Y’all, I Went To Charleston!

  A few weekends ago I was in Charleston, SC.  I had a bachelorette party there and it was my first time in the real south.  I don’t really consider Atlanta or Florida “the South.”  I think most people exclude those areas when referencing “the South.”  I’m not sure why and it’s not really that important to this story. 

Obviously something that Charleston is well known for is Southern Hospitality.  Everyone was extra friendly and eager to help.  Of course that got me to thinking about the crime and murder rate.  Like, are people polite when they rob you?  “Hey y’all, sorry to be a bother, but I’ma need to take your wallets and fine jewelry, thank you kindly.” 

I was really excited to visit Charleston because I had heard a lot of great things about the city.  I am also guilty of watching the show on Bravo TV, “Southern Charm,” so I wanted to know if I’d recognize some of the places.  Charleston has a positive following within the foodie community and as I quickly learned from speaking to the locals, rooftop bars are VERY popular.  Also, my version of speaking to the locals is the hotel concierge and my taxi driver.  Since this trip was a bachelorette party, I wasn’t exactly in charge of my own food destiny, so I definitely do not think I experienced the food scene in Charleston that I personally would have wanted.  Each place we ate at was delicious, but I found for me, the menus were extremely limiting (not that that is really something new for A Picky Eater). 

  Night one was a sushi restaurant named O-Ku.  The menu is probably incredible for people who love sushi and seafood.  It appeared that there were tons of options that my friends were happy with.  I had a bit more of a challenge.  My order was along the lines of:

“I’m allergic to peanuts and to sesame seeds.  I also don’t eat sushi or any fish or seafood.  So I’ll have an order of the edamame, the fried vegetarian egg roll and can I order the braised ribs without the crushed peanuts on top?  Oh also, what’s in the fried rice?  Is this enough food?”

Turned out to be more than plenty of food and couldn’t finish any of it.  Everything was really delicious.  The place also had a lively bar and amazing live entertainment.  There was a DJ who played the violin along to the music he was playing.  It was all popular, well-known songs and he was really unbelievable.  O-Ku was a very cool place over all.

The second night of the trip we went to an Italian restaurant, Indaco.  I thought this restaurant was absolutely delicious.  All six of us ordered the house salad which contained baby lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, and a parmesan dressing.  I was also quite insistent on ordering a Margherita Pizza for the table.  I have a hard time resisting words like Fresh Mozzarella and San Marzano Tomato Sauce.  Let me just say, this pizza was just as good as any other pizza I’ve had from a wood fired oven in New York.  It had a thin crispy crust, but was still soft enough that it didn’t break in your hand.  Plus the pizza had a great flavor.  For my entree I ordered the Cavetelli Cacio e Pepe.  Fan-freakin-tastic!  Believe it or not I didn’t find it too peppery.  I mean, there was definitely a lot of pepper, but not like burning my throat hot. 

Lastly, night three, was dinner at Hank’s Seafood.  Hank’s looked like a very old school steakhouse with the dark wood floors and paneling and the staff wearing white chef coats.  Since the name of the restaurant had the word “seafood” in it, I wasn’t exactly anticipating an endless selection of menu items for myself.  The beef tenderloin, the only steak entree on the menu, was already predetermined to be mine.  I had mashed potatoes and fried green tomatoes with the steak and all of it was delicious.  Again, would have liked another option or two, but I was happy with what I was able to order.  The service at Hank’s was excellent as well.  Everyone was extremely accommodating and friendly and very attentive to the table, but not in an annoying hovering way.

Other stops I made during my weekend included Henrietta’s at The Dewberry Hotel where I had brunch two mornings (a cheddar biscuit with homemade strawberry jam and a fresh fruit salad).  We had dessert one night at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  I ordered the mini flight of three ice creams so I could taste multiple flavors (Cookies and Cream, Mocha Black Cherry & The Darkest Chocolate).  Before hitting the beach, I picked up a vanilla bean yogurt parfait at Go Go Greens.  I requested extra fruit on top and drizzled on a ton of honey.  We also got brunch at Sweetwater Cafe, where I ordered an omelette, hash browns, and a biscuit.  Plus, the bride-to-be’s fiancé sent her a box of Glazed Gourmet Donuts so I got to try a few flavors! 

All in all I’d say I did a great job enjoying the food adventures I went on and all were successful.  I will just have to go back to Charleston sometime soon so I can explore the dozens of other places I want to try! 

National Doughnut Day

Happy June 2nd a.k.a National Doughnut Day!  If you haven’t had your doughnut yet, don’t worry!  There is still plenty of time.  Plus, you can eat doughnuts really any day you want, so get one tomorrow and celebrate twice!

It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything on here.  Let’s address my absence before going further.  I’ll use a generalized dialogue that I imagine could take place.
You: “Where’ve you been?  Did you forget about us?”
Me: “I’ve been here.  I just haven’t been writing.”
You: “Why not?  You stopped eating or something?”
Me: “No, but I’ve been really depressed for the last few months and lost my motivation to write.”
You: “Oh, sorry.  I didn’t know.  Are you okay?”
Me: “I’m fine, better than I was.  Nothing to really talk about.  Just trying to get back into the old routine.”
You: “Okay.  Well I’m glad you’re back!”
Me: “Thanks.  Me too.”

Today is actually one of my favorite food holidays, National Doughnut Day!  I thought it would be fun to showcase some of my favorite doughnuts that I’ve had in my 2017 food adventures so far.  Just a quick warning: don’t eat the screen- these are just photos!

Nani’s,                    Boynton Beach, FL

Underwest Donuts,    New York, NY

Glaze Artisan Donuts, New Milford, NJ

Caked Up,                     New City, NY

The Doughnut Project, New York, NY

JAE NYC Eats,   Brooklyn, NY

 

* Each of the places above features a number of different flavors of doughnuts.  Many of them also sell other baked goods and products.  You can check out their websites by clicking on the link under each photo to see what else is being served.

 

Weird Facts About The Moscow Mule

  Weird Facts About the Moscow Mule

Many a great story has begun with a drink…or a few. Some drinks, like the Moscow Mule, have great tales all their own. A cool drink with a kick, the Moscow Mule, despite its Russian-inspired name, was concocted in the Cock ‘N’ Bull pub in Hollywood, CA, in 1941. While the details of its history, like those of many a bar fable, are a bit hazy, one thing is for sure- this drink’s tale of origin is as colorful as its flavor is bright. Below, we’ve compiled a few of the more noteworthy, interesting, and weird facts about this classic American cocktail.

1.The recipe was concocted from ingredients nobody wanted.

Jack Morgan, owner of the Moscow Mule’s home of origin at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Pub in Los Angeles, had a stockroom full of Cock ‘n’ Bull-brand ginger beer which, to his chagrin, nobody seemed to want. The joint’s head bartender, Wes Price, told the Wall Street Journal after the drink’s sensational comeuppance that he incorporated ginger beer because he was “just trying to clean out the basement.” The idea of liquor and ginger beer may have been inspired by the Mamie Taylor, which is a whiskey and ginger beer mix. Though vodka is a bar staple today, it wasn’t too popular at the time. John Martin, having just bought the then tiny Smirnoff vodka company, was trying to pedal his product without much luck. He came upon the Cock ‘n’ Bull and, as the story goes, shared a drink with Morgan, who shared his frustrations over his ginger beer surplus. After some alcohol-fueled brainstorming, the guys came up with their master plan. From those two less-than-popular ingredients came one of the most popular drinks of all time.

2. Those copper cups were the result of another surplus

The copper cups were undoubtedly the vessel of choice from the very beginning of the Moscow Mule’s heritage, but their origin has often been disputed. Some say an immigrant named Sophie Berezinski brought 2,000 copper mugs with her to California when she came to the States from Russia. As this version of the tale would have it, she’d designed the mugs herself and had them manufactured at her father’s copper shop in Russia. Unfortunately, sales proved impossible in the impoverished Soviet Union, so she made her way to America. When she arrived in the U.S., her husband was apparently less than enthused about her luggage and threatened to throw the mugs into the trash. To avoid such a wasteful fate, she carted them around L.A. Serendipitously, she found a willing buyer at the Cock ‘n’ Bull where Morgan and Martin were in search of a proper vessel to complement their original creation. Her story is corroborated by the Moscow Copper Company of Santa Barbara, Calif. However, some disbelief is natural because of the fact that in 1925, Joseph Stalin had launched his “revolution from above” and nationalized essential industries, including copper, setting outlandish goals like a 250 percent increase in overall industrial development and 330 percent expansion in heavy industry alone. A missed quota could have had dire consequences, which makes it unlikely Berezinski or her father would have risked carting so much product out of the country.

The other version of the story, slightly less colorful but potentially more plausible, comes from Martin himself. Martin said he remembered Morgan’s girlfriend, a “great, big buxom woman” named Osalene Schmitt, joining in their initial brainstorming session. Osalene’s family owned a copper mine, lending her access to plenty of copper.

3. It Made Smirnoff Famous

Vodka was a relatively new spirit stateside. Most people hadn’t heard of it at the time, let alone tasted it. Smirnoff was originally owned by a poor Russian immigrant who sold the company to Martin in 1939. Despite his entrepreneurial know-how, Martin was unable to sell the vodka on its own. Upon his arrival in California and subsequent collaboration with Morgan, however, success was quick to come for both the men. Martin was soon helming one of the most impressive and successful marketing campaigns in history and the Moscow Mule propelled Smirnoff vodka into the limelight. Smirnoff remained the vodka of choice for the Moscow Mule for several years after the drink’s inception.

4. It Was Nearly a Casualty of War

During the Cold War and era of McCarthyism, anything Russian was considered suspect and taboo. Hollywood, the Mule’s birthplace, was blacklisted, and a rumor circulated that Smirnoff was a Russian vodka. New York bartenders organized a boycott of the cocktail in response to pledge their patriotism and defiance of Russia. In truth, however, Smirnoff originated stateside in Bethel, Connecticut.

5. Four People Once Sued for Damages Over Effects Related to the Moscow Mule

In 1947, four Los Angeles residents filed a lawsuit claiming $10,000 in damages, saying they had witnessed a live “lizard or salamander” crawl out of a bottle at a local pub. The plaintiffs claimed this event caused insomnia, violent nausea, and recurring nightmarish visions in which “mules and lizards…leer at them from the necks of ginger beer bottles.” It’s not entirely clear whether these patrons had issue with the cocktail, were under the influence of some other substance, or were just really great at telling tall tales.

Hollywood seems to have been the perfect birthplace for such a cocktail, destined for stardom. From its booming origins decades ago to its resurgent popularity in recent years, this fantastic and curious cocktail is a true American classic.

Links:
——
[1] http://www.absolutdrinks.com/en/drinks/moscow-mule/
[2] http://copperdrinkingmugs.com/best-ginger-beer-moscow-mule/
[3] https://www.copper.org/consumers/arts/2007/august/Moscow_Mule.html

 

Coffee And Ice Cream

  Why does caffeine always give me a stomach ache?  I always get bloated and uncomfortable within an hour of having caffeine.  The stomach ache is super annoying because it gets in the way of me eating lunch or dinner specifically because my stomach feels all weird and queasy.  Caffeine also makes me not hungry.  I think that my stomach has it’s own brain and has decided that my body shouldn’t have caffeine so, it took matters into it’s own hands.  My stomach is like, “Jamie, I feel like being mean.  Now I will make you feel like crap and have to take a crap!”. 

I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, but as an “adult” in my early twenties, I developed a taste for it.  Plus, drinking coffee was cool right?  I got to complain like everyone else in college that my classes were to early and I needed coffee to function.  So the opposite of cool!    Then, when I started working, I always sent someone out to get me coffee, because I couldn’t make it through the day in that hell hole.  When I went back to school, I would get coffee in between classes or before my night class to keep me awake.  None of these times did I have any real issues.  I didn’t drink it every day and I never had more than a cup.  I was a basic coffee drinker like anyone else.

Sometime in the past two years or so, I developed this completely unnecessary physical reaction to caffeinated products.  At first I didn’t make the connection.  I’d go out for brunch, get a cappuccino and be nauseous an hour later.  This started happening enough times, that I eventually realized it had to be what I was drinking.  Once I had my hypothesis, it was time to experiment.  One day I decided to order decaf, and you’ll never guess what happened!  Nothing,  I was fine.  From that point on, I tried to make a conscious effort to only drink decaffeinated drinks or drinks low in caffeine.  Strangely enough, I don’t have a problem drinking caffeinated tea and I certainly don’t have a problem eating chocolate! 

Having tested and proven my theory correct, it would seem to be an easy task, avoiding caffeinated drinks.  But, it’s me and I don’t do anything easy.  Sometimes I forget to ask for decaf and sometimes simply don’t care because I am so exhausted I need a boost.  No matter the reason, the consequence remains the same.  Caffeine equals stomach ache and this week was no different.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of tasting some delicious menu additions at the new Snowdays  location in Brooklyn, NY.  Everything I tasted was absolutely incredible.  The only glitch was that I completely spaced out on what it was that I was consuming.  The “Snowffagato” is shaved cream with a side of espresso to pour on top.  Basically, an affogato with a Snowdays twist. While enjoying my snowy treat, I had a brief moment of clarity and thought, “Jamie this is not decaf.”  I was already in too deep.  By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late.  So I thought, “fuck it” and continued to consume this delicious dessert.  I loved every spoonful.  Well, my mouth did. 

Like clockwork, the caffeine started to kick in around the time I was getting home.  I plopped myself on the couch feeling full and stupid for causing my symptoms.  For the rest of the night I just sat around waiting for the discomfort to go away.  I drank a lot of water and finally around 11pm I was back to normal.  For approximately 5 hours I was a big bump on a log.  I didn’t have anything for dinner, which is extremely abnormal for me! 

Now that a few days have passed, I would like to return to Snowdays.  I want to order another Snowffagato because it was so good!  But don’t worry, I will find out if they have decaf espresso first! 

Healthy And Crazy Don’t Have To Be Mutually Exclusive

  It’s not entirely fair for me to pass judgement on the foods that people eat, but I intend on taking full advance of my first amendment right.  Granted I’m not the healthiest eater on the planet, I’m also not the worst.  It’s not like I brush my teeth with left over french fry oil.  I do consume french fries as if I had just been given 3 more hours to live, but I also liked baked potatoes, which are healthy, I think (or healthier at least).  Everyone needs to find a reasonable balanced diet of food for their self.  So, if you’re one of those people who eats tree bark or bird seed as a snack, move the fuck along. 

There’s a big difference between healthy food and things that are questionable as to whether or not they are actually even food.  As a rule of thumb, I’m generally pretty skeptical when I hear or read about, “some guy in the Himalayas who discovered this rare plant that when   placed in a centrifuge, the extraction from it’s roots will allow you to live 10 years longer.”  Like, no.  If some random man ate some weird-ass plant and lived until he was 120 years old, I would not automatically think the 2 were mutually exclusive and start packaging this thing to sell at Whole Foods. 

You may be thinking, “Jamie, if it doesn’t affect you, why do you care?”.  I’ll tell you why!  Because it does affect me.  Not directly, while I’m sitting here munching on some chocolate chip cookies, but this comes up frequently in my everyday life.  I am on social media a lot looking at food, restaurants, recipes, videos of puppies, etc.  I don’t want to be scrolling through pictures of decadent chocolate desserts and land on someone’s photo of wood chips drizzled with a mixture of cocoa and aloe vera puree.  I want that out of my face.  And I certainly don’t want to read about how you made it.  Don’t tell me about the benefits and all the different uses this wood chip snack has, unless it’s to enhance an already burning fire.  Keep that shit to yourself, don’t drag me into it.  I’m just minding my own business watching a video of a man scooping the largest ice cream cone. 

You may also be thinking, “Jamie, you’re being very critical.  It’s not very nice.”  I’m sorry if anyone is offended.  But I told you earlier to go away (see first paragraph, last sentence), so it’s not really my problem.  My problem is the diminishing options of “regular” food listed on menus.  Nothing is basic anymore.  When I want a salad, I want iceberg lettuce with carrots and cucumber and tomatoes and onions.  I want what the “salad emoji” looks like: 🥗.  Salads shouldn’t smell like dirt, or Earth, or landscaping.  There is no need to put fluffy and curly and spiky lettuces in the bowl.  I prefer to understand the ingredients and not have to look every single word up.  Okay, so I don’t know all the types of cheese and I’m not sure what a word means, no big deal.  But my salad should not translate into “rose bush thorns and tropical coral reef shavings with a poison ivy, sans poison vinaigrette.”  I don’t care how much my body will be cleansed from this absurdity or if I’ll automatically develop six pack abs from 1 bite off the fork.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t want to understand it.  I am not trying to understand it. 

Be healthy!  Eat grains and lean protein and vitamin rich vegetables.  Monitor sodium and sugar content in your food.  Ask for sauces on the side and drink detoxing tea.  I think these are all reasonable great ways to live your life.  My issue is when the healthy eating becomes a healthy lifestyle and the healthy lifestyle turns you into a westernized jungle dweller.  When you live in the jungle, you have no choice but to eat leaves, plants, and strange animal parts.  Don’t walk around with a Latte from Starbucks and post an Instagram picture of the bottle of Dulse Flakes you just bought.  Everyone knows you really want a muffin, not some trail mix creation with sea lettuce. 

*Photos taken at Springbone Kitchen, NYC