Tag Archives: Charleston WV

A Day Of Noshing

28 Jul

Today is Thursday. On Tuesday, my friend, Agnes, drove down from my previous habitat to share with me a day of feasting. The last time we did so was roughly a year ago. (Agnes is a very busy girl.)

It was hot (and only getting hotter) when she arrived around noon. Agnes said she didn’t mind walking to our destination–downtown Charleston–and, forgetting that I’m a bit older than her, naively minded not, as well. Several long, hot blocks later, we arrived at our first destination:

This hip establishment opened here about a year ago. It’s mother shop resides in Fayettville, WV, about an hour away in the beautiful Appalacian foothills and home to WV’s famous “Bridge Day” and whitewater rafting crowd. This was Agnes’s first time to Pies and Pints, and I was excited to have her experience some of the best gourmet pizza out there. We decided to share a large pie, ordering half with the chicken gouda (and bacon) and the other with the Mediterranean-inspired Caprese, full of basil and fresh tomato goodness and delicate ribbon-squirts of balsamic reduction glaze.

Like this:         

Caprese Side

 (These pictures are not mine, btw. I had to “borrow” them from online sources. I’m sure they’re fine with it.)   We also shared a lovely Greek salad, full of feta and Greek black olives. Agnes was joyful. Nothing like this exists in her backyard, unless she’s cooking. Armed with a box of leftover pizza (3 pieces, if you must know), we flung open the door to a hotbox and made our way further up the street to Charleston Bakery. I wanted Agnes to see all the great breads. But more than that, I brought her here for these: 

Trail Mix Cookies! These will make you look at healthy tree-hugger’s food in a whole new way. I’m hooked on these things, thanks to violin girl.

I have to stop at this point and tell you what happened to our box of leftover pizza. You see, once we entered the bakery, the lady at the counter recognized the box and rejoiced about how we had brought our lovely leftovers for her to enjoy–jokingly, of course. For some odd reason, I had engaged in the joking, but took it a bit too far and actually heard myself saying to her (and her fellow worker): “Sure, have it!” And proceeded to tell them how many and of what variety of specialty pizza were contained in the precious box. To which, with each description, the fellow nodded approvingly. Which only motivated me further, to the point that I found myself practically pleading with them to take the box. Which they did. Then we bought our bakery goodies (without a discount bestowed upon them–not…that…I…was…looking for one) and left. It wasn’t until afterwards that I had realized what I had done. I felt a little strange about the whole matter, but the bakery people were so happy, if not somewhat stunned.

And so we traipsed back down Capitol Street towards home. Along the way, I took Agnes into a few design shops and finally made a stop at our local seafood shop. Alas, none left of their fine seafood chowder. The salmon look good, but I didn’t feel like lugging a bag of it in the heat.
 
Eventually, that bag of salmon would find its way home by way of Hubby–when coming up with the idea (mine) to sear some for a quick dinner before Agnes made her way home. (I thought salmon might make her feel better about the lost pizza.)
And so, we spent a lovely dinner outdoors to mark the end of our ‘Day of Noshing.’ We had seared salmon. I had a few Farm-fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, so I tossed these with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt, with some chopped fresh mint from the garden. Some rice, with tumeric and cumin, to round out the meal. Notice the rice. It’s not very pretty and that I blame on the fact that I didn’t have basmati on hand, and that I, in my hurry, used too much rice for the pan size, I believe. Dinner Is Served! 

Agnes

 
But, all considered, I think Agnes approved.

Agnes-approved

 
And that’s all a hostess can wish for.
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Sadly, No Bread Puddin’

18 Oct

Hubby and I had the chance to take up a dinner out Saturday. (All three kiddies were at violin girl’s gig.)

We went to one of our favorite spots, Bluegrass Kitchen, hungry for their grilled fish dish. It comes out on a terrific-looking white plate, set atop the most flavorful wilted turnip greens and the smoothest of grits. Yep. Greens and grits. Two of the most under-rated (if prepared well) and under-served food items outside the deep South.

Although Kaukab is quite familiar with greens of all states, she generally used them in soups (remember the lentil soup?) or sauteed with garlic and olive oil, with a touch of salt. That’s all I knew about them. Grits, she implied, were a close cousin to what Kaukab referred to as Farina. Personally, they seem more sisters than cousins, but we’ll keep that between us, if you get my drift?

So, back to the dinner. Every time we go to Bluegrass, Hubby gets the fish. Not wanting to seem hum-drum in my food selections, I survey the menu–countless times–thoroughly engaged in the various offerings: meatballs atop smashed potatoes–too heavy so late in the evening; seared tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes–again, the mashed potatoes seem too heavy. Plus, the wasabi doesn’t seem appealing tonight, as it normally would have. Note: They do serve more than mashed potatoes; it’s just that on this particular night the chef seemed to have gotten a great deal on them. Or, maybe he thought it was Thanksgiving. No matter, hubby and I ended up with the fish. We’re close to celebrating our 17th anniversary (next week) and by now we’ve settled into a routine-of-sorts. I think the numerous fish selections are a reflection of that.

What’s fast becoming a routine with me, is looking for bread pudding. My dear foodie friend, Agnes (a character grander than her small-town life), and I had the most amazing bread pudding at the Bluegrass about a year ago. It was a key-lime pudding with warm caramel sauce, and it was so different from anything bread pudding-ish. I never thought I like bread pudding–until this one came along.

Ever since that meeting, we have become engaged in searching the world over (well, not the whole world) for a bread pudding to surpass, or even match, our expectations. I have since tried three. None even came close. Agnes doesn’t even want to talk about it. It’s become too disappointing a matter.

While at Bluegrass, last Saturday night, I noticed on the dessert menu two words which brought it all back. Bread Pudding. There it was, taunting me, like a perverse dessert could only do. It wasn’t the key-lime one. Not even caramel sauce. But, it was bread pudding, and I had decided that I would have some. It had been so long. At other times, we’ve seen it on the menu, but by the time we had finished our dinner and were ready to order, the blasted pudding was gone! This night, I believed, was meant to be mine.

Sadly, after eating the beer-laced cheese fondue and the requisite fish dinner, I had no room left for the puddin’.

Darn you, bread pudding!

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