The Cheeses of Europe

**Note: I received a free cheese tasting in exchange for this non-biased review of The Cheeses of Europe**

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from a representative of The Cheeses of Europe who wanted to come by my office and do a cheese tasting to promote a number of small cheese brands out of France. Free cheese, you say? Ok.


This is my happy place.

Four cheese experts representing various cheese companies came to the matchstick office with plenty of cheese for us all to sample. They were all very knowledgeable and the cheese they brought to sample was delicious and relatively inexpensive (and you can get it at Costco or Whole Foods!)

How does one achieve the title of "Cheese expert?"

How does one achieve the title of “Cheese expert?”

I really enjoyed all of the cheeses, but the ones that came from Isigny Ste Mere were my favorite by far. The 2 round pumpkin looking ones are the same cheese, just aged for different periods of time. The orange one, mimolette, was aged 3 months and was creamy and tangy, and the one above it was aged for 18 months and was hard and sharp and amazing. They also brought some butter which we tried on a cracker and it was some of the best butter I’ve ever had.

This is my happy place.

Channeling my inner Paula Deen and eating plain butter on a cracker.

Here’s a more professional shot of the mimolette. Is it possible to be attracted to cheese??

This is a $200 wheel of cheese, NBD.

This is a $200 wheel of cheese, NBD.

I really liked the spreadable cheese from Interval cheese, which was a cow’s milk cheese that went really well on crackers. Kind of like a whipped cream cheese, but better. They also had a bleu d’auvergne which was an amazing blue cheese (bottom right) that I imagine would be amazing on a cheeseburger or in a salad. Their final cheese was a triple cream brie (bottom left), which was really creamy and rich and smooth. It went really well with the wine we were drinking and it made an amazing baked brie later that night!


I love cheese. Cheesy, cheese, cheese. Here it goes down, down into my belly…

The rep from Lactalis also brought brie (Le Chatelain), which tasted like it should be way more expensive than it was. This one was really delicious and also made a great baked brie with raspberry preserves. You can get this one at Costco, which is kind of dangerous knowledge for me to have.

Dat cracker tho.

Dat cracker tho.

In case you’re interested, here’s a list of all the cheese we tasted:

  • Le brie – Isigny – smooth, mild, creamy
  • Mimolette – Isigny – Hard, sharp, delish
  • Butter – Isigny – Smooth, salty, rich
  • Epoisses – French Cheese Club – Smoky and stinky
  • Pont l’eveque – French Cheese Club – Buttery, tangy
  • Delice de Bourgogne – French Cheese Club – kind of tasted like broccoli
  • Blue d’auvergne – Interval – Tangy, sour, creamy
  • Saint Angel – Interval – Creamy, buttery, mild
  • Whipped Cheese – Interval – Super creamy, mild
  • Le Chatelain Brie – Lactalis – Creamy, mellow, rich
  • Le Chatelain Camembert – Lactalis – Creamy, buttery, sharp-ish

So much cheese. This is the best.

So if you want to impress your family and friends at Thanksgiving this year, you should pick up some of these cheese and some fancy crackers and I guarantee you’ll be the talk of the party. Thanks Cheeses of Europe for letting me sample your awesome cheesy goodness!



*Note, I received a free meal at McCrady's as part of a luncheon I was 
invited to on behalf of Wines of Provence*

Last week I was invited to a wine-pairing lunch at McCrady’s. Since that sentence contains some of my all-time favorite words, I was quick to respond “yes!” (that should come as no surprise, since you should be aware of my obsession with Sean Brock by now). Upon arrival at the McCrady’s banquet room, I was given a glass of M Rose by Minuty ($19.99/bottle), and it was delicious. Fruity and light and basically everything I wanted in a rose. We all took our seats and were treated to a short presentation about rose Wines of Provence, which I found very informative. Afterward, we got a 5-course lunch, prepared by Lucas Weir, the banquet chef at McCrady’s.

I have a love/hate relationship with prix fixe menus

I have a love/hate relationship with prix fixe menus

I have personally always preferred rose wine to red or white because I think it’s a perfect balance. One of the diners at our table who’s been in the wine business for a number of years remarked that rose is “the only wine [he] knew of that really goes well with BBQ.” And if that isn’t a good enough reason to drink rose wine, then I don’t know what is. #PinkWineMakesMeHappy

Especially 5 bottles of pink wine.

And 4 bottles of pink wine makes me sing horrible renditions of 80’s songs. But that’s a bit long for a hashtag.

Course 1 – Grilled Shrimp with Persimmon, Peanut and Benne paired with Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rose ($17.99) and Mâitres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise Le Provençal ($14.99). I loved this dish. It was fruity, but much more savory than sweet. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and served with the perfect amount of persimmon sauce, with a little bit of crunch from the benne seeds. Both of the wines paired perfectly, but I preferred the Hecht & Bannier with the food (but the le provençal was better on its own).

I wish all shrimp tasted like this.

I wish all shrimp tasted like this.

Course 2 – Steamed Sea Trout with Turnips and Carolina Gold Rice paired with Gassier en Provence Sables d’Azur and Maison Saint Aix, AIX. I’m usually not a fan of trout, and I never would’ve ordered this on my own, but it was absolutely delicious. Very mild, citrusy, and creamy. The citrus and creaminess went really well with the AIX Rose, which I really enjoyed. It had a nice hint of grapefruit and was absolutely perfect with this meal. The Sables d’Azur I found to be a little blander and although it was still good, I preferred the AIX.

You can eat the skin, I'm told. But I never eat the skin.

You can eat the skin, I’m told. But I never eat the skin.

Course 3 – Ember Roasted Pork with Chestnuts, Grapefruit, and Truffle paired with Chateau la Gordonne La Chapelle Gordonne ($29) and Chateau de Bernes Terres de Berne ($19.99). The pork was superb. It melted in your mouth and was bursting with flavor. I wasn’t as big a fan of the chestnuts, as they had the same consistency as undercooked beans. But maybe that’s the way chestnuts are supposed to be eaten? I’m not sure. In terms of the wines, I preferred the terres de berne for sipping on its own, but the la chapelle gordonne was absolutely perfect with the pork (and now I totally understand what he meant about roses pairing well with BBQ).

Now I'm going to be really bougie and only order rose with my BBQ.

Now I’m going to be really bougie and only order rose with my BBQ.

Course 4 – Green Hill Camembert, Honeycrisp Apple, and Appalachian Red Corn paired with Chateau d’Esclans Les Clans ($65). This was one of my favorite courses. I loved the cheese with the apple and the mustard sauce that came with it. They made the Appalachian red corn into little crisps that tasted like cornflakes and were just a little sweet. Everything about this dish, from the taste to the preparation, was absolutely delicious. The wine that was paired with this dish was my least favorite of all the ones we tasted (and it’s a good thing too, since it was also the most expensive). It was very acidic and oaky and had a distinctly bitter and smoky taste. Just not my cup of tea.

I think all meals should have a cheese course.

I think all meals should have a cheese course.

Course 5 – Banana Cake with Coffee and Black Walnut paired with Chateau Paradis Rouge ($17.99). This was probably my least favorite course. The banana cake was dry and bitter from the coffee. The wine was nice and fruity and I opted to make that my dessert and gave up on the cake.

A sad ending to an otherwise perfect meal.

A sad ending to an otherwise perfect meal.

All in all I had a wonderful meal at McCrady’s (like every other meal I’ve had there), and I appreciate Wines of Provence for inviting me and helping open my eyes to the wonders of rose wines. Now that I know how well they pair with pork, and how inexpensive they are, I’ll definitely be having a few glasses of these roses in the future!

And I'd like to sit right here while I drink them, please and thank you.

And I’d like to sit right here while I drink them, please and thank you. Photo via Facebook

2 Unity Alley
Charleston, SC 29401
McCrady's on Urbanspoon

Quote of the Week 10/27/14

Halloweekend is here! I’m celebrating with 2 different costumes, in addition to the Hocus Pocus costumes we did earlier this month. I can’t wait to post pictures for you guys!

What are you dressing up as?

“I only eat candy on Halloween. No lie.”
–Michael Trevino


We see a microphone, he sees an ice cream cone. via flickr / Gage Skidmore

We see a microphone, he sees an ice cream cone. Photo via flickr / Gage Skidmore

Sweeney’s (Johns Island, SC)

Sweeney’s has been on my list for a while now, but for some reason, whenever I found myself on Johns Island, I’d end up eating at Wild Olive or JB’s BBQ (because I’m a creature of habit). This restaurant week, however, I convinced Becca to join me at Sweeney’s for dinner. The atmosphere is cozy and quiet, but we were one of only 3 tables of people in the whole restaurant.

And I am OBSESSED with this patio.

And I am OBSESSED with this patio (via Facebook)

It had been a tough day at the office, so I felt like I was justified in ordering a cocktail. I went with the Appalachian Trail (Midnight Moon Blueberry Moonshine, Lemon and Mint, $9) and it was sooo good.


Dangerously so.

For my appetizer, I opted for the Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad (Apples Walnuts Bleu Cheese and Creamy Citrus Vinaigrette, $9), which was really great. I loved the sweetness of the apples, paired with the tanginess of the blue cheese & kale. This is a winner.

I would definitely order this again.

I would definitely order this again.

Becca decided to try the Tempura Broccolini (Chili Aioli, $7). I’m not a huge fan of tempura in general, but these weren’t bad. I probably wouldn’t order them again, but that’s more of a personal preference. I will say that Sweeney’s version was far less greasy than I’ve had elsewhere, which I appreciated.

And that sauce was pretty yummy, too.

But that chili aioli, though.

For some reason I was also hankering for a bowl of soup, and decided to try the vegetable beef soup ($6). I’m pretty picky when it comes to tomato-based soups, but this one surpassed my expectations with flying colors! It was very fresh tasting and bursting with flavor, and I could tell it was homemade and not from a can.

The only thing Campbell's Soup is good for is pop art.

The only thing Campbell’s Soup is good for is pop art.

For my entree, I opted for the Braised Beef Short Rib (with whipped potato, collard greens, heirloom tomato jam, $25) and it was out of this world. The beef was literally falling apart and the heirloom tomato jam added a nice bit of sweetness to it. I don’t usually like mashed potatoes, because my mother’s have spoiled me, but these were probably just as good as my mom’s (just don’t tell her that).

I want to crawl into that bowl and live there.

I want to crawl into that bowl and live there.

Becca went with the Pan Seared Chicken Breast (Tasso Ham, English Peas, Roasted Mushroom, Angel Hair Pasta and Brown Butter Cream, $20). I stole a bite (or 3), and I have to say, it was pretty dang good. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was indulgent without being too heavy.

A big bowl of happiness.

A big bowl of happiness.

For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Pie (Chocolate Ice Cream and Toasted Marshmallow, $8). It was good, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it the way I was with the rest of the meal.

Note: Don't order this if you don't like marshmallows.

Note: Don’t order this if you don’t like marshmallows.

The only part of the whole meal I have to complain about is that as we were waiting for our dessert to come out, we noticed that the table next to use (who came in right as we received our entrees), received a plate of cornbread after they ordered their meal. After looking around, we noticed that all the other tables in the restaurant had gotten cornbread, but we seemed to have missed the cornbread train. As we were paying our checks, we brought the cornbread situation up to our waiter who apologized profusely for forgetting to bring our cornbread out and happily packed us up some cornbread to go. I was stuffed, so I waited until I got home to try it, and I have to say, it was some of the best cornbread I’ve ever eaten. Ever. It was sweet, but not too much, and it had a consistency that was almost cakey. It was perfect.


I couldn't find a picture of the cornbread, so here's another picture of the patio! via Sweeney'

I couldn’t find a picture of the cornbread, so here’s another picture of the patio! via Sweeney’s Website.

3157 Maybank Hwy
Johns Island, SC 29455
(843) 559-5633
Sweeney's on Urbanspoon

Vote for Charleston Magazine’s “50 Best Food & Bev Faves”

Voting for’s 50 Food & Bev faves goes until 11:59pm on Thursday, October 23rd. This is a great chance to vote for some of your favorite Charleston restaurants, bars, breweries, and more.

Pay special attention to #21, as I would love it if you, my lovely readers, would vote “Queen of the Food Age” as “Best Food Blogger” in Charleston!

50 food and bev


I’ve been waiting for Minero to open for what feels like my whole life. From the minute I heard that my culinary obsession, Chef Sean Brock, was opening a Mexican restaurant, I knew that was a place I was going to enjoy.

Be still my corazon!

Be still my corazon!

So when I got word that last Friday would be Minero’s official first day, I grabbed Lily and Sheena and forced them to wait 45 minutes for a table in order to try and be one of the first people to try it out. Considering all the hype around the opening, I was surprised the wait was only 45 minutes. While we were sitting outside patiently (and by that I mean “the opposite of patiently”), an older gentleman (who looked not unlike a retired sea captain) who’d just finished his meal stopped to tell us that “it’s defintiely worth the wait. And order el Satánico! Blended!” So when it was finally our turn to be invited in, that was the first thing we did.

As well as the Titán and Dragón Rojo

As well as the Titán and Dragón Rojo

The space is super cool and very inviting. I’m obsessed with the exposed brick, soft lighting, and general earthy feel of the whole place. It’s a little narrow, but the ambiance was spot on for a Friday night dinner. While I was trying to figure out what to order, I noticed Chef Brock walk past our table and let out an audible, involuntary gasp. My hero! In the flesh! Right there! I’m embarrassed that I acted like a 12-year old fan girl, but honestly no one was surprised.


Full house for the night.

View on Instagram

The menu is relatively short, which I think is a good thing because I was already having a hard enough time deciding on an entree. To start, we ordered the guacamole ($8), which was topped with radish, mexican chili powder, and plenty of cilantro. It was super flavorful and fresh, but a bit on the small side. The tortilla chips were perfect and served in a warm mitten (I don’t know what to call it) and were seasoned well enough to be delicious all on their own. And they better be since he sampled over 40 kinds of corn to perfect them.

guaca-guaca-guaca, mole mole mole. A dip! A dip, dip!

guaca-guaca-guaca, mole mole mole. A dip! A dip, dip!

We also ordered the queso fundido ($9), which is the opposite of the kind of queso that immediately springs to mind (thanks, Moe’s. You’ve ruined me forever). It’s thick and melty and made with smokey roasted poblano, spicy chorizo and meant to be eaten with soft corn tortillas, rather than crispy chips. It was delicious and I think we polished it off mere minutes after it was brought to our table.

You can't go wrong with melted cheese, though, really.

You can’t go wrong with melted cheese, though, really.

Because we had trouble deciding which tacos to order (despite there only being 6 varieties on their menu), we decided to each order 2 and share them so we could get an idea of how each one tasted. Lily picked the fried whiting (pickled green tomato tartar, cabbage, red onion, $4) and the pork carnitas taco (confit, jowl, chicharron, salsa verde ,chilmole, $3.5). They were both delicious, fresh, and flavorful, although if I had to pick a favorite of the two, the carnitas would win hands down.

I don't know if I've ever met a taco I didn't like...

I don’t know if I’ve ever met a taco I didn’t like…

Sheena opted for the grilled steak taco (charred onions and peppers, queso fresco, garlic-amarillo, $4), and the tacos al pastor (marinated and grilled pork, pineapple, avocado, $3.5). The tacos al pastor were awesome with the pineapple, giving a tart and savory flavor to the spiced meat. The steak tacos, though, were out of this world. They were so full of flavor and the meat was tender and juicy…

Dat steak though...

Dat steak though…

I got the final two options, the chargrilled chicken taco (mango, cotija, lime pickled red onion, pasilla de Oaxaca, $3) and the green chorizo taco with potatoes and grilled onions ($4). The chicken tacos had a nice smokey taste from the chargrilling and were very good. However, the chorizo tacos made me stop and close my eyes, chewing slowly so as to really savor the flavor. Each of us had the same reaction. If you’re debating, I definitely recommend the green chorizo taco over all the others.

I'm glad I tried the chicken taco first, or else I would've been super disappointed.

I’m glad I tried the chicken taco first, or else I would’ve been super disappointed.

After our taco feast, we were still a little peckish, so we decided to try the Hotdog confit and deli ham torta (avocado, tomato and chipotle mayo, $9.5), because we were way too intrigued to not try a confit hot dog. I’m so glad we did. The sandwich was huge, but it was unlike anything I’ve ever had. It was topped with some kind of shredded greens (cabbage, I think?), which gave an extra hint of freshness to the salty pork.

Do you see how big this sandwich is??

Do you see how big this sandwich is??

Basically, I want to live in this restaurant. The prices were really reasonable for everything and the quality was top-notch. The service was absolutely awesome, some of the best I’ve ever had. I left feeling like I was best friends with our server by the time we left. In fact, let’s just put a little plaque under table 13 that says “Reserved For The Queen.”

Or just add my name to the sign, that works, too.

Or just add my name to the sign, that works, too.

155 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 789-2241

Minero on Urbanspoon


Quote of the Week 10/8/14

I know we still have like 3 more weeks until Halloween, but I’m going to a big Halloween party this weekend so I’m definitely in that mode. For example, I’ve started craving tiny candy bars for some reason.

“Whoever thought a tiny candy bar should be called fun size was a moron.”
–Glenn Beck


Aaaand that's about the only thing we agree on.

Aaaand that’s about the only thing we agree on. Photo via Flickr / Shankbone

Quote of the Week 10/1/14

I feel like I say this at the beginning of every month, but I really can’t believe it’s October already. I’m going to a Halloween party next weekend. It can’t already be Halloween time already, can it? Can someone please take 2014 off of fast forward mode?

“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!”


–Rainbow Rowell, Attachments


I think she and I could be friends.

I think she and I could be friends.

Twenty Six Divine

One of the best parts of Restaurant week in Charleston is that it always falls on my birthday week, so I end up going out like 4 or 5 times with different friends to celebrate. This year, I had 4 great meals, but my favorite of all the places I tried was Twenty Six Divine! I hadn’t ever even heard of it prior to RW, but I’m officially a fan. Walking up, Sheena and I were delighted by the courtyard, and the interior was small and cozy and felt like we were eating dinner at a friend’s house.

It's like eating dinner in somebody's living room!

Photo Bomb!

When we first sat down, we were greeted by Jennifer Parezo, co-owner & pastry chef (with her husband Enan, who’s the chef). She sat down 2 different kinds of rolls for us to enjoy, and enjoy we did. I loved the hawaiian bread, it tasted similar to the kind you buy in the store, but amplified by about a thousand. So fresh and warm. Mmm… The multigrain roll was also super flavorful and I loved the sunflower seeds on top.

I'll just cancel my entree and eat more bread, please!

I’ll just cancel my entree and eat more bread, please!

For my first course, I went with the Bacon & Avocado Salad (mixed greens, baby tomatoes, goat cheese, avocado, radish, smokey tomato vinaigrette). It was awesome. I love pretty much any salad with bacon or goat cheese in it, and this one had BOTH. The veggies in this salad tasted so fresh, I wonder if they picked them from the garden that morning!

So yummy

I could totally eat this every day.

Sheena got the White Bean Zucchini Cakes, which came with red pepper coulis and more fresh baby tomatoes. They came out looking like mini crab cakes and had similar consistency, but the flavor was totally unique. I wish I could figure out how to make them because they were so simple, but also so full of taste.

And that sauce!

And that sauce! I’m in heaven.

After they cleared out our appetizers, we were each given an amuse bouche of a little cheesy pastry, and it was soooo good. I could’ve eaten a whole basket of those. And they served it on one of those individual soup spoons and it was just too cute.

But 20 in a basket would be even better! #Addicted

But 20 in a basket would be even better! #Addicted

For my entree, I debated furiously between the pork dish and the lamb dish. In the end, my southern side won out and no one was surprised when I ordered the Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork (pork shoulder, collards, petite jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins, smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese). The pulled pork was served wrapped in the collard greens like a paleo burrito, and it was unique and totally delicious. I loved the tanginess of the BBQ sauce paired with the collard greens. And that macaroni…. So good.

And who doesn't love a tower of jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins??

And who doesn’t love a tower of jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins??

Sheena opted to be a little healthier than I, and chose the Cilantro-Lime Seared Mahi Mahi (roasted chayote squash, Carolina gold rice cake, mango buerre blanc). I’m not crazy about fish, but I loved this mahi. It was so full of flavor and was cooked perfectly and cilantro-lime of the fish struck the perfect balance with the mango buerre blanc.

Meals like these make me wish I'd continued on with culinary school.

Meals like these make me wish I’d continued on with culinary school.

For dessert, I was lured into ordering the Chocolate Mousse Cake by the promise of Salted caramel that accompanied the buttermilk chocolate cake and the dark chocolate mousse filling. It was super rich, but super delicious. Everything you want from chocolate cake.

With the added bonus of salted caramel!

With the added bonus of salted caramel!

Sheena, being a pastry chef herself, was ready to judge the crap out of the Mixed Berry Ricotta Tart she ordered for dessert, but ended up singing its praises. The light fluffy vanilla tart was the perfect counterpoint to my rich chocolate cake.

And how cute is that plate?!

And how cute is that plate?!

Once we were stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable, we were given a tiny 2nd dessert of mini apple tartlets which Sheena and I couldn’t stop raving about. She loved that they used nutmeg, rather than cinnamon which gave it a really unique taste and differentiated it from a standard apple pie. I hope these are on the regular menu, because they were so yummy!

And so cute and mini!

And so cute and mini!

I can’t wait to come back and try them out for brunch when I can sit out on this little terrace they have out back. Thanks for the great meal Jenn & Enan!

I can already see myself sitting right there, drinking a cup of coffee, lamenting my hangover.

I can already see myself sitting right there, drinking a cup of coffee, lamenting my hangover.

Twenty Six Divine
682 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 297-8118
Twenty Six Divine on Urbanspoon

Quote of the Week 9/24/14

Yesterday was the first day of fall and today is the birthday of one of my very bestest friends, Christina-lina! Hope you have a wonderful day everybody, if you need me, I’ll be at Starbucks drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
–J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Photo Credit: Harry Potter Wiki

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