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Friday, December 30, 2011

Support Your Local Brewery and/or Distillery!

I like to support local and regional businesses. I applaud anyone that goes out on their own to create a business, especially in the ultra-competitive food and beverage industry. It takes guts to risk it all on an idea that you think is worth sharing.  In the Carolinas, we are fortunate enough to have some quality breweries / distilleries.  When traveling in foreign countries, I always drink the beer/wine/whiskey of that respective country. That also goes for the state or city that I'm in as well.

Lately, I've been trying more of the Carolina's best beers and now moonshine and I must say, we are very fortunate to have some guys that put their heart and passion in providing some quality beverages. I want to highlight some of the notable ones that I've tried recently.

The latest creation is, Dark Corner Distillery, here in Greenville, SC. Joe Fenten and Richard Wenger pursued a dream and created South Carolina's first legal Moonshine, thanks to some new laws here in South Carolina. They have put a lot of heart and history in Dark Corner. Though it's only a few months old, they are starting to have some distribution within the Upstate of South Carolina. I look forward to seeing what all they create in the coming months/years. I certainly hope to see it in the bar at HUSK in Charleston very soon.

If you are ever in Greenville, stop in and visit the Distillery and Gift Shop in the heart of downtown Greenville. 241-B North Main Street, Greenville, SC. Hours of operation: Tuesday - Saturay, 10am-6pm.

Another Greenville business worth mentioning is Thomas Creek Brewery. They've come a long way, since their beginnings in 1998. I'll admit,  I didn't become a true beer drinker until about 4 years ago. Before that, I was a Bud Lite kind of person. Sad I know.  I've become a fan of Thomas Creek, especially their River Falls Red Ale. If you're a fan of IPA beers, I recommend the "Up the Creek" Extreme IPA (pictured above), which I had last night for the first time.

Other South Carolina breweries worth noting include: R. J. Rockers out of Spartanburg and  the new Westbrook Brewing out of Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Some fellow foodies were married back in October and had beers from North Carolina and Georgia during their reception. One of the beers was, The Duck-Rabbit, Milk Stout. I'd never had it before, but of course had to try it. I'm not a fan of dark stout beers, but this one is excellent with beef. The Duck-Rabbit is based out of Farmville, NC, call themselves the Dark Beer Specialist. They sold their first beer back in 2004 and have  since established a strong following within the Carolinas. If you are a fan of Guiness, branch out and try and support an even better Regional Brew.

As I continue to try other brews from the Carolina's I will definitely continue to post them in the coming months.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SNarolina Foodie 2011 Year in Review.

2011 was the launch of SNarolina Foodie and with random postings and the realization that updating a food blog takes time and effort, if you want quality. I am excited about 2012, with a new camera, new logo and the potential to take SNarolina Foodie to a new level.
Highlights from 2011:
·         Restaurant of the year: HUSK, Charleston, SC, Bon Appetit Magazine’s 2011 New Restaurant of the Year.  A cool restaurant and cool concept that stands apart. A whole posting will be coming in January, in addition to my second dinner there.
·         Restaurant with the absolute best Service: Charleston Grill, Charleston, SC. Hands down, food is excellent, service is absolutely tops. Mickey Bakst, the General Manager has to be one of the best restaurant managers in the country. Watching him work the crowd is entertaining enough.
·         Best Steakhouse Overall: Grill 225, Charleston, SC. Excellent choice in meat and sides and a great atmosphere with old school steakhouse service.
·         Best Steak: Rick Erwin’s, Greenville, SC. I’ve tried some good steakhouses in 2011, including Del Frisco’s, BLT Steak, Chophouse ’47. Erwin’s invests in good steaks. Unfortunately, their service and sides aren’t up to par to their beef.
·         Best Mac n Cheese: Youssef 242, Hickory, NC. Mac n Cheese is my favorite food of all time. Here they call it, Mac n Cheese Loaded, and it certainly is loaded with tons of cheese. Honorable mention and a very close second is, Solstice Kitchen (Columbia, SC)’s Skillett-Baked Smoked Gouda and Bacon Mac n Cheese.
·         Best Fried Chicken: Jestine’s Kitchen, Charleston, SC. If you like crunchy fried chicken, this is the place. I’ve been going to here for over 14 years and the chicken is still excellent. Close second place, Esso Club, Clemson, SC.
·         Best Ice Cream/Yogurt/Gelato: Luna Rosa Gelato, Greenville, SC. They make their gelato every day onsite. I can say without a doubt, this is the best gelato in the United States. More places are now offering gelato, none come close to this place, except maybe Paolo’s Gelato Italiano in Charleston. Paolo’s is good, however he is cash only and sadly, I never carry cash.
·         Best Pizza: Tito’s Pizza, Greenville, SC. There are tons of excellent pizza places, but Tito’s is the best in New York Style.
·         Best Lunch: Dellz Deli, Charleston, SC. This tiny (5 seats) hole in the wall, off upper King Street, quickly won me over in late 2011. I first heard about it, after reading about the rice and bean bowl (excellent). Lately, I’ve been ordering the popular Beach Bum wrap (spicy shrimp  with rice and vegetables and something called da sauce), which I’ve had a hard time venturing away from.
·         Best Beer List: Trappe Door, Greenville, SC. My favorite restaurant in Greenville has the best beer list. Grant it, I love Belgium beer and their Belgium beer list is like most restaurant wine lists.
·         Best Cheeseburger:  Poe’s Tavern, Sullivan’s Island, SC. This is a burger joint that wins the best overall burger category. Great location, atmosphere, beer list and of course large, mouth-watering, flavorful burgers. I personally like the “Tell-Tale Heart” which is a burger with Fried Egg, Applewood Bacon and Cheddar Cheese. A close second is their “The Sleeper”, which is a large burger that also includes Roasted Garlic Blue Cheese and topped with Buffalo Shrimp.
·         Best Italian Restaurant: Wild Olive, Johns Island, SC. I was determined that another restaurant in Charleston was going to be a hands down favorite, then I read about Wild Olive and a dish that some people couldn’t put their fork down when eating. I went, I ate, I loved. The meal that won it all was the “Garganelli with milk braised pork ragu, caramelized onions, rosemary, parmesan.”
I look  forward to sharing much more and really bringing the quality of SNarolina Foodie up a notch.