Cocktail of the Week: The Wise Spaniard from Cannon Green (And a Happy Hour to Die For)

By Featured Food Blogger:? Cookin’ With Booze

I drive by Cannon Green all the time and always thought it was just a fancy restaurant, but I’m happy to report that they have a killer happy hour! On Tuesdays, they have $5 margs and $2 tacos that change each week, so you get a different experience every time. The rest of the week, they have $3 beer, $5 house wine & well liquor, and $8 specialty cocktails.

the happiest hour

In addition to discounted drinks, everyone who attends happy hour gets to play Plinko for a chance to win: a $5 mimosa carafe, free dessert, a $5 burger, or a complimentary cocktail. I got to try several of their happy hour drinks and bites with my fellow #TastemakersCHS and by the end of the night we all had a nice buzz and satisfied appetites!

We started the night by sampling some signature cocktails. I tried the spicy marg (obvi I can’t resist) and the “Wise Spaniard.” The Wise Spaniard is my cocktail of the week because of its complex flavor. It was composed of gin, sage syrup, grapefruit juice, and Cava (a Spanish sparkling wine). The sage complemented the floral notes of the gin and the grapefruit juice and bubbly wine brightened it up. It was garnished with a fresh sprig of sage, which I accidentally almost choked on and said out loud “wow I almost choked on a sage leaf,” which might’ve been the most bougie thing I’ve ever said in my life.

queso, this is all mine, right?

To complement the cocktails, we sampled some of their apps that were great for sharing. We started with queso and guac, and it was tough for me to share the queso with others, but I tried my best not to give any death glares. We were also treated to their fresh ceviche, which was a refreshing switch from the rich queso.

The main dish of the night was the tacos ($2 during happy hour on Taco Tuesday). The tacos were filled with shredded chicken, fresh mango, crunchy radishes, and drizzled with sour cream. They could’ve packed more of a punch in the spice department for me, but overall they were satisfying.

The local shrimp and Brussels sprouts were the other stars of the show. I feel like every restaurant in Charleston has some variation on Brussels sprouts, and for that I am eternally grateful. Cannon Green’s version spices it up with gochujang (red chile paste), sesame seeds, and a garlic aioli. I couldn’t really taste the gochujang, but the garlic aioli added a nice creamy contrast to the crispy sprouts.

The shrimp was seasoned so well on the shrimp toast that a few of us took to eating the heads. It might’ve been the cocktails that made us do this, but I honestly have no regrets. I’ve heard on Food Network for many years that shrimp heads are the most flavorful part and I can’t say I disagree. It was a crunchy delicacy.

i’ll be back!

Photo by @hangry.mess

We finished off the night by playing Plinko and I went home with a voucher for a $5 mimosa carafe! I’m glad the Tastemakers introduced me to this new happy hour spot and it’s certainly #BoozeApproved.

Cookin’ with Booze Charleston Restaurant Review: Tu (With Cocktail Pairings)

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By Cookin’ with Booze

It’s Restaurant Week everyone (cue cheers)! I use Restaurant Week as an excuse to try new places, even if they aren’t participating. This year, the hot new restaurant Tu was at the top of my list. Tu comes from the culinary masterminds that brought us Xiao Bao Biscuit, so I knew I was in for a treat.? I know you will read a lot of other reviews of this place because it’s hot and new, so I’m going to switch it up and not only review the food, but suggest cocktail pairings with each course I tried.

Crudo Paired with the Destello Verde

 

Before arriving to Tu, I trolled their menu, Yelp, and the minds of fellow foodies to find out what I should order. The first dish I knew I had to try was the crudo. The crudo is a light appetizer featuring raw fish, habanero, guava, and cheese ice. That’s not a typo, I said CHEESE ICE. I don’t even remember what kind of fish was in the crudo because I heard the waiter say cheese ice and got distracted.

This dish was one of the most complex/ tastiest/ most creative dishes I’ve had in my life. The cheese ice (frozen Parmesan cheese) keeps the fish refreshingly cold while adding a salty and nutty flavor. I thought the habanero was going to punch me in the face with spice, but it was sliced so thinly and contrasted so well by the other ingredients that it added the perfect amount of heat.

The cocktail I would pair with this dish would be the Destello Verde, which is, as the waiter described it, “a margarita on steroids.” I love spice and tequila together, so this dish and cocktail are meant to be.

Aguachile paired with Desolation Avenue

For our second course, we went with another raw and refreshing dish, but this time with beef instead of fish (call me Dr. Suess, y’all). The aguachile composed of beef aged in kombu (seaweed), bonito (dried fish) mayo, thin sliced red onion & serrano peppers, and tomatillo water. The kombu gave the beef a salty note, which was complemented by the brightness of the tomatillo water and serrano peppers.

I would pair this dish with the Desolation Avenue cocktail (per the waiter’s suggestion) because the Desolation Avenue cocktail contains barley brine, which would complement the briny flavor of the kombu/ tomatillo water.

Pastrami paired with Coast Hopart IPA

I love that this dish is just called “Pastrami,” as if you’re going to get some pastrami slapped onto a plate. On the contrary, you get a sauerkraut pancake with crispy bits of pastrami, scallions, and topped off with a buttermilk mustard oil. I was a little nervous that the funk of the sauerkraut would take over the dish, but the salty pastrami and zing from the mustard were the stars of the show.

I chose a Coast Hopart IPA to pair with this dish because it’s like drinking a beer with a hot dog on game day; it just makes sense.

Yakitori Special paired with the Slow Gold

Our last course was a special they were having that night: Lamb Yakitori with Drunken Salsa. Obviously, they had me at drunken salsa. Yakitori is a Japanese kebab, so the lamb was skewered and charred to perfection on the grill. The drunken salsa was composed of pumpkin seeds, tomato, chipotle, mezcal (the drunken part), and lime juice.? The chipotle had a pungent spice that was a little too much on its own, but when it was combined with the fattiness of the lamb, the spice was toned down a little bit.

I would pair this dish with the Slow Gold cocktail because it’s the only sweet cocktail on the menu, which would tamp down the spice of the salsa.

calling all Adventurous Eaters!

For all you adventurous eaters out there, Tu is the place to go. The small plate-style of eating is perfect for people looking for a unique dining experience. You could probably go back here every day and have a different experience each time (in a good way). I know I will go back for a different experience, minus ordering the crudo over and over again because I may lose sleep over how tasty that dish was.

Official Tu Charleston Website

Location:? 430 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

Indaco: A Pasta Lover’s Dream – Charleston Feature Food Blogger: Cookin’ With Booze

Last week was my 2 year anniversary with my boyfriend, so we had to pick somewhere special for dinner. We are both pasta fanatics (idk who isn’t), so I knew that Italian was definitely the move. I have heard great reviews of Indaco from the grape vine, so I figured we should check it out. I also happened to meet one of the chefs at Indaco at the Pitmaster Throwdown, so the food from that reinforced the positive vibes I was already getting.

One major bonus of Indaco is that they actually take reservations, which I feel like is getting increasingly rare in Charleston. We were seated immediately and the service was on point. We decided to treat ourselves to some wine, which is rare because I usually don’t spend more than $5 on an entire bottle, let alone $9 for a glass. The $9 was definitely worth it because the Sauvignon Blanc we got (the cheapest wine on the menu) had a hint of peach flavor, which I really enjoyed.

We continued to treat ourselves with an appetizer and we decided on the crostini. The crostini was topped with fresh ricotta, local SC peaches, hazulnuts, honey, and fresh parsley. This crostini was the perfect way to start off the evening because it was a light and sweet treat. The fresh ricotta was creamy dreamy perfection and the local peaches were sweet and juicy.

bring on the pasta

After our crostini and wine sippin’, we had to decide on entrees. Before we got to the restaurant, Christian predicted that I would get the gnocchi (cause I always do), but I decided to branch out and try the Corn Mezzaluna. Christian decided on the Black Pepper Tagliatelle and we both made the right choice.

The Corn Mezzaluna was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a while (bold statement, I know). When I taste dishes, I can usually think of something that would improve the dish (more salt, spice, etc), but with this dish, I couldn’t think of anything that would make it better. The sweetness of the corn was balanced by the spicy fresno chiles and although the sauce was super rich, the chiles gave it a pop of flavor. I had a bite of Christian’s Black Pepper tagliatelle and it was a rich and savory dish. If you’re looking for something comforting, that is definitely the dish to go for.

next time: Pizza

After that meal at Indaco, I will definitely be returning ASAP. We are already plotting to go back for their signature wood-fired pizzas and happy hour. Stay tuned to see where I end up next.

 

 

 

 

The Castejóns: Bringing a Taste of Spain to the Lowcountry – Restaurant Review

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Provided by feature Food Blogger Cookin’ with Booze

One of the best parts of being a food blogger in Charleston is the amazing chefs/fellow foodies you get to meet. In the case of the Castejóns, they are a chef/foodie power couple that I aspire to be when I grow up. I met them through #TastemakersCHS (a group of top culinary social media influencers) and they were kind enough to host the group at their pop up restaurant at Charlestowne Fermentory. Their authentic Spanish cuisine with a sprinkle of the Lowcountry was so delicious I want to shout it from the rooftops (but I guess posting it on here is a better/less obnoxious option).

the dynamic duo #goals

In addition to being kick ass chefs, the?Castejóns are probably two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, which makes you feel at home when you’re enjoying your Spanish feast. In traditional Spanish style, we started with a few appetizers to warm us up for the star of the show: the paella.

holy aioli!

We started out with the fritos (fried goodies) which included croquetas de pollo (fried chicken croquettes) and empanada de verduras (vegetarian empanadas). The croquetas were crispy on the outside and had a tender,flavorful pork/chicken filling. The best part of the dish, however, was definitely the spicy aioli it was served with. I wanted to take a jar of that home to put on everything I eat from now on.

The empanadas de verduras were filled with goat cheese, caramelized onion, eggplant, and collard greens (shout out to the Lowcountry). The goat cheese made the filling incredibly creamy and the caramelized onion added a nice sweetness to it. They were served with a refreshing dipping sauce chock full of herbs, so it balanced out the richness.

Give me all the pork

Although it was hard to resist eating 20 of the croquetas, we moved on to the next course: the Serranito. The Serranito was a sandwich composed of marinated pork loin, poblano peppers, cured spanish ham, and a fried quail egg to top it all off. This sandwich struck the perfect balance between spicy, salty, and porky goodness. The runny yolk from the quail egg acted as a sauce and added a nice richness. Did I eat the entire platter of them?…maybe.

the star of the show

The last savory dish of the evening, the paella, was the masterpiece we were all waiting for. The paella is stunning in both flavor and presentation. It is presented in the cast iron skillet it is cooked in to preserve the socarrat. As Alfonso explained to us, the socarrat is the flavorful, crispy rice stuck to the pan. It is a staple in a well-made paella and I felt transported to Sevilla (their Spanish hometown) when I plated it up.

To put a Lowcountry twist on their paella, the Castejóns add in local seafood. The fresh shrimp and clams were my favorite part of the dish by far. Along with local ingredients, they also import paprika, olive oil, and saffron from Sevilla to ensure an authentic flavor.

If you haven’t had the chance to yet, head over to Charlestowne Fermentory and check out the Castejóns. You can’t go wrong with the combination of authentic Spanish food and local craft beer. Follow their adventures on their website and social media!

1Kept Charleston: Lunch Edition – Cookin’ With Booze Restaurant Review

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By Cookin’ with Booze

The fact that I’ve written three separate posts about this restaurant should indicate just how unique every experience is. Their dinner menu varies from schnitzel to shrimp and grits, so I knew the lunch menu would have to be something special to keep up

1Kept is in an ideal location to pop in for lunch after a long morning of shopping on King Street. They offer appetizers, classic Southern sandwiches with a twist, and larger plates for their hungrier guests. We got to sample a few of each, so keep reading so you know what to get when you go.

The appetizers

Normally when Sydney (Queen of the Food Age) and I go out to eat, we always just ask for what the chef/staff recommends. In this case, the manager recommended the fried okra and the pimento cheese board to start.

Okra is not really my jam, but when it’s fried and cut horizontally like they do at 1Kept, the slime factor is completely eliminated. I know it’s easy to make something taste better by frying it, but for me you have to have a light batter with a nice spice to it. The spice of the okra breading was matched seamlessly with their house-made hot sauce. Let me tell ya folks, I was snacking on these like popcorn throughout the meal.

The pimento cheese board was the epitome of Southern Hospitality. Nothing says: “Welcome to my Restaurant” like a bowl of the South’s favorite spread surrounded by grilled bread, pickled veggies, and other spreads for the ultimate flavor combos. The perfect bite was the pimento cheese with their house made bacon jam, whole grain mustard, and tomato jam on the grilled bread. It was the perfect mix of sweetness, tang, saltiness, and spice from the mustard.

the dish on the main dishes

I was super excited to try their burger because we got to see my dear old friend pimento cheese again along with some other tasty toppings. There was also peach BBQ sauce, Cement Pickle Relish, and super crispy bacon. The “cement pickles” were the star of the show because they’re the chef’s great grandma’s recipe, so you know it has to be good. The cement pickles were unique because they were very crunchy to the point of almost being dry, then the inside burst with warm spices like cinnamon. Overall, this burger was an adventure with every bite with different flavors and textures.

Our next main dish was their cacio e pepe, which is basically a fancy mac and cheese with freshly cracked black pepper. This dish is pure decadence with the creamy cheese, spicy pepper, and runny egg yolk creating more saucy goodness for the dish. If you’re looking for a comforting dish, this is the one to get.

Since I’ve written about this place twice, it is no longer my 1Kept secret (had to do it). Whether you go for lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with their unique twists on Southern classics. I just need to try their brunch and I’ll have all my meals covered!

Featured Charleston Food Blogger: Cookin’ With Booze, “My 9 Favorite Places to Eat/Drink North of the Crosstown”

By Elise DeVoe – Cookin’ With Booze

For the past three years I ?lived in the heart of downtown Charleston and established my favorite places to eat/drink in my general vicinity. Now that I’ve graduated, I moved about a mile up the peninsula, which feels like 10 miles in Charleston distance. I’ve started to establish my new favorite eateries above the Crosstown (highway that goes through Charleston) and I figured I would share them so my fellow neighbors know where to get their grub/drink on.

1. Tattooed Moose

I lie awake at night thinking about the duck fat fries at Tattooed Moose; that’s how good they are. They are served with a garlic aioli that I’m convinced would make a piece of cardboard taste good. Definitely come to Tattooed Moose hungry because their meals are rich and filling. One of their sandwiches could put me in a happy food coma for weeks. Speaking of their sandwiches, the Duck Club is a must-try as well as their burger. You really can’t go wrong with anything there.

2. Revelry Brewing

With so many breweries in Charleston, it’s hard to choose which one to go to. I choose Revelry because it is conveniently located and they have a bomb rooftop. To complement the beer, they have a both Asian and Latin inspired dishes to munch on while you’re sippin’. They have also helped me branch out on my beer choices/ learn more about different types of beer that aren’t grapefruit shandy or Corona.

3. Faculty Lounge

The Faculty Lounge is one of my favorite happy hour spots, mostly because it’s ridiculously close to my house. During happy hour they have a selection of drinks ranging from $1-$6. For $1 you can get a “dad beer” and for $6 you can get the “Dealer’s Choice,” which is a cocktail crafted specifically for you. When I got the Dealer’s Choice for the first time, I just told the bartender I liked tequila and she crafted a spicy tequila drink that keeps me coming back for more. They also have pool and some delicious ramen, which makes it an ideal hang out spot.

4. Taco Boy

Guilty as charged, I definitely started going to Taco Boy before I moved above the Crosstown. I might’ve moved solely to be closer to their delicious margaritas… who knows… Regardless of my motives, Taco Boy is a reliable source of great drinks and tacos, so I will continue to be a loyal customer. Get their casa margarita, some street corn, and 2 fried chicken tacos and you will be one happy camper

5. Moe’s Crosstown

You can find me at Moe’s on any given Sunday watching the Panther’s game and chowing down on their classic bar food. Their fried mac and cheese is to die for. The breading is well seasoned and the inside is mac and cheese..need I say more? They also have half off burgers on Tuesdays, so you really can’t go wrong. I had their Patty Melt the last time I went and it was ooey gooey cheesy madness (in a good way). Definitely a great place to get apps and drinks or a full-blown dinner.

6.? Rodney Scott’s Barbecue

Barbecue joints are pretty much on every corner in Charleston, so it was easy to find a new go-to spot. I love the barbecue meat itself, don’t get me wrong, but honestly I’m all about the sides. I feel like the sides really make the meal, and Rodney Scott’s has their sides down pat. Their greens were definitely some of the best I’ve ever had and their cornbread was sweet deliciousness. To make something good even better, Rodney Scott’s has a drive thru (which could be dangerous for my health, but oh well). If you haven’t checked them out yet, get there and order their greens as your side, you won’t be disappointed.

7. The Harbinger

If I need to get some work done, The Harbinger is my go-to because I can treat myself to some baked goodies and coffee while I work. They have a variety of grab and go items as well as some tasty pastries. Although they have a wide variety of unique pastries, I usually am in the mood for the “Best Friend” cookie. The Best Friend cookie is basically a chocolate chip cookie taken to the next level. It has 3 different types of chocolate chunks, pearl sugar, and topped with sea salt. It is pure comfort and the perfect balance of sweet and salty.

8. Leon’s

Whenever my parents are in town, Leon’s is the first place my dad asks to go because he is an oyster fiend. I share his love of oysters, so it works out well. I am a big fan of their Fried Oyster sandwich. The “Comeback” sauce definitely lives up to its name because I keep coming back. I also am obsessed with their Brussels Sprouts. I grew up thinking Brussels Sprouts were stinky and gross because my dad microwaved them and it smelled up the whole house. Now that I’ve had them done the right way, I try them at a lot of places I go.

9. Harold’s Cabin

Harold’s Cabin is unique in both the atmosphere and food. They drew me in with their $5 cocktails on Thursdays and I keep coming back for the food. If you’re looking for apps, definitely get the hush puppies and the smashed fries. Some of the ingredients come directly from their rooftop garden, which I think is an amazing accomplishment in itself. Speaking of the garden, my favorite cocktail involves their fresh rosemary grown in that garden. When you go, get the Salty Raccoon, which is tequila (obviously), fresh rosemary, lime juice, and smoked sea salt. Maybe I will try and replicate it home from the rosemary in my garden.

If you are looking for spots where the tourists can’t get to you, eating north of the Crosstown is the way to go. If you try any of these places, you will not be disappointed!

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