Sunday, July 31, 2011

Holy Bellini!

In today's world, creative marketing is a must for selling one's wares.  With the economy in the state it's in, now more than ever anyone in sales needs to do different things.  It's time for new, fresh ideas that get the us consumers excited. That's what gets us to come back.  Everyone's money is particularly precious, so if you want us to spend it, it better be worth it.

As you may already know, I am a fan of the Thirsty Fellow.  The Vivver and I went there today with my parents for lunch.  Since I'm addicted to the Philly, I don't have to spend much time reading the menu.  This is good you see, because I am otherwise engaged with the wunderkind when we're in a restaurant (what do you want to order?  are you sure?  put your feet down.  sit on your fanny.  no playing with the knives.)  So, today, I missed the fine print that my mom so deftly picked up on...$5 bellinis.  

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?  It is.  But, it's even better than that.  The fine print that I missed spelled out that this $5 bellini also includes a REFILL.  What?  A grown-up drink with a refill?  This is like the 1970's Golden Age of Happy Hours; two for one drinks.  Or, you can look at this's really a $2.50 bellini with a two-drink minimum!  Either way, I've never seen a restaurant or bar use this tactic.  I think it's fantastic!  It's new.  It's fresh.  It's different.  And this consumer finds that exciting. Even if I weren't addicted to that incredibly delicious sandwich, I'd be going back happily.  This creative marketing is successful.  And what's another name for unsuccessful marketing?  Spitting in the wind.

Cheers to you Thirsty Fellow...whoever you are.

Thirsty Fellow on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Food Truck Food Court Debut

Columbia is known for several things: we're "famously hot,"  state government is here, the omnipresent USC, and we have a rockin' food scene. No, really.  We do.  I could rattle off a gazillion restaurants that are here in our fair city that you'd expect to find in a larger, more hip, more "metro" city.  But, something we're also becoming known for is food trucks.  Yea!  I don't know if the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race show got the idea rolling here in Columbia, but when I found out we had trucks roving around town, I was ecstatic that this cool concept had found its way to my town.

Yesterday the fine folks at Cromer's hosted the four trucks for a food court in their parking lot.  From 12-3 Columbia's lunchers could sample Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on WheelsAlfresco MobilistaPawley's Mobile Eats and 2 Fat 2 Fly all in one spot.  I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when I heard about this event.  I've yet to make it to one of the trucks, so this was my day.  I spread the word to many friends and then reached out to make a new one.  

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is The Hungry Lady.  If you haven't read her work, you simply must check Laura out. She claims she's not a cook, although I have hope for her!  So, she dines out more often than cooking at home (insert sufficient jealousy here) and blogs her little heart out.  If you can't make up your mind about dinner, go to her blog and get some ideas. 

We're ladies, we're hungry and we're fabulous


Monday, July 25, 2011

Quality Kitchen Time

Sharing the kitchen with my daughter has been a long-time dream.  She's actually been interested for quite some time, but ever since that hot soup incident when she was 18 months old, I've been very, very careful about allowing her to venture into cooking.  But she's old enough now that I don't have to be a complete paranoid, over-protective micro-manager when we're in the kitchen together.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whatever it takes to get kids cooking

I love that there are so many groups, organizations and even companies out there now who are teaching and encouraging kids to get in the kitchen.  I saw a poster at a produce market for a kids' cooking summer camp.  Next week, the Young Chef's Academy comes to Vivi's school.  Whatever it takes to get kids in the kitchen, learning about healthy food and how to prepare it for themselves!

I've told y'all before about how Vivi has already expressed interest and loves to help me in the kitchen.  Well, now the wunderkind has taken it to the next level. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Befestigung auf dem Futtersack

This is the feedbag (futtersack)
Ever wonder why German food isn't more popular and sought-after here in the U.S.?  I do.  It's got so many elements that Americans love:  meat, potatoes, bread, gravy and beer.  Ever since Klaus' place in Irmo burned down years ago, the only other German place in Columbia has been Julia's. Don't misunderstand; I love Julia's (click here).  But, if you live in Irmo, Lexington or Blythewood, journeying over to Jackson Blvd is a bit of a hike.

Recently, Huller's Black Forest entered the scene. It's located on Columbiana Drive in the Harbison area.  The exterior has been upfitted with classic German details.  Inside is decorated with various German flags, cuckoo clocks and dark wood.  I went today for lunch with my mom.  They offer a pretty hefty buffet or you may order from the menu.  We chose the buffet so we could sample several of their dishes.  Here's how it went:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My new favorite club

Just kidding!
Sometimes nothin' beats a good, tall, mayo-y, meaty club sandwich, right?  I've learned over the years that the best club is always made by someone else.  It's an interesting phenomenon really.  Try it. Make a club  at home for yourself.  It'll be ok, but it won't be great.  But, have your husband or your mom or someone make one for you and it's a whole new ballgame.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Globetrotting Tots

My cousin leads an interesting life. He's a talented architect.  His wife is a beautiful Swede who works for the U.N.  They have two delightful kids, who in Jonah's words, "have never lived in their home countries."  You see, her work with the U.N. keeps them moving around the globe.  I'd be remiss if I didn't disclose that I'm a little jealous!

When their first child was born, they lived in Georgia.  No, no, not that one.  The former Soviet Tbilisi, Georgia.  It's for this reason they wisely decided to return to Sweden for Jonah's birth.  When Sophia came along, they were in Bratislava, Slovakia.  This was a much more sophisticated and metropolitan location by far.  From Bratislava they could easily travel back and forth to Vienna for modern world shopping and conveniences.  For the last couple years, they've called Hanoi, Vietnam home.  Yep, you heard me.  It's hot, it's a big city, but I think they've enjoyed being here the most of all the cities they've called home so far.

What's cool is little Jonah and Sophia.  They travel like pros, they are delightful, happy little kids, they talk to their mom in Swedish when they feel like it and they are good little eaters!  They both are very aware and conscious of eating healthy, getting their veggies and fruits.  In fact, I think Jonah could live off fruit alone and be perfectly content.  I guess living in so many different parts of the world you'd expect them to prefer lots of exotic and eclectic foods like sushi, pho, pierogies, borscht and durian.  They'd certainly be game for trying, but like most kids, they like the basics. 

We have been lucky to have them home for the last month.  My cousin and the kids came first for a couple weeks to have fun while poor mom had to stay behind and work until a few days before the really big event: my aunt's wedding aboard a Carnival cruise ship in Charleston.  The kids, mine included, loved the steak & pasta and were all over the wedding cake and dessert.  After they all returned from the cruise, we met in N. Myrtle Beach for a few days of summer fun before they embarked on the [endless] trip back to Vietnam.  So, the three amigos spent their time riding the golf cart to the beach and back, practicing swimming and diving and chowing down after all that sun and exercise.  Turns out, all kids, regardless of what part of the world they live in, love...LOVE... meatballs and spaghetti.  And hot dogs ( know, I'm a meat freak).  And fruit, oatmeal, and popsicles.  Being a kid rocks in so many ways!

My point to this post is this: Being at this point in my life when my sister, my cousins and I are all raising kids at the same time, it's just simply joyful to watch them all grow, evolve and interact with each other.  And of course, I'm fascinated by what they like to eat and even more by what they don't like! I can't wait to see what effect(s) their globetrotting childhood has on Jonah and Sophia's palates and their personal cooking styles.  Of course, that's way off and I'll just have to be patient. In the meantime, I just look forward to as many visits as possible to be with them and watch them and my child grow together and mature into wonderful, smart, talented and thoughtful people. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More fun at Mojito's

Several months ago I wrote about Mojito's. It is a family-owned Caribbean restaurant in Columbia's Vista.  If you haven't made it here yet, I urge you to do so.  The food is excellent and I blogged to you all before that their Cuban sandwich is the best one I've ever had.  But what I like most about Mojito's is the entire vibe they have going. The decor is very mod and hip, yet carries their Caribbean theme, the location is prime, and the owners are present and accessible.  In fact, Jane (the matriarch) is on the floor moving from table to a good way.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Great Tomato Break-Through

I've spent 43 years saying things like "hold the tomato," "I'll have the chef salad, no tomato," and "Yes, I asked for NO tomato."  It's always been annoyingly amusing when I order no tomatoes and I get them anyway.  It's like cooks around the country say to themselves "She's just kidding, everyone likes tomato," or "It's for her own good" or maybe they just can't read a ticket.  I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted to fake an allergic reaction just to make my point.  I've picked off more slices of tomatoes from sandwiches and burgers to make a vat of spaghetti sauce.  And, even though I hate them, I hate the thought of being wasteful even more.

But, here's the tricky part of it all.  Living in the South, every summer, I see these beautiful bright red tomatoes that look like they belong in a painting or a professional photo.  They are the most brilliant red.  They are smooth and shiny.  They just look marvelous.  My friends and family stand by tomato plants staring at the baby tomatoes just dreaming about the day they ripen and they can eat them like apples, or make a "mater" sandwich out of white bread and lots of mayonnaise.  (There's a huge debate here in the South about mayo:  Dukes versus Hellmann's.  I won't go there.)  Even though I've admired these crimson beauties, I just couldn't deal with actually eating one.

Now, cooking with tomatoes is ok.  I'm totally down with pasta sauces, tomatoes on pizza, soup, etc.  I'm not a complete freak after all.

Well, July 1 is my birthday.  Obviously, my birthday is right smack in the middle of July 4th festivities every year.  And, as you can probably imagine, tomatoes, salt & pepper and white bread are usually on the scene.  Well, I just turned 43 and I decided it was time to try it one more time.  So, I did.

We were at Kiawah with friends.  They had gotten these enormous, blood red, Johns Island tomatoes from a roadside stand.  As we were scurrying around Friday night packing up stuff to take the little one to the beach, our gracious hostess made croissant sandwiches with shrimp salad, lettuce and slabs of ripe tomato.  Here was my chance.  Sitting on the beach, watching my sweet baby conquer the waves, I sunk my teeth into this glorious sandwich, tomato and all.  Guess what?  That's right...I crossed over to the red side.

For the remainder of the weekend, I sampled raw tomato slices with salt, with pepper, with salt & pepper, with pesto and fresh mozz.  I realized that what I don't like about tomatoes is that most of the year, they aren't red but a weird shade of red-orange and they taste the same way the tomato plant stem smells.  And, I now know that the seeds and that jelly-stuff in the middle is a turn-off for me.  So, from now on, I just need to wait until summer to get my hands on these picture perfect rubies.  I feel like I've grown and evolved. I am more mature.  I have tomato tendencies.  But, I'm still selective and if I say "no tomato" I mean it.  This is America after all!


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