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Queen of the Food Age

Charleston Restaurant News

Morgan Creek Grill Announces Executive Chef Matthew Lagace

March 8, 2017

Morgan Creek Grill, a waterfront retreat on Isle of Palms, is pleased to announce that Matthew Lagace has been hired as Executive Chef. A Rhode Island native with more than a dozen years of kitchen leadership, Lagace has introduced a new menu highlighted by inventive seafood preparations and seasonal local produce.

“Since arriving, Executive Chef Lagace has brought new inspiration not just to the kitchen but to the entire grill,” shares Morgan Creek Grill General Manager Kayleigh Lauffer. “With a vibrant mix of casual and fine dining options in Charleston’s ultimate waterfront setting, we look forward to welcoming new and returning guests this spring.”


Originally from Lincoln, Rhode Island, Chef Lagace earned his stripes at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Massachusetts. After working up the ranks to Executive Sous Chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Boston, Chef Lagace brought his passion for sustainable seafood and produce to Charleston in 2016.

Main Dining Room menu staples include:

  • Crab & Orzo Stuffed Local Flounder with grilled jumbo asparagus, beurre blanc
  • Spanish Farro Bowl with roasted corn, pico de gallo, dried blueberries, hearts of palm and guacamole
  • Oysters Rockefeller with Eastern Virginia selects, collard greens, bacon,   panko and beurre blanc
  • Bacon Mustard Brussels Sprouts with bacon fat and parmesan cheese
  • Shrimp Scampi with chorizo, garlic butter and cavatappi

Giant shimpers!

Upper Deck Bar & Grill menu highlights include:

  • Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl with ponzu, wakame, sesame and wontons
  • New England Style Maine Lobster Roll with bacon, scallion, house dressing
  • Black Grouper Fish Tacos with kale, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, ancho creama
  • Buffalo Fried Cauliflower with blue cheese crumbles

Buffalo shrimp!

Morgan Creek Grill’s menu specials change on a daily basis and revolve around seasonal produce. The restaurant is located on 80 41stAvenue Isle of Palms, S.C. 29451.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week – 3/6/17

March 7, 2017

Wowza, can you believe it’s March already? I surely can’t believe how quickly 2017 is flying by (although I am looking forward to warmer weather).

After eating all of the foods during CHSWFF, I probably should be sticking to salad, but life is short and who wants to do that?

“I do love Italian food. Any kind of pasta or pizza”
– Jennifer Love Hewitt


Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston Wine + Food Day 5: The Final Pork

March 6, 2017

Note: Be sure to catch up on our other daily recaps!  Day 1: Rooted in Charleston, Day 2: Seaside Bites, Day 3: Chucktown Gets Down, and Day 4: What the Pho?!

We made it. It was a long 5 days, chock full of too much food, too many drinks, and not enough time to full digest before diving back in. Excuse me while I sleep for 3 days to recover.

Here are the details of the final day of Wine + Food 2017

Of Rice and Rum


This was one of the more unique events we attended during Wine + Food this year. It took place at Middleton Place plantation and included a walking tour of the grounds,

an demonstration of rice harvesting from a guy dressed up in colonial clothing,

and a talk from Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills on the importance of rice in the South and how it relates to Sugarcane, rum, benne, and culture, before we ever got a chance to taste any rice or rum.

Lunch was served in a gorgeous event space at Middleton, and was comprised of 2 dishes using Carolina Gold Rice as a main component. First up was a crispy duck, topped with oysters, over an Italian-style rice dish with country ham and crispy greens.

Then there was quail with another kind of rice dish, which featured garbanzo beans, and grapes (yes, grapes).

Dessert was a soaked rum cake, which probably could’ve gotten you drunk. It was very strong.

After that, we were led through a tasting of Mount Gay’s signature rums, with a representative from the company who was very entertaining and knowledgable.

It was pretty cool, especially if you’re into history and more intimate-type events, as it was very small (12 people, tops).

Sinister Siesta

This event took place at The Royal American and had a lot of fun elements happening. Lots of great food, like Dough Boys Pizza, biscuits, and Chicken Poori.

There was also some awesome music, great DIY piggy banks, temporary tattoos, strong-as-hell cocktails, and more!

Toasted

The final event was a huge block party that took up the entire parking lot of the cigar factory, and featured over 14 restaurants serving up delicious BBQ.

People took the name of the event to heart and were really diving into the cocktails, wine, and beer available at the event. Definitely closing strong!

I was super excited to get to try Rodney Scott’s BBQ for the first time, and it definitely did not disappoint!

Smoke BBQ were serving up BBQ mac and cheese–coincidentally, the only mac and cheese I saw during the entire festival.

One of my other favorites was the ember-roasted sweet potatoes with trout roe from Venkman’s out of Atlanta. It was packed with flavor, and really nice and doubled as a nice handwarmer.

Pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo of Swig & Swine was cutting loose and thoroughly enjoying himself. He asked us “have you had a chance to put my sausage in your mouth yet?” before giggling a lot to himself. We did have a chance and it was satisfactory. That, and the amazing corn pudding!

Lots of pork sliders were consumed between cocktails.

I took a stalker pic of Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel as I munched on some ‘cue.

And the band, Plain Jane, kept us all dancing and singing along by playing some awesome covers of some of our favorite songs.

All in all it was a fantastic way to close out one of the most memorable experiences of my food career! Can’t wait to do it again next year!

Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston Wine + Food, Night 4: What The Pho?!

March 5, 2017

Note: Be sure to catch up on our other daily recaps!  Day 1: Rooted in Charleston, Day 2: Seaside Bites, Day 3: Chucktown Gets Down, and Day 4: What the Pho?!

The weather on Saturday couldn’t have been better for a full day of Wine + Food events. Today was the first day that TQuizzle and I have been really able to spend the whole day together, so we really did it up right.

Here’s a sampling of our day:

Iron Mixology Competition


We slept in a bit and headed to Bar Mash for the iron mixology competition, hosted by the amazingly talented mixologist Charlotte Voisey, Director of Brand Advocacy for William Grant & Sons!

4 local mixologists competed using secret ingredients. Round 1 was passionfruit. Round 2 was beer.

And Round 3 was balsamic vinegar. Although Feathertop, Prohibition, and Proof all brought their A-game, it was ultimately Gin Joint who walked away a champion!

Shucked

An event for all the oyster lovers out there! Basically all you can eat oysters in any style imaginable–raw, steamed, grilled, chargrilled, Rockefeller, with garlic…you name it, it was at Shucked. My personal favorite was from Grand Isle Restaurant out of New Orleans, which were so garlicky, I could’ve killed a vampire, but they were so good.

In addition to oysters, there was plenty of other seafood to be enjoyed, like this seafood stew with nice, crusty bread to soak up all that delicious broth.

When we felt a little parched, it was time for some tequila, as the event was sponsored by Patron. I tried a Nitrogen Margarita, and boy, was it smooth!

And strong!

Pinot NV

Ok so as much as I like to drink wine, I think Pinot NV was my least favorite event of the entire festival. I think maybe it’s directed at a more mature crowd, because other than drinking wine, I didn’t think there was a lot going on.

Snout to Tail

Snout to Tail took place at the beautiful Home Team BBQ downtown location. I’m obsessed with their outdoor patio, with a built-in stage, which is perfect for live music. When we first walked in, we were treated to deviled quail eggs, which were super yummy.

There was also a carnitas taco from Holy City Hogs, and a bunch of other delicious meats to be enjoyed.

What the Pho?!

Getting the party started here at What the Pho? supported by @foodrepublic 🍜 #chswff #chsevents #pho #whatthepho #partytime

A post shared by Charleston Wine + Food (@chswineandfood) on


This party took over the parking lot at Le Crueset in West Ashley, and it was bangin’. Tons of Asian-inspired bites, paper lanterns, an amazing DJ, and, did I mention champagne??

We were super excited to taste the amazing soup dumplings from Short Grain, and boy did they deliver!

But did we mention the champagne, though??

Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston Wine + Food, Night 3: Chucktown Gets Down

March 4, 2017

Note: Be sure to catch up on our other daily recaps!
Day 1: Rooted in Charleston, Day 2: Seaside Bites, and Day 4: What the Pho?!

My feet are aching, my stomach is full, and I’m more tired than I’ve been in a long time, but I suppose I can’t really complain because I got to attend a ton of amazing and unforgettable events. Here’s my digest of Day 3:

Culinary Village

A favorite as always!


I love the Artisan Tent, as it always introduces me to fun and exciting new products, like these!

And lets me reintroduce some old favorites into my life!

Snacks are everywhere

Everything from the sweet,

to the savory,

the salty,

the smoky,

and everything in between!

Cajun Meets Lowcountry Boil

This event took place at Salty Mike’s off of Lockwood. Although this type of food isn’t usually my favorite, the weather and the view were so beautiful, you really couldn’t complain!

Also, the music was fantastic, the beer was cold, and there were lots of treats that everyone could enjoy!

A Bourbon Affair

This event made me wish I was more of a bourbon connoisseur! There was so much brown water, I didn’t know where to begin. So I started with a cocktail, before moving on to a tasting of a few ryes, single malts, and even some fancy stuff, which I would’ve remembered the name of, if I hadn’t drank so much bourbon.

The standout from the event, surprisingly, wasn’t the bourbon. It was this amazing lamb tartare from PinPoint Restaurant in Wilmington.

From The Ashes

Basically a giant BBQ celebration in the prettiest location one could ask for.

Runnymede Plantation at sunset is just breathtaking, and the food was pretty killer.

But BBQ wasn’t the only food, there were also lots of oysters (of course).

Plus, I got to try La Morra pizza for the first time, which was amazing.

There was also a lot of camaraderie and fun between festival-goers and chefs.

Pecha Kucha 26

Pretty much always my favorite event, Pecha Kucha brings together important people within the Charleston community to share 6 minutes and 40 seconds worth of wisdom, inspiration, or celebration with a rapt and raucous audience.

Plus, lots of good beer (and a few Callie’s HLBs!).  Basically I freaked out at the chance to hear Corrie and Shuai Wang of Short Grain speak, because I worship them (not an exaggeration).

Magnolia’s Signature Dinner

TQuizzle attended this event without me so that we could maximize our event attendance, and boy was I jealous. She was treated to like 8 courses, lots of fantastic wine from Paul Hobbs Winery, and even some operatic serenades from one of the Magnolia’s chefs!

Nassau Sideshow

Ok, so you’ll have to cut me some slack here. This was the last event on Friday (at Lewis Barbecue) after a very long day. This was my 7th event, and I’d had a bit to drink, so I don’t have any photos saved (curse you Instagram stories!).

Just a quick recap of the last two days… remember that cow luge at @lewisbarbecue for the Nassau Street Sideshow??

A post shared by Holy City Handcraft (@holycityhandcraft) on

This event was legitimately one of the most fun parties of the entire week, in part because it was so unique and different. There was an 80’s hair band, people on stilts, fire dancers, carnival games, and, as shown above by my friend Miguel at Holy City Handcraft, an ice luge in the shape of a cow. By far my favorite event.

Charleston Wine + Food

Charleston Wine + Food, Night 2: Seaside Bites

March 3, 2017

Another fantastic day of CHSWFF is in the books!

Photo from Bowens Island during the “Hooked on Bowens” event.

Here’s how it all went down:

Tasty Date Night


You know those amazing food videos you get sucked into watching on Facebook? Well, I got to go to a taping of one in Marion Square!

This segment was entitled “Date Night” and featured 2 local couples going head-to-head in a competition on who could best recreate Chef Jeremiah Bacon’s quail recipe. It was thrilling and a ton of fun to be a witness!

SieMatic VIP Lounge

Because I’m such a VIP, I got to rest my feet at the SieMatic VIP lounge, which featured a number of awesome guest chefs/mixologists, including the amazing Ryan Welliver of Cocktail Club.

Ryan made a fantastic cocktail. My second before noon, but who’s counting?

Certainly not me.

I also got to bear witness to Miguel of Holy City Handcraft as he hosted Chef Marvin Woods of the soon-to-open Gentry Bar, who made a delightfully simple dish of Spaghetti Squash marinara.

Hand delivered by Mr. Handcraft himself.

Chef Woods also dropped a couple pearls of wisdom, which I will forever cherish.

Hooked on Bowens

Wow, I don’t think I could’ve dreamt up a more breathtaking event. Chefs from around the Southeast shared with us their seafood-inspired dishes.

Some of my favorites included the grilled octopus on rosemary skewer from Chef Teddy Diggs of Il Palio,

the Wreckfish from Fat Hen,

and the Sea bass from Hanks Seafood.

Additionally, Don Julio was on site to do a tequila tasting.

They also used their tequilas to make 2 dangerously delicious cocktails, the Spice Island with pineapple,

And the Coconut Coast with coconut water and lime.

Fowl Mouth

Hosted at the Cooper River Brewery in Charleston, this event featured amazing live music, generous pours of cocktails, beer, and wine, and fowl-inspired dishes from local and regional chefs.

My favorites–by far–were the Nashville Hot Quail by Salthouse Catering,

And the “Alabama Tamale” (collard green wrap, sweet potato masa, and smoked duck chorizo) from Acre Restaurant in Alabama.

I also got to meet one of my biggest girl crushes: Meghan Deschaine!

After Party at Bar Mash

The after party at Bar Mash was full of delicious Old Fashioned cocktails, and snacks.

That’s a lot to take in in one day! This is going to be a long weekend!

Charleston Wine + Food Events

Charleston Wine + Food, Night 1: Rooted in Charleston

March 2, 2017

Note: Be sure to catch up on our other daily recaps!
Day 2: Seaside Bites, Day 3: Chucktown Gets Down, and Day 4: What the Pho?!

🎶 It’s the mooooost wonderful time of the yeeear! 🎶 Not going to lie, Charleston Wine + Food might be my favorite festival of the year. It celebrates 2 of the things I love most in life: food and alcohol. What could be better than that?

Ok, yeah, CHSWFF could use more cat-themed events. But other than that, it’s the best.

Night 1 was pretty busy, considering it didn’t even get started until 6pm. First up was the Party for the Partners at the fabulous William Aiken House. This was for select media, partners, participants, etc. It was catered by Fish, and featured lots of yummy cheese, wines, savory macarons, sweet crepes, savory crepes, and (of course) plenty of vino!

Well, for me at least. Sydney T is “on a cleanse” *rolls eyes*

The public grand opening party was in Marion Square and featured all things Charleston! Many restaurants and chefs from around the city were featured in 1 giant tent. Picture this: a hundred chefs cooking on hot plates, plus thousands of visitors moving around and drinking alcohol, on a day that was 70 degrees with 94% humidity, in cramped quarters with no air circulation. It was hot. I was sweaty (and I wasn’t alone).

Still lookin’ fly, though.

We tried so much yummy food (and some food that was less impressive, but such is life!) and listened to rockin’ music, while sipping on refreshing cocktails. If it was 10 degrees cooler, it would’ve been the perfect night.

Another tip for next year: better lighting for Instagram purposes.

Here’s looking forward to many more amazing nights to come! If you see me or Sydney T. hanging out around town during CHSWFF, be sure to say hi! We have stickers!

Plus it makes us feel really famous when our fans accost us randomly.

Recipes

Blossom’s Gumbo Recipe

February 28, 2017

Fat Tuesday (or as I call it: Tuesday) is the day before Ash Wednesday, aka Lent, when good Catholics give up something dear to them for 40 days to represent the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. In a more secular sense, it’s also Mardi Gras, the biggest party in New Orleans. And what says Mardi Gras like a bowl of steaming seafood gumbo?

Photo via Yelp

Charleston’s Blossom restaurant has you covered for all your gumbo needs.  Locals are encouraged to head into Blossom to satisfy their Cajun cravings, while home cooks can kick up their Mardi Gras parties with Blossom’s essential recipe. Featuring jasmine rice, gumbo filé and a mix of the South’s best seafood, this traditional Mardi Gras favorite is simple to create in the comfort of one’s kitchen to celebrate this festive time of year.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds unsalted butter
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 head finely chopped celery
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped poblano pepper, seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (up to 14.5 ounces) unseasoned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 gallon (16 cups) lobster stock or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves, tied in cheesecloth
  • 1/3 cup Tabasco
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon gumbo file
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 pounds andouille sausage, cut lengthwise then into 1/2-inch pieces (half-moon shape)
  • 1 pound okra, ends removed and coined
  • 6 ounces cooked chicken or shrimp (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a saucepot, melt butter. Combine flour and mix well to make the roux. Transfer roux to a casserole dish and place in pre-heated oven. Continue to cook until dark, approximately for 1 1/2 hours while stirring every 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and add celery, onions, and peppers. Mix well and set aside. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before adding liquid.
  4. Over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, add Worcestershire, tomatoes, stock, thyme, bay leaves, tabasco and seasonings; bring to a boil. Slowly add roux until well incorporated.
  5. If you have an immersion blender, purée the liquid mixture over medium-low heat; otherwise, remove from heat, cautiously purée in a blender and return to pot.
  6. If the mixture is too thick, add more stock as needed.
  7. Over medium heat, add the sausage, okra and chicken/shrimp; adjust seasoning to taste.
  8. Tip: A great way to prepare the okra before adding to mixture is to quickly sauté over high heat or flash-fry in a fryer. This will help the okra be less slimy.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Charleston Restaurant News Restaurant Openings

Chubby Fish to Open in Charleston This Spring

February 27, 2017

Already pegged as one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2017, partners Geoff Shyatt and James London are pleased to officially announce the opening of Chubby Fish, coming to Charleston in May 2017. Set to open at 252 Coming Street, on the corner of Bogard, the 1,300-square foot restaurant will highlight daily catches from local fisherman, expertly prepared in a casual setting.

So much seafooding.

A post shared by Jay Fletcher (@jpegfletcher) on

Shyatt and London, lifelong friends and South Carolina natives, have a collective 30 years in the restaurant industry, having worked in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Nashville. Their shared experience lends an air of promise to their first collaborative venture. Having identified a need for a reasonably-priced seafood restaurant with a chef-driven menu in Charleston, Shyatt and London believe that Chubby Fish will be the perfect compromise between fine-dining and a classic neighborhood joint. The restaurant’s counter-service model and open-kitchen plan allows guests to enjoy inventive, sustainable seafood dishes in an approachable atmosphere.

Chubby Fish (Facebook)


A preview menu is divided into Raw Bar selections, Small Plates, Entrees, and Whole Fish, complemented by a selection of seasonal side dishes. Early standouts include Chicken Fried Yellowtail Collars, Seasonal Pickles and Comeback Sauce; Hacked Softshell Crab Rice Bowl with Benton’s Bacon, XO Sauce, and A Slow Poached Egg; and Smoked Scallop Crudo with White Soy, Serrano, and Grapefruit. The menu will be rotating continuously, always highlighting the freshest ingredients available. An intelligently-curated bar program will include regional craft beers along with a few big names and an ever-evolving, boutique wine list.

Conceived in collaboration with Atlanta-based interior designer Elizabeth Ingram (Beetlecat, State of Grace, King + Duke, The Optimist), Chubby Fish’s 48-seat dining room will boast a bright, airy atmosphere with subtle nautical touches throughout. The space will have community-style seating, window banquettes, and an 8-seat chef counter. Future plans include a 16-seat patio for communal al fresco dining due in 2018.

A Clemson graduate, Managing Partner Shyatt has worked on some of the Southeast’s most up and coming dining landscapes. Most recently, Shyatt worked at Atlanta’s critically-acclaimed BoccaLupo named as one of Atlanta’s best restaurants by such publications as Southern Living, Garden & Gun, and The New York Times. Chef/Partner London, a graduate of both the College of Charleston and The French Culinary Institute, was the Executive Chef at the Michelin Guide recommended NIKO Restaurant, The Hotel on Rivington and San Francisco’s landmark Elite Café.

Charleston, SC Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week – 2/26/17

February 26, 2017

It’s the best week of the year: Charleston Wine + Food! This year, I have a media pass, so I’m going to be attending every event I possible can (this would be one of those times where a cloning machine or time-turner would very much come in handy).

In honor of this awesome event, here’s a quote from Lin Yutang that pretty much summarizes what’s so great about the culinary scene in Charleston:

“Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks.”
-Lin Yutang


 

 

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