The Three B’s

I’m a tad tardy getting this written up but I didn’t want to just let it go since it was an important event for me in this pandemic influenced time.

For this entry the Culinary-Passport was all about the B’s. Columbia County Parks and Rec was having their Boots, Brew & BBQ event Friday which sounded interesting. It moved from interesting to “Let’s do this” when my sister sent me a text asking if I was going. She and my nephew swung by, picked me up and off we went, images of food trucks, beer in plastic cups (or a bottle of Sprite for the underaged) and live music dancing in our heads.

This would be the first fairly large live event I’d been to in a year so I was excited and also interested to see how folks handled it during these interesting times. It was about what I expected. Some masked, some not. The space between people sitting in the amphitheater was probably a little greater than in “normal” times. The folks in lines were observing more personal space than I’ve seen at similar events in the past, which suited me fine because I’m not a fan of people breathing down my neck.

The music was good, varied with a slant towards country. They were obviously experienced at events with diverse groups. When they broke into Gimme Three Steps I was on board. There were at least half a dozen options for the BBQ portion of the evening, some food trucks and some pavilion covered spaces. We opted for Pot Smoker BBQ.

It was a fairly good choice. It had the longest line but the benefit of the wait was one of the folks running the truck periodically walked the line giving out pork rind samples and copies of the menu. The menus helped keep the order line moving. I decided to pig out (pun intended) on the pulled pork plate that came with two sides.

Are you looking at the picture and asking, what the heck is that taking up half the plate? Well, what had happened was, they had pork rinds as a side option. I’d never had that as a choice of side before so I had to. For the second side the obligatory mac & cheese side was a no brainer. They threw in the slice of white bread because that’s what happens around here.

The picture is deceptive because the pig skins are covering half the BBQ depriving you of the full effect of the generous serving size of pulled pork. The pork had a nice smoky flavor and with the spicier of the various sauces added it got some heat, tanginess and a hint of sweetness. Overall a nice combo. The skins had some BBQ flavoring on them and a good crunch. I wouldn’t have them as a side again but I’d definitely munch them as an appetizer or snack. The mac & cheese was a minor disappointment primarily because it was cold. The flavor wasn’t bad and it had something added that gave it a reddish hue and an interesting flavor. I’m not sure what it was but it made it stand out from the myriad of mac & cheeses I’ve had in the past. If it had been hot or even warm I might be giving it an enthusiastic thumbs up, as is though it’s a thumb sideways. I may venture to the brick and mortar location to give it another shot for a final decision. I really enjoyed being out on a pleasant spring evening with family, dining, chatting and listening to live music. Looks like there will be a monthly Food Truck Friday here May-Sept so I expect I’ll be posting a few entries from those.

What a Jerk

Caribbean Food Truck

The evening for the October Food Truck Friday in Rock Hill was just about as good as you could ask for.  The weather was clear and cool, 64 degrees or 18 for the Celsius crowd.  The attire varied from shorts and t-shirt like myself to people wearing honest to God coats and beanies, not jackets mind you but full on coats.  To each their own but I thought it was great.

As per usual I grabbed a beverage, in this case a NoDa Brewing Premium Roasted Breakfast Coffee stout.  It was smooth and like a lot of breakfast blends a hint of coffee flavor.  I walked the area enjoying the weather and band looking for something that called to me.  I thought about the vegan burrito food truck because this is about trying new things but these folks always get started late so I passed them by without a tear.

After strolling and perusing I chose to go with Marlie Q’s caribbean food truck.  They had some decent looking options and while the stewed ox tail was tempting the jerk chicken with some beans & rice sounded like the way to go.

I’ll say up front the sign clearly said this was spicy and they were not lying.  It had a great jerked spice flavor and it was.  The rice and beans were scalp tingling, nose running, brow sweat producing hot as well.  One thing though was you could taste the pepper flavor and not just the heat so it was well done.  The chicken breast was good sized and cooked tender enough it came off the bone easily.

As this was not a meal that lent itself mobile dining I shared a table with a couple dining on something from another truck.  I didn’t pay much attention until the lady said, “Wow you left me a lot of mac & cheese” and the guy said “that’s because I’m a great boyfriend”.  I chuckled and they both took notice and the guy said, “I have to get points where I can since I’m usually called an a-hole” and the lady straight faced said “It’s true”.  We all laughed and I finished up before they wanted to be friends.

I swung by the beverage tent and since everyone else was doing it I got a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale to enjoy while I listened to the band.  Pumpkin ales I’ve tried in the past have been hit or miss and often cloying with the amount of pumpkin spice.  This one did it well.  There was enough pumpkin and pumpkin spice to make you reminiscent for that last slice of pumpkin pie you had rather than hitting you in the face with the pie.

The band was quite good, Chunky Daddy played a varied set list that included, rock, soul, country and ranged from 70s to more recent stuff like Wagon Wheel.  I also saw a guy who I think was unintentionally cosplaying David Tennant’s Dr Who.  Dude looked just like him from clothes to haircut to glasses.

Overall it was a good second to the last FTF of the year and the fountain was looking great in the evening light.


Almost Canadian

Food Truck & Ciderworks

Today I decided I’d try to find a food truck as it had been a while since I had something from meals on wheels.  A bit of internet sleuthing turned up Almost Homecooking Food Truck and they were celebrating their 1 year anniversary parked at Good Road Ciderworks who was also celebrating their 1 year anniversary so that seemed like an excellent pairing.

Just a short run up the interstate and couple of left turns had me right in front of the Good Road and Almost Homecooking was parked right out front.

I got there fairly early and there weren’t many people so seating was plentiful, both inside and out.  I determined right off the bat I was dining outside at one of the picnic tables because it was such a glorious spring day.  I got a big smile and “Welcome” from the lady with the wristbands who directed me inside and told me to make sure I asked about the specials.  The had excellent classic rock pumping from the speakers outside and in so they got points for good taste.

I started by ordering my food since I know the trucks usually take a bit of time to get things in order.  They had some nice looking choices like pork belly tacos, beef sliders, lamb sliders, a cuban sandwich, truffle fries, and several other options all of which sounded good.  What caught my eye though was the Southern Poutine and that’s what I ordered.  While they worked up my poutine I went inside to pick my accompanying adult beverage.

The tasting room is good sized and two stories so there are plenty of places to sit and sip.  There are two bars, one seems to be the cider bar and the other the mead bar based on my experience but that may not be wholly accurate.  They have a number of different ciders and meads but I figured I’d start with one of the special releases and got the Rum Barrel Aged Cranberry Crossroads cider.

This is their normal cranberry & apple cider, you guessed it, aged in a rum barrel.  It was pretty good, definitely had the tartness of the cranberries and a hint of rum but not much and while they describe it as semi-dry it seemed straight up dry to me.  I nursed it while waiting on my poutine and about halfway through I got the call.

What pray tell is Southern Poutine you ask?  Well let me tell you it’s not quite the same as Canadian poutine.  It consists of a heaping helping of crinkle cut fries topped with some chunks of smoked pork shoulder, some light brown gravy and pimento cheese.  When I picked up the container I knew by weight I wasn’t going to finish all of it and when I popped it open and saw the mountain of food that just confirmed it.  Wow this was a tasty and truly filling meal.  The fries were cooked so they were crisp enough on the outside to aid structural integrity but still could soak up some gravy.  I was initially disappointed at what seemed like a paltry amount of the smoked pork but it was just spread out over and under the fries and hiding in the gravy.  The pork was diced into about half inch chunks and had a great smokey flavor.  The brown gravy was light and I’m not sure if it was the gravy or the pimento cheese but one of them had some spicy heat.  Not too much but you knew there were peppers involved.  The pimento cheese just melted into the rest to make a gloppy mess that was a pleasure to dredge fries through.  Just a few bites in and I needed a liquid refill so ran back inside to grab another of the specials.  This time the BBA Buckled Clover Mead.

This was outstanding.  The BBA stands for bourbon barrel aged and the buckled clover mead is a sweet clover & buckwheat honey mead.  The first thing you notice is the smell which you might think would be bourbon heavy but it was a deep honey smell with a faint whiff of the bourbon.  The taste is sweet as advertised and the first thing you notice followed rapidly by the bourbon taste without the alcohol burn and then it finishes with what I would have to call a bit of a floral cinnamony taste.  That stuff was good enough I bought a 1 liter growler I’ll be sipping on for good long time because a little does go a long way.  The mead did go better with the Southern Poutine than the cider.  The sweet and the heat played off one another nicely.

My interaction with the folks from Almost Homecooking was limited but they were very nice and one of them did come over and ask me how I liked the poutine and thanked me for giving them a try.  The Good Road people were also really friendly and helpful.  If they don’t know you they ask if this is your first time and give a quick explanation of the products and provide you with a menu that gives the characteristics of the various ciders and meads.  The one disappointment was that because they expected to be so busy they weren’t doing flights today and I really had hoped to try several different ciders.

I have a feeling I’ll be over in that neighborhood again.  From my seat out front at the picnic table at the ciderworks I could see two breweries and a distillery at least two of which had tasting rooms and possibly restaurants, I didn’t stop to check.  I also know there is at least one more cider place and a couple of other breweries within a couple mile radius of the area.

Overall a very successful outing on a fantastic spring day to dine al fresco.

Ooo Wee

Food Truck Friday

This weekend was the last Friday this year for the Food Truck Friday at Fountain Park in Rock Hill and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.  It actually turned out to be quite a cool windy evening so a stop at one of the beer trucks seemed like a good place to start as I strolled and perused the menus.  I went with Legal Remedy’s The Executioner Imperial Pumpkin Stout.


It is 10% alcohol and quite the hearty beer.  The pumpkin taste wasn’t that prevalent which was ok with me but that alcohol content was pretty noticeable.  As I was strolling around listening to the opening act belt out Wagon Wheel I sort of had my choice made for me when I got to the Ooo Wee BBQ truck.

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If you click on the picture with the menu board you can see they have an item called a BBQ Sundae that is a layered concoction similar to the Pig in a Jar my sister saw earlier this week at the NC State fair that I said I would absolutely try.  Well here was a chance to try something very similar so I had to keep my word.  Warning to those who can’t stand for their food to touch, scroll fast past the picture or you’re liable to get woozy.


I’d say this was superior to the one from the NC fair because in addition to the baked beans, meat, sauce and slaw there was a scoop of smoked mac & cheese.  While I wouldn’t choose to have all my meals served this way it was not bad at all.  The top layer is a just a bit of slaw, more like a token, followed by a bit of meat (you had the could select from any meats available you weren’t limited to just the pork) then the smoked mac & cheese and finally the baked beans as the foundation.  Every bit of it was good but I wouldn’t have minded trying some of the mac & cheese just by itself.  The stout paired well with the sundae and both were finished in quick succession.  I needed something else to occupy a hand as I walked around and at the other beer truck I found a Naked Apple Blackberry Gold hard cider to fit the bill.

My plan had been to hit one of the dessert trucks for something sweet then grab a spot to listen to the next band for a bit.  With the cider I decided that was dessert enough so all I had to do was grab some bench and enjoy Chicago Reloaded.  Overall it was a good way to spend a Friday night and it was also nice to see how food brought out a diverse cross section of the community to mingle and enjoy the evening together.  I hope they continue this event in 2017.



Feeling Cheeky

Taqueria Celeste


Today was just about as perfect a day as you could ask for to dine outdoors.  That being the case and continuing the segue to food trucks being added to the international restaurant theme of the blog I decided to hit up the food truck closest to me.  The Taqueria Celeste is just about a mile from my house and within walking distance if I wanted to risk my life crossing Celanese Rd.

It’s located in the back corner of a gas station parking lot and is a semi-permanent fixture.  They drive the truck up to a covered area with some picnic tables, fire up the generator, hang the signs and they are good to go.

They specialize in tacos (duh), tortas and burittos among other things.  Here are a couple of the menu boards in case you were wondering what kind they have.  In case you didn’t know, and I’ll admit I didn’t until a couple of years ago, a torta is a sandwich.

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After deciding on a cabeza burrito and a campechano taco I placed my order with the elementary school kid working the window who was quite polite and helpful.


After a short wait enjoying the wonderfully cool fall weather (finally) my food was up.


The tacos here come standard with onions, cilantro and radish on a soft tortilla.  The ground steak taco had plenty of meat and was ok but nothing to make you go out of you way for.  The beef cheek burrito comes with the titular beef cheek and Mexican rice wrapped up to make the burrito.  This was my first beef cheek and it was not bad if a little fatty.  It wasn’t spicy at all and the rice had decent flavor so it also wasn’t special other than the fact I got to use it in my title.  The mango drink was probably the most interesting item I had.  Although not Mexican it did have an international component being made in Korea.  I was surprised on my first sip to find it had bits of mango floating in it kind of like pulp in orange juice and there was some in every sip.

Overall if I hadn’t been here before and tried one of their sandwiches and a different taco only their proximity might get me to come back but I know the chorizo torta with the load of jalapenos they use is muy bueno.