Charleston Eat Local Challenge

Eating and shopping locally have become important issues to the American consumer lately as people have become more aware of their carbon footprint and its impact on the environment. When it comes to food, it’s said that our food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches our plates, which is a really long way to go, considering how many farms exist in SC & that the state is only about 260 miles long.

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In an effort to get people to become more aware of where their food is coming from, Lowcountry Local First has declared the month of April “Eat Local Month” and is is asking everyone to sign up for the “Eat Local Challenge,” which starts April 1. Here are the basics of the challenge:

  • Participants pledge to shift $10 or more of their weekly food spending towards our local food system.
  • Anyone can participate. Sign-up as an individual or get your friends & co-workers involved and take the challenge as a team.
  • Participation is FREE. All you have to do is commit to shifting $10 from your current food budget to local food options (local = as close to home as possible and within the state of South Carolina).

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Easy peasy! All you have to do is sign up for the challenge here. All participants in the challenge will receive:

You may or may not know that I recently moved to Johns Island, one of those little gems on the coast of South Carolina that features a number of local farms, as well as roadside produce stands and the weekly farmers market. Since moving out here, I’ve really been trying to keep my produce purchases as local as possible and I’ve been taking advantage of the great options available to me out here, as well as those downtown (like the Veggie Bin).

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I hope you’ll join the eat local challenge, and I invite you to follow along with me as I catalog my experiences, recipes, and anecdotes along the way. Feel free to tweet at me or comment with recipe ideas and ways you’re planning on eating local in April!

 

Quote of the Week 3/23/15

So, I just realized that in the entire time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve never quoted Oprah. That seems like a gross oversight on my part, so I’m going to fix that now.

“My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.”
-Oprah Winfrey

 

How 'bout it, Harry?

Harry, will you share your baked potato with me?

Rita’s Seaside Grille, Folly Beach, SC

**Note: I received a free meal at Rita’s in order to try their food. That does not impact my review of them at all.**

Ok, so a couple weeks ago, I was invited to try Rita’s out on Folly. Never one to turn my nose up at free food, I gladly made the jaunt out to Folly Beach (although I did feel a bit like a traitor for not eating at Lost Dog Cafe). Rita’s is owned by the Halls family of Halls Chophouse, but could not be more different. It’s a very casual, laid-back, beachy kind of atmosphere with food that is both inventive and traditional at the same time.

Read: affordable

Read: affordable

We started with an order of the tuna nachos (crispy corn tortillas, queso, jack, jalapenos, black beans, peppers, onions, watermelon pico, choice of blackened tuna, grilled chicken, pulled pork, $11). They were good, but I thought the tuna was a little overcooked and chewy. I came back the next week with my mom and we got them with chicken instead and they were awesome. The one really great thing about this dish is that they top it with a housemade watermelon pico de gallo, which adds a layer of freshness to a traditionally uninventive dish.

Those aren't tomatoes; that's watermelon! I highly recommend this dish.

Those aren’t tomatoes; that’s watermelon! I highly recommend this dish.

We also got an order of their house smoked wings (house smoked jumbo wings, served with celery, ranch & blue cheese, tossed with choice of sweet & spicy, dry rub, BBQ, buffalo, 6 for $9 or 12 for $15), tossed in the sweet & spicy sauce. I really liked the sauce and the touch of smokiness that was in every bite. The second time I went, Harry got them in the dry rub, and I didn’t like them as much, so I definitely recommend the sweet & spicy sauce. Tina thought they were a little too smoky, so if you aren’t a fan of things tasting smoky, then I wouldn’t recommend these.

smoked-wings-ritas

I do like that you don’t have to choose between ranch and blue cheese… although I definitely only ever choose ranch. But I like not having to choose.

I also tried their beet & goat cheese salad (ruby & golden beets, arugula, pickled red onion, crumbled goat cheese, lemon thyme vinaigrette, $13). I’m not a huge fan of beets, but I thought this salad was pretty good. Then again, I tend to like anything with chunks of goat cheese in it. The vinaigrette was really light and citrusy, and I think it went really well with the tanginess of the pickled onions and the creaminess of the goat cheese.

Before you comment, I know you like beets, Christine, but you are a weirdo.

Before you comment, I know you like beets, Christine, but you are a weirdo. You’d really like this salad.

For the main course (like I needed more food, right?), I tried the Barnyard burger (fried egg, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, seasoned fries, $12). I really liked this burger despite the fact that it had egg on it… I think I’m starting to not dislike eggs as much as I used to. As long as they’re either covered in cheese or on a cheeseburger, at least. The burger was seasoned really well and it was pretty big. I also liked the bun and thought it had a nice bread-to-burger ratio. The fries were also really unique and delicious. They’re nice and crispy and topped with a good mix of seasonings. It tasted like there might have been brown sugar or something, because there’s a little bit of sweetness, which I really enjoyed.

From this angle, that pickle looks ginormous

From this angle, that pickle looks ginormous

I had inquired about the drink menu, because there’s nothing like a daiquiri on the beach. I was presented with a couple of different drinks to try because their cocktail menu is super unique, especially when it comes to frozen drinks. The first one I tried was the Key Lime martini (vodka, coconut liqueur, cream of coconut, fresh lime juice, graham cracker rim, $8), which was super yummy. It actually tasted like key lime pie in a glass and I absolutely loved the graham cracker rim.

I'll have 5 of these, please.

I’ll have 5 of these, please.

The next drink I tried was their signature “frizzle” (frozen light rum, dark rum, amaretto, ginger beer, orange and pineapple juices, mango & strawberry puree, $9). If there was ever a drink to embody “summertime” this is it. Take one sip and close your eyes and you’d feel like you were in the bahamas. It’s not a cocktail, it’s a mini-vacation in a glass.

frizzle-ritas

Miss Frizzle ain’t got nothin’ on this drink.

After the meal was over, the chef came out to thank me for dining. She was very friendly and happily posed for a picture for me.

She's so happy!

Peekaboo, Rita sees you.

Rant Alert: My second visit to Rita’s with my mom was not as smooth as the first. We sat out on the patio since it’s dog-friendly and she had Penny with her. Our waitress was nice, but forgetful. We ordered a plain chicken breast for the dog when we put in our appetizer orders and it still hadn’t arrived 20 minutes after we finished our entrees. Chicken breasts take no more than 15 minutes to grill, usually, so there’s no reason that it should’ve taken over an hour. Additionally, my mom had ordered ribs as her entree and asked for the bbq sauce on the side which also didn’t happen. When my mom asked to replace the 2 sides that came with the rib platter with 2 other sides, the waitress happily obliged, and then charged her for additional sides when the check came (without telling us that there was going to be an up charge. AND after forgetting part of our order).  When we asked for the check and told her to just forget about the chicken (which she mentioned still hadn’t even been put on the grill), the waitress didn’t apologize and in fact tried to get us to order dessert, which really annoyed me. She didn’t offer to comp the dessert or anything for her mistakes, but instead was trying to get us to up our order, despite the fact that she hadn’t even been able to deliver the rest of our meal properly. I’m hoping that the issue was with our particular server and not with the usual level of service that they offer. I guess my advice here is that if you sit out on the patio for dinner, don’t be in a rush and be prepared for things to take a lot longer.

The patio looks friendly and invited, but in fact is not.

Also, go during the daytime when it’s so pretty you’ll forget that your food still hasn’t arrived.

Sorry about that rant. I’m still annoyed, as you can tell, but I don’t want to let that discolor my entire experience. The food was really good and the first time I went, the service was great. I would want to go back for brunch (did someone say “Captain Crunch French Toast?!”), but I won’t be sitting out on the patio, that’s for sure. But if you’re looking for a restaurant out on Folly Beach that offers more than just fish and chips, and you don’t want to wait an hour for a table at Lost Dog, I think Rita’s is a pretty solid choice. The food is a tasty and can make up for the fact that the service doesn’t always hit the mark.

Plus, it's so close to the beach!

Plus, it’s so close to the beach!

Rita’s Seaside Grille
2 Center Street
Folly Beach, SC 29439
(843) 588-2525

Rita's Seaside Grille on Urbanspoon

Quote of the Week 3/16/15

Things have been kind of crazy around here recently, so sorry for the delay! I’m working on getting back on track and back to regular postings soon. Let’s hope the universe supports me in that effort!

Anywho, here’s a quote:

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
–Cesar Chavez

 

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Quote of the Week 2/23/15

I hope you’re having a wonderful last-week-of-February. I, for one, could not be more excited about the new season of House of Cards coming out on Friday! I’m going to be enjoying it from the heart of the show, Washington DC! I’m so pumpedddd.

Also, congratulations to the winner of my recent “Kitchen Gadget Giveaway,” Jess Burns! Thanks to everyone who entered (there were over 150 entries!) and to everyone who took the time to vote for me for Best of Charleston!

Enjoy your week and this wonderful quote from Erma Bombeck who always keeps me laughing.

“I am not a glutton. I am an explorer of food.”
–Erma Bombeck

glutton-quote

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

 

Quote of the Week 2/16/15

So. Yesterday was kind of a big fat giant deal for me. I closed on my first house!! I’m officially a homeowner! Yeah! So this week’s quote is short because I have about a million things I need to do.

I love all of you people!

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.”
–E.A. Bucchianeri

And yes, that is my ACTUAL kitchen :)

And yes, that is my ACTUAL kitchen :)

R Kitchen

Ok, so I’m torn about writing this post because I want R Kitchen to stay a hidden secret, but at the same time I want to shout my love for this wonderful restaurant from the rooftops.

Can you tell?

Can you tell?

The first time I came to R Kitchen, it was for Lauren’s birthday in December and we were both a little unprepared for what was about to happen. To begin with, it’s less of a restaurant and more of a place where you just hang out while a friend cooks you dinner. The space is super small, we’re talking like 12 people can fit into the restaurant tops. Chef Ross Webb offers up a stellar 5ish-course prix fixe meal for $25, and you sit at the counter and watch him cook. It’s like dinner and a show!

Chef Ross, hard at work being awesome.

Chef Ross, hard at work being awesome.

The first meal, our culinary adventure began with a delicious local corn succotash made with shrimp and a bunch of other delicious vegetables. Chef was also nice enough to make Lauren’s without shrimp since she doesn’t eat it (although that really would’ve just meant more for me).

Corn Succotash = Amazing

I’m not complaining.

I was hooked after the 1st course, but it took Lauren until the second course, the wilted kale and chick peas, to really fall in love. I’m always afraid of kale, because 90% of the times I order it, I receive bitter, chewy, shrubbery. Chef Ross’s kale was something else entirely. Garlicky and tomato-y and In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t have known it was kale.

Because that's the best way to eat kale.

Because that’s the best way to eat kale.

He also did a special surprise course of smoked salmon and bacon deviled egg, which was pretty delicious. And I hate eggs. So that’s really saying something.

Or is it?

Or is it?

Our first main course was the steak and potato hash. My steak was prepared perfectly and went really well with the potatoes, which were soft and crispy and wonderful.

I love steak

Can someone please teach me how to cook a steak kthxbye.

The final (and best) main course was the fried pork chop with dirty rice. I can’t remember what made the rice dirty, but I do remember that I loved it. The pork was awesome; the breading was crispy, and whatever the sauce was was nice and tangy and tied the whole dish together perfectly.

Because fried pork.

Because fried pork.

Our “dessert” course was brie and honey with some grapes. Lauren was crying at this point because she was so full, so I ate both hers and mine and it was glorious. I love brie.

I can eat cheese at any time of the day.

I can eat cheese at any time of the day.

The second time I went was with Harry and my mom. We had early reservations and were the first people in the restaurant. We were very excited.

Especially Tina.

Especially Tina.

Our first course for the evening was smoky mac and cheese. It was amazing and I loved it. I especially loved when they got out the blowtorch to burn the cheese and breadcrumb topping a bit and give it that extra smoky flavor.

Is this the best restaurant ever, or what??

Is this the best restaurant ever, or what??

The second course was a take on a thai coconut soup using a traditional coconut broth, which Chef Ross added crab to. I thought it was really yummy without being overly “seafood” tasting, which I was a little worried about. It also had this cracker thing in it, which gave it a really nice texture.

I love soups that look like gravy.

I love soups that look like gravy.

After this course, we had a little meat plate with some salami and prosciutto. It was good, but not spectacular. I did really like the mustard that accompanied it.

Because meat.

Because meat.

The next course was a really fresh salad made with local Johns Island beans and pieces of ham. Normally I’m not a huge fan of ham, but if this salad had a fan club, I’d run for president.

The greatest salad ever.

The greatest salad ever.

The first main course was a “pork & mole” that Chef Ross served over a bed of angel hair pasta and topped with avocado. Tina doesn’t really like meat sauces, but I thought the pasta was really good. It had a different flavor than what I was expecting because of the mole sauce, but it was very hearty and homey tasting.

lol

Like a warm blanket in a bowl.

Our final course was steak and risotto’d potato. Tina was freaking out about asking to get her steak cooked well done, but Chef Ross was more than happy to do it for her. He laughed and agreed that he doesn’t understand why chefs get so irritable about serving steaks at anything above a medium. I think that’s when Tina officially fell in love.

I, however, like my meat to bleed. It reminds me that I'm on top of the food chain.

I, however, like my meat to bleed. It reminds me that I’m on top of the food chain.

Chef Ross was nice enough to pose with us for a picture in between all of his cooking. What a great guy. Thanks for having us, we can’t wait to come back!

Chef Ross and the Peanut Gallery.

Chef Ross and the Peanut Gallery.

R Kitchen
212 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 789-4342

R Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Quote of the Week 2/9/15

So, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and for some reason, Harry and I decided to try this whole “paleo” thing. No idea why. I think we’re both brain damaged. We’re on day 3 and it’s actually going better than I expected it to. The only real issue I have to report is that I almost started crying when my boss brought in a cheeseburger and french fries for lunch. The smell alone…

But I digress. Here’s this week’s quote. It’s all about love and stuff. Enjoy!

“Love and sausage are alike. Can never have enough of either.”
— Trixie Koontz

 

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Kitchen Gadget Giveaway

bestofsm

As I mentioned last week, dear readers, I’m hosting a giveaway for you with some of the coolest gadgets and pantry items that I love as a thank you for nominating me for Best of Charleston 2014! If you haven’t voted yet, please vote Queen of the Food Age for “Best Local Interest Blog.

Here’s what’s in the box:

  1. Babycakes Waffle Stick Maker ($24.99)
    Breakfast just got fun again! I love this machine, it makes you feel like a kid again :)
  2. Kuhn Rikon Cookie Press ($24.95)
    Comes with lots of different designs so that you can make cookies that look like they came from a professional bakery!
  3. Sushi Rolling Mat ($3.95)
    Roll sushi like a pro with this handy mat!
  4. Sfoglini Pasta Trumpets ($7)
    Sfoglini is Brooklyn based & produces pastas made from locally-sourced ingredients. Can’t wait to see how you guys use this pasta!
  5. Monari Federzoni Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar ($9.95)
    This glaze is awesome on everything from pork chops to vanilla ice cream!
  6. Cilio Fondue Pot, Red ($27.95)
    I love fondue and I especially love the color of this adorable little fondue pot!
What a bounty!

What a bounty!

All you have to do to enter this kitchen giveaway is vote for me in the Charleston City Paper (comment below to let me know that you’ve done it)! You can also choose to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or tweet about the giveaway for extra entries! Contest ends 2/17 at 11:59 pm. I can only ship to the US and you must be over 18 to win! Good luck and thanks again!

NOTE: Only people who comment “I voted” below will be entered to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of Charleston 2015 Voting

Hello, my beautiful, talented readers. Thanks to you, I’ve had the honor of being nominated alongside some pretty talented folks for “Best Local Interest Blog” for this year’s Charleston City Paper’s “Best of Charleston 2015.” You guys really don’t know how much it means to me that you nominated me and I’m just so pumped to be listed next to such huge names like Holy City Sinner, Eater Charleston, Charleston Grit, Charleston Daily Photo, and Charleston Thug Life.

Since you’ve helped me get this far, I’d like to ask your help in taking me one step further! Take 5 minutes or so to vote Queen of the Food Age for “Best Local Interest Blog” and any other Charleston businesses you think deserve recognition for the great work they’ve been doing.

I started this blog for fun and to have an excuse to go out to eat more, so to see how far I’ve come is really inspiring and it makes me want to cry and hug each and every one of you individually (even if that makes you uncomfortable). You rock and I love you all. To thank you, I’m going to host a giveaway next week full of fun kitchen gadgets and some of my favorite Charleston things. Keep an eye out!

Again, thanks so much. You guys are the best.

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