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.

Charleston Wine & Food Festival 2018 Recap – Cookin’ with Booze

Featured Food Blogger:? Cookin’ with Booze

For those of you who don’t know, the Charleston Wine + Food festival is 5 days of heaven for foodies and pretty much everyone else. My experience at the Charleston Wine + Food festival was completely unique because I had a different role each day. I worked as an intern for the Culinary Talent team, took photos at 3 events, and attended as a guest on Sunday. Every role I had was as exciting as it was challenging. I learned a lot and ate a lot over these 5 days, so come along with me as I recap it.

Day 1: Opening Night

 

Day 1 I was wearing my intern hat (not an actual hat, the figure of speech one) and helped set up the Main Stage before the Culinary Village opened. After a few hours of heavy lifting/unpacking and organizing, it was time for the magic that is Opening Night. My job during Opening Night was to make sure the chefs had everything they needed (utensils, water, etc) and coincidentally they happened to give us their food in return..

My favorite bite of the night by far was the pasta dish from Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca. In fact, I bragged about it so much that he ran out of it very quickly! It was a pasta shell filled with pork and ricotta, and it was topped with a sun dried tomato pesto and a raw tomato sauce. Raw tomato sauce is something I’ve never encountered on pasta, but now I want it on everything! The pickled shrimp and farro salad was another winner from Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill. To end on a sweet note, I had some strawberry, layered goodness from Andrea Upchurch of Magnolia’s.

Day 2: Winederlust and Photos at 82 Queen’s Garden Party

Helping set up events was a lot of walking and lifting things up and putting them down, but to see the end result was always so satisfying. Winederlust was out at Lowndes Grove Plantation, which is a beautiful venue with a view of the water. The chefs broke out giant grills and cauldrons that made me smell like charred meats for days (which I was obviously ok with) and there was plenty of wine to go around.

The most interesting bite of this event was the charred cabbage from Michael and Tara Gallina of Vicia in St. Louis. They served it with a sauerkraut cream and pancetta and it was tangy, salty, and smoky without being meat! Mind fricken blown at what cabbage can do.

After Winederlust, I headed over to 82 Queen to take photos at their “Garden of the Good + Regal” party. Queen Street Hospitality was represented all around with food from Lowcountry Bistro, Swig & Swine, and 82 Queen of course. All the food was down home Southern, but with a twist. Swig & Swine somehow transformed beef pho into egg rolls, 82 Queen had a shrimp and grits bar, and Lowcountry Bistro has fresh ceviche as well as shrimp etouffee.

They also had sweet treats, such as the banana cream pie cup that was crunchy, creamy, and photographed beautifully! Everyone had a great time at this event because of the music, the food, and the gracious hosts!

Day 3: Photos at Business of Food & watching my bosses crush at Pecha Kucha

My next photography gig was at Business of Food, which was a Q&A session with chefs about their experiences in the industry. Before the panel started, the guests were treated to food from Dough Boyz and Braised in the South. Dough Boyz came to impress with their giant pizza oven inside a trailer and their Brussels sprout, pancetta, and truffle oil pizza, which was to die for. Braised in the South kept the indulgence going with their pulled pork mac and cheese topped with fried onion strings. Just the description of it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

After Business of Food, Charleston Music Hall was transformed for Pecha Kucha, which is a fast paced presentation, which the owners of Huriyali (my bad ass bosses Tom & Ruchi) were a part of. Each presenter told the story of their business and it was inspiring to see so many passionate people looking to make Charleston a better place.

The food was a collection of food trucks including Roti Rolls, Bac’n me Crazy, Lunchbox, and City Limits Barbecue. My favorite bite of the night was the Smoked Brisket Slider from City Limits Barbecue. The brisket was tender, the sauce was spicy, and the pickled onions added some tang.

Day 4: Photos at Iron Mixologist and North Charleston Night Bazaar

Saturday was definitely my favorite day of the festival. I started with taking photos at a cocktail competition at Williams Sonoma: Iron Mixologist. This was obviously right up my ally. The contestants, which happened to be all female bartenders, were challenged to create cocktails with a secret ingredient, all in 7 minutes flat. It was a very fast-paced event, so it was challenging, but exciting to take photos of. In the end, Caroline Woodruff of Proof was crowned the champion because she was able to truly highlight the secret ingredient in each drink.

North Charleston Night Bazaar was hands-down my favorite event of the festival. We got to Night Bazaar early to help set up, and you could feel the energy as soon as you walked in. The DJ was killing it with the music and people were out on the dance floor immediately. The energy of this event was a dream come true for me, because I like to bust a move every once in a while as well as eat international food.

Another highlight of this event was that I got to geek out over meeting one of the judges on Chopped: Maneet Chauhan. She was a super sweet person and her authentic Indian street food (panipuri) was fresh and bright! I also had cold, spicy noodles from Jimmy Bannos Sr. of Heaven on Seven that were bursting with international flavors.

Day 5: Being a Guest at the Culinary Village and closing it out at Toasted

Sunday was my day to enjoy the Culinary Village as a guest, and I was lucky enough to have my whole family join me! As soon as I walked in, my mom was ready to hit the tequila, my dad the wine, and my brother all the food in sight. We simply had to get the wine yokes just to look like an even more ridiculous squad walking around.

I started off with a chorizo breakfast taco, which really fueled me for the 5 hours of eating and drinking ahead. Next, we watched the burger bash and were hand delivered burgers to snack on, which was ideal! After walking 6 miles a day during the festival, it was nice to take a load off and watch people cook burgers.

As the day went on, the lines got longer and the people more impatient. Luckily, since I had been at the Culinary Village the past couple days, I knew where to go to avoid the lines and get the most food I possibly could. My family and I had a great time at the Culinary Village and I’m so glad I was able to give them the inside scoop on this event.

To cap everything off, my intern buddy Zoe and I went to Toasted with the rest of the staff that made this festival possible. It was bittersweet as we were all congratulating each other on the success of the festival and thinking back on all the hard work that went into it. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience as an intern, photographer, and guest at?this festival and I hope to be involved again next year! Cheers to year 13!

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!

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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