had a pleasantly thick roux and the chicken wasn't dry. I hate soups or chowders that have dry, overcooked chicken. The chicken in this dish was still soft and tender.

I have to save the best for last. The Sweet Potato Fries were beyond superb. If you go to this restaurant, you must not leave without trying at least one. One fry will not be enough, so just go ahead and order your own. I don't know how they do this but these are lightly breaded fried wedges that are crispy on the outside and moist and creamy on the inside. I can honestly say that my taste buds fell in love with these fries. I was sooo happy. Their sweet potatoes are very sweet and they really don't need much seasoning.

Recently, I had the soup du jour which was sweet potato bisque. I had never heard of such a thing and when I tasted it, my taste buds yelled,:"Where have you been all my life!" Ugh, it was amazing. Deliciously sweet, creamy and popping with flavor.

I highly recommend this restaurant not just for the amazing food but also for the great service and attentive staff. if you happen to be in Surfside Beach, stop in and check them out. You might find me there.

Here's their website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Market Common Brunch Easter Day Brunch

When I work all week and finally reach the weekend, I look forward to an afternoon nap to help gear me up for the following week. The only thing that will keep me from that nap is Sunday Brunch. I love brunch and I decided this past Sunday to try it out at the Market Common in Myrtle Beach.

I really had my hopes up and decided to try out Tommy Bahama's brunch. I made this decision based on the fact that I rarely find myself disappointed when I come here. But the brunch menu only had 3 items. One thing that caught my eye was crab hollandaise sauce. I thought that it might be interesting to try. I went with my husband and he's more of a french toast kind of guy and, unfortunately, it was not on the menu. We decided to decline the offer to dine there and went to Gordon Biersch instead.

Gordon Biersch had a full brunch menu. It was extremely difficult to make a decision with so many boring options. They also had a brunch buffet, I know, buffet is equivalent to mediocre food, but I decided to take a chance. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! I strongly recommend to stay away from their disappointing buffet. (sigh). OK, the eggs were perfectly cooked. I hate overcooked eggs and these were cooked just right. Soft and firm yet tender. Their french toast was on the soggy side. They had other items in the buffet that were just a downgraded version of similar items in their menu. It was very disappointing to say the least.

I should have known better. Oh well, you live you learn. If I decide to go back next year, I will just have to stay from the obvious,: Buffets = Mediocre.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where do you want to eat?

Where do you want to eat? Simple question, right? But when you live in the grand strand area it can be very difficult to get a definite answer. We have an extensive amount of restaurants with different varieties of cuisine. At least you can be sure that if you try a different restaurant every night, you won't have to go to the same place for at least 8 years.

Even though I consider myself an experienced home-cook, I enjoy the occasional dining out experience. I love good quality food and I love trying out new restaurants in the area. I've had my good share of the restaurants in this area whether it was a job or just hanging out with friends.

I previously worked for a company that would send me to a restaurant and evaluate their service and food quality. This really opened the food critic in me and opened my eyes to the more artistic side of cooking. It helped me connect personally with my food whether I was cooking or eating. I can say that I don't just eat my food, I savor every bite. I let it speak to me as if it's telling me a story of flavors and textures. It's almost like falling in love.

Sometimes, unfortunately, some restaurants just don't have that love chemistry with me. I give them a second or third chance before I give up on them forever. But, fortunately for me, there's a lot of fish in the sea. I'm all about finding that one restaurant that will just sweep me off my feet.

I will be sharing my restaurant experiences here and I just want to clarify with everyone that I'm not an official food crtitic, chef, nor affiliated with the hospitality industry in this area. I just like to eat to good food and share my opinion with whoever wants to hear about them. Myrtle Beach is increasing its interest in the culinary experience. Myrtle Beach presented for the very first time Taste! Gourmet food & Expo last year. We had a semi decent crowd but I sure was expecting to see a whole lot more people. Maybe next time.

That's why I was very excited to hear about F.L.A.V.O.R. and made arrangements to be there. The restaurants that showed up really impressed me with their dishes. I counted 19 restaurants and I wish I didn't eat so much towards the beginning to give the others a chance. Of all the dished I did try, my favorite was Mr. Fish's sushi. I also loved The Charleston Cafe's She Crab Soup, Paplova, and Crabcakes. I've never dined at these restaurants before and I was extremely pleased with what they had to offer. I can't wait to see what else they can impress me with.

There's a lot of she crab soups in the Grand Strand but the Charleston Cafe's She Crab was unlike any other I've ever had. Creamy, meaty and full of love. I love crab cakes and theirs is the meatiest I've ever had. I can't stand a crabcake that's mostly filling and overpowered with salt. But this one only had a crumbly crust on the outside while the inside was filled with moist crab meat. It was beautiful! The Paplova melted in your mouth, literally. A light, creamy and fluffy pastry with a slight crunch topped with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Awww..., for this one I closed my eyes and just had to pause and savor the moment.

I love a good sushi and in the Grand Strand, fortunately, we have good sushi. King Kong in Carolina Forest, Miyabi's in Murrells Inlet and Sugami in Myrtle Beach are at the top with high quality, taste bud pleasing sushi. You'll find a lot of other places with sushi that, well, isn't bad, but isn't great either. At this event, F.L.A.V.O.R., Mr. Fish had an amazing smoked salmon sushi garnished with caviar! I looked for it the next day on their menu but couldn't find it. I really hope they add it SOON.  A lot of people were waiting around their booth for seconds and thirds. Sugami was there too, but Mr. Fish really blew them out of the water with theirs. I usually like a slice of ginger with my sushi to add extra flavor, but this one didn't need any extra flavor.

Everyone else there had good food. Really. It was good. But there were two dishes I had to throw away. The first one was from one of my favorite restaurants, Tommy Bahama. I've dined at this restaurant several times and I'm never disappointed, but at this event I was. Their Ahi Tuna Tacos were overpowered by the flavor of capers. Not good at all. I threw it away. So sad. The other was American Culinary Federation's She Crab Soup. This isn't a restaurant but it's an organization of chefs and cooks. Their soup tasted as if they were about to run out and they decided to dilute it with water. Not good at all.

Everyone else was good but didn't sweep me off my feet. Oh well, maybe next time. In May, Myrtle Beach will be presenting their second annual "Coastal Uncorked" Food and Wine festival. I will definitely be cheking it out and posting my thoughts here. Paula Deen will be here presenting a cooking demo at the Alabama Theater. Very exciting!

There's lot of good food in Myrtle Beach and lots to do. But please do me a favor, stay away from those silly, multiple item seafood buffets. BLAH!