Monday, July 24, 2017

What I've Been Eating - Road Trip Eats - Charleston & NOLA


"Where did you go on your honeymoon??" Erm, well, nowhere yet. Kind of. This is the question people keep asking us. Unfortunately, living 2000 miles away from where we had our wedding, meant most of our vacation time went to being home to prep for the wedding itself, leaving no time for vacation.

However, we did drive from Massachusetts to Texas, and made two longer stops along the way. One was our favorite city to visit together, New Orleans, and the other was a new city: Charleston. And of course, I documented the best bites we had along the way.


225 Meeting St, Charleston, SC

I was a bit taken aback by how oppressive the heat in Charleston is--yes, I live in Texas, and yes, I survive 100 degree summers on the regular. But the humidity here was way worse. After wandering around for the morning, we needed to have a stop for a cold drink. 

You won't find silly wine cocktails here. Even this rose was less on the sweet side. However, you can do wine tastings with their knowlegeable staff and find the best wine to sip while you take a break from the heat. The decor is adorably rustic and they offer a few small bites to pair with your wine.

49 S Market St, Charleston, SC

THANK YOU Trip Advisor for sending us to this adorable little lunch spot! Right across from Charleston's famous open air market is this foodie haven. We started with some delicious cocktails--I got a peach Kentucky mule that was incredible--and a bowl of she-crab soup. For our main courses my husband got a Monte Cristo and I got Carolina Crab Cakes and a side salad of watermelon and goat cheese.

I don't think these tasty bites were on our plate for more than a few minutes. Despite the heat, we left with full, happy bellies. This is a must-stop if you're at the market around lunch time!

10475 US-78, Summerville, SC

All you can eat BBQ? Hells to the yes. While Kelly's didn't totally blow us away (we live in Texas now, our bar is set pretty high) you really can't go wrong with a BBQ buffet. I would suggest not sliding in 20 minutes before close, as I am sure the meat would have been a bit jucier if it was fresher. I'm also kicking myself for not realizing they had Carolina BBQ sauce to pour over everything. The mustard based sauce is so different than anything we have in TX that I regret not tracking down a bottle before we hit the road.

The sides were pretty good, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fried chicken. My favorite part of the buffet was the dessert bar! At least two crumbles and a froyo machine. Win.

New Orleans

741 Royal St, New Orleans, LA

The last time we were in New Orleans we had the most amazing crawfish etouffe at a place we only vaguely could remember the name of... and after a few missteps (Antoine's is a whole other restaurant, need the pere!) we finally found it. Since crawfish season had just passed, the etouffe wasn't QUITE as good as we remembered, but it still was pretty delicious.

We started with the fried cheese and a few potent bloody marys. This is an older place, and I feel like it could definitely benefit from a facelift of sorts, but it is still our favorite lunch spot in NOLA. Stick to the seafood and you'll be quite happy.

 Cafe Beignet New Orleans
600 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 

Now that we've been to the city a few times, we can skip the touristy spots like Cafe du Monde and check out the more hidden gems for our favorite local NOLA fare. While Cafe Beignet isn't quite "hidden" as it's a ways up the street from the French Market and right near the harbor (with other locations in town as well), the few times we popped in it wasn't as busy as its more famous counterpart. The beignets are just as good, and this place serves drinks while live music plays. If you're looking for a tasty treat without the long line, Cafe Beignet is your place.

Bevi Seafood Co
236 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA

This is now our must-stop seafood spot in New Orleans, as recommended to us by our friends who have lived in the area for about 5 years now. Killer Poboys is still my favorite Poboy spot, but Bevi has a solid Poboy menu themselves. What I really love here is the crawfish. Even though we were off-season, they were still mighty tasty. My first taste of crawfish was in Texas, at a Vietnamese-style joint that cooks the mudbugs in BUTTER. Sooo I'm always a little disappointed when the traditional boils don't come drenched in the stuff. Not at Bevi--their spice blend is so perfect that I don't even miss it. 

As we said goodbye to the NOLA skyline I lamented not making this a stop, and my lovely husband turned around and got us a to go order. I ate crawfish in the car, and it was marvelous.

Steamboat Natchez
600 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA

This was our date night activity. It might seem cheesy, but a nighttime dinner cruise on the Mississippi was just too good to pass up. It was about $162 for the two of us, with dinner included. You can forgo the dinner if you choose for a cheaper ticket. Drinks will cost extra, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the food served. I always go bananas at buffets, so I filled my plate with a little bit of everything, and there was not one disappointing item at the buffet. The prime rib with horseradish sauce was excellent, as were all accompanying sides. If you want a nice bite of NOLA flavors with a lovely sunset cruise down the Mississippi River, definitely check it out!

 J's Seafood Dock At the French Market
2 French Market Pl.New Orleans, LA

Finally, this is another spot I always need to stop at in New Orleans. Fresh oysters, shucked right in front of you as you take a break from shopping the French Market. The "Bad Motha Shucka" will sing and entertain as he cracks open fresh Gulf oysters. These things are perfect, with just a little bit of horseradish and lemon they go down quite easy. I tried them on a cracker for the first time and that added a nice little crunch for those unsure of the texture of a fresh live oyster. I get a half dozen for lunch and leave NOLA a happy lady.

Have you been to Charleston or New Orleans? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dog Days of Summer in the ATX - White Cranberry Granita Frosé


Have you heard of frosé? Apparently, rosé is making somewhat of a comeback--did it ever really go away, or did I just learn to like different kinds of wine?--and that comeback is in frozen form.

Seriously, so many Austin happy hours are now featuring this adult slushie. I originally was a big rosé fan, back when reds scared the crap out of me. I've since taught myself to enjoy reds more... because I can trick myself into thinking they're lower calorie/sugar/somehow better for me? I don't know.

Anyways, it's summer. And Texas is freaking HOT. It's been weirdly humid lately, and while I can handle the dry heat, for sake of my hair and those around me dealing with the stinky beast I can become in the heat, I find myself indoors a whole lot. I'm also leaning towards the lighter wines and leaving the reds for dinner. Rosé, and other white wines, are light and fresh and perfect for sipping by the pool.

I decided to do my own take on a Frosé -- simply making wine ice cubes was too easy. I wanted something more like a dessert. This is kind of like a white Sangria granita, and it's pretty bomb. Serve at a summer tea or on the patio with girlfriends. 

Frosé Peach Granita

  • 2 cups rosé of choice
  • 1/4 cup moscato
  • 1 cup white cranberry peach juice
  • 1/2 cup pureed ripe peach

-In a deep baking pan (I used a jelly roll pan, but a casserole dish would work too), mix together the ingredients until well combined

-Place in freezer, and mix with a fork every half hour until a shaved ice type consistency is reached, about 2-4 hours.

-Scrape into a covered container and keep frozen until ready to serve. When ready to serve, scoop into small dishes with an ice cream scoop.

TIP: if it freezes solid, you can always break into chunks and puree in a food processor. Just consume QUICKLY because it will turn into slush.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lemon Artichoke Chicken and Cavit Moscato #Sponsored


Despite being a red wine drinker about 75% of the time, summer just calls for something lighter. Something sweeter. Something that really helps you chill and enjoy time together with your brand new HUSBAND... woah. Still feels weird to say!

Since arriving home last weekend it's been a bit of a whirlwind. Considering we planned and executed a wedding the month prior (well, planning took a bit longer but you know) we almost felt busier upon coming home! We had cats to attend to, a house to clean, work to catch up on, parties to attend, and friends to see. Not to mention a whole new fridge of groceries to buy since we forgot to pay our electric bill while we were gone... oops. That's why we made it a point to have a sort of stay-in date. And boy, was it nice to eat something other than fast food!

Cavit has been providing us food bloggers with their whites to try for a few months now, and I was excited to receive this Moscato in the mail! It's light, sweet, and perfect for summer. I decided to do a take on a classic Chicken Piccata and add a bit more flavor and a bit more veggies to pair with the wine.

Cavit, "America's favorite Italian wine" which is made in Northern Italy, is actually known for helping to popularize Pinot Grigio in the 1970s, and while the Pinot is their star, the whole collection is pretty great. For more information on their collection and where to find it, visit their Facebook and Website.

I'd also suggest throwing in a few frozen berries and a splash of your favorite liqueur for a quick and easy sangria.

Lemon Artichoke Chicken for Two

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube
  • 1 lemon, 1/2 juiced, 1/2 sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

-Mix together the almond flour and cajun seasoning. Prepare the chicken by dredging in the egg wash and then dipping in the almond mixture. Heat the olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until an internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. Set aside.

-In the leftover oil (add a bit more if you need to), add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the boullion cube, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and lemon juice.

-Once the wine has reduced by half, add the butter and lemon. Salt and pepper to taste.

-Serve hot, with the vegetable mixture poured over the chicken. Pair with Cavit Moscato.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What I've Been Eating - New England Eats


For nearly a month, I was in my hometown area of Western Massachusetts to prepare for my July 1st wedding. While I was home, I sampled a variety of New England cuisine. Some old favorites, and a bunch of new ones. Here's what I was eating for the month of June!

I arrived in my beloved New England at 1am and was shuttled immediately to South Kingston, Rhode Island to perform with my troupe in the first ever Ocean State Improv Festival. Although Rhode Island is a bit far from my home in Western Massachusetts, I was excited to show my troupemates the pretty New England beaches and have them sample what GOOD seafood really tastes like. For a few of them, it was their first visit to my part of the country!

Unfortunately, we didn't sit down for dinner at too many places--lack of time/$, and the allure of a full kitchen in our lovely AirBnb kept the dinners out at a minimum. However, we did rent bikes and take a trip to Monahans Clam Shack. They recently received a spot on a Buzzfeed list, which they proudly displayed in their window. 

190 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI 

I was a little skeptical at first, because they grilled the INSIDE of the lobster roll. Weird. But on the first bite, I was hooked. The meat was fresh and so so flavorful. While it was a traditional cold may roll (Maine style, my fave), the mix tasted almost buttery. A hint of garlic. It was all perfect and I devoured it. Paired with a New England clam chowder and a few stolen clam fritters, this was the perfect welcome back to the seashore.

The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St, Salem, MA

Everyone has a favorite place and time in their life, when they were young and free and not quite dragged down into the adult-ness of everything. For me, it was my years in Boston. For my husband (wow, so fun but still so weird to say!) it was when he lived in Salem. When we had to take the trek to the airport to pick up a friend who was visiting for the wedding, we made sure to stop by the town made famous for witches to stop at Cory's old hangout and former job: the Lobster Shanty.

The Shanty, as it's lovingly called by locals, has the best and most resonably priced lobster in the city. It's also sort-of famous (on a Diners Drive-Ins and Dives episode) for its Lobster Martini. Yes, it's a martini with lobster juice and an ENORMOUS claw. I almost wished I hadn't ordered a full lobster for myself (almost...) because this claw was pretty much a lunch in and of itself.

The rest of the drinks are great, totally boozy and worth the Boston-esque prices. The lobster was fresh, full of meat, and perfectly accompanied by butter. It's a small shack in the middle of an artists' center, but the expanded deck makes for lovely outside dining during the summer months, with a bit more room to stretch out and enjoy a cocktail.

95 Main St, Easthampton, MA

I can't believe I lived in Western Massachusetts for years and never visited Coco. Unmi Abkin, head chef, was nominated this year for a James Beard award. And after visiting Coco for a "snack" and a drink, I certainly know why. As with most Western Mass restaurants, the season dictates the menu, so it's always changing. The small list of offerings is inspired by all sorts of cuisine--when I was there it looked like it was heavily Asian-inspired with maybe a bit of French.

I ended up getting an expertly crafted cocktail as well as this fried chicken dish that was absolutely to die for. The chicken was moist, the skin was crispy, and the flavor was incredible. The potatoes underneath were piping hot. The slaw was a cool addition and packed with flavor, and I would have eaten that too if I hadn't filled up on the other two. We also had some delicious desserts after our meal. I will surely be back the next time I'm in my hometown!

8 Old South Street, Northampton, Massachusetts

I can't have a trip home without at least one stop at my childhood favorite. Fun fact: the owners' daughter was one of my college roommates! The ice cream shop recently went through a remodel, giving it plenty of kitchen space for a brand new kosher bakery, where they can bake their famous No-Moo® cookies, as well as other allergy-friendly treats.

My favorite Herrell's items are the hot fudge sundaes (their hot fudge is hands-down the best in the world) with a banana or Almond Joy ice cream base, or a simple kiddie cone with Burnt Butter & Sugar and sprinkles. Their ice cream is thick, creamy, sweet, and amazing, and the offerings are always so varied it's nearly impossible to pick which one to try! I especially appreciate that if I'm being conscious of my tummy troubles they have a wide variety of allergy-friendly offerings, or if I'm watching my waistline I can still partake in sorbets, sugar-free, or low fat options.

Do NOT visit Northampton without stopping here!!

7 Old S St, Northampton, MA

Batchlorette Party, Take 2: for my second batchlorette party, we started at Osaka. Now that my beloved Zen has departed downtown, Osaka is my new go-to for local sushi. And of course, when I saw Lobster Tempura on the sushi menu, I had to partake.

In addition to excellent sushi, it's Northampton's only Hibachi restaurant. I got steak and shrimp as my main meal, and they were cooked with all the silly finesse of a hibachi chef. Because we were a batchlorette party, we got free sake shots--squirted across the table into our mouths, making an enormous mess.

Plus, the boozy scorpion bowls make this a must-go for any bar-hopping party. We had a great dinner to start off a night of fun before I tied the knot!

Captain Jack's
232 Northampton St, Easthampton, MA

Another "why have I never been here before?" place only a stone's throw from my parents' house. Captain Jack's is everyone's suggestion for the best lobster roll in town. It hits all my parameters: butter toasted roll, Maine style lobster salad, just a bit of lettuce for crunch, and a little bit of flavor. I was hoping for a little bit more flavor in the mix but Captain Jack's wants the lobster to shine on its own, and I respect that.

The shoestring fries were incredible as well. After this monster of a lobster roll--I am pretty sure 1.5 whole lobsters are in that thing--I only had room for a few. Their clam chowder was exactly what I was craving, and a perfect side to the enormous roll. Overall, I think their roll is probably the best in the area, though fresher finds are found closer to the seashore.

Various locations across New England

I really hate how the calorie counts are on all the menus these days. It makes it reeeeally hard to enjoy this childhood favorite. Thankfully, I couldn't finish this whole Munchie Mania appetizer, otherwise I probably couldn't eat anything else for a whole week.

I'm not sure why I continue to go back to Friendly's each time I'm home--probably pure nostalgia. The food is thick, greasy, and a total diet-destroyer, but comforting in its own way. The milkshakes are the best for a chain type place, and the ice cream, while not a thick and creamy and wonderful as a roadside creamy, is good enough in one of their signature sundaes.

Friendly's is a Western Mass tradition, and I do love it, even if I'm overly critical. They avoided going out of business a few years ago, and I was happy for that. If nothing else it brings back memories of lunch with my Nana, and late nights with friends after play practice downing french fries and free water.


Oh man just please say no to this lobster roll. McDonald's, what are you doing? This roll pops up every decade or so to wreak havoc on unsuspecting New Englanders who really should know better.

I did try this back in the early 2000s when it first came out and it was AWFUL, and now it's basically OKAY, so they've upped their game a bit with a better roll and lettuce. But still... bland, lacking freshness, and too pricey for what it is. Skip it and find yourself a better roll literally anywhere else. Cheap, better options would be D'Angelo's (surprisingly good!), or 99 Restaurant.

Do you live far from home? What are your favorite places to eat when you visit?