Grand Strand-ed

Litchfield / Pawleys Island

Hold on this is a long one.

This weekend I packed up the Culinary-Passport and headed out for a late beach trip.  I got a good deal on a couple of nights at the Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort.  I arrived early, as is my nature, and couldn’t check in.  Since it was lunch time I wandered over to Murrell’s Inlet and drove down Business 17 where I picked out the Marshview Seafood Kitchen & Bar from the multitude of restaurants on that stretch of road.  Definitely a casual place.  You walk up and order at a window and they give you a pager that will alert you when to visit the Pick Up window.  There’s a bar if you want something other than water, tea or soda.  You can sit inside or outside and you have a nice view of the marsh as the name implies.  I was intrigued by the crab cake and pimento cheese sandwich so that’s what I got.

The crab cake was good and the pimento cheese was also good but honestly didn’t add much to the sandwich.  The fries were hot and dusted with seasoned salt so they did their job.  Overall the sandwich was good but the main recommendation for this place as far as I am concerned is sitting on the deck enjoying the view.  After dining I still had a few hours to kill so I decided to check out Huntington Beach State Park.

The park was part of an estate that has a really cool house on it called Atalaya.  Google it, it’s cool.  Turns out it was a special weekend when they have the Atalaya Arts & Crafts festival so after a walk out to the beach to see if there were any good pictures to take I checked out the festival.  The house is arranged around a courtyard which had artisans filling it and inside the three wings were more craft folk and in a separate little courtyard were some food vendors.  I was still full from lunch but decided to try out a muscadine cider slushie from one of the vendors.  I liked it enough to buy a bottle.  I also picked up a Christmas present so it was a good side trip.

After the park I got the call that my room was ready so I moved in and then walked the property to familiarize myself with the resort until dinner time.  Because I didn’t want to take any chances on missing a minute of the UGA football game I ate at the on site restaurant, Websters.  They had a prime rib buffet but I wanted more seafood being this close to the ocean so I ordered the Webster’s seafood medley.

It came with a house salad served on a tile so that was different.  The real food was a nice piece of flounder, a couple of shrimp, a pair of scallops, whipped potatoes and parmesan green beans.  The seafood had a light, seasoned coating that tasted the same on all three but stood out most on the shrimp.  The flounder was nice and mild and the shrimp were some of the best fried shrimp I’ve ever had, even if they did cut them oddly before frying them so they looked almost like Siamese twins joined at the tail.  The scallops though were my favorite. They had a really nice salt water taste and were as tender as you could ask for.  The potatoes and green beans were nice and complimented the seafood.

The next morning I wanted to find a breakfast place that wasn’t a chain or chain wannabe.  I drove until the Litchfield Restaurant caught my eye.  It looked like a locals kind of place that had been around a while.  When I walked in there were only two guys sitting at the counter and three employees.  Folks were chatting real friendly like and I made my way to a choice table with a stunning view of the highway.  The guy running the place came over to welcome me and bring a menu.  Right behind him was a smiling young lady who made sure I had coffee before coming back with more smiles to take my order.  They’ve got a few interesting things on the menu that I might have tried like the Fish & Grits or the Crabby D but I was looking for something pretty standard this morning.

The sausage & cheese three egg omelet with hash browns and a side of smoked sausage did the trick.  The omelet wasn’t fluffy but there was plenty of sausage and they used real cheddar cheese not that fake cheese nonsense.  The smoked sausage was nothing special but did fit nicely into the biscuit for sausage biscuit appetizer.  The food was good but the service and friendliness of the people had to be the reason there were at least 30 people in the place by the time I left and they were a mix of locals and tourists.

After breakfast beach time transitioned into lunch at Moe’s Original BBQ.  I thought getting a sandwich and two sides might not be too much since I knew I wanted to be done in time to catch the Carolina Panthers game.

The pulled pork sandwich had to have had half a pound of meat and the sides I got, spinach casserole and red beans and rice were both generously portioned.  I’m not going to lie I knew I would be prioritizing right off the bat and the sandwich had first dibs on my appetite.  It had a lightly smoked flavor and the sauce was a sweet, tangy sauce that was somewhere between a NC vinegar and a KC thick sweet sauce.  A dash of the hot sauce and it was very good.  The spinach casserole was ugly but tasty.  It was creamy with plenty of spinach plus mushrooms and onions in small amounts.  The red beans and rice were initially a disappointment because I like my beans and rice to cook together for a while and this was clearly ladled over minute rice.  Having said that though it did have a nice flavor with plenty of beans, tomatoes, celery and onions plus some bits of smoked sausage (low grade) and chicken.  I didn’t mention it earlier but this is another place where you place your order at the counter and leave your name and they bring it out to you.  You have a choice of inside seating, screen porch seating, or outside next to the corn hole pit.  Folks were nice, portions were plentiful and the food was decent.

After the game I did some additional walking around to burn off lunch and a bit of driving to check out some of the other parts of the Grand Strand area of SC.  Feeling a bit peckish I dropped in at the Anchor.  They have a very limited menu because their main thing is their seafood buffet so that’s what I went with.  I got there an hour before they closed and the only folks I saw who weren’t employees were some who were leaving (I saw them go in when I was parking) and one lady at a booth.  I wasn’t sure what kind of omens those were but figured what the heck.  The buffet was a three sided affair with salad and the start of the vegetables on one side, more vegetables and grains on another and the seafood & chicken plus desert on the last side.  I tried not to be a pig but I did make two trips.

You’ll notice all the seafood was fried.  If you wanted grilled that was on the limited menu.  I powered through though and managed to try some flounder, scallops, shrimp, oysters, clam strips and catfish. I supplemented those with some mac & cheese, butter beans and something new to me, collard green rice.  Oh and some hushpuppies.  The seafood was all good and lightly breaded but my favorites were the oysters and the catfish.  The catfish was really mild and had an almost chicken taste to it.  The mac & cheese was nice too because it was simple with a high cheese to noodle ratio and not loaded with fillers and liquids and junk.  Now on to the new things and I’m classifying the butter beans as new too because they were cooked with okra plus some smoked meat.  I enjoyed them and they made me wish I could have shared them with my Grandfather because he would have loved them.  I’m pretty sure he would have dug the collard green rice as well.  There was nothing complicated about the rice, it was just what it sounded like; rice mixed with finely chopped collards.  It happens that those collards were seasoned with smoked neck bones and other smoked pork.  I know because I found vertebrae and pig skin in with it.  Aside from being skinny & boney I liked the rice quite a bit as you can see I got some both trips.  Oh and the hushpuppies were cold but not bad.  As I was leaving I talked to the owner a little bit and heard him earlier interacting with another patron who came in for a take out run at the buffet and he was a really nice guy.  Personally I loved this place even though it looked a little dumpy from the outside.

The last meal before heading home was at the Applewood House of Pancakes.  They are a bit like an upscale IHOP.  I was greeted by a very pleasant lady who let me know about some of their specials and let me know I was still in time for the early bird specials.  As a nod to Fall, in spite of the fact that it was 76 degrees and as humid as, well the South, I ordered the pumpkin pancakes.  At the little smile of delight the lady taking my order got she thought I’d made a good choice and it was.

You may have noticed there is no bacon or sausage in the picture.  I certainly did when she dropped off the plate with just pancakes.  I didn’t realize it was only the pancakes and couldn’t believe she wouldn’t have tried to upsell me and I started to ask for some but I figured it probably wouldn’t kill me to have one meatless meal.  There were three dense pancakes in the stack topped with that quarter stick of butter you see in the photo and dusted generously with cinnamon sugar.  I decided to taste them before adding any syrup and I’m glad I did as the syrup would probably have just detracted from the experience.  The cinnamon sugar plus the pancakes sweetness and pumpkin spices were more than sufficient.  The lady who was waiting on me was a petite lady who had to be in her late 60s but when she came over to check on me one time and asked “don’t they remind you of Thanksgiving & Christmas?” she had a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye like a little kid.  They did have a nice taste of fall about them and I almost didn’t miss the bacon.  After that it was time to hit the trail.  I was happy with all the culinary choices I made during the trip and wouldn’t hesitate to go back to any of them.


Crabby Patty

Food Truck Friday

I am a big fan of Friday’s. Food Truck Friday’s are like superstar Friday’s and this week was an FTF.  I already had the truck I was going to hit picked out so all I needed was a parking place and a beer to nurse while I waited to order and then get my food.  Plenty of parking…check.  Live band pumping out Day Tripper, not on the list but…check.  Wristband acquisition…check.  Beer selection & purchase…check.

This month they had free tapered koozies to fit the beer cups which was very convenient and the folks who work the stations were still awesome.  If you’re not sure about a beer they will give you a sample so fast it’ll make your head spin.  I was intrigued by the Shiner Peach and had to try it out.  It’s a wheat ale made with peaches and it was a really nice beer for a warm evening waiting in line.  I got a great whiff of peach as I brought the cup up to sip and the peach flavor permeated every aspect of the beer from the first taste to the aftertaste.  So with beer secured it was time to stand in line at my chosen truck.

The Maryland Crab & Co truck is the first truck I pass each FTF and I’ve never stopped until this month.  The line was long but I already had my mind set on seeing what they could do with crab.  I got the crab cake sandwich with some Old Bay fries.  The crab cake was made with real crab and was overwhelmingly crab, in a good way.  A lot of crab cakes are mainly binder & filler but not this one.  There was so much crab it fell apart fairly easily but I wasn’t going to complain.  It was served on a toasted bun and you could get it with hot sauce or tartar sauce.  I chose to go with tartar and they give it to you in a cup so you can control how much to use.  I went light on it because I didn’t want to overpower the crab flavor.  It was a mild tartar sauce anyway so it was not a problem.  The sandwich was great.  The fries were basically just shoestring fries that had Old Bay seasoning sprinkled on them just before being served.

While I was dining at a table with some other random Rock Hill residents we were treated to the sounds of Liverpool, a Beatles cover band while the fountain did its thing.

I walked around a bit more and found myself with another beer.  This time a Stone Brewing Tangerine Express, and yes I’m counting both those beers as a serving of fruit.  This was an IPA and boy was it hoppy.  I know that’s a characteristic of IPAs but this was almost over the top.  Part of that was probably the citrus taste from the tangerine.  Initially I didn’t get much tangerine but as I drank it the flavor seemed to become more pronounced.  It was interesting but I wouldn’t have another. After a bit more walking and listening I figured a stop by the Art of Baking truck to procure a late night snack wouldn’t be out of line.

The chocolate salted caramel cupcake was the one that got the call.  The cake was a moist chocolate, the icing was a whipped topping that tasted a bit oily but it was also the salt delivery system and of course the caramel drizzle topped the whole thing marvelously.  It was a nice finish to a great day.  Only one month until the next FTF.



DragonCon Edition

I guess that should have been Connnn!  Well, nerds gotta nerd.

This past weekend I carted the old culinary passport to DragonCon 2017.  In addition to all the great pop-culture, geek, gaming, educational, art and cosplay available there is no shortage of food options in downtown Atlanta.  In the host hotels and at the Americas Mart buildings you can’t swing a dead Pokémon without hitting a pizza or sandwich stand.  If you walk a bit further the Peachtree Center food court offers a ton of variety all jammed together and offers plenty of opportunity to make new friends as any empty chair at a table is gold and sharing tables is pretty much obligatory and sitting in the floor, back against the wall is not unheard of.  If you want to enjoy a bit of downtime from the crowds you can find some of the restaurants that aren’t totally overwhelmed with con goers.  I visited three while I was there.  One was a revisit and two were new.  They are truly international in theme as one was Italian, one Turkish and one a Pacific rim themed restaurant.

The first of the trio was Amalfi Pizza on Andrew Young Int’l Blvd.  The entrance opens to a wide set of stairs in a decorated foyer that take you into the restaurant proper.  There was plenty of seating and I was shown to a table by a smiling young lady.  I decided to have one of their house specialties, Pizza Amalfi and a Jekyll Brewing Hop Dang Diggity to wash it down.

The pizza was great.  First off it’s from a wood fired pizza oven so you get that little bit of char that adds that extra touch to the pizza.  The pizza itself had fresh mozzarella, spicy sausage, crushed tomato sauce, peppadew peppers, caramelized onions, and their own bacon jam.  The toppings weren’t piled on like a lot of franchise pizzas so the flavors might vary from one bite to the next.  When you got a bit of the bacon jam it gave the pizza an almost barbeque sauce flavor with the sweet and smoky flavor.  The sausage wasn’t very spicy in my opinion but did have a good Italian sausage flavor.  The beer was an IPA, nothing special amid the glut of IPAs in the craft brew world.

Next up was Truva for lunch.  I did a blog entry for Truva last year that you can find in the archives if you choose.  Truva is a Turkish restaurant and is a dimly lit place on a second floor and out of the way enough that only the people from the con who truly want Turkish food show up so it’s a great getaway spot.  This year I decided to have a couple of their appetizers instead of an entrée as I figured it might be a little less heavy.  I got the Etli Borek and Karniyarik.  I loved the menu description of the etli borek, cigar shaped meat pastry.  Karniyarik is stuffed eggplant.  While I was waiting for the apps I was provided with a metal basket of warm bread with black sesame seeds and olive oil & balsamic vinegar to dredge it through.

That bread was worth the trip.  Trying to be mindful of the calories I only ate a couple of pieces and felt like that was showing heroic restraint.  Fortunately my meal of starters showed up.

The stuffed eggplant was partially peeled in sections to provide a decorative presentation and it was stuffed with a ground, spiced lamb and beef combo.  It was ok but honestly I think it could have been spiced up a bit more and the eggplant was a little rubbery.  Not my favorite dish from Truva to date.  The cigar shaped meat pastries were better although it was essentially the same meat mixture.  It benefitted from the pastry dough and the yogurt sauce which tasted like it had some mint in it.  They could have doubled the sauce and made the dish twice as good as far as I’m concerned.  I wrapped it up with a Turkish coffee.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the fancy cup like I did last time but the coffee was good.  I’d have to give this visit only 4 stars.  I’d have gone as low as 3.5 but the waiter was very good so that kept in the very good range.  Oh yeah and the bread, I finished that basket before I left.

Last but certainly not least was the Pacific Rim Bistro on Peachtree Center Ave.  It covers a wide span of Asian cuisines including sushi.  This place was packed with con goers so I was seated at the sushi bar and even though I didn’t order any I got to watch them make it as I waited for my food.  In addition to seating at the sushi bar they have tables inside as well as outside and both high tops and regular tables.  The staff is also very attentive.  I was checked on by at least three people aside from my server but it wasn’t annoying.  I was torn between the Malaysian curry chicken and the Lamb stew in coconut curry and my server was helpful enough to let me know the lamb stew had been extremely popular so that tipped the scales.

The stew came with big chunks of vegetables; peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and cauliflower, all sharing the coconut curry bath with a healthy portion of bite sized lamb.  The menu indicated it would come with black and jasmine rice but they only had jasmine by the time I ordered mine.  That wasn’t a problem though as this was fantastic.  It was one of the best things I’d eaten all week.  I even like the cauliflower, which is a vegetable I’ve never really cared for.  I’d definitely recommend this dish to anyone that didn’t have an aversion to something a little spicy.

Overall I was quite happy with my international dining experiences while enjoying DragonCon.  If you’re in downtown Atlanta don’t hesitate to check one of these places out.