Saturday, January 29, 2011


The Shop Tart's fast, easy beach recipe is good at home here in Columbia, SC as well, let me tell you.

Especially if you're using wild Atlantic shrimp from the Sea Eagle guys at the All-local Farmer's Market at 701 Whaley.

They recommend you get the shrimp head-on. Sage advice, my friends. Where is all the flavor in a shrimp? The shell. Where is the absolute MOST flavor? The head!

Louisiana people know that, too. I am having an afternoon Abita Christmas Ale with my shrimp in a nod to those Cajun/Creole smarties.

What is The Shop Tart's recipe? This is a rough variation, but here's the idea, for 1-2 lbs large shrimp, head on:

Saute them shrimps, shell on, on medium-high heat in 2 pats butter, almost a whole head of chopped up garlic, a small pinch of red chile flakes, and one lemon, cut into quarters (rind and all).

DO NOT make the rookie mistake of cutting the lemons into smaller pieces than quarters like I did my first time.

Do that, and you will have a bitter, bitter dish of shrimp before you.

The Shop Tart is wise, y'all. Especially when it comes to cooking. So listen to her and just stick to lemon quarters!

I added a little paprika/salt/pepper business, as well as a little white wine on the finish, maybe 1/8 cup for deglazing magic.

Fresh, flat-leaf italian parsley for garnish. Yummah.

Invite your brother in for a delightful, impromptu afternoon shrimp feast, and BOOM.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

High fives for the South Carolina Soapbox!

Very excited for my friend Laurin Manning's new SC politics blog, The South Carolina Soapbox! Laurin is a whip-smart political insider whose engaging, highly informed writing has been much missed. Hooray! The SC Soapbox is not just politics, though, as evidenced by this tidy bit on the grass-fed buffalo market.

Reposted from:

Have you had your buffalo today?

Don't you love Laurin's graphic design sense? Sweet.
Interesting piece in the New York Times on the rising popularity of buffalo meat today:

"Trendsetting consumers and restaurants on the East and West Coasts caught on. Grass-fed, sustainable and locally grown, obscure concepts to most people 15 years ago or so when the buffalo meat market first emerged, became buzzwords of the foodie culture. Nutritional bean counters, obsessing over lipid fats and omegas, found in buffalo a meat they could love."

Also of note from the article:  Media Mogul Ted Turner’s Turner Enterprises is the nation’s biggest buffalo rancher.

When I was in Denver for the Democratic Convention in 2008, I sat at Ted’s Montana Grill downtown and wondered whether Ted Turner actually ate at his chain restaurants.  Then I got up and headed toward the bathroom and nearly knocked him over, mustache and...(read the rest here)

I did not know that Ted Turner was the nation's largest buffalo rancher. Thanks, Laurin! Here's to widespread success for The SC Soapbox; go check it out!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Indah Ethiopian: my new coffee love, roasted in Columbia, SC

Awesome local food and drink report from sunny (but cold) Columbia, South Carolina:

I've been wanting to try the coffee that they roast on-site each Saturday morning at the All Local Farmer's Market at 711 Whaley in downtown Columbia, SC.

I finally remembered to bring enough cash to grab a bag of Indah Coffee Co.'s whole beans on my way out yesterday!

Anyway. THIS COFFEE IS FLIPPIN' AMAZING. Roasty, toasty, nutty, s'mores-y with the teensiest, weensiest ting! of anise. It's my new jam. 

(Indah doesn't sell brewed coffee at the market, though.

The Gervais and Vine guys take care of that, along with their AMAZING $5 plates of brunch treats like smoked gouda & arugula strata, and gorgonzola hash browns.

Anyone know what kind of coffee they brew?)

image courtesy Immaculate Consumption
Prior to this morning, I've been loving on Immaculate Consumption's locally roasted, fair trade coffee for a while.

But why, why why why why doesn't the Immac offer half and half as a coffee fixin? I'm one of those weirdos for whom milk in coffee tastes insipid, weak, and horrible. Why no half and half? (I know. I'm being a whiny-baby. But still. Half and half? Please?)

I have recently fallen in love again with the Immac in general, since my business partner Debi and I have been scheduling a lot of client and intern meetings there due to its indie vibe, warm feel, spacious tables, and fabu location right by the SC State house.

Oh -- and it's probably time to mention this fabulous new development: Debi Schadel and I are now partners in an events and PR/marketing/social media firm!

It's called Flock and Rally: Events + Communications for a Brave New South. Mega excited about our current mutual and individual clients and their projects, including the following:


Anyhoo, back to coffee tawk.

I also have been having a long-term relationship with the organic, fair trade "EL Salvador Dali" variety of Larry's Beans (from North Carolina).

Both Larry's Beans and Immaculate Consumption coffee are available at Columbia's best independently owned source for organic, local produce; fabu wild salmon, shrimp burgers, macrobiotic, gluten-free and vegan deli items; bulk tofu, seaweed, spices, nuts and grains:

Rosewood Market!

I don't know if Indah's coffee is fair trade or organic, and their website doesn't say. I'll find out next time I see them at the market!

I can tell you that another local roaster of delicious coffee, Iron Brew Coffee out of Blythewood, SC, *does* go the fair trade route. In fact, they import directly from farmers they know in the Cerrado region of Brazil's central highlands.

image courtesy Iron Brew Coffee
Iron Brew is a really nice family-owned business, and the coffee is great. I know they sell it at Earth Fare; I met the son, Matt, one day recently when he was doing a demo there.

Matt informed me that light roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast. Did you know that? I didn't know that! Crazy!

But really good to know. I have been feeling rather peppy in the mornings after having a couple of cups of the Iron Brew Breakfast Roast, a light roast coffee. Ha!

There's another fabu locally roasted coffee that cannot go without mention: organic, free trade Cashua Coffee! The Shop Tart loves her some Cashua Coffee, and they will bring beans to your house if you ask real nice. How cool is that?

I like Cashua, but I have trouble finding anything but a dark roast from that line. I am a medium roast kinda lady.

[UPDATE! (March 20, 2011) Turns out I LOVE Cashua Coffee! I got confused and thought that "Full City Roast" (all of their coffees except French Roast) meant dark roast. 

In fact, in their lingo, it means MEDIUM ROAST! Am I stoked? Yes I am. Why? Cause their Ethiopian coffee is, to quote The Shop Tart's VP of Accounts, Carlie Gardner Flowers, "off the chain." I am drinking it right now, in fact, and it is influencing the many exclamation!! points I am using.]

Speaking of medium roast, that's what my new favorite coffee is. Indah Coffee Co's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I'm going to go and make another cup. Right now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

cat breakfast of champions

Frye, unlike the other cats, chose to finish breakfast early, then just be adorable on the sofa. #crazycatlady #yesIfeedthemwith22kgoldrimmedvintagechina
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A perfect soft boiled egg breakfast.

The tiny, creamy pleasure of digging one's spoon into such a perfect little egg. Thank you, Wil-Moore farms.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bambi nuggets, oyster roasts, and catching your own

My cousin family has some trade secrets when it comes to food.

One of them is the magical tradition of taking a cold fall evening up at Lake Wateree, and cooking up an insanely giant pile of steamed oysters (not so secret really) and Bambi nuggets (OMG).

The outdoor oyster roast is quite the wonderful South Carolina tradition, but it was never a part of my childhood or adolescence.

I don't regret this; my childhood and adolescence were jam-packed with a terrific mix of the horribly embarrassing, the average so-so boring, and the wildly fun, so I shan't complain.

My first oyster roast was behind someone's beach house down near Charleston, S.C. maybe, one summer when I was working for the Spoleto Festival U.S.A.? Or was it during a trip to the Lowcountry with my friends Laurel, Christy and Frankie? I was over 21, in any case, so drinking beer was no illicit thrill.

What was, was seeing a giant pigpile of oysters get dumped onto a giant, searing hot metal plate atop a pit full of embers, covered with burlap sacks, and hosed down with the garden hose so they'd steam open real nice.

The only condiments? Saltine crackers and cocktail sauce. And light beer.

Naturally, I was taken with the whole affair.

I've been to a few great, grand oyster roasts since, but only a few. So the opportunity to enjoy this magical Southeastern tradition with family was a true delight.

My great uncle leads the proceedings with a thorough shellfish washdown.

His oysters are from Clifton's Seafood on Decker Blvd. in Columbia, SC, a.k.a. International Blvd, which you wouldn't be so quick to call it if you'd been around when Oakland, CA's International Blvd was all full of riots after the Raiders lost the Super Bowl. Remember that, California friends? Ha!

My great aunt Sue and my Mom used to go get fried seafood baskets for lunch at Clifton's after rambling out to Marshalls to scope out the sweet specials on housewares and such.

(I still do that. Scored a SWEET All-Clad extra large flared roasting pan there last year for way less than half price.)

Then GrandBob fires up his insanely large, doomsday-appropriate propane tank and heating apparatus.

That propane tank is about twice as big as it looks in the photo, STG.

The big cookpot is outfitted with water for steaming, and a trimmed-down, curved grill (like the kind you use to net in the charcoal on a mini-Weber grill) to keep the oysters from touching the too-hot bottom of the pot.

How cool is my family? Seriously, though. Look at all them smiles. Those are some super rad humans. I love those guys.

I like those oysters pretty well, too.

Breezy loves them best of all. She and her mom share a special oyster roast nickname, but that's a private family matter.

Let's just say that no oyster will be left unshucked at this party.

After everyone disperses for a rest, we reconvene for the Bambi nuggets.

Bambi nuggets are like chicken nuggets, but made with venison brought in from the wild by my great uncle's own hand. I don't hunt, but I appreciate the way my family takes responsibility for their own meat eating by hunting, killing, and slaughtering their own meat.

It ain't no easy job like going to the Piggly Wiggly.

Since deer meat is red meat (and a very lean, delightful red meat, at that), Bambi nuggets are really more like chicken-fried steak nuggets. OMG.

GrandBob marinates the venison pieces for 24 hours in a proprietary mix of teriyaki, onion, and mustard, among other things, then flours them up and lays them into the fry basket in shifts.

"Yellow mustard, GrandBob?" I asked, unable to mask my food snobbery toward yellow mustard.

"Yep!" he replied, focused on the task at hand.

I wanted to say to him, "OMG, I'm sorry it just sounded like I was being a snobberina about yellow mustard, GrandBob. I mean, I *was* being a snobberina. It didn't just sound like it. I was being it."

Happily, GrandBob could care less who's being a snobberina about yellow mustard, especially when he knows how amazing Bambi nuggets are, and I do not yet, and *especially* when he is managing a giant pot of boiling oil.

BTW, did you know that you can't buy venison (deer meat) in the state of South Carolina? I didn't.

This discourages poaching, says my relatives, and makes my cousin Owen's Xmas present to me one recent year, of a pound of deer burger from a deer he took down with a bow and arrow, about a frillion times more special.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I got invited to enjoy my first-ever outdoor feast of oysters and Bambi nuggets -- a.k.a. "mustard-fry venison" -- prepared by my venerated great uncle Wilbur -- a.k.a. GrandBob.

OMG those freakin' nuggets were amazing. Like a cross between what you wish a really great chicken fried steak would taste like, with a tinge of bright yellow mustard kick, but tender and fresh and incredible and foresty.

Let's just say that whatever nickname Breezy and her mom are called due to their oyster lust, mine would be similar as pertains to the mustard-fry.

I'm a little late saying it, but happy new year y'all. May your year be full of delicious things and beautiful times.