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Queen of the Food Age

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 1/8/18: New Year, Same Ole Me

January 8, 2018

Apparently it’s Monday again, but I’ve completely lost track of what day of the week it is after being on holiday break, followed by snow days (snow daze, amiright)…. I’m not even sure what year it is anymore. Is it still 2018? Still can’t believe all the snow we got, but it did give me a great opportunity to work on a giveaway with JORD (pronounced “yoad” as in “toad”) watches. Enter the giveaway here -> JORD giveaway

Also, if you watched the Golden Globes last night and can’t get enough of voting for things, it would be super amazing if you could nominate Queen of the Food Age as “Best Local Interest Blog” for Best of Charleston 2018!

This week’s quote comes from 70’s rock prodigies the Steve Miller Band and adequately sums up how I’m feeling about my new year’s resolutions only 1 week into the year:

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger!”
― Steve Miller Band

Restaurant Reviews

Poké Tea House

January 5, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram or have spoken to me in real life in the past few months, you’ll know that I’m obsessed (seriously obsessed) with Poké Tea House. In fact, I even have a photo of me at PTH on my Bumble profile.

Although, to be fair, it is a really cute pic.

The way it works when you get there is you grab an order sheet and pick your favorite things. For a poké bowl, you first pick your base (sushi rice, brown rice, mixed greens, or zucchini noodles). Then you choose 1 or 2 proteins (1 for $11.99 or 2 for $14.50). Then you pick 3 mix-in ingredients, a sauce, and 2 toppings. My go to bowl order is sushi rice, ahi tuna, with cucumber, cilantro and pineapple mixed in, ponzu citrus sauce, and topped with spicy tuna and avocado, plus the sesame seeds and fried onions that come free.

Is it food or is it art? Answer: Both.

They’re also one of the only places in the Holy City that offer a sushi burrito. The steps for that are pretty much the same as above, but you choose “burrito” instead of “bowl” when you fill out the sheet. I recently had a sample of one of their sushi burritos with salmon, and I can say that I’m a huge fan.

Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever met a sushi roll I didn’t love.

One thing that I didn’t think I was going to be a fan of was the SPAM misubi, which is apparently a popular snack in Hawaii. Since I’ve never been to Hawaii, I thought this was a practical joke of which I was the victim. Once I found out they were, in fact, serious, I resigned myself to giving it a try (I have a 1 bite rule: I have to take at least 1 bite of something, no matter how much it scares me). I’m so glad that I did, because I’m proud to say that it was delicious! It had so much flavor and I loved the different textures from the rice, seaweed, and SPAM. I highly recommend you give it a try!

 

But only at Poke Tea House or in Hawaii.

As implied by their name, they also have a great selection of bubble tea available as well. My favorite is the honeydew milk tea with strawberry jellies. Their tapioca bubbles are better than a lot of places that I’ve tried them, but I still get kind of freaked out by the texture, so the jellies are my fave.

Always opt for the large.

During the summer they also had this really cool color-changing tea made with butterfly pea flower that was super neat. Basically the butterfly pea flower powder changes color when it interacts with an acid, so y when you pour in some lemon juice, it turns a completely different color. It tastes like a yummy lemonade, which my brain didn’t understand since it was purple.

Science is cool… and delicious!

So basically, if you haven’t been already, you need to go ASAP because it’s my favorite place in Charleston, hands down.

Poké Tea House
441 Meeting St UNIT E
Charleston, SC 29403
854-444-3591

Read Sydney G.‘s review of Poké Tea House on Yelp

Poke Tea House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Quote of the Week

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas friends and followers!

I hope that Santa brings you everything you wished for and that you watched both A Christmas Prince and A Christmas Inheritance on Netflix and loved them as much as I did.

I’m having a celebrity mashed potatoes recipe cook off today with my parents (check Instagram for results) and I’ll probably have a Merry-mosa or 2, so it’s sure to be an awesome Christmas, indeed.

“Christmas for me is all about spending time with my family. I cherish any chance we have to spend all day together making gingerbread houses, baking cookies, or sitting around and watching movies.”
— Blake Lively

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 12/18/17: Time For A Vacay

December 20, 2017

I’m not sure if this is true for most of you, but I’m officially on Christmas break! I have a lot of fun adventures coming up in the next 2 weeks, like a trip to Atlanta, a visit to the beach at Edisto, a wedding in Hilton Head, lots of family & friends coming to visit, and watching all the amazing movies coming out soon (Pitch Perfect and Jumani, I’m lookin’ at you)… I’m really looking forward to it (although the thought of only having like a week left to stream Christmas music constantly throughout the day is starting to make me so blue just thinking about it).

In honor of my (and hopefully your) vacation, I wanted to share this quote, which accurately sums up how I’d like to spend the next 2 weeks.

“If I had any choice in the matter, I’d stay in my comfy bed and eat warm chocolate chip cookies all day.”
— Simone Elkeles

Restaurant Openings Restaurant Reviews

1Kept Charleston

December 15, 2017

[Updated 12/15/17]

I recently had the pleasure of trying out 1Kept, the new restaurant taking the place of Barony Tavern (RIP) at the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Charleston. I’d been able to attend the grand opening party (where I met Andrew Zimmern, nbd), but hadn’t really gotten a chance to try any of the food, so I was excited to experience Charleston’s trendiest new restaurant with my friend and fellow food blogger Elise (aka Cookin’ With Booze).

And featuring art from local artists, too!

We started with some of their signature Black Truffle Popcorn with grated parmesan cheese ($6). The popcorn was nice and crispy and the black truffle element was subtle enough to not be overpowering, and also complemented the parmesan really nicely. Basically, put enough parmesan on anything and I’ll eat it.

Movies theaters really need to start serving this stuff.

Next up, we were really intrigued by the Duck Fat Cornbread, which was served with a red pepper jelly ($6). The flavor of the duck fat came through pretty strongly in the cornbread, but the pepper jelly was nice to cut the flavor and make it all come together really well. The cornbread itself had a nice moisture content; it wasn’t too dry or too wet, which was nice. We also saved the pepper jelly and used it to flavor some of the other things we ordered. It’s a wonder condiment!

Red pepper jelly over everything.

Because I’m addicted to Brussels sprouts, we ordered the Fried Brussels (roasted red peppers, apple gastrique, salt & vinegar, $9) and I was seriously impressed. I’m not sure if they boiled the sprouts before they fried them or what, but the stem of the sprouts (which tend to be the toughest, chewiest part of the veggie) was like butter. The outer leaves were nice and crispy, meaning I could eat them by the bushel.

Brussels sprouts for life!

The Pork Meatballs (roasted pickled fennel, carrot, balsamic reduction, $10) were really nice. They had more of a Swedish meatball consistency than an Italian meatball, with a nice springiness and a more compact mouthfeel. The addition of the pickled fennel, carrots, and cilantro gave them a nice Asian flair. Pro tip: they also taste amazing when dipped in the pepper jelly.

Also, grilled pickled fennel is one of my new favorite vegetables.

For a main course, we opted to split 2 entrees, which they graciously pre-cut and served to us so that we didn’t have to do all the dirty work ourselves, which was awesome. The first entrée we split was their signature Chicken Schnitzel (with herb späetzle, braised red cabbage, kale, caramelized onion cream sauce, $19). The panko breading on the outside was fried to a nice crisp, while the chicken inside was still super thin and juicy. The true star of the dish, however, was the caramelized onion gravy, which probably would be delicious on anything. It was creamy and thick without that weird congealyness (a word I totally didn’t just make up) that gravy can sometimes get, and had a nice depth of flavor that really went amazingly with the chicken. The spaetzle noodles had some kind of lemon zest on them which really helped to brighten up the dish and trick my brain into thinking I was eating something light and summery.

Germany meets Charleston in the best possible way!

The second entrée was the Shrimp & Grits (Pimento cheese, scallions, arrabbiata sauce, $22), which are served quite differently than the typical option you’ll find around town. The arrabbiata sauce was smoky and a little spicy and complemented the pimento cheesiness of the grits really excellently. I liked that it was a nice twist on a traditional Southern recipe so that you get something that is at once different and familiar.

Pimento cheese grits are the ticket!

Update so it’s been a while since I wrote about 1Kept, but I actually tend to visit the restaurant about once a month because it’s so delicious. I’ve been for lunch, dinner, and happy hour and had a great time at each. Let’s talk about the pimento cheese board (Grilled sourdough, tomato jam, grain mustard, bacon jam, pickled veg, $13), which is one of my favorite starters. The cheese is lightly smoked so it has a little bit more smokiness than your typical pimento cheese. Also, the pickled veggies, especially chef’s secret pickle recipe, are fantastic. Idk what he does to those pickles, but I would eat them by themselves. They’re so good.

Now that’s a cheese board

Another favorite appetizer is the fried okra (house hot sauce, remoulade, $9). They slice the okra lengthwise before breading and frying, which gets rid of a lot of that token sliminess that a lot of people find so offputting about okra. The breading is super light and crispy, and it’s lightly fried so the whole thing practically melts in your mouth. Also, the homemade hot sauce is fantastic. I’m not usually a fan of hot sauce, but I’m totally on board for this. 

As southern as it gets.

As someone who’s kind of obsessed with heirloom tomatoes, I’m pretty critical when it comes to HT dishes. But the Heirloom Tomato Salad (Local tomatoes, pomegranate, crusted mozzarella, assorted lettuces, balsamic, $12) exceeded my very high expectations. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and tasted like summer sunshine. The crusted mozzarella was a perfect complement to the tomatoes, and I loved the little crunch from the sprinkled pomegranate seeds. I didn’t want this dish to end!

And I am not usually one to gush about a salad, but … gush.

For lunch, I tried their house burger (Smoked pimento, Benton’s bacon, peach BBQ, Cement Pickle Relish®) with Togarashi Spicy fries, and was not disappointed. The burger was perfectly cooked, and the smoked pimento added a great extra layer of flavor that complemented the bacon perfectly. The addition of the cement pickle relish (which I want to put on everything, BTW) gave the burger a level of freshness and crunch. The fries were thin and crispy, and the Togarashi spice added a real subtle layer of heat.

Dat burger, tho.

Other entrees that I’ve loved have been the Kurobuta Pork Porterhouse (Sea Island red peas, sweet corn chow-chow, garlic mojo, cracklin, $25), which is so unique and delicious. First, the pork is cooked like a steak, and is so flavorful, I had to double check that they hadn’t switched out the meat by accident. The cracklin on top was kind of like a shrimp chip from a chinese restaurant and I really enjoyed listening to it crackle as I ate the pork. The chow-chow with the red peas was perfectly balanced in flavors. The whole dish is a winner!

It’s like dinner and a show.

I’m not usually a huge fan of fish (except on sushi), but the Prosciutto-Wrapped Scamp Grouper (Truffled Charleston Gold rice cake, local shrimp beurre monté, shishito peppers, asparagus, $27) is on a whole different level. The combination of the beurre monte and the truffle from the rice cake make this dish so rich and decadent. The fish was perfectly cooked and fork tender, and the rice cake gave a nice variety of textures in the dish. Every bite was like an explosion of flavor.

And plus, it looks like art on the plate!

The Cacio e Pepe (House-made pasta, black pepper, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, soft egg, basil, $20) is another solid entree, especially if you’re a fan of cheesy pasta like me. The noodles are cooked al dente and I like that they definitely didn’t skimp out on the cheese. A lot of times when I get this dish, the sauce is too buttery and doesn’t really hold up, but 1Kept’s definitely doesn’t have this problem. My only complaint is that I would’ve preferred a poached egg so that I could’ve mixed it into the sauce instead of having to cut up the egg.

I don’t gotta type, pasta is the only thing that I like.

Let’s talk cocktails! So 1Kept does this awesome thing where the cold brew their drinks to give them extra flavor without having to add anything artificial. Cold brew here doesn’t refer to coffee, it’s about a slow-drip-infusion process (that looks like a science experiment happening behind the bar) that takes 36 hours to complete. My favorite of the cold-brew cocktails is the Summer White Negroni (Distillery no. 209 sauvignon blanc barrel aged gin, aperol, raspberry, vanilla, coriander, Dolin Blanc vermouth), which is so smooth, it’s dangerous.

Bartender, keep ’em coming.

I am also a fan of the Charleston Tea Old Fashioned (Hillbilly bourbon, Charleston Tea Plantation earl grey tea, black cherry, clementine peels), which is a great play on the classic cocktail. If you’re a fan of dark liquors, you’ll love this!

Plus, it makes me feel all Don Draper when I order one.

If you haven’t been to 1Kept yet, please go! You will not be disappointed!

1Kept Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recipes

Swig & Swine’s Smoked Ham Recipe

December 14, 2017

I’m sure some of you out there are still feeling a bit of turkey hangover from Thanksgiving, and with less than 2 weeks left until Christmas dinner, I’m excited to share with you the recipe from Chef and Pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo of Swig & Swine.

I live by the philosophy that if your pitmaster doesn’t have a beard, his BBQ won’t be as good.

This holiday must-have dish, bone-in smoked ham, the perfect alternative for those who over-indulged in turkey this season. Smoking the ham gives you something more like a pork roast, Anthony says, giving you extremely juicy meat with unmatched smoky flavor from that of traditional oven-baked ham.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-16 lb. fresh ham
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tsp. dry mustard, divided
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or pork stock
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. bacon fat
  • Pinch of ground cloves

*Serves 20

Instructions:

  1. Score the ham skin in a diamond pattern.
  2. Combine the black pepper, paprika, turbinado sugar, kosher salt, 1/4 cup of the dry mustard, and cayenne in a bowl.
  3. Rub ham generously with the mixture on all sides, working it into the scores in the skin. Wrap the ham tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but not more than 24 hours. Unwrap and let it come to room temperature (approximately four hours) before smoking it.
  4. Prepare a smoker to cook at 225°F with indirect heat. Place ham on smoker.
  5. Combine the stock, apple juice, bacon fat, remaining dry mustard, and the cloves in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. Using a basting brush, baste the ham with this mixture every hour.
  6. Cook ham for 10 to 12 hours or until internal temperature reaches 185 to 195°F. Let the ham rest for one hour before slicing.
Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 12/11/17: A Socially Unacceptable Amount of Flavor

December 11, 2017

Happy Monday! I’m feeling very rested after a pretty laid back weekend (although I do think I might be coming down with a cold, but fingers crossed that it’s just me overreacting). I stayed in pajamas all day yesterday and even took a bubble bath while watching I’ll Be Home For Christmas (arguably JTT’s best role). I also took a little inspiration from the queen Chrissy Teigen, and made her cobb salad recipe, which was absolutely delicious.

So good I forgot it was a salad

While I was reading Chrissy’s cookbook this weekend, I was inspired by her hilarious and relatable approach to food and cooking, so I’m dedicating this week’s quote to her!

“I know how I like my food. I like it spicy, salty, sticky, crunchy, juicy, oozy – basically any dish you know and love, jacked up to a bordering-on-socially-unacceptable amount of flavor.”
–Chrissy Teigen

Like how I add double the amount of garlic or cilantro that any recipe calls for. She just gets me.

Product Round-Up

Products We Love: November Edition

November 29, 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 holiday party, oyster roast, or just because!

Toadfish Oyster Shucker

You know you want to be the coolest kid at the oyster roast

I guess you’re not a true Charlestonian unless you show up to an oyster roast with your own oyster shucker, and I have to say I felt kind of bad ass when I rolled up with my bright teal Toadfish oyster shucker at the last roast I attended. The knife itself is nice and hefty, and I felt way more in control when opening the oysters. Plus, they’re a local Charleston company, and for every product you buy, they plant 10 sqft of new oyster beds!

Where to buy: ToadfishOutfitters.com

Ancient Harvest Microwavable Quinoa

In an effort to eat somewhat more healthily while also being lazy AF as a person, I was really excited to try this microwavable quinoa from Ancient Harvest. There are a few different flavor combos (I like the one with chickpeas the best) and are great as a side for dinner, or as a breakfast bowl (picture above). The quinoa is made with coconut oil and is ready to eat in just 90 seconds (which is about as long as my patience lasts, generally).

Where to buy: Amazon, AncientHarvest.com

Mina Moroccan Tagine Sauce

So I’ve been obsessed with Moroccan food for a while now, but unfortunately, Charleston is severely lacking in Moroccan cuisine (which is a total shame). Luckily, this amazing sauce blend from Mina lets you be a Moroccan chef right in your own home! I own a tagine, so I cooked up a bunch of veggies and chicken and couscous with their chicken simmer sauce, and had an amazing meal that was super easy to make and packed full of flavor. They also make harissa, shakshuka simmer sauce, and sauces for fish and beef & lamb, and they’re all delicious.

Where to buy: Amazon, CasablancaFoods.com

Sipp Sparkling Organics

Although I’m 100% fine to drink champagne straight-no-chaser (sometimes even straight-out-the-bottle), it’s always nice to class it up a bit and add a little mixie. Enter Sipp Organics! These yummy sodas are non-alcoholic and can be enjoyed alone or mixed with your favorite liquor for a fun and unique cocktail. My favorite way to drink them, however, is as a mixer for my champagne. They use natural ingredients and sweeten with agave, so I don’t feel as guilty as using super processed and sugary mixers from the grocery store. They have lots of delicious flavors, but Mojo Berry (blackberry, lime, and mint) is my favorite so far!

Where to buy: HaveASipp.com, Amazon

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 11/27/17: Let’s Get Poppin’

November 27, 2017

One down, 2 to go! We’re officially less than a month from Christmas y’all. I started all of my holiday shopping early, so I’m over halfway done, but I still feel like I have a long way to go!

This week is very exciting because my best friend Lauren is coming to visit and bringing her husband Matt for his first visit to Charleston this weekend. We’re going to play tourist, going to all the main sites, which is something I haven’t done in a really long time, so I’m pumped.

This week’s quote comes from author James Patterson and is in honor of Lauren because she loves grits. Enjoy your week!

“Popcorn for breakfast! Why not? It’s a grain. It’s like, like, grits, but with high self-esteem.”
— James Patterson

This came from a book, so the “like, like” was apparently a stylistic choice.

Guides Product Round-Up

Charleston’s Best Cookbooks: A Foodie Gift Guide

November 22, 2017

Because cookbooks are a girl’s best friend.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching and that means everyone has holiday shopping on the brain. I started to think about the gifts I’ve received that I treasure most, and of course my Charleston Receipts and Sean Brock cookbooks were the first things to come to mind. Also, my friends The Cocktail Bandits’ book, Holy Spirits, is available for pre-order as well.

Congrats, bandits! Photo by Basil & Bubbly

In that vein, I put together this list of cookbooks from Charleston locals (or chefs who will be in attendance at Charleston Wine + Food next year) that is sure to delight any foodie in your life!

People & Personalities

Sean Brock – Chef at Husk, McCrady’s, and Minero


From the book jacket: “The recipes include all the comfort food (think food to eat at home) and high-end restaurant food (fancier dishes when there’s more time to cook) for which he has become so well-known. Brock’s interpretation of Southern favorites like Pickled Shrimp, Hoppin’ John, and Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake sit alongside recipes for Crispy Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy, and Baked Sea Island Red Peas.”

The Lee Brothers – Local Writers / Business Owners


From the book jacket: “Let James Beard Award–winning authors and hometown heroes Matt Lee and Ted Lee be your culinary ambassadors to Charleston, South Carolina, one of America’s most storied and buzzed-about food destinations.”

Carrie Morey – Chef at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit


From the book jacket: “Carrie Morey shares her modern approach to traditional Southern cooking in more than one hundred recipes that pair classic Lowcountry fare with surprising twists, for incredible results. Carrie guides you through the foundational techniques of Southern cooking to reveal how she developed her new takes on favorite heritage dishes and how to take the fuss and huge time investment out of traditional preparations.”

Frank Lee – Chef formerly of Slightly North of Broad


From the book jacket: “It is a home, a family, and a heart for thousands that, for more than twenty years, beat to the resounding drum of Chef Frank Lee.
This book does not try to speak to every dish churned out of the S.N.O.B. kitchen over the years. Instead, it presents classic recipes―those “sacred cows” that regulars would not allow off the menu―as well as long-running seasonal plates and many of the sauces, side dishes, and dressings that played foundational roles in the restaurant’s popular Lunch Express and Dailies menus.”

Holly Herrick – Local Author


From the book jacket: “From the best roadside dives to the finest upscale eateries, The Charleston Chef’s Table opens up a new window on the Holy City, which has become a world-class culinary destination in recent years.”

Nathalie Dupree – Local Author


From the book jacket: “Nathalie Dupree was ahead of the curve eight years ago with her classic book Shrimp and Grits. Now this Lowcountry comfort combo is found on restaurant menus all around the country―from top to bottom, coast to coast. All-new photography, new recipes from southern chefs, and a fresh design revamp a southern food cookbook for gift giving or one’s own kitchen library.”

Marvin Woods – Chef formerly of The Gentry Bar & Room


From the book jacket: “But The New Low-Country Cooking is much more than a great cookbook. Woods shares historical tidbits on how dishes and ingredients got their names, where they originated, and the indisputable importance of African-American cooks in Southern life.”

Restaurants & Classics

The Fat Hen – Johns Island, SC


From the book jacket: “Fat Hen is committed to honoring the culinary history of French Lowcountry food through the creation of classic French preparations with the freshest local ingredients and by creating new classics in the spirit of the Huguenots. Examples of French Lowcountry include Duck Confit with Collard Greens and Squash, Flounder Nicoise over Bacon Cheese Grits, and Seared Grouper over Succotash.”

Magnolia’s – Downtown Charleston


From the book jacket: “The soul of the South meets the spark of innovation in dishes such as the Down South Egg Roll stuffed with collard greens, chicken and Tasso ham, served with red pepper puree, spicy mustard sauce and peach chutney and Shellfish over Grits with sauteed shrimp, sea scallops, lobster, creamy white grits, lobster butter sauce and fried spinach.”

**Note: this post includes affiliate links, which means if you buy any of these products, I might make a little money. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

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