Tag Archives: Charleston

Bringing Slow Food to Savannah

13 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Have y’all heard of the Slow Food movement?  Well, I had not until a couple of years ago.  The movement was born in Italy and grew into an international organization that supports good, clean and fair food for all.  Slow Food is all about eating local, seasonal food from sources that do not harm the environment, animal welfare or human health.

The Slow Food Manifesto was signed at the inception of the organization and it serves as a declaration against standardized food choices and a fast lifestyle:

“Born and nurtured under the sign of Industrialization, this century first invented the machine and then modelled its lifestyle after it. Speed became our shackles. We fell prey to the same virus: ‘the fast life’ that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest “fast- food”.

Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the ‘velocity’ that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of ‘the fast life’ with tranquil material pleasure. Against those – or, rather, the vast majority – who confuse efficiency with frenzy, we propose the vaccine of an adequate portion of sensual gourmandise pleasures, to be taken with slow and prolonged enjoyment.

Appropriately, we will start in the kitchen, with Slow Food. To escape the tediousness of “fast-food”, let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines.
In the name of productivity, the ‘fast life’ has changed our lifestyle and now threatens our environment and our land (and city) scapes. Slow Food is the alternative, the avant-garde’s riposte.

Real culture is here to be found. First of all, we can begin by cultivating taste, rather than impoverishing it, by stimulating progress, by encouraging international exchange programs, by endorsing worthwhile projects, by advocating historical food culture and by defending old-fashioned food traditions.

Slow Food assures us of a better quality lifestyle. With a snail purposely chosen as its patron and symbol, it is an idea and a way of life that needs much sure but steady support.”

I love that.  We all need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy food for the pleasure and health of it.   But Slow Food is so much more.

This is from the Slow Food USA site:  “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

Many cities have their own chapters and in Columbia and Charleston, SC the Slow Food chapters are a wealth of information on where to eat and buy local food.  The chapters can be adapted to the needs and culture of that city.  These organizations do an incredible job of connecting growers, producers, chefs, and consumers from all walks of life.   Many of them are also involved in basic food education and outreach.

When I moved to lovely Savannah I was floundering in my search for quality sources of local food.  I searched for their Slow Food chapter and was surprised to find they did not have one.   The website said “Savannah Slow Food – looking for new leadership,” and that was all the prompting I needed.  I emailed the Slow Food USA folks and they hooked me up with a small group of dedicated individuals that were also interested in establishing a chapter.   So off we go!

Two of the ladies who have really gotten the chapter off the ground are very talented individuals, I hope you will check out their blogs:

Inquisitive Appetite

Well Savannah

But here’s the big news . . .

Slow Food Savannah was officially established yesterday! Our big, public debut is this Saturday at the Forsyth Park Farmer’s Market.  We will be there at 9:00am and looking forward to speaking with anyone interested in supporting this new organization.  If you’re in Savannah, I hope you’ll come by.  We would love to share ideas, figure out the needs of the community, and help build connections that will support good, clean and fair food for all in Savannah.

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Charleston Restaurant Review – Hall’s Chophouse and Circa 1886

8 Feb

It’s guest post Tuesday! Check out our foodie friend A’s reviews of Restaurant Week.

Charleston Restaurant Week January 2011

I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Restaurant Week. I love it because I can try some places that normally would be relegated to the “very special occasion” list, and it seems like most participating restaurants try to have good options for their special menus. But I kind of hate it because it becomes impossible to get a reservation at some places as soon as the dates are announced (unless you’re cool with 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday), and I’ve had experiences where it seemed, by the quality of the food and service, as if the restaurant didn’t care for the frugal Restaurant Week diners as much as the customers who ordered off the normal menu. Oh well, I guess there are always pros and cons in these situations. However, I’m happy to report that the two meals I had during this January’s Restaurant Week were wonderful! I had no complaints – food was excellent for the most part, service was great and I came away from both meals feeling like I’d really gotten my money’s worth.

The first meal was at Circa 1886, a beautiful restaurant on the grounds of the Wentworth Mansion, with my husband and two of our foodie friends.

Photo from Circa 1886 website

It was absolutely freezing the night we went, so I was happy to walk through their lovely little garden area and into a warm, softly lit reception space. We lucked out on the table selection – they have these cozy, intimate alcove tables on one side of the dining room, and somehow we managed to score one. I had an arugula salad appetizer with dried peaches, candied pistachios, feta and a few little slices of capacolla. It was a perfect starter, not too heavy and a good-sized portion. Other folks at the table had the seared scallops, which looked yummy if you’re a fan of scallops, but alas I am not. My husband said they were great. I had the braised pork shank for my entree.

The portion was huge, no skimping on Restaurant Week meals here! It was delicious, tender and the sauce wasn’t overwhelming. It was served on a bed of dried cranberry-studded faro with some sautéed brussels sprouts (I LOVE brussels sprouts!!), so it stayed in the healthy range of restaurant food which was appreciated. The other popular dish at our table was the seared beef tenderloin.

I tasted my husband’s, and it was delicious, although another friend at the table said hers was a little tough (we tasted it, it was). Not sure if that’s just the piece of meat she had, or a result of the way it was prepared, guess we’ll never know. Dessert was chocolate chip banana pecan cake – basically like a very light banana bread with chocolate bits scattered throughout.

It came with a little dollop of cinnamon-orange-brown sugar ice cream, which wasn’t really my thing because it tasted strongly of Grand Marnier (I am not a Grand Marnier fan), but the cake was very tasty.

Our second meal was at Hall’s Chophouse.

Photo from diningaroundcharleston.com

We had a group of ten, and the place was packed, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. I was worried for nothing. The meal was perfect, the service was perfect, really the whole evening was perfect! If you haven’t been to Hall’s yet, and you live in or are visiting the Charleston area, you MUST have a meal there. The service alone is worth it – you’re greeted warmly at the door, the servers are always friendly and helpful, and the owners and managers are constantly walking around to check on you, say hello if you’ve just arrived, or say goodbye if you’re leaving. I really cannot stress enough how wonderful the service is – you will definitely feel the love.

And, as an added bonus, the food is outstanding! It’s your classic upscale steakhouse – white tablecloths, Frank Sinatra wafting out of the speakers (when the piano downstairs isn’t being played), and seriously good steaks (they also have seafood and meats other than beef, for those of you who don’t eat cows). I had an arugula salad to start (another arugula salad, yay! Can you tell that I heart arugula?), the filet with broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes for entrée, and a yummy, light lemon mousse/fresh berry concoction for dessert, which was a perfect soft landing after a heavier meal. The filet was a good portion, plenty to fill my belly, and cooked exactly like I wanted it (medium tending towards medium-rare). The group did order a few extra appetizers off of the regular menu – tuna tartare and spicy shrimp. Both were yummy, and I have to say I’ve been craving those spicy shrimp ever since. I’m impressed with how good the food was considering how the place was jumping with it being Saturday night and Restaurant Week, but Hall’s seems to have a firm grasp on how to run a busy show. Bottom line: I’ve been to Hall’s four or five times now, and it’s always fabulous. Just go.

So that’s it for my Restaurant Week experiences this time. But it’ll come around again this fall, and I’ll undoubtedly check out some more places and have new info to report.

Foodies Rejoice! It’s Restaurant Week in SC

12 Jan

by Green Gourmet K

All across South Carolina foodies are giddy contemplating the offerings for Restaurant Week.  From January 14th-22nd restaurants in South Carolina will be offering specials and deals to entice new customers to try the cuisine at their establishment.   Many of these restaurants will offer three course price fixed menus for around $25-30 per person.  As many of you likely know, Charleston has become quite a food mecca.  Columbia, the state’s capital, is giving Charleston a run for its money though as a place to have a fantastic culinary experience.  So if you are anywhere near or in South Carolina get yourself to at least one of these restaurants, let the chefs impress you and then go back for more after restaurant week.

Last year I went to Momo’s on Devine for restaurant week and our meal was really lovely, at only $30 for three courses of beautifully executed dishes.

Look what Momo’s is offering this year – 3 for $30:

Appetizer (select one)

  • Prince Edward Island Mussels-Whole grain mustard and white wine jus
  • Roasted Beet Salad-Roasted Beets, goat cheese, mixed greens, raspberry vinaigrette

Main Course (select one)

  • Chicken and Hand Torn Pasta-Roasted Chicken, hand torn pasta, asparagus, oven roasted tomatoes, gorgonzola cream sauce
  • Cornbread and Sausage Stuffed Quail-Stuffed Quail, applewood smoked cheddar grits, asparagus, creamy tasso gravy

Dessert (select one)

  • Crème Brulee Fallen
  • Chocolate Souffle Cake

PEI Mussels with whole grain mustard and white wine sauce?! Salivating . . .

Look here for the participating restaurants:  Restaurant Week South Carolina

I noticed they just added a few since yesterday so if your favorite restaurant isn’t on there yet I would call the restaurant and ask.  Terra, one of my favorite places to eat in Columbia, is not on this list but I plan to call today and see is they’re participating.

If you are wise, and live in Charleston, you would have eaten nothing but carrot sticks all through the holidays and saved all your calorie-splurging for dining out during Restaurant Week.  I’ll admit, if I were there this weekend instead of Columbia I would be having a very hard time deciding where to eat.   But if I were in Charleston next week here’s my list of places I would be knocking people over to get to (in no particular order):

  • Tristan
  • La Fourchette
  • McCrady’s
  • Muse
  • Cypress
  • Circa 1886
  • Fulton-Five
  • Grill 225
  • Hall’s Chophouse
  • High Cotton
  • Anson’s
  • Charleston Grill

I look at that list and my mind is befuddled with the possibilities for fantastic meals.

For instance, let’s look at Fulton-Five‘s menu for Restaurant Week, which includes a glass of wine!

Antipasti (First Course)

  • Prosciutto mozzarella wrapped in romaine leaf, grilled, warm tomato balsamic vin
  • Creamy Potato and Garlic Soup, with pancetta, parm, truffle oil
  • Grilled mushrooms over spinach with truffle parm vin and asiago
  • Bruschetta del Giorno
  • Mussels with white wine, fregola, tomato, scallion, lemoncello cream

Secondi (Second Course)

  • Traditional Bolognese and Tagliatelle  – Shrimp, shallots, sundried tomato, spinach, basil pesto and tagliatelle
  • Lamb sausage mushrooms, speck, swiss chard, parm cream and papparedelle
  • Risotto with roasted tomato, pepeoncini, olives, goat cheese
  • Mushroom ravioli with gorgonzola fondue

Dolce (Third Course)

  • Tiramisu
  • Chocolate Mousse Cake
  • Gelato del Giorno
  • Sorbetto del Giorno

* $35 per person
includes glass of wine. tax and grauity not included.

So are you drooling on your keyboard yet?  Get yourself to South Carolina ASAP, and if you’r already there, count yourself as one extremely fortunate foodie.