"Destination- eating": Weekend away to Charleston

So if you remember my past blog on
¬†Destination Eating, my hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said “I want to eat” ūüôā .. so I guess my girlfriends read my blog and took that and my¬†desire¬†to be at the beach to heart¬†and treated me to a lovely weekend in Charleston, SC. ¬†(My home away from home).
So here we are all set at 6:30 in the morning for our beach/culinary weekend!!

We have ARRIVED!! at the beautiful Isle of Palms.

After a few hours of soaking in the sun and sand.. It was time to start the culinary part of the trip.. First stop Hucks!! 
Glorious shrimp tacos with a pickled red onion topping (Try Freaky Curry’s own recipe for¬†pickled red onions for¬†your tacos the next time)
Delish Fish tacos with fresh feta!! salty and oh so crumbly… The fish was lightly battered and fried. Crisp on the outside and flaky on the inside.¬†
Homemade ice cream!! Say what ?? YES PLEASE !!
Cinnamon honey, watermelon sorbet, classic Vanilla.. 
YES, YES and YES!!
Perfect sampler to share. not too sweet and oh so light.. Cinnamon honey was everyone’s favorite, hands down!
After a scrumptious lunch, it was time to check into our hotel in historic downtown Charleston.. 
Champagne check in at the fabulous French Quarter Inn right in the middle of the historic downtown district.
What fabulous service!! (As I finish my second glass of champagne)..
 After a little rest and primping  up, we headed downstairs for a wine and cheese reception.. 
Oh Fabulousity!! LOL

Getting ready to hit the town!! 
Yes we match ! We know and we love it !! and so did folks in Chucktown..;)
Tried to get into Husk but no bueno.. miscommunication between us and the hostess plus it was too much to ask them to seat 5 of us together at the same time.. Mind you they don’t take reservations and yet they were committed for the night.. It was around 7:30 PM.. so I’m not sure what gives.. hmmmm..¬†
Dinner and a birthday serenade at the amazing Magnolias..Had to wait an hour for a table but that gave us a chance to strut our stuff downtown and have a cocktail at the High Cotton which was hoppin’ !! Good looking patrons everywhere !! Good sights ūüôā

Ah the smells and sights at Magnolias.. Delish.. Food smells and sights.. ¬†ūüôā (I know what you were thinking)..¬†
None of us drank as we were swimming in wine and champagne by this point.. stuck to good ole’ H2O!!.. ūüôā
Pickled Shrimp housemade benne seed crackers

Pickled shrimp –Almost like ceviche.. with a sesame cracker..¬†
Boiled Peanut Hummus pickled okra, hot pepper relish, Charleston flatbread
Peanut hummus with almost fried wonton like strips for dipping and pickled okra.. a lil nutty and dense .. different.. a little chalky but a neat concept.. 
Salt and Pepper Fried Shrimp blackened grit cake, green tomato chow chow, peach jezebel sauce.

Salt and pepper shrimp—- DELISH!! came with a sweet and tangy relish..polished this off in a second..¬†
Pan Seared Lump Crab Cakes lowcountry succotash, tomato butter

Crabcakes.. ’cause you are in Charleston baby.. you gotta have crabcakes.. delish, petite, light on breading.. nice sauce as an¬†accompaniment.¬†
We girls were on a mission.. I loved it that everyone partook in the celebration of eating.. Yes I just called eating a celebration.. LOL.. 
We are not shy about our eating good food and drinking good vino.. Love my ladies.. ¬†ūüôā
After this, we also shared a filet, a salmon and a chicken entree’.. (No pics.. sorry).. Too busy eating and laughing I guess..¬†
The girls tricked me into getting serenaded by this amazing man.. 
He sang “Happy Birthday” to me Opera style.. You¬†have to ask for him the next time you go there.. I had goosebumps.. literally..¬†
My birthday Creme Brulee’ medallion!! Made of chocolate.. ¬†ūüôā
Perfect for me and the rest of the girls to nibble on..  
So full at this point that we are not thinking or walking straight..Dresses are feeling a tad tighter, heels are hurting.. then we get asked by a random (happy on alcohol) man, if we were here for Salsa night.. and then we said “Lets’ go for salsa”..¬†
Checked out the Saturday salsa night at the Southern Brewery.. 
Saw some “real” Salsa dancers put up a great performance..¬†

Fun times.. So glad we went !
Got back to our comfy beds around 1:30 AM.. 
Night Night..

Next morning, after a leisurely Parisian breakfast at the Inn which included savory and sweet pastries, fruits accompanied by Mimosas and the works, we headed into the market for some sight seeing and walking around.. Found a great little restaurant Barbara Jeans.. Excellent service and El cheapo.. 

The pic below¬†doesn’t¬†do justice but the¬†crab cakes¬†(yes again) were¬†falling¬†off the fork.. the Fried okra was crisp and NOT greasy.. the red rice (not too heavy on the tomato) and the dirty rice were both distinct in flavors and oh it had flavor!!

Oh well.. We came, we saw and we ate.. and we ate and then ate some more… ūüôā
Adios!! We’ll be back soon!! What a fun trip..¬†

Thanks to all my chicas for bringing me out here to jump start my birthday celebrations.. Here’s to many more !!

Eating Uptown Series… Part Two – Dandelion Market

So this week, my funny and very sweet co-worker and fellow blogger (http://www.thedishandmore.blogspot.com/¬†) were in day long meetings!! Well, OK so it was a couple of hrs long but C’mon !! 12-2!! We were famished..and it really¬†didn’t¬†help us because we had already decided where to go for lunch..¬†

The Dandelion Market.. ( www.dandelionmarketcharlotte.com/).. 

My husband and I had gone there for brunch with another foodie couple friends of ours.. and we really enjoyed the food, the service and of course the company was great too.  So I was really excited to go there with my friend.. 

We had been dreaming of lunch since morning so 2 PM couldn’t get here fast enough! Once the meeting was done, we walked fast to the restaurant. .. well when I say fast, as fast my 4″ heels could carry me I guess..¬†

So we got there and there were only a couple of patrons which is pretty typical if you are trying  to get lunch at 2:30 !! The decor was very tasteful. exposed brick walls, wooden furniture.. very charming.. 

We were greeted and shown to our seats quickly.. that just meant we were a step closer to our food. ¬†ūüôā

Both Melissa and I ordered the house mint Iced tea which was VERY refreshing.. Didn’t even need sugar to sweeten it up.. We both also ordered the grilled cheese and the tomato soup combination.. We added prosciutto and tomato (for me) to the sandwich.¬†


Look at that thick cut of bread, tomato and the meat sticking out! Toasted well with butter.. . Delish.. 

This is after! Could barely finish the sandwich .. The soup was good enough to dunk the sandwich in.. 

Melissa delirious after eating…¬†

 Check her out on her blog.. (http://www.thedishandmore.blogspot.com/ )

Yeah I am tired after eating so much.. !! and the weather is humid today.. My hair can tell you that.. LOL!

but this was fun kids! Looking forward to another great Eating uptown series.. Next week ?? Hmm any suggestions ?

Eating Uptown Series… Part One- Metropolitan Cafe

So, I have started working uptown in Charlotte, NC now. I love love love it!! The sights and the sounds of people walking by, the traffic, the vendors and most importantly the restaurants and eateries scattered all over.

In this series “Eating Uptown Series” I am attempting to give you all an honest reviews of my dining experiences at these local food hot spots. Some of them are fancy and some, not so much..I hope to give you my personal review of the food. One thing you can be all assured of is that I’ll be honest with you.

(I am definitely going to be making new friends with this one. Sigh.. )

My coworkers brought me back lunch today from the  Metropolitan Cafe in the Latta arcade as I had day long meetings.. (Thanks Christophe, Melissa and Jarod)..

Earlier in the week, I was super excited to hear that we were all planning to go this Turkish Cafe uptown..The last memory I have of Turkish food is Sofram.. (Read my post on that).. so obviously I was VERY excited.. Unfortunately my calendar filled up rather fast and I was unable to accompany my team mates for lunch.. Well, “take-out” to the rescue ūüôā

I quickly looked at the menu and ordered the Mediterranean platter from the appetizer section.. My theory behind ordering this was : This will give me a chance to taste all the staples of a typical meal.. and also I have been eating lighter these days so no meat for me today.

This is what they brought back.. . for under $8!

I know impressive.. ūüôā¬†

I started with a fork full of hummus.. chalky.. ūüôĀ took another bite, this time with a pita.. no flavor.. I felt the chickpeas were still raw.. ūüôĀ .. couple of bites more and I gave up.. Couldn’t taste the lemon, garlic or Olive oil..¬†Disappointed.. The pita tasted like it had been brushed with previously used oil.. maybe oil they use for frying the falafels..¬†

The falafels were nice and big, like oversized golf balls. The exterior was nice and crispy but the middle was soft, doughy and uncooked.. The dough kind of just popped out of the exterior crust.. (as if saying “Am outta here”!!)¬†

Soooo not cool. 

Moving on to the grilled eggplant salad.. First taste I got was of “heat”.. After the bland hummus and falafels, that’s all that my tongue could register. “Heat”.. slowly I tasted the grilled flavor of the eggplant.. I kinda liked it.. I would have loved it, if the eggplant flavor was not diluted.. I felt that the salad was too watery and that maybe diminished the “eggplant” flavor..¬†

Last I tried the grape leaves.. They were good…. Tangy leaves stuffed with the typical mushy rice mixture.. ¬†They were my favorite followed by the eggplant salad. SO overall, I was not impressed by the food at all..¬†

In the same vein, one of my co workers rated the restaurant a 6 out of 10. 

But then for under $8, what do you expect? 

Wait a minute!! I expect a whole lot.. Maybe I will try going in person and seeing if the service was any better than the food ūüėČ ?? We’ll see..¬†

Here’s to more eating this weekend… Next post up from Charleston! You heard it.. I’ll be in Chucktown this weekend so more good eating reviews soon!! Happy Friday!

DIY Sushi night!!

Oh what a night!!! We had rolls of fun.. Get it.. rolls ?? like Sushi rolls ??
any-who!! (Please ignore my lame attempt at humor this late Wednesday afternoon).
We started around 6:45ish.. It was a Friday night and people were getting in straight from work and well some were getting in from the mall ūüôā
As usual, we started with getting out the beers and wine and got ourselves situated before we started..
We had three newbies join us this time ūüôā We had my baby bro Dhruv join us with his sweeeeeeetest girlfriend Emily.. (shown below).

And we had my sweet friend Sharu (in green) join us as well.. This was her first “Sushi” experience.. OOhhh what fun!!

The whole gang.. 

We quickly got into talking about the kind of rice we used and how to cook it. I used the generic “sushi rice” from the local Asian store. I tend to go with the ratio of 2:2.5.. So I used 2 cups of rice to 2.5 cups of water.

Recipe to make Sushi rice

2 cups of short grained Sushi Rice
2.5 cups of water

Seasoned Vinegar

2 Tbsp unseasoned vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp Kosher or sea salt

In large bowl, wash rice in several changes of cold water until water is clear. Drain well.

In medium saucepan over moderately high heat, combine rice and water. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

While rice is cooking, in small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat through till the sugar and salt are dissolved. Cool liquid to room temperature.Turn cooked rice out into large glass bowl. Cool by fanning with small plate and turning over with flat spatula or spoon.Make sure not to “smush the rice”. Gradually drizzle vinegar mixture over rice, continuing to fan and turn, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooled to room temperature and somewhat shiny. (Rice may be made ahead and kept at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel.)¬†
Here are some pictures from the class.. 

Teaching the inside out roll…

 Rolling away

Prathima following suit.. 

Erin “creating ” her sushi!
Simran experimenting with different combinations !
We also made some rice paper spring rolls. We used a variety of fresh veggies, glass noodles, mangoes and shrimp

We also made a delish Sesame seeds encrusted and seared Tuna with a tangy dipping sauce..

¬†Thanks to all those who came out and “cooked” with me! What a blast.. We need to do this again ūüėČ

Please check us out on Facebook where we permanently reside. and “Like” us for updates, recipes and cool tips.. !


Strawberry "lemon-aid "

Well actually it’s strawberry lime-aid ūüôā (Aid to help my sick mom, as per my son.. )

SO this is Luca (My “soon to be 4 yrs old” son) squeezing limes to make lemonade for his nana (My mom)..¬†

To serve 2. 

Juice of 2 Limes
Sugar – 2 Tbsp (or more as needed)

Pinch of salt and black pepper
4 Fresh large strawberries..
1.5 cups of water
1/2 cup of ice.

Blend all together till mixed and frothy..

"Destination-eating" : Restaurant Review: Artisanal

My dear hubby (Krish) and I are big foodies ūüôā

We are known to “travel” to great distances to eat good food.. Right from our days in college, where we made about $6-10/hr, we took trips to Blowing rock, NC, a small mountain town to eat at our favorite BBQ join “Woodlands” and listen to some good ole’ live country music. Then it was Charleston, what I call “My second home”, since we go there atleast twice or thrice a year….. We would just drive after work, eat dinner and come back.. (That’s 6+ hrs total driving BTW)..

Since we had our son, we kinda slowed down for obvious reasons. On our recent trip to Charleston (no surprises there), My hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday.. I didn’t skip a beat and said ” I want to eat!”… He smiled and said , …”Ok?!!”… I continued to explain what I meant by that..

So a pact was made!! We shall “travel to great distances and eat the finest” ūüôā TA-DA!!!!

So this blog is¬†dedicated¬†to our first “destination-eating” experiences.

My husband was introduced to the Artisanal through an ex-colleague and friend¬†of his, whose girlfriend (fiancee’ now) used to intern there. Krish suggested starting with this as it was close enough to make a day trip out of and well had good reviews courtesy of his friend. So.. a plan was made to “Do this”….

We drove to Banner Elk, a small mountain town via Blowing Rock for our great “Dinner Escapade”.. Thanks to my sister and family for babysitting our son and humoring us on this little adventure of ours.. Since it was about 3+ hrs drive, we chose to wear casual clothes and carry our “fine-silks” in the car.. The restaurant prefers a jacket for the guys and well, I always look for a reason to wear my fine-silks ūüėČ

On our way there, we managed to get caught up in a hail storm (even though we were experiencing temperatures in the 103-106 degree range).. Awesome start to our trip, I must say ūüôā
We took shelter couple of times through our drive to avoid hail , heavy thunder and rain. We finally made it to Blowing Rock and changed into respectable dinner attire at the local outlet mall’s restrooms.. I know classy ūüėČ

We then proceeded to go to our restaurant.. We drove through meadows and valleys (ok so not that cinematic but after Charlotte, it felt like I had reached the setting of Sound of music) , till we got to the “place”.. First impression.. Wow.. Very different and very beautiful.. Set in an old barn, it really felt like a little rustic oasis. I smiled at my husband and said “Good choice”.. ¬†ūüôā He beamed with pride..

Right from the start the service was impeccable. I really enjoyed the decor and the attention to detail when it came to the¬†ambiance¬†and our “food-weapons” aka the cutlery.

So after starting with some bottled water, I had their house Prosecco and Krish had a table red wine.
We started with a couple of small plates to share.

We shared a bowl of tomato soup (chilled) with lobster meat and a Sardinian olive oil. (Look below).
First bite and the freshness of the tomato just hit the palate. Light, refreshing and just perfect for a summer evening. Lobster was sweet and fleshy. The oil added a nice touch of luxury to the tongue which was a perfect compliment to the lightness of the soup itself.

Here are the crab cakes we ordered next. They were served with a lightly fried squash blossom and a medley of heirloom tomatoes and grapefruits in a lime remoulade. 

Verdict: Light and not full of fillers. Such a shame when crab cakes are more “cake” than crab ūüėČ These came three to a plate. Perfect to share.. The fried squash blossom was good but would have been better if it was drained for a minute longer on a paper towel. A little greasy to touch. The salad/medley was VERY nice.Again, light and mildly seasoned. Couldn’t taste the peppercorns that were in the description but good none the less . I would use that as a topping to some grilled chicken or even some broiled fish.¬†
Liked the chopped dill on top..Great looking plate.
¬†Here’s a closeup for you all to enjoy ūüôā

We also ordered the beet salad (no pic sorry!) .. That came with some goat cheese on a plate of greens.. They served yellow and red beets.. The beets were sweet and firm.. the cheese was fresh and creamy.. The sweetness of the beets played well with the creaminess and the tanginess of the cheese.. Overall a “sweet” plate.. I would have liked a kick of spice to cut the sweetness of the plate. Maybe add some watercress or arugula to the salad or also serve with a coarse mustard vinaigrette.¬†
Krish ordered a grilled swordfish entree which was nothing much to write about. Should have taken a pic but I think we were not very motivated to do so at this point. 
Below is what I ordered for my entree. I requested the chef to make a veggie entree for me as I was on my “veggie week”… Will explain later to you all ¬†ūüôā
This is what I got. 
This picture does not do justice to the dish. but visually, this is the best display of veggies I have ever seen at a restaurant. Starting from the left, they served a medley of heirloom tomatoes roasted with baby carrots and micro greens.. In the middle, is a dish of roasted baby squashes and zucchinis. On the right, we have some pearl onions, roasted mushrooms and a sweet potato mash. 
All I tasted on my plate was salt and the vegetables. I LOVED IT! They kept the integrity of the individual vegetable. Loved the presentation.. micro greens and edible flowers adorned my plate.. Perfect for a brunch or a summer soiree.. Serve with a glass of chilled Pinot and I am there !!

Last but not the least we ordered dessert.. After going through the menu and finding the usual cobblers, chocolate cakes and mousses, we decided on the doughnuts below. They came a whopping 6 to a plate!! Served with a lemon curd and a blueberry sauce.

Light and fluffy.. Didn’t care much for the lemon curd as I found it a tad but heavy.. Enjoyed the blueberry sauce.. not too sweet and just right for the doughnut to dip in.. Went well with the cup of coffee we ordered which BTW was not starbucks!! It was locally grown in Asheville I believe.. so that was quite a treat.¬†
So overall, we enjoyed the whole experience.. Loved the drive to and fro, loved the ambiance and were delighted with the service of the restaurant.
Our server was kind enough to let the owner of the restaurant know of our little adventure and she made a¬†visit¬†at our table.A very enterprising woman and definitely passionate about what she is doing.. No¬†surprises,¬†¬†the chef is her husband ūüôā Together, they are running a beautiful place. A perfect place for a date night (like we did) or even to host a company luncheon. They also have a private cellar in the basement for parties if you would like.¬†
I promise to take more details and pictures on our next “dinner-escapades”..¬†
Till then I leave you with this thought:

Always remember. Food is a great leveler; Respect It, Cherish it, Share it

Crispy corn chaat!!

Photo: Crispy corn chaat!! A lighter version inspired from a girlfriend's kitchen.. Brought back memories from India....

To serve 2
You will need :
1.5 cups of boiled and shucked corn kernels
2-3 Tbsp of cornstarch
1/2 medium chopped red onion
2 cloves of garlic smashed
1 jalapeno or 2 small green chillies chopped fine
2-3 scallions chopped fine
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste

Make sure the corn is drained and dry before cooking.. Rub the cornstarch into the corn to coat well. Keep aside.

Sautee the garlic and onions till the onions turn pink in a tbsp of oil. You can also use raw onion instead of cooking them. Add the jalapeno/ green chillies and the scallions and cook for a couple of minutes..Add another tbsp of oil and heat through.. Add the corn to the pan and sautee on medium high heat till the corn develops a crispy exterior..(about 9-10) minutes..season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes.

Remove from the stove and toss with the lime juice and cilantro.. Add a pinch of chat masala if available.. Enjoy!!

You can also add chopped tomatoes, cukes and avocados to make a delish dip for chips. ūüôā