Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Charleston Edition: Bistro at the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

The Barge had been a favorite local restaurant (it's a barge! on the river!) until it closed. It recently opened back up this summer with a bar-like vibe on the bottom floor and a fine dining atmosphere on the top floor, Bistro at the Barge. We checked out the top floor for my birthday.

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge

Bistro @ the Barge
Fresh-baked rolls

Bistro @ the Barge
Cheese & Charcuterie Board - A selection of artisanal charcuterie meats & cheeses served with crostini, fruit, smoked honey, bourbon fig jam, olive tapenade & stone-ground whole grain mustard

Bistro @ the Barge
Palata cleanser lime sorbet

Bistro @ the Barge
Sea Scallops - Pan-seared porcini dusted sea scallops over a pepperonata farro risotto

Bistro @ the Barge

Creamy Chicken Carbonara - Airline chicken breast over linguine tossed in a creamy carbonara sauce with sweet peas and bacon

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

South Charleston Edition: Grano

Grano





Grano, located in South Charleston, serves up Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Grano

Grano

Grano
Lamb gyro with lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, lettuce and tzatziki with battered fries

Grano

Grano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 29, 2018

Charleston Edition: Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales
The Lucky Dill opened up a new section of the deli - one that involves drinking and throwing axes.  $40 for one hour and up to four people. Axes & Ales is a new fun thing in town. It's a lot harder to get the axes to stick than you might think, but after swinging through and trying to get it to circle, I landed a few.

Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales

Axes & Ales

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sophia Edition: China One Buffet

China One
This little buffet in Sophia made the Smoking Musket's food tournament list and has a strong following, so we made the stop to check it out.

China One
Look how excited David is.

China One

China One

China One
Honey chicken

China One

China One
Lobster roll, honey chicken, stuffed mushrooms, cheese muncher (cheesy tater tot), crab salad and cheese rangoons

China One
Sushi

Saturday, January 27, 2018

White Sulphur Springs Edition: Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner
This little authentic Jamaican restaurant, Wah Gwaan Diner, is situated right in White Sulphur Springs.

Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner
Small house salad with French dressing

Wah Gwaan Diner
David ordered the oxtail.

Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner

Wah Gwaan Diner
Jerk chicken with beans & rice, vegetables and plantains - all the heat comes from that sauce!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Charleston Edition: Atlas Coffee

Atlas Coffee
Brand new coffee to-go shop Atlas Coffee opened, and my friend David and I stopped by.

Atlas Coffee

Atlas Coffee

Atlas Coffee
Americano with a shot of caramel

Atlas Coffee

Atlas Coffee
Everything bagel with cream cheese.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Canning offers taste of summer in coldest months

Canning2-1

My latest column in the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Local food takes on a different meaning for some folks during the cool winter months. It’s no longer a fresh bounty of bright red tomatoes gathered along a vine in the garden or a blooming bundle of green lettuce from next door.

While local farms can extend the growing season with the help of high tunnels and greenhouses, some folks in rural areas have their own way of preserving food: canning and pickling (and drying, fermenting, etc.).

Opening up a Ball jar full of green beans on a cold December evening can feel like adding a fresh taste of summer to your plate. These methods of preservation are prevalent across the country — and world — but even after home canning fell out of favor in urban areas as food production became more industrialized, canning has persisted across the Appalachian region where mountainous winters can be harsh and savoring homegrown veggies is cost-effective.

Connection to place

My sweet grandmother, born in 1942, cans her garden vegetables every summer because it’s cheaper than buying from the grocery store — and tastes better. She supplements meals with fresh vegetables from local farmers, but I fondly remember her working away in the kitchen to line shelves with glass jars full of her garden-fresh harvest.

One summer, she said she canned 75 quarts.

“I can the tomatoes and the green beans so we can put them up and eat them throughout the year whenever we want,” she told me, using one of my favorite phrases of “putting up” — or storing.

She uses a pressure cooker to can everything from tomatoes and green beans to peaches and venison (she emphasized the need for a bouillon cube for that one).

“If you raise a big garden,” she said, “you can put up just about anything, and it can last for years if you do it right.”

The pressure cooker is one way to can, but even without one, it’s fairly simple: Fill a jar with food, put the flat lid and threaded ring on top of the jar, and submerge the whole jar under boiling water (time varies). Once the jar is lifted from the water, the heat rushes out of the jar, along with any air left inside. That pulls the lid down, suctioning it to an airtight seal.
History

Canning actually goes back for centuries, according to Serious Eats. In the 1700s, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a cash prize to the person who could create a way to preserve food for his troops. Nicolas Appert, a French cook, created the packing, heating and sealing method used today.

Home canning became popular in America in the late 1850s, when John L. Mason created the first reusable jar with a screw-on lid. In 1915, Alexander H. Kerr invented the two-part canning lid used today.

While my grandmother cans partially due to frugality and partially due to tradition, many others today practice the art of canning for hobby.

Liana Krissoff, author of “Canning for a New Generation: Updated and Expanded Edition: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry,” had this to say about canning:

“Traditionally, of course, canning and other, much older forms of preserving — drying, salting, fermenting, stashing vegetables in the root cellar, and so on — were essential ways of ensuring you’d have food through the winter. Now that refrigeration is pretty much universal, I think canning for most people is less a necessity than a lifestyle choice.

“People who have gotten into canning and preserving in the last five or 10 years, for the most part, are doing it because they want to, because it’s a fun and productive way to spend time in the kitchen, not because they have to.

“It’s an effective, easy way to preserve produce when it’s at its best, and I think to a lot of people it’s important that they know exactly what is going into their foods. If they’ve bought a box of tomatoes at a farmers market or picked them from their own gardens and canned them in glass jars with nothing more than a little citric acid or lemon juice to up the acidity a bit, they know what they’re getting and they know it’s a healthful, safe ingredient to use throughout the year.”

Additional preservation methods

Pickling is a method of preservation that involves using a brine to ferment food then storing it in vinegar.

According to Mark Sohn in “Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture and Recipes,” pickling has always been especially popular in rural areas, and mountaineers in particular enjoyed sauerkraut, pickled beets, corn relish, dilly beans and chow chow.

Chow chow is a relish that was likely introduced to the country by Chinese railroad workers in the 1850s.

“The odd mixture of fall garden produce became popular among mountain families, and it has remained a favorite,” Sohn writes. “Today, those who travel find chow chow sold up and down the Appalachian Mountains, but less frequently to the east or west.”

Traditions like these run strong within my family and ties me to the place I’m from. My grandma’s connection to her garden that we enjoyed throughout the year is a fond memory I will always treasure. Pickled veggies always make it to appetizer trays during holiday meals. And no beans and cornbread is complete without chow chow.

Being able to enjoy vegetables from the garden year-round thanks to a tradition my family has practiced for generations forms a stronger bond with Appalachia. And there’s just nothing like a little taste of summer on a cold December evening.