Monday, September 29, 2014

Nacho Hippo

Nacho Hippo is one our favorite places to go in Myrtle Beach.  And we sort of have a tradition of going there for dinner our first night in town. This year was no different.

this is our hotel, The Anderson. We are waiting in the parking lot for the rain to die down.

We had arrived in Myrtle earlier that afternoon and were welcomed by a torrential rainstorm.  Great start to our week at the beach. A little rain (ok, a lot of rain) wasn't going to stop us from enjoying our vacation though. After we got settled into our room and unpacked, it was off to Nacho Hippo at the Market Common.

Obviously nachos are their signature dish and there is a wide variety of toppings for the nachos.  Some have queso and chili, or jerk chicken with mango salsa, chorizo with jalepenos, taco beef and pico de gallo, one even has lobster and shrimp! And be prepared to share your plate of nachos with someone because they are huge!!

this is from last year's trip

also last year's trip

But aside from nachos, their tacos are really good as well. Just like my earlier post I wrote about going to Taco Boy in Charleston, the tacos at Nacho Hippo are also by the piece so you can mix and match as many as you want.  I had the Thai One On taco with red curry chicken, spring roll slaw, toasted coconut, and Thai peanut sauce. And also the Bangin' Shrimp taco with spicy sweet chili sauce, lettuce, and mango salsa. Both of which had a little bit of heat and a little bit of sweet.

Left: bangin shrimp; Right: curry chicken

Hubby got one of his favorite Mexican dishes...a steak quesadilla, otherwise known as the Good Stuff quesadilla. Grilled steak, blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, sautéed peppers and onions, served with lettuce, sour cream, and pico de gallo on the side.  Nothing super adventurous but delicious nonetheless.

And to top off the evening, churros for dessert!! Warm and crispy, sugary, cinnamony good in fact, I think I forgot to take a picture of them before I scarfed them down! Sorry! Trust me, they were good!

Pablo gave Nacho Hippo 3.5 stars! Pablo approved!

Friday, September 26, 2014

From Charleston to Myrtle

Our last day in Charleston, we visited the South Carolina Aquarium.  There was no food adventure at the aquarium but we did see some really cool oceanic critters (as well as some other kinds of critters). I'm a huge animal lover so anything involving furry creatures and other wildlife, I'm all in. Pablo seemed to have fun seeing all the other animals too!

Shark Week...hoo ha ha!


The touch tank was one of the best parts. I got to hold a sea urchin and pet a stingray! Pablo and I even got to experience the hurricane tunnel. Um, it was a little windy.

Pablo met a raccoon!

spiny sea urchins

petting a horseshoe crab too

Pablo and I in the mouth of a fish!

Pablo and I do everything together

there are some sleeping lemurs in the background high up in a tree.
we were trying to get their attention!

hurricane winds! Don't blow away Pablo!

After all that excitement, it was time to leave Charleston and head to Myrtle.  And it was time for lunch on the way! We decided to swing in to Pawley's Island at  Quigley's Pint & Plate. We've been here a couple times before during previous vacations and have had a variety of southern food...shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, blue crab dip. This time we opted for simple dishes to fill the tummies.

A Steak sandwich with sliced London broil, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola cheese on a toasted ciabatta roll, served with fries. Very tasty, a little greasy and messy, but hey, it is a burger. Juicy meat, sweet onions, sharp cheese, and a toasty bun. What's not to like?

And a catfish po'boy with cornmeal crusted catfish, lettuce, tomato, and caper-tartar sauce on a crusty French roll, also served with fries, of course. Light and fresh veggies on a warm crispy flaky catfish! And the creamy tart tartar sauce perfectly topped it off! Good comfort food sandwich. Would definitely order this again!

We were a little tired and ready for the beach at this point, so it was a nice lunch stop. And just as we were about to leave the restaurant to finish our trek to the began to pour down rain!! Stay tuned on what happened next!

Pablo gave Quigley's 3 ants. Good food but nothing outstanding. Still Pablo-approved!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Charleston Crepes and Farmer's Market

Our last day in Charleston, we were afforded a unique opportunity.  In the square right across the street from our hotel, the Charleston Farmers' Market was setting up bright and early that morning. Apparently its one of the largest farmers markets in the state of South Carolina. We have a few pretty nice farmers markets up here in Northern Virginia but even ours seem like small potatoes compared to this one.

the view of the market from our hotel room

Pablo is ready for breakfast

First of all, its huge. Not only in size and number of vendors and farmers, but in variety of things offered. There are over 100 vendors comprised of farmers, bakers, artisans (both in food and craft), restaurant/food truck vendors, and even performers.

We decided this would be the place for breakfast.  But what to choose from?  Pablo helped us choose the Charleston Crepe Company. Hubby opted for a savory one and I got a sweet one.

Savory: potatoes, bacon, cheese, onions...

Sweet: nutella, strawberries, powdered sugar... I think Pablo favored the sweet one!

Both were super delicious, hot and tasty! And the staff was friendly and quick-serving! A perfect start to the day!

pony rides

Pablo met an otter friend

Aside from all the yummy food and fresh vegetables, there was a wide variety of artisans from glassware to baskets to pet products to jewelry and much more.

There was a young girl playing violin and a tumbling dance crew. It was quite exciting!

And as an after-breakfast snack, we had a fresh, home-made popsicle...great healthy breakfast right? Hey, at least there was some fruit in there! Blackberry mojito flavored!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poogan's Porch

After a hot day at Fort Sumter, a yummy taco lunch, and a nap at the hotel, we were ready for a cozy dinner at one of Charleston's most famous and oldest landmark restaurants...Poogan's Porch.

Originally built in 1888 as a grand Victorian home, it is now frequently visited by celebrities, locals, and tourists alike. In 1976 the owner's of the house moved away but a little dog named Poogan, stayed behind, frequenting many porches in the neighborhood in search of scraps and a little attention.  When the next person came along to buy the home and turn it into a restaurant, there seemed to be no choice but the name the restaurant Poogan's Porch, after the beloved neighborhood pooch.

When we walked into the beautiful Charleston institution, we felt right at home. Literally, it felt as though we had stepped through time and were walking into someone's home just before the turn of the century. A stunning yellow house with romantic double porches equipped with ceiling fans.  It was warm and cozy, with beautiful stairs and hard wood floors.  Most of the rooms still divided like a regular old-timey house and furnished with antique fireplaces. And most importantly...good traditional Southern cuisine.

famous celebrity signatures on the menu

We began with a classic....Fried Green Tomatoes with pecan encrusted goat cheese and a seasonal peach chutney. I LOVE a good fried green tomato! And everything is amazing with goat cheese. Yes, everything. Almost.  I love the crispiness of the breading on the outside of the tomato and the juiciness inside.  The goat cheese is nutty, creamy, and tangy. All that combined with the peach chutney which provides a delightfully unexpected sweetness.

every god Southern meal must start with buttermilk biscuits

fried green tomatoes (center); pecan crusted goat cheese (top left), peach chutney (bottom right)

Their list of entrees consists of several modern dishes as well as several traditional ones. Being at a historic culinary institution for Charleston, I felt we would be remiss to go with anything but traditional.  So we got the Buttermilk Fried Chicken.  We split the dish so we wouldn't have to roll back to our hotel room.  What's also nice about splitting dishes, is that they actually give you each a little extra portion! How nice!!  Crispy, buttery fried chicken breasts served on top of butter whipped potatoes and a sage gravy, sprinkled with a few green onions on top. Perfectly balanced flavors and perfectly delicious!

The fried chicken was also served with pimiento cheese slaw.  Pimiento cheese is a childhood favorite for me!  It reminds me of my grandma.  I didn't have the traditional grandmas that people talk about as kids.  You know the kind...plump, sweet, doting, loves to bake with you and take you shopping, and all around spoil you to death to your parents dismay.  My grandma on my mother's side, (we called her Gongi), she taught me how to play solitaire, to love crosswords, her idea of fun was to shop at the Salvation Army, and every time she'd pick me up after school we'd stop at the store to pick up three things...scratch-off lottery ticket, apricot brandy, and a pack of Kool cigarettes.  Not exactly the typical apron-wearing baker that smells of cookies and hands out kisses. But most of my best memories of her are food related. One of my favorite treats she used to make for me after school was pimiento cheese sandwiches! Loved them and still do!! And this pimiento cheese slaw was definitely reminiscent of that.  And of her.  I don't know if it was as good as hers but I think Gongi would've been pleased.

And of course Pablo gave Poogan's Porch 4 ants! Pablo approved!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taco Boy

This had to be one of my favorite meals in Charleston. It would hard just to pick one favorite because we did eat a lot of really good food! But I also really love tacos!

Taco Boy in Charleston is a little bit off the beaten path.  There is a second location in nearby Folly Beach as well.  Just as in most cities, it doesn't take too long outside of the downtown area before things start to get a little sketchy. But just make sure you have a reliable taxi (Green Taxi service was awesome by the way!!) and an empty tummy before you head out to Taco Boy.

They do offer other items but obviously tacos are their "thing".  They have 17 different kinds of tacos on their menu and you order them by piece. So you can order one of these, one of those, two of that one, whatever and however many you want.

Hubby ordered a Kimchi Beef taco and a Fried Chicken Taco.  The Kimchi beef taco had Mexican spice-marinated grilled flank steak, Korean BBQ sauce, kimchi, sesame seeds & cilantro. A little heat and lots of flavor!  The Fried Chicken taco had breaded chicken breast, lightly fried, with marinated carrots & red cabbage, jalapeño cilantro mayonnaise & chipotle bbq sauce. Also a little heat and some tasty Southern fried chicken with a Mexican twist.

Left: Kimchi Beef; Right: Fried Chicken

I had a Braised Beef taco and a Tempura Avocado taco.  The Braised beef had braised beef shoulder, topped with jicama radish slaw, toasted spiced pumpkin seeds & queso fresco cheese. Very tender beef and the slaw was fresh and light. The pumpkin seeds were what really caught my eye with this one. Who would think to add pumpkin seeds to a beef taco?! They actually added a really good nutty crunch to round out all the other flavors.

The Tempura Avocado taco was amazing! Again, very unique to fry an avocado slice in tempura batter. How does that even work?  I'm not sure but it was delicious!  The avocado was crisp on the outside and almost creamy on the inside. It was topped with a sweet Thai chili glaze and a citrusy slaw.

Left: Tempura Avocado; Right: Braised Beef

The decor of the restaurant was pretty neat too. Colorful lanterns everywhere, beautiful stained glass windows, and traditional Mexican art. Even the bathroom was decorated with old Mexican ads and comics!

Lastly for dessert!! Edgar's idea of dessert was another taco...Carne Asada.  Grilled flank steak marinated in Mexican spices and topped with green chile sauce and salsa cruda (which is kind of like a pico de gallo).  Simple but full of flavor!

I, on the other hand, had an actual dessert.  Chocolate Tres Leches Cake.  Now I'm normally a chocolate-peanut butter dessert kinda girl.  But I do love a good tres leches cake.  It sounds a little gross and weird to think of eating a cake thats cold made soggy with milk. But there's something about it that allows me to get past the texture and enjoy it! So imagine my surprise to see they had a chocolate version available!!  It was a huge piece and after a tummy full of tacos, there was no way I could finish the whole thing but I was certainly willing to give it a try!!

It actually was surprisingly light...both the whipped icing and the lovely cake!! (I still only was able to eat about half though unfortunately.) Chocolatey and creamy, every bite!

Pablo had his fare share of tacos too and gave Taco Boy 5 ants!!