Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meathead Brothers

More from our adventure at Brookgreen Gardens...

Giant grasshoppers, as big as your hand!

beautiful butterflies everywhere

Pablo is very curious about the platypus

say cheese!

After we had exhausted the gardens (or rather the gardens exhausted us...) we were hungry for a late lunch.  We found a great sandwich place called Meathead Brothers, serving Philadelphia-style deli sandwiches. Some of their sandwiches are very traditional, while others are a bit more unique. All made with fresh ingredients, a lot of which are locally sourced.

One of their more popular sandwiches is the Italian Stallion...ham, salami, and capicola on thick Italian bread served with provolone, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Their Carolina Sweetie has sweet sausages with sauteed peppers and onions on a toasted Italian roll.  The Smoked House Hoagie has smoked turkey, applewood smoked bacon, and smoked gouda. Or how about the Gobbler Panini with turkey, stuffing, swiss cheese, and cranberry sauce!

There were so many delicious sammys to choose from! But we finally settled on Its Got Meat and Meathead's Reuben. Its Got Meat was piled high with, well, meat! And lots of it!  Roast beef, turkey, and ham plus applewood smoked bacon, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, all piled high on thick Italian bread. And it came with truffle fries! Great meaty sandwich with some earthy rich fries!

The Meathead's Reuben...corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing served panini style on marbled rye bread. (Am I the only one who thinks of Seinfeld when I hear "marbled rye"??) I had garlic fries with my sammy. I wouldn't say Reuben's are my favorite deli sandwich but I do enjoy a good one. And I have to say this was probably the best Reuben I've ever had! A definite winner!

It was an interesting treat getting to chat a bit with the owner as well! A vibrant, sensible down-to-earth kinda guy trying to make a living making good sandwiches with local products! Will definitely be back!

Pablo approves!!

Pablo gave Meathead Brothers 4 ants!

***UPDATE*** Literally the day after I posted this, I found out that Meathead unexpectedly closed up shop, apparently for good! I'm not sure what happened but they will be missed!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lulu's Cafe and Donuts

We had some very nice weather in Myrtle, still warm but not hot with the perfect breeze! We decided to take advantage of this gorgeous weather and do some outdoor activities we wouldn't normally get to do because it would normally be too hot. One thing I'd been wanting to do for the last several years is visit Brookgreen Gardens.  It is a lovely place with sculpture and botanical gardens, as well as a wildlife preserve. It is a combination of art, history, and a zoo!

Before we headed to the gardens, we needed breakfast! Lulu's Cafe is one of our standby's we like to visit in Myrtle.  We had recently heard they were opening their own donut shop separate from the restaurant. But when we located the donut shop, it was closed! Unfortunately they were closed because they were about to move to a different location. That meant no Lulu donuts for us.  :(  But we did get a chance to meet Lulu, herself. Very cute and friendly lady! She reassured us that Lulu's Donuts weren't going anywhere, they just needed time to find a better location. I hope she has good luck with that so we can try their delicious donuts next year!

So we headed to their cafe instead.  Lulu's has the perfect mix of Southern cuisine and 1950s diner. We split a meal...two fried eggs on a biscuit with bacon and sausage gravy with grits on the side.  Biscuits and gravy is one of my favorite breakfasts! And this place does it right. Simple, but delicious. Complete with a glass of fresh orange juice and a good cup of hot coffee.

It was so good, in fact, that we went there again later in the week. This time hubby got a stack of hot pancakes.  Delicious, sweet, and fluffy!

I had two eggs over-easy (one of my new favorite ways to eat eggs when I'm out. I haven't quite learned how to make them at home though so I usually eat scrambled. Boring, I know, but easy to cook without messing up) and a side of corned beef hash.  I love corned beef hash because its kinda salty, a little meaty, and the perfect side dish for mixing with the runny egg yolk. It also reminds me of my childhood, when my dad would take me camping. After spending the night in the tent, we'd wake up in the morning and crank up the camp stove and heat up some corned beef hash and bacon!

Even Pablo loved it! He gave Lulu's 3.5 ants!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Co Sushi

"Co" is the Vietnamese word for "feast".  And Co Sushi at the Market Commons in Myrtle Beach definitely offers a feast for the eyes and the belly. Its a hip and modern little place where the sushi is delicious, unique, and is presented as beautifully as a work of art.

We began with a tako poke...octopus ceviche which was served on a bed of greens, with a creamy citrusy sauce called furikake, a touch of lime and green seaweed, accompanied by plantain chips and sweet potato chips. The chips were sweet, salty and crispy. And I don't know exactly what's in that sauce but I could totally drink that stuff!! 

Then a mixed plate of nigiri...ebi (shrimp), unagi (bbq eel), and ikura (salmon roe).  I love how the roe pops in your mouth like a little briny bubble! Beautiful and fresh!

We also tried pressed sushi, something I’ve never seen before. The rice is a little different than with most sushi. Its called maze gohan rice and wasn’t as sticky and was more brown. It was topped with thin slices of salmon and avocado, a creamy lemon aioli sauce, and tiny lemon wedges. Very unique...creamy and fishy (in a good way) with a bright zing from the lemon.  Delicious!! Some of the absolute best sushi I've ever had!

Back to the room for leftover churros for dessert!

Pablo gave Co Sushi 4.5 ants!! Yumm!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Croissants Bistro...not so much

For the last several years, one of our favorite breakfast places to visit in Myrtle has been Croissants Bistro & Bakery.  We're not fans of the typical tourist breakfast buffets or low budget chain restaurants, like those that offer 3 kinds of toppings for pancakes and think they can call them "international"(ouch, yes I went there).  We like to search for places that are a little more unique with local flavor.  Those kind of places are sometimes hard to find in an area like Myrtle that thrives on tourism. So when we discovered Croissants, we thought we had found a gem. But something changed this year.

In the past we've always had a great experience at Croissants...great food, high end brunch offerings, attentive service, the perfect breakfast for our first full day at the beach.  This year, however, when we went to Croissants, there was one disappointment after another. We arrived and discovered we were there about 10 minutes before they were supposed to open at 10am (which is kinda late for breakfast) so we drove around the block, came back around 10:05, and the restaurant was already packed out! Clearly we missed something. Ok fine,whatever, we get our table...and then we wait.

Past visit...beautifully plated omelet with hashbrowns and fruit

Past visit...Eggs benedict with steak

Past visit...side of candied bacon

It became clear to us that they were short-staffed and struggling to keep up with the demands of the diners.  How they could be short-staffed on a Sunday morning knowing they would be busy is beyond me but I can sort of forgive that (ya know, stuff happens) if the food is good and the service is compensatory. However, we received neither good food or good service.

Our meal began with complimentary raspberry mini-muffins.  Tasty and cute; a good start. (And that's about where the positivity ended). We, then received our menus, which were different because one of them ended up being out-dated.  And of course, the outdated menu is the one we wanted to order both of our meals from and those meals were no longer offered on their current menu.  Ok back to the drawing board or what to order.

Then it took forever for our food to come and there was no apology or explanation as to why the food was so late.  When the food did finally arrive, it was all way over-cooked.  Edgar ordered eggs benedict with hashbrown casserole.  The eggs were not runny at all. In fact they were on their way to being hard-boiled.  The hollandaise sauce had little to no flavor at all, except that of bland unsalted melted butter. And he had to specially request bacon as a side instead of the country ham that came with it. Country ham was offered with almost every dish while bacon was a scarce commodity.

doesn't look too bad on the surface...

and theres the almost-hard-boiled center

I ordered the quiche du jour...a chorizo quiche with grits on the side. The quiche wasn't bad but I've had better for less money (I've made better for less money) and the top was almost burnt. The grits tasted more like cream of wheat, very mushy and a lot sweeter than grits.  I like cream of wheat but when I order grits, I want grits.

the "grits" look more like mashed potatoes (which I love but again, thats not what I ordered)

The part that was most disappointing was that there were several other small changes we noticed that made us realize that it wasn't just an off day in the kitchen. It was clear they had changed their menu and the focus of the restaurant to better appeal to the masses of cheap buffet-going families that travel to Myrtle as tourists. They now covered their pristine white linen tablecloths with craft paper and provided crayons for the children to color on it. The menu items we used to love were either No-more or were altered, and the entire menu was dumbed down and included items that didn’t even make sense for a typical brunch menu. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to family restaurants with craft paper and crayons, they have their place, but there are plenty of those around already.  

Croissants used to be a nice place for adults to go and enjoy a quiet brunch of quality up-scale food and perhaps a fancy juice or coffee before a day of lounging on the beach. Overall there were a lot of little disappointments here that added up to a big failure. They have allowed themselves to be taken over and sold out.  Sadly, I doubt we will return.

Even Pablo gave Croissants only 1 ant (and that was only for the mini-muffins).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cr*fty B*st*rds

So I'm taking a little break from my vacation posts to share with you what we did last weekend. So much fun stuff going on, I didn't want to wait! We took a little trip to DC for the Crafty Bastards craft/art show.  I know, they could've picked a better name. Sorry to any of you that are offended by the use of the word "bastards".  I didn't come up with the name, thats just what it's called. And if any of you are still offended, read the Bible. Because it's in there! Need proof? Read King James version of Hebrews 12:8, Zechariah 9:6, and Deuteronomy 23:2...ok now that we got that out of the way...

Crafty Bastards is a huge arts & crafts show held in DC. It used to be in Adams Morgan but a few years ago they began holding it in Union Market.  All the craft vendors are independent artists of highest quality. While it's all hand-made stuff, it's all very high-end professional-grade hand-made stuff.  There are roughly 170 vendors and there's a waiting list to get a vendor spot!

Artist: Mimi Kirchner makes adorable animal dolls like this foxy couple

Artist: Red-Belly makes dioramas out of tiny recycled toys

Artist: My Secret Music Box (one of my favorites) makes lockets that are actually tiny music boxes! Beautiful!

I've been to a few fine arts festivals with paintings and sculptures and have seen some very cool stuff. But the artisans at CB offer some more quirky, funky, whimsical, and unique items that you won't find anywhere else.

suitcase with a bunny!

Artist: littlegreenthings uses wood and paints and actually sews yarn through the
wood to make these cute designs

Artist: WoolBuddy does needle felting to make this terrifying yet cute bunny
with pointy metal teeth chomping on a waffle!

So why am I talking about this on my FOOD blog?? I'm getting to that!!

Artist: Rebound Designs (another favorite) makes books into purses and ipad covers

Pablo met a girl named Lily (complete with ants on her tongue)! I think he may be in love!
Artist: TigerFlight makes these adorable stuffed anteaters and owls and other critters.

The thing about CB that I love about as much as seeing all the crazy crafty things people created, is the FOOD TRUCKS!!! I've written many blog posts about my love (lust?) for food trucks.  There were roughly 20 food trucks there slinging their tasty wares.

A few of my old-time favorites were there: Red Hook Lobster Pound, Takorean, DC Empanadas, DC Slices, and Orange Cow.  Plus some new ones that we haven't seen before: KaftaMania, Lemongrass Truck, Feelin' Crabby, and Popped! Republic.

We first started with a new one called Puddin', which offers Southern comfort food.  We went for the fried oyster po'boy. Ever since our trip to Charleston, I'm in love with fried oysters! Beautiful crispy fried oysters on a soft roll and topped with a spicy remoulade and a tangy sweet slaw. Delicious! A little small to share but that makes it easier to eat another one (or two or three...)! I would definitely try that again! And of course, I HAD to get a classic Cheerwine, the official state soda of North Carolina and Virginia, to go with it!

Pablo is ready to take a bite!

After hitting a few more crafty tables, we went back for more food trucks! This time, we had to visit one of my faves...Takorean. We've been to this truck several times and love it! I'm always a sucker for a good taco. But these are tacos with a Korean twist, hence the name.

All their tacos come in soft corn tortillas, doubled up, and stuffed with your choice of protein: beef bulgogi, chicken, pork, or tofu. Then you choose a slaw: pickled kimchi cabbage, napa-romaine slaw, or spiced kale. Then you choose a sauce or topping: siracha sauce, lime crema, sesame seeds, or cilantro. You can buy one taco or 3 tacos.

Since we were sharing, we got 3 tacos, one each of beef, chicken, and pork. And we had each topped with the truck-recommended toppings.  The beef gets kimchi and siracha. The chicken gets napa-romaine and lime crema, and the pork gets kale and cilantro.  Each one is so delectable on their own but being able to mix and match the flavors is beyond yumma yumma! The beef had a nice tolerable heat, the chicken one had a bright creamy crunch, but our favorite was the pork; so sweet and tender with a touch of spice.

And then to top it all off...we got a siracha pistachio cookie!! So yummy! It was still soft and warm, the nuts gave it a good crunch and the siracha added just a touch of heat at the end that made my lips burn a little! That's good stuff!

If you've never been to Union Market itself, its definitely worth a trip if you're in the area. We plan to go back to the market on another day when its not so crowded with crafty bastards!

Righteous Cheese

Rappahannock Oyster Company

Co-Co Sala chocolates

Red Apron Butchery

Almaala Farms produce