I joined a Facebook group. What are things you might regret Alex? In this case it worked out well for me. Specifically it is a group of people who post about Oconee County SC food places. Like a good group the opinions vary on what’s good and what’s not and either people are generally willing to agree to disagree or the moderators quickly put the hammer down on trollish behavior. I mean it runs the gamut of someone posting about how tasty the Waffle House is to someone else talking about the grade of bean at a coffee house. Since the international food scene is kind of thin in these parts I figured it would give me a heads up on new places. I might also discover new options I haven’t considered.
There was a post saying the Blue Ridge Grill food trailer was parked in the Advanced Auto parking lot just a few miles from the office. I dig mobile food venues and I needed a valve stem cap so it was like fate was pushing me there. Good old fate.
There was no line so I knew I shouldn’t have any issues with time but I also wondered if that was a sign of the quality of the food. Only one way to find out. I checked out the menu board and then just asked them what they were particularly proud of today. The lady taking orders deferred to the guy making the food who said the Coconut Shrimp were something else today. I told them to hook me up because that was what I had been leaning towards anyway. While they prepared my food I ran into the auto parts store and took care of business. By the time I came back they were just closing the lid on my lunch.
I smelled that shrimp all the way back to the office and by the time I got to the table I was salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs. There were 9 shrimp, some coleslaw, fries and cocktail sauce in the box. Oh and the lemon garnish and two weird pieces of lettuce I assume were to add color. I was pleased with the look of those shrimp because the shredded coconut was abundant. Here’s a close-up.
These were some of the best coconut shrimp I’ve ever had. After trying the first one au naturel I decided to dress one up with a little cocktail sauce. I’m not a big cocktail sauce fan but I did want to judge the quality. It was decent but honestly it took away from the taste of the shrimp and kind of felt like an insult using it. I ate them slow to savor them. The slaw was ok and I almost skipped the fries but apparently the close proximity to the shrimp imparted some goodness on them and I ate few.
Overall I was well pleased with the parking lot deal I’d made with the folks in the Blue Ridge Grill trailer.
Once you get past Chinese & Mexican the number of international restaurants is pretty slim in the immediate area. As I love my global goodies I decided to have some delivered to scratch that itch. I’ve done Universal Yums in the past which brought snacks from other countries to my door so this time I opted for Try Treats and Eat2Explore. The one I’m going to talk about now is Eat2Explore. Something different this time is trying out a video unboxing. We’ll see how this goes.
I’m clearly not ready to convert this to a video blog but it was something different. So was this whole experience. This box would be really great if you had kids and wanted to get them introduced to foods from other cultures and learning about other places. The two info cards are quick hits of information about the country, food & origins, social studies, math & art. Plus a QR code to take you to more online information. Kind of cool.
The next thing about this box is that it’s about making the dishes rather than dropping a ready made meal on your doorstep. If you enjoy cooking then this could be for you. I also appreciated the fact that each recipe was provided with both with a good version and a vegetarian option (I know my carnivore is showing). I do think it’s a nice touch for those who swing that way. The recipes are fairly straight forward and ingredients included in the box are highlighted in the finished dishes. The included shopping list is quite a nice touch too. That also explained the kitchen gadget I thought was a spoon holder was actually a lid prop to keep the lid open a crack so you can avoid boil overs.
The meals were all tasty and I wound up using them as meal prep for the week to save time and have a tasty homemade meal several more times. The first one I made was jerk chicken thighs with Caribbean rice and coleslaw.
The spicy peppers were evident in the jerk paste but not overly hot. The sweetness of the pineapple I think helped tamp it down. The coconut milk powder I said in the video was for the coconut shrimp was really for this rice recipe. I loved this rice. I did go off book and use some brown jasmine rice rather than white but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment. The slaw was a little juicy but had a nice flavor that went well with the rest of the meal. I looked forward to the left overs. Next up was the curry chicken stew.
Another relatively simple dish that had a ton of great flavor and the left overs were better than the first meal after cooking. I used chick breast in this one and stuck to my brown rice over the white. This was a fairly sweet curry stew and very aromatic. It was also very filling with both rice and potatoes in addition to the chicken. If you’re trying to cut carbs this is not the meal you are looking for. I like curry a lot so this was probably my favorite of the 3 recipes overall. Having said that the next one was an excellent contender.
It doesn’t look like much with only 4 jumbo shrimp but wow these were nice and the meal was sufficient to fill me up. I’ve had coconut shrimp before and they were ok. These were better than any I’ve had before. It wasn’t anything super special other than they had bigger flakes of coconut and they were baked rather than fried. The sauce was like a homemade yum yum sauce and the riced cauliflower with mixed vegetables was not bad at all. I did use the left over egg from the dredging of the shrimp in the cauliflower and vegetables like a stir fry. The shrimp was the single biggest surprise for me and was simple enough I’ll give them another go. They also reheated well in the oven.
I signed up for a few months so we’ll see what it brings. This one certainly was worthwhile.