Charleston Culinary Tour – Upper King Street

I was recently contacted by Charleston Culinary Tours and invited to participate in one of their many tour options. Despite feeling like I’m relatively in-the-know when it comes to Charleston food and restaurants, I had never heard of these tours. I jumped at the opportunity and signed Greg and I up for the Upper King Street tour.

“The Upper King Street Culinary Tour visits 3-4 different restaurants and combines elements of a historical tour with a culinary adventure! The food on your tour will provide a broad range of samples which will provide insight into Lowcountry cuisine.”

Our tour visited HoM, Sugar Bakeshop, 39 Rue de Jean and Prohibition.

All of the spots were pretty new to me. I’d been to HoM once a year or two ago while bar hopping late at night and only spent time in the back with the ping pong tables. I’d had a cupcake from Sugar one day at work as an intern for a PR agency during college. I’ve eaten lunch at Rue de Jean once. And I had no prior experience with Prohibition.

We met our group at HoM. There were nine of us total, plus the tour guide Guilds. We were the only locals, which was to be expected since most tours are for…tourists. However I think any local wanting to test a few restaurants at once, like we were, would be happy.

At HoM we were given samples of the Calamari, the Dixie Flatbread, and the Green Gobble’n Burger.

Dixie Flatbread – pimento cheese, pork confit, caramelized onions, maple bacon greens
Green Gobble’n Burger – turkey, melted leeks & spinach, brie, green goddess aioli, green apple

Next, we walked a few blocks to Sugar Bake Shop, where we were each given a mini Lemon Curd Cupcake with sugared blueberries. The lemon was super refreshing on the hot Charleston summer day. Simply delicious. I will definitely be back to Sugar.

We had a bit of a longer walk back to King Street. We followed Guilds at a slow pace as he talked about some of the history of Charleston and the surrounding buildings. We even stopped to visit a Jewish cemetery. We probably strolled for at least 30 minutes and by this point I was losing interest. I’m not sure if the tourists appreciated it any more than I did, but I was more than ready to get back to the FOOD. I realize my prior knowledge and experiences living in the city gave me a different perspective than most in the group though.

We made it to Rue de Jean and were relieved to be back in the air conditioning with a glass of ice water. On the menu for us: Mussels and Pommes Frites. Only since this past spring have I grown to like oysters – oyster roasts being a very popular Charleston tradition. However I had still never tried mussels, which are very similar (at least to my untrained palate). Guilds told us Rue de Jean’s mussels are the best in the city, so I knew this would be the right place to try them first. Sure enough, they hit the spot.

Mussels in a white wine broth (although I can’t remember exactly which of their various broth options we were given)

I ate half of the pommes frites without one regret. It’s hard to go wrong with fries, and these were no exception.

Pomme Frites – if you’re not feeling fancy, just call them french fries, I won’t mind. Although the chef might. 

Next brings us to the last stop of the day. Prohibition is primarily a bar, so I wasn’t expecting to be overly impressed by the food. Boy was I wrong.

Moscow Mule

Chef Stephen Thompson came out from behind the kitchen to talk to us about the dishes – a cheese plate, but not just any old cheese plate, and a mini cast iron skillet of shrimp and grits, again, not just any old shrimp and grits.

Cheese and veggie plate (not on the menu) – assorted cheeses, candied onion, candied pecans, roasted cherry tomatoes, pickled cauliflower, berries and toast

Smokey Shrimp and Grits – smoked shrimp over local ‘adluh’ smoked gouda grits finished with a 
duck creole sauce, served with a sweet roll + crispy golden egg

That EGG!!! This was the most unique spin on traditional shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. I loved it so, so much.

Now that it’s all said and done, and I can honestly say I would go back to every one of those restaurants again for the full dining experience. Thanks so much to Charleston Culinary Tours and all of the restaurants for having us!

The tours aren’t cheap, ranging from about $40-75 per person, however you can expect to walk away full (depending on which tour you choose since some are more focused on meeting the chefs, learning about how the kitchen operates, etc.). There also isn’t another way I know of to be able to try so many different restaurants and foods in one day for a price like that. If you’re interested in the history of Charleston, this tour also gives you a good bit of that as well.

Locals – have you been to any of these restaurants? Which would you try first?
Everyone else – do they have culinary tours in your city? 

I love the concept and would be interested to try something similar in other places.

Check out Charleston Culinary Tours’ website here.
Like them on Facebook here.
Follow them on Twitter here.

*Disclaimer: While I received admission to the tour for free, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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Sunday Blessings – Dates, Weddings, New Restaurants and More

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how productive of a weekend I had. Guess what? It happened again. It’s not that I’m usually a lazy bum on the weekends…okay, sometimes I am…but there really isn’t too much variety. This weekend on the other hand was filled with all kinds of different things.

Remember my list of 6 plans from Friday? I accomplished every single one (except the free coffee part, because that promo is happening tomorrow – Monday – even though I won’t actually be participating).

Gym after work on Friday? Check!

Date night at FED? Check! I have mixed feelings about the new restaurant. It was not busy at all. For a Friday night at 7:00pm, that’s not a good sign. Our waitress…hm. How do I put this nicely? It must have been her first time ever working at a restaurant and seemed to have very minimal training, which made for slightly awkward interactions. HOWEVER. The food was pretty delish.

I had the Garden Burger, an oversize patty consisting mostly of black beans and corn. It was sandwiched between a single slice of grilled sourdough bread which had been slice in half. I found this a little odd, since the patty was way too big to sit on top half a slice of bread. I’d never seen it done this way, but it was tasty nonetheless. I opted for sweet potato fries on the side. I always love sweet potato fries, and while these weren’t the best I’ve had by any means, they were good too. Greg had the Shrimp Tacos with regular fries on the side. He ate his right up without any hesitation. Either he was starving or the food was just that good. I think it was a little of both.

After dinner, we stopped by Barnes and Noble so Greg could get a latte from the Starbucks in the cafe, then headed to TCBY for me. While enjoying our desserts, we started looking up movie showtimes and spontaneously decided to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’d never heard of it, but it was quite an interesting movie. Very different, a little strange and quirky, but entertaining overall. 
Moving right along. Saturday started how it always does, at the gym for Body Pump and then home for a late breakfast, relaxing on the couch, playing with Zoey and doing a few random chores around the house. Then it was time for my haircut. Welp. I said on Friday I was going to keep the length and add some layers. Somehow I talked myself into a bigger change and ended up cutting about 5-6 inches off my long locks. I don’t regret it necessarily, but I do miss the length already. I know this shorter cut is much better for the hot summer months to come, not to mention it makes my hair look and feel so much healthier. I’ll get used to it soon enough. I’m already loving the cute little ponytail I have, compared to my old horse mane!
Our friends’ wedding on Saturday night was so much fun. Congrats to Steve and Amanda!! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me say this already, but I’ll say it again. Now that I am married, wedding ceremonies feel like a free marriage conference. I absolutely love hearing the vows said to one another, the scripture readings and the sermon. I almost always shed some tears and this wedding was no different. The words are powerful and inspiring. They’re reminders of the words Greg and I said to each other (almost one year ago!) and the loving, lifelong journey we are on together. 
Sunday we spent the morning at church, followed by brunch at Cafe Medley on Sullivan’s Island. I went by myself last Sunday while Greg had to work and was glad he was up for trying it out with me this week. The pics below are from last week when I got a sandwich made with edemame pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes and bacon on 10-grain bread. It was perfect. Today I got another sandwich on the 10-grain bread, this time with egg whites, cheese and tomato. With a hot coffee to go along with my breakfast, I was a happy girl. 
My only complaint is that for the lunch sandwiches, you have a choice of chips or a salad on the side. The term “salad” is used very, very loosely here. The “salad” consists of a small handful of spinach leaves and a small container of dressing on the side. I think it needs a little more “umph.” 

We spent the rest of the day running errands, taking a long walk with Zoey, working in the yard (most of the credit goes to Greg on this one) and enjoying dinner together at home. 
I am so blessed for all of these gifts in my life – the date nights, the meals out, the sunshine on our family walks, and the ability to pay for frivolous things like haircuts and new dresses. 
What’s one thing out of the ordinary you did this weekend?

A Lunch Date at Boone Hall Farms

One of the most popular plantations around Charleston (Mount Pleasant to be exact) is Boone Hall. The plantation draws crowds to its pumpkin patch during the fall and strawberry fields in the spring. They supply produce to local restaurants and have their own market/cafe as well. I drive by frequently and have always wanted to see what the market had to offer. Last week, when we didn’t have any groceries at home in preparation for the excessive Thanksgiving food coming our way, Greg and I met at Boone Hall Farms market for a lunch date.

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After we got our waters and placed our orders at the cute picnic style tables, we wandered around the store to explore. 
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So much fresh produce!
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I could have easily spent a lot of money stocking up on jams, dressings, baking mixes and other goodies. I resisted at the time, but am excited to go back for Christmas gifts for family and friends. 
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Oh, and did I mention the wine?! I wasn’t expecting this. 
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Finally, it was time to eat. Since I was in the mood to try a variety of things, the Vegetable Plate was the perfect choice. It comes with your choice of four side dishes plus a cornbread muffin. I chose butter beans, broccoli salad, sweet potato fries (sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!!!) and garden vegetables which included roasted carrots, onion, pepper and potatoes. I couldn’t get enough, jumping from one side dish to another, but ultimately those giant thick-cut sweet potato fries were the star of the show. 
I somehow managed to avoid the dessert counter full of cakes and ice cream. It’s a good thing I was in a hurry to get back to the office otherwise I would have likely walked out with a ice cream cone in one hand and a slice of cake “for later” in the other. 
The Boone Hall Farms cafe is my kind of place and I can’t wait to get back for more. 
Locals – Have you been to Boone Hall Farms? If you’re not from around here, do you have any place like this where you live?

A Restaurant Review – Mosaic Cafe

Time is just flying on by isn’t it? This past Thursday was the one-month mark until my wedding. What?!

It also marked the five year anniversary of when Greg and I began dating. It sounds crazy to me to say that. Here we are, five years after it all started, closing the chapter on one part of our relationship and about to begin the next. I need to cherish this last month of being a fiance! Not a girlfriend, not yet a wife. (Yes, I was just channeling my inner Britney Spears with “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.”)

To celebrate this special time in our lives, we did what we normally do for special occasions and went out to dinner. I have had a Living Social coupon to Mosaic Cafe for far too long (in fact, it had already expired, but you can still use it for face value), so I told Greg in the morning that’s where we should go. He didn’t oppose, so after work and a relaxing bike round around the island, we headed to Mosaic.

We had the Smoked Gouda Dip ($6.99) as an appetizer. Sounds good, right? Well…I wasn’t impressed. I only took a bite or two before deciding it really wasn’t worth the calories. Greg agreed that it wasn’t close to what we were hoping.

mosaic1

For my entree, I had the Fit Life Burgers ($8.99): “Spicy, mini black bean burgers, served over spinach, garnished with edamame hummus, cucumber-yogurt sauce feta, grape tomatoes & roasted peppers.”
mosaic2

Unlike the appetizer, the Fit Burgers were delicious! I enjoyed every part of this dish and could feel good about eating such a nutritious meal too. 
Greg had the Charleston Chicken Roller ($9.99): “Grilled chicken, bacon, smoked Gouda pimento cheese, spinach, tomatoes, basil mustard on a tortilla.” (minus the mustard for Greg.)
mosaic3

I asked Greg for one bite and ended up having many more than just that. It was SO good! Especially the pimento cheese. Mmmm, mmmm. We all know I don’t eat much meat, but when it tastes this good, it was well worth it.

I also have to mention they have the most amazing cookies. A co-worker brought some to our office a long time ago and I remember falling in love then. I couldn’t leave without getting one, the only question was what kind would I get?! Although the white chocolate raspberry sounded great, I opted for my favorite cookie flavor of all time, oatmeal raisin. Greg says I always pick the worst flavors, but I’m willing to bet some of you would agree with me that oatmeal raisin is the best. Right?

I polished that baby off in no time…hence the lack of a picture. Let me tell you though, it was super thick, chewy, full of texture and simply amazing.
In the end, we were happy with the meal, despite the disappointing appetizer. If you don’t go for a full meal, I highly recommend stopping in for a cookie. You won’t be sorry.

Mosaic Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

A Restaurant Review – Another Trip to Crave!

I told you that my girlfriends and I went to Crave for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate my bachelorette party, but I didn’t say much else about the meal. Ready for the details?

We started by ordering some wine – a bottle of red and a bottle of white. We sipped away while studying the menu and snacking on the complimentary warm bread and butter.

After much indecisiveness on everyone’s part, we were ready to order. I ultimately decided to order the Spinach and Tomato Grilled Cheese ($9) as an appetizer for the table to share. I knew I HAD to have it one way or another, but most of the girls were ordering some of the more expensive entrees. I felt like I should get something a little fancier too, but didn’t want to give up the grilled cheese. This was a perfect compromise. I could have a few bites of my grilled cheese and also get a fancier dish as my main meal.

grilled cheese
It was just as good as I remembered and it was gone in no time. Everyone quickly knew why I love this sandwich so much. 
Now, if I thought I was in love with the grilled cheese, I fell even more in love with the Sea Scallops ($25) I ordered for my entree. The seared scallops were served with green beans and the most amazing lobster risotto in the world.
scallops
Actually, I don’t think I can honestly say I’ve ever had any other lobster risotto, so technically I don’t have authority to declare it the best in the world, BUT I promise you…It was heavenly. Everything about my dish was above and beyond my expectations. 
I also sampled a few bites of my sister’s fish tacos and my mom’s black bean salad. Oh yeah. Maybe a few bites of the award winning mac and cheese too. 
I was overwhelmed with pure goodness for most of the meal. So many delicious things coming from all directions!
Although we were just about stuffed by then end of dinner, I couldn’t pass up dessert. Our waitress recommended the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake ($8) so we decided to get a slice to split. Thankfully my dear friends let me have more than my fair share of bites, or maybe I was just a little agressive with my fork and forced the others away. 
caramel cake
This cake is one of their several gluten free menu items, in case that is of interest to you. I didn’t even realize that until we had just about finished the piece, but you would never know the difference. It tasted like any other gluten-filled cake I’ve ever had. 
If you can’t tell, I love this place. It’s a Charleston MUST for locals or visitors alike. 
They have plenty of options to suit any palate or dietary need, so there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. 
Crave on Urbanspoon

Weekend Eats 3-18-13

First things first – Wedding Day is two. months. away. Ah!!!!!! alkfjsdlfjsldfjsdlfjsd!!!!!

Okay, now that I got some excitement out of my system, here’s the tasty food I ate all weekend.

Saturday:

Greg and I met some friends on Sullivan’s Island for (pre) St. Patrick’s Day festivities. After standing around outside in the gorgeous weather for most of the afternoon, our appetites were raging…even more so than I realized. We grabbed dinner from Taco Mamacita, yet another new-to-me restaurant (third one in a week!).

taco mamacita
I had one black bean taco and one blackened mahi taco with Mexican Street Corn on the side. Ummmm….yeah. It was ah-maze-ing. I practically inhaled the tacos. 
Greg had sweet potato fries as his side dish. We ended up splitting our sides, because the fries were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and I simply could not resist. 

Sunday:
pancakes
Brunch at Triangle. Duh. Blueberry pancakes for me!
Anndddd some coffee.
coffee
I made sure to fit my veggies into the day with a big bowl of shredded brussel sprouts, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and broccoli sauteed in chicken broth for din din. I topped it all off with a little crumbed goat cheese. 
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What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

A Restaurant Review – Crave Kitchen & Cocktails

You guys. Ohhhh my goodness. I’m dying over my dinner from Crave last night. You want to know how good it was? So good that I, Brittany “Dessert-Obsessed-As-in-I-Have-to-Have-it-Every-Night” Dahn, passed up dessert in turn for finishing off my leftovers later at night.

That never. ever. ever. happens. Taylor Swift style. So let me tell you about it.

Crave Grilled Cheese2

A friend and I (Hi, Kaitlyn!) were supposed to grab sushi before our painting class. I looked up a place that was supposed to be in the same shopping center as the art studio, but after driving around for a few minutes, we didn’t see it and didn’t have much time to keep looking. Crave was right there and since I’ve read such good things about it from Christina, I was excited to give it a try.

I had to make a quick choice, which can be really difficult for me when I haven’t planned ahead and researched the menu. (I had already narrowed down the sushi rolls I wanted, but obviously that was no help now).

I was torn between the Cobb Salad and the Spinach and Tomato Grilled Cheese. Our waitress said both were very good, but said the grilled cheese in particular was really amazing. From my picture above, you already know which I picked. I figured you can get a good salad at a lot of places, but it’s not everywhere you see a grilled cheese on the menu made with goat cheese (!!!!!), provolone, spinach and tomato. If I see goat cheese listed in the menu description, I can’t get my mind off of it.

Crave Grilled Cheese1
The sandwich was everything I hoped it would be and more. And then there were the sweet potato chips – which are really thick-cut round crinkle fries. I could not stop eating those, they were seriously addicting. 
This morning I did the longest run that I’ve done in probably two years. I’m attributing that accomplishment to my meal last night. It must have magically powers.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back to Crave. I would love to have this sandwich again, but there are many other things I’m looking forward to trying too. They even have weekend brunch including pancakes, which are apparently the “biggest pancakes you will ever see” according to the menu. Count me in.

Oh yeah, and after I tweeted to Executive Chef Landen Ganstrom about my fabulous meal, he said:
Chef Landen, you’ve got yourself a deal! 
Crave Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon