Saturday, December 31, 2011

Restaurant Week is Coming!!!!

January 12-22!  Details Here!

Standby for full Preview Post, or review last year's here.

I count 16 additions and only two subtractions with some exciting new restaurants on the list.

Going for 5 this year, unlike 3 from last year - too bad it's tax season then or I'd do one or two a day!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kripalu Kitchens, Stockbridge, MA

If you've never been to Kripalu, well, I think everyone should go (well, that's not true, maybe not everyone....).  But anyway.  It's an amazing retreat to reconnect with yourself and nature.  There are tons of weekend and weeklong courses to be taken.  There are trainings to attend.  Or, just Rest and Relaxation get aways (R & R), including amazing spa treatments.

The grounds were once Native American spiritual grounds, then a Jesuit Monastery, an Ashram, and now a Yoga retreat center, but all of that history resonates on the property.  It's quite something.  On the property are trails for hiking, walking, biking, sauntering, a lake for swimming and boating.

Anyway, I was there for a thirteen day training and the kitchen is my favorite part.  I get so spoiled.  Someone feeds me for every meal!  There is a buffet line of the 'regular' food, a vegetarian line, a deli bar, and a basics bar (simple food, like rice and beans and vegetables for people who are maybe struggling with dietary issues or just want to eat simply).  Anyway... LOVE the FOOD!!!!

Oh, and there's the sauna and the whirlpool.

Due to...

being gone for thirteen days and NaNoWriMo as well, we here at BumbleChick Farm have fallen behind too!  and we're still looking for the notes on what did i do with those notes.  where did we eat?  hmmm.  aren't the photos good enough?

Famous Clam Box.  Ipswich, MA.
The portions were enormous!  But everything was awesome.
I had the fried clams, of course, and there was enough to feed at least four of me.  4
P had the fried chicken and gave it near a 4
It was packed, even for November, and I can't imagine what it must be like in the summer.  Whoo-eee.

Clam Box of Ipswich (Reopens Feb. 16) on Urbanspoon

The Inn At Castle Hill and Crane Estate.  Ipswich, MA.  
What an amazing place!!  We stayed a few nights at the Inn, which is owned by the Trustees of Reservations, so you know your money is going to protect the beautiful places in MA.

The Great House was absolutely beautiful and the grounds, amazing.  (I decided to use the house and grounds as the setting for my NaNo book).  There was an art show going on at the House so we were able to see inside and check out some amazing art at the same time.  We had a blast.  I wish we had been able to see inside what we thought was the kitchen, but was actually simply the Butler's Pantry and...oh, wow, indescribable.

Breakfast at the Inn was delicious.  Definitely 4.5.  One morning, we had french toast with apple cider syrup...that was incredible.

The other thing I liked about the Inn, they gave you water and tea and coffee throughout the day.  There is nothing I find so pathetic and cheezy as a, umm, well, more higher priced place that then charges for little things.  So, that upped them in my esteem.  And they tended us so nicely, offering to make fires in the living room when we were in there and giving us good advice for things to do.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Juanita Greenberg's - Mt. Pleasant, SC

The search continues for good Mexican in Charleston that doesn't come from a restaurant on wheels.  And the search continues.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Juanita's, they're just adequate food that will not satisfy anyone from or who's lived in the Southwest.  Service was very slow, despite almost no one in the restaurant.  In fact, from our seats we could watch the cook slowly preparing the group ahead of us' food, and then slowly prepare ours.  I like that they make it to order, but step it up a bit please.

The highlight of the meal was the trio of Guac, Salsa and Queso.  They were all good, and the chips were decent for chips from a bag.  3.25

The Quesadilla was well stuffed and tasted decent.  3.0

The fish tacos were a big disappointment.  When you can't even beat a fast food chain (Rubios) don't even bother.  2.25

 The waitress was attentive and the beer selection okay.  I'm not saying don't go here, but next time I'll go to Andolini's next door (same ownership - better result.)

Juanita Greenberg's Nacho Royale, Mt. Pleasant on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Charleston - Jan 12-22

Restaurant Week is coming once again.  Stand by for previews, but, in the meantime, check out last time's preview here:

And here's a link to the expected restaurants:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bowens Island Restaurant - Charleston, SC

The first time I ate here, about ten years ago, it was fifty-fifty on whether we might have turned around and walked out.  It was scary!  Graffiti everywhere, the worst furniture ever, a grumpy guy with a notebook taking our order.  It was close.  So glad we stayed, and so glad we keep coming back.  The place is very welcoming, friendly and clean (in a food safety sense.)  Now, after a fire and renovations, they continue to deliver the best oysters anywhere.  I'm not talking about foofy, fancy oysters on the half shell with gourmet names and weird accompaniments.  I'm talking about big clusters of green covered, weird shaped, cooked to perfection globs of oceanny wondefulness (according to spell-check, three made-up words of the day!).

The renovations were awesome, moving the restaurant to a lofty perch over the beautiful views.  Time your trip for sunset and you will be amazed!  (No pictures of this due to me not mastering my phone until late in the meal - I'm detecting a trend here.)  The customers are working hard to return it to a properly defaced and damaged status, but it still feels new. 

The oysters are the highlight, but the fried seafood platter was also excellent.  Fresh is best when it comes to oysters.  We give the oysters a 4.5 and the seafood plate a 4.0.  Good beer selection too.  I have an excuse to go back and get better pictures - stand by for followup, but don't wait to go to the restaurant - GO NOW!!

Bye bye oyster shells - to the parking lot with you!

Bowen's Island Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Boathouse - Isle of Palms, SC - Westbrook and Allagash Beer Dinner

Technology was the enemy of pictures this time (as opposed to the usual feeding frenzy cause.)  I tried to use my phone and couldn't figure out how to get the flash to work until too late for most pictures.  There are a couple.

Ed and Morgan Westbrook were there from Westbrook Brewing.  Ed said that he brewed the beer, and his wife did everything else.  I can believe that since Morgan had boundless energy and a sparkling golden shirt to match.  They were both very informative, without talking so much that the food got cold.  Cool to meet them.

Les Addis, the SE Sales Rep for Allagash was also there, and he spread tons of information about Allagash's specialty, Belgian Beers.  I especially liked the story of how Interlude was an "accidental" beer.  Really appreciated his enthusiasm (and the taste of Allagash Black - awesome!)

The food was exceptional, so I'll get right to it.

Salad of Local Bibb Lettuce with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Orange:  I wish this picture had come out.  The lettuce was wrapped in cucumbers sliced longwise and was very well presented, like a bow almost.  Great creamy dressing.  A solid 4.0.  The beer was Westbrook's White Thai, one of their most popular beers, and one of Kari's favorites.  We gave this a 4.25.

Steamed Local Clams with Sausage and Ginger Broth.  The broth was awesome.  My only complaint would be that some bread would have been great with it to get every last bit of!  4.25.  The beer was Westbrook IPA, a perfect example of the style, and one of my favorites.  4.5

Smoked Local Beef, Sauteed Arugula and Onion Pie.  I have to say I was impressed with the pie crust.  Any one who cooks can tell you it's hard to execute, but this one was flaky and tender.  The steak was perfectly cooked, though mine could have been trimmed a little better - everyone else's was perfect.  We rated it a 3.75.  The beer was the last from Westbrook, their Saison Ale, a high alcohol, refreshing beer.  We gave it a 3.5.

Butter Poached Local Fish with Black Rice, Asparagus and a Vanilla-Saffron Syrup.  The fish was excellent, but the black rice stole the show.  It was sweet and savory and went great with the syrup.  We gave this a 4.75.  The beer was Allagash Tripel Reserve, crisp and wonderfully alcoholic.  It gets a 4.5.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Fig Risotto and Roasted Fall Vegetables.  If you read this blog, you know I don't like brussell sprouts or most squashes, but I can appreciate a proper preparation of them.  Serve it with Pork and BACON, and you got me.  Fig in Risotto was also awesome.  Another 4.75.  The beer was Allagash Four Ale - a quad (fermented four times!)  I love this style: 5.0!  (Photos stopped here due to feeding frenzy)

Last was an assorted cheese and charcuterie plate.  We were too stuffed to truly appreciate this, so I'll bypass scoring it.  The beer, Interlude, is a perfect introduction to 'sour' beers (this one is just slightly sour.)  They take a while to grow on you, but once they do, you'll love them.  A solid 4.75!  See below if you want more info on sour beers...

Service was great, very attentive and helpful.  The pace was good - beer dinners tend to be slow, but you still have to keep it moving.  This one hit it perfect, six courses in about 2.5 hours, plus a little more time for talking and getting checks taken care of.  Serving size of food was generous, beer size was 3-4 ounces - a good size for 6 beers.

The only negative to the night were the full glasses of beer at the next table over.  Why go to a beer dinner if you're not going to drink them.  More importantly, why not SHARE if you aren't drinking them!!

The Boathouse
Bonus Sour Beer Link

Boathouse at Breach Inlet on Urbanspoon

Reviews to Come

Due to a weird thing most of you have never heard of, NaNoWriMo, I have fallen behind on reviews.  I will try to catch up at least one per day over the next couple of days.  Here is a teaser of what to expect:

Okra Grill
Juanita Greenberg's
Bowens Island
The Boathouse
Charleston Cafe

Stay Tuned!