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Queen of the Food Age

Product Review

Gift Idea: The Nut House & Country Market

November 1, 2017

This post has been compensated by The Nut House & Country Market. All opinions are mine alone.

Holy wow, it’s November already! I can hardly believe it! I have already been hard at work trying to do my Christmas shopping early so I don’t end up in a mad dash like I was last year. One thing that’s really important to me when it comes to gift shopping at any time of the year, is supporting local businesses and finding gifts that are unique and different and tailored specifically to the person I’m shopping for. So all season long, I’m going to post gift ideas that feature cool, local companies. This first post will be highlighting The Nut House & Country Market in Ridge Spring, SC.

This is *not* the kind of nut house I belong in, but it’s close enough. (photo via The Nut House & Country Market)

The Nut House & Country Market is owned and operated by Yon Family Farms, which produces one of my all-time favorite nuts: pecans! Their homemade pecan treats are made with pecans from their very own orchards in Ridge Spring, South Carolina, and have been beloved by hungry pecan lovers for over 20 years.

Made by hand by friendly, local folks! (photo via The Nut House & Country Market)

Perfect for the holidays, The Nut House & Country Market offers 2 different variety gift tins. The small features your choice of 3 treats at $25, and the large features a all 7 of their delicious treats, a whopping 1.5 pounds of pecan candy, at just $35 (only $10 more than the small tin)! They also offer about 15 different tin designs, so you can customize your tins to fit the perfect occasion.

Keeping it hyper-local with my design choice!

I tried one of their blue palmetto small tins, filled with my favorite candies: Pecan Pralines, Pecan Brittle, and Dark Chocolate Clusters. They were all really yummy, but my favorite was the pecan brittle. It was some of the best I’ve ever had!

It almost looks too pretty to eat! …almost.

They shipped my order out within 2 days of me ordering it, and I couldn’t be happier with the service, presentation, and flavor of my tin. They also offer corporate gifts, individual treats, plain pecans, and a number of local products, too, so be sure to shop local this holiday season!

That pecan brittle, though!

Order your treats: NutHouseAndCountryMarket.com

Restaurant Reviews

Cinco Tex-Mex

October 27, 2017

Back in May, I attended a preview party for Cinco, a new tex-mex style restaurant in Mount Pleasant. We had margaritas and watched an awesome machine press out freshly made tortillas, which was pretty freakin’ cool.

The end result… ain’t she a beaut?!

We were excited to go back and try it on a normal day, since our preview experience was pretty positive. We started with a pineapple margarita, which was tasty. Nice and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness. My only complaint was that the pineapple chunks at the bottom kept getting stuck up in the straw, which made it a little tricky to drink.

Syd started with a regular margarita, which was a lot easier to drink (unless you’re like me and have to take an antacid after every margarita). It had the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and didn’t immediately have me reaching to my purse for a Tums.

Always a good sign!

Because Syd had been craving nachos lately, we decided to split and order of Cinco’s Nachos (individual corn tortilla chips topped with your choice of meat–chorizo, fajita beef, or fajita chicken–refried beans, cheese, jalapeño, with sour cream, pico, and guacamole, $8). Our waitress was enthusiastic about the chorizo, so we chose that as our topping, and we weren’t disappointed! The chorizo was packed full of flavor, and thankfully lacked a lot of the grease that you’ll find at many other Mexican restaurants.

Nacho problem.

For my entree, I decided to go with the Carnitas (braised pork shank with grilled onions and peppers, fresh flour tortillas pico de gallo, sour cream, and 2 sides, $21). For the price, I had very high expectations, but luckily, this dish delivered! The meat practically fell off the bone and was so much more flavorful than I ever expected carnitas could be. Plus, they give you enough food that you can definitely make 2 meals out of it.

This could be a pterodactyl shank for how huge it is.

The carnitas are served with the warm, fresh tortillas off the tortilla press, and that seriously makes all the difference. I filled up 2.5 of these babies, and it didn’t even look like I made a dent on my shank.

Rolled up all snug in a rug, headed to my tummy.

For our sides, we opted for the Frijoles Refrito and Arroz Roja (included with the cost of the carnitas, but $4 each if you got them on the side). The beans were absolutely fantastic. They were nice and creamy, wth just the right hints of smoke and spice. The rice was just ok. It was flavorful, but pretty dry… it didn’t blow me away.

Delicious beans, meh rice.

Syd ordered the Enchiladas (choice of meat: barbacoa beef, chicken tinga, or spinach & bean. Choice of sauces: roja, verde, or suizas. Served with 2 sides, $12). Our waitress recommended we try the barbacoa with the verde, which we did. We really enjoyed it, although I think with the verde sauce, I would’ve preferred chicken. The barbacoa meat itself was very tasty and tender, but I think it pairs better with a red sauce (but that’s just me). The sides we chose were the Arroz Verde and the Corn Salsa, which our waittress also recommended. The arroz verde was a lot more flavorful than the roja, and the corn salad was nice and refreshing, but otherwise not noteworthy.

The arroz rice is much better!

I’m not sure if Cinco offers dessert, but even if they did, we wouldn’t have been able to stomach it.

We’re nothing if not thorough.

All in all, I thought Cinco was a delicious meal, and for the most part was impressed with both the quality and portion sizes of the food we tried. I can’t wait to go back and try more things off the menu!

Cinco Tex-Mex
1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd #B7
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 606-6788

Cinco Tex-Mex Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Product Review Product Round-Up

Products We Love: October Edition

October 25, 2017

Being a food writer comes with a lot of fun perks, not the least of which is the fact that a lot of companies send us fun food products to try out with the hopes that we share some of our favorites with our readers! I’ve been getting a lot more of these products lately, so we wanted to share with you some of our favorites that would be perfect for a Labor Day party, summer cookout, or just because!

Alkalife TEN Water

So I know a lot of people really love to drink Gatorade when they’re hungover, but I absolutely hate the taste of any of those sports drinks. I want to electrolytes without all that other stuff, and Alkalife delivers! Their water is really good, without any sort of after taste or anything like that, and it’s my go-to drink after a night of too much fun.

Where to buy: Alkalife.com, Publix, Amazon 

PureLYFT

As someone who’s been tired since approximately 1998, I really loved these PureLyft caffiene powder sticks. You can either peel off the sticker (although this is a little tricky) or pop off the end and pour it into a glass or bottle of water (or juice, or even a cocktail), shake it up and voilá! It has the same amount of caffeine as a tall cup of coffee, had a very light flavor (lemon-lime was my favorite), and had the added benefit of helping me drink more water and be more alert.

If you buy from PureLYFT.com, you can save 25% with coupon code getLYFTed25

Where to buy: PureLYFT.com, Amazon

Soylent Coffee

I always loved the idea of Soylent (a whole, nutritionally balanced meal on the go), but my biggest hesitation in trying Soylent was its name (I mean, I’ve never seen the movie, but I got the gist of it). They recently announced new coffee-inspired flavors, which contain 400 calories of plant-based nutrition and the same caffeine as a strong cup of coffee, so I finally decided to take the plunge. Their new flavors come in blackest coffee, café vanilla coffee, and café chai. My favorite, by far, is café chai. It’s not too much, and I love the convenience of just grabbing one when I’m on my way out the door!

Where to buy: Soylent.com, Amazon

Loacker Wafers

One of my favorite things about traveling is eating local snacks and goodies and seeing how food differs from culture to culture. Being part Italian, I was really excited when I got the opportunity to try Loacker wafer cookies, marketed to me as “a taste of the alps.” (I mean, come on!) They reminded me of the wafer cookies my grandmother always served to us when I was younger. They’re not super sweet like most American cookies/snacks, but I still really enjoyed how light and airy they were. My favorite flavor was chocolate hazelnut!

Where to buy: Loacker, Amazon

Tonnino Canned Tuna

So, I’m not usually a fan of canned meats in general, but I’ve read on numerous blogs and talked to a personal trainer who told me that canned tuna is one of the best sources of protein when you’re trying to lose weight / build muscle. Since I have a cat, the idea of opening up an actual can was a little off-putting, but this canned variety from Tonnino was a lot more aesthetically pleasing. I like that it comes in different flavors, because I like a little variety in my diet.

Where to buy: Tonnino.com, Whole Foods, Amazon

Robbins Republic

I love supporting little independently owned businesses, and this microconfectionary out of California makes adorable (and delicious) sweet treats featuring local California liquors. My personal favorites are the whiskey caramels and the drunken brittle!

Where to buy: RobbinsRepublic.com

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 10/23/17: Food & Feelings

October 23, 2017

Happy Monday again, my followers! I spent the weekend in Greenville and got to see 2 of my best friends, go apple picking, get attacked by bees, play lots of games, and eat waaay too much delicious food. Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did!

This week’s quote comes from Ernest Hemingway, an author I generally dislike, but ended up really liking this particular quote (thanks, Goodreads, for the inspiration).

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Proof that good food makes us all happy.

Restaurant Reviews

Famulari’s Pizzeria & Brewpub

October 20, 2017

Pizza is one of those foods that brings us all together. Pretty much everyone can agree that if you need to feed a lot of people for not a lot of money, the answer is pizza. But just because you get a lot out of each pie doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality! All my friends make fun of me because I’m pretty particular about my pizza, so if I’m reviewing a pizza joint, you better believe it’s worth it!

So true, Albert. So true.

Famulari’s is a local chain, with locations in West Ashley, Summerville, Goose Creek and a pretty new location on James Island. Each of the stores follow the same basic menu, with the exception of the James Island location, which brews their own beer and offers brunch. They’re most well known for being pretty much the only place in Charleston for serving Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and since Chicago is still on my domestic travel bucket list, I was really looking forward to trying deep dish pizza without having to hop on a plane.

Although flying to a new city specifically for the food is not exactly out of character for me.

Fams offers 4 different options for their 14-inch stuffed pizzas (although any of their specialty pizzas can be made into a Chicago Stuffed Pizza, or you can build your own). On my first visit, we kept it really simple with the Chi-Town Classic (mozzarella, double pepperoni, double sausage, chunky sauce, $25.99). The pie dense, it must’ve weighed like close to 10 pounds and I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to finish it. The chunky sauce was fantastic, with a nice bit of acidity and tang, with just a bit of sweetness to balance it out. There was a nice distribution of toppings, so I felt like I got an even spread in each bite. This was a definite winner.

That’s one fat pizza pie.

On my second visit, we went in a different direction with the Greek (mozzarella, spinach, black olive, artichoke, feta, chunky sauce, $25.99), which was a really awesome choice. It was like a greek salad under a blanket of chunky red sauce, all things I love.

Guess how many people were at the table to eat that much food?

We also tried an order of their Spinach Cheese Bread (pan-baked dough loaded with fresh spinach, mozzarella, cheddar, and topped with “shake,” $6.99), which was delicious. The bread was perfectly cheesy and had a lot of flavor, and I liked the addition of the spinach to trick my brain into thinking I was eating something healthy.

My brain is very easily tricked. Proof: all of my ex-boyfriends.

Because I’m also obsessed with white pizzas, I also decided to try their version. The White (ricotta sauce, mozzarella, garlic, basil, tomato, $15.99 for a 14-inch pie) was absolutely delicious! Lots of flavor in the sauce without being overbearing, and I loved the addition of the tomatoes and basil.

Again, it has green stuff on it, so I can feel less guilty about how much pizza I ate.

I visited the brewpub on James Island for brunch with friends who were visiting from out of town. Their regular menu was basically the same, (although they do have double the number of appetizers, with amazing sounding dishes like fried cheese curds, zeppoles, and chicken tenders). The space was much bigger than their West Ashley location, and I absolutely loved how spacious and inviting their outdoor patio/beergarden was.

My picture turned out to be blurry, so this one comes via Famularis’ Facebook

I’ve never been to brunch at a pizza place before, but the menu was so mouthwatering that I was really looking forward to it! There was a good mix of sweet (like french toast topped with Grand Marnier Syrup) and savory (deep dish frittata of the day, a smaller version of their Chicago-style deep dish, with a brunch spin), which is definitely required of a quality brunch. We started with an order of Beignets (deep fried dough, topped with powdered sugar, $4), which I absolutely love. Their version was made with some of their pizza dough, and was nice and pillowy and sweet. We probably could’ve eaten a 2nd order, but we restrained ourselves.

Like heavenly little clouds of sugar.

Since I tend to prefer savory foods at brunch, I opted for the Caprese Crostini (crispy toasted bread, topped with fried eggs, avocado, fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and extra virgin olive oil, served with your choice of side, $11). Eggs + avocado + bread = my favorite thing, so I absolutely loved this dish! Adding in the mozzarella and tomato made for a delicious and well-rounded open-faced breakfast sandwich that I will definitely be back for. I opted for the home fries as my side, and boy was I glad I did! They were super crispy outside, but nice and pillowy inside, exactly what everyone loves in a home fry. Plus, at only $11, I felt like this dish was a total steal.

Eggs, Potatoes, Avocado, oh my!

They also offer a brunch-twist on a classic calzone, in the form of a fruit Turnover (dough filled with sweet ricotta and your choice of fresh blueberries or Granny Smith cinnamon apple filling. Topped with your choice of raspberry or caramel sauce, and served with your choice of brunch side item, $10). We had 2 people at our table order this, and they both loved it. The apples topped with caramel definitely had more of the makings of a classic apple pie, which I was a huge fan of.

Hello, gorgeous.

The blueberry filling (topped with raspberry sauce) was really sweet and tasted like summertime. I was happy to have a bite of it, but it was a little too sweet for me. But my dining companion didn’t seem to mind, as she cleaned her entire plate.

Plus the color is much more Instagrammable.

All in all, I’ve had many fantastic meals at Famulari’s, and if you haven’t visited them yet (especially the brewpub), you should get on that post haste!

Here’s another shot of the crostini because I’m so obsessed with it.

Famulari’s Brewpub
1291 Folly Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
843-225-4646

Product Review

Taste & See North Carolina: Review

October 18, 2017

A few weeks ago, I received this awesome box from a cool, local company out of North Carolina called “Taste & See North Carolina.” The box is a quarterly subscription box that includes handpicked local products from artisans from our northern neighbor.

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They have a few different options corresponding to the different cities in NC. You can choose from Asheville, Durham, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem. Since I’m a huge fan of Asheville, I opted for that particular box and was not disappointed! (P.S. use code FOODAGE at checkout, and you save $5!)

Let’s take a look inside the box!

You see, I taste. Then you order and you taste, too!

Ginger Spice Pancake Mix – Dolci di Maria
Black Mountain, NC

I’m one of those weirdo people who don’t really love plain pancakes, so I love that they sent this flavored pancake mix for me to try out. They were really yummy on their own (and even yummier when I added bittersweet chocolate chips). If you have a waffle maker and are also one of those weirdo people who don’t like pancakes, you can also use the batter to make ginger spice waffles, perfect for fall!

But really, what foods *aren’t* improved by chocolate

Peruvian Roast – Biltmore Coffee Roasters
Asheville, NC

In case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a coffee fiend. I’m always willing to pay a little extra for quality beans because they pretty much always lead to a tastier cup of coffee. This Peruvian roast definitely woke me up in the morning!

I might be what some people refer to as “an addict.”

Apple Butter, Imladris Farms
Fairview, NC

My Irish roots were so excited to see Celtic knots on the side of this jar! I was even more excited when I saw that it was apple butter, which is one of my favorite spreads in the morning. This apple butter was really yummy! A perfect balance of sweet, tang, and spice.

I love that I can pronounce (and ID) every ingredient in here!

Vanilla Bean-Infused Honey, Asheville Bee Charmer
Asheville, NC

I love honey, and this vanilla-infused honey was so luxurious and decadent. I couldn’t get enough! One morning, I made a vanilla bean-infused honey latte using the Peruvian coffee from Biltmore Coffee Roasters and it was un-bee-lievable (couldn’t help myself).

Oh, honey!

But wait, there’s more!

These boxes make a great gift for birthdays, special occasions, or for the upcoming holiday season!

Use code FOODAGE at checkout, and you save $5!

That means a taste of the awesome artisans throughout North Carolina for just $35 a box!

 

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week: Good Food Is My Kryptonite

October 16, 2017

Happy Monday, followers!

You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I have spent the past couple months helping plan a giant and awesome costume party for Yelp, called YelpCon, which happened this past Saturday. It was soooo much fun (seriously, look at the pictures), but the planning kind of took over my life for a bit. I’m getting back on track now and plan to get back to my usual 3x-a-week posting schedule… (fingers crossed).

Let’s get started with a quote that I read from author James Patterson, which I thought sounded exactly like something I would say. Enjoy the rest of your week!

“Am I tough? Am I strong? Am I hard-core? Absolutely. Did I whimper with pathetic delight when I sank my teeth into my hot fried-chicken sandwich? You betcha.”
— James Patterson

Don’t even try to tell me you’ve never done it.

Charleston Restaurant News

The Granary Announces Curtis Wilson as Executive Chef

October 5, 2017

Mount Pleasant restaurant The Granary is excited to welcome Curtis Wilson as executive chef starting Monday, October 9. The Indigo Road alum will replace former executive chef Brannon Florie.

Florie’s need to shift his time and energy to his two other concepts, Pier 41 and On Forty-One, as well as to his family was the driving force behind this change in culinary leadership.

“I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity and the mentorship I have received from Steve,” said Florie. “I’m also very grateful for our talented team and their hard work since the reopening. I look forward to watching their continued success under Curtis.”

“We fully support Brannon’s decision and wish him the best in his future ventures,” said Palmer. “I’m excited to see where Wilson takes the menu, and I’m happy to be able to promote from within the Indigo Road family again.”

Wilson brings extensive culinary experience to The Granary, including five years working in downtown Charleston restaurant The Macintosh where he served as sous chef.

Located at 835 Coleman Boulevard, The Granary delivers Lowcountry inspired American fare featuring seasonal ingredients in an expanded and casual space.

The Granary serves dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. On Sundays, guests can indulge in half-priced bottles of wine, followed by a Lobster Roll special every Monday, oyster specials on Fridays and live music on Wednesdays. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit The Granary online and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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