Sunday, February 28, 2010

West Vista Adventures- Part 2

After an amazing and really fun meal at @116 Espresso and Wine Bar, we decided to find a bar nearby to try out--we were feeling really excited about the West Vista, so we stuck around.

We thought about going to State Street Pub, but when we walked by all we heard were some men yelling inside, so we walked back down the street to Good Times instead. If you're thinking, "I've heard of a Good Times bar in Columbia before," you're used to be on the corner of Harden and Green in 5 Pts. They have since moved to State Street. I never visited Good Times when it was in 5 Pts, but apparently many of the staff is the same, including cute and attentive bartender Ryol, (love his name, don't you?).


The place is pretty small, but cozy, and they had a pool table, which was just what I wanted to see as I needed to move around a bit after so much food! I told James, if we ever have a pool table in our house we have to have this awesome vintage light over top of it:

This started a conversation that I wasn't ready for--"which room will we put our new pool table in?" We played quite a few games of pool, and had a great time. When we entered the bar about 10:00 pm, we were the only patrons. By the time we left, (not sure what time, but probably after 1 am), the place was packed.

The 4 of us had not been out together in quite a while, especially not in a new spot, so we took some fun pictures--(freshman-girl-style). Below are a few pictures of the night--each of us doing the same dance:

Matt doing the snake

Me doing the snake

Rebecca doing...the snake?

And favorite snake of the night

Matt and I arguing the true rules of pool vs. the bar-pool rules.

I'm pretty sure I won this argument.

And I played this song at least 3 times on the electronic juke box:

Love it. Good Times, for real.

Friday, February 26, 2010

West Vista Adventures- Part 1

Ever heard of the "West Vista?" Well, maybe you've never heard it called that, (I hadn't), but basically it's the area right over the Gervais St. bridge into West Columbia--and it is up-and-coming. I spent Thursday evening across the river and it was so much fun, I will definitely go back soon.

We started our evening at @116 Espresso and Wine Bar. I blogged about wanting to try this place a couple weeks ago, and I have been stalking their menu since then, waiting for the perfect night to try it out with our friends Matt and Rebecca. (Matt and Rebecca appreciate good food and drinks as much as James and I do, which is important when wanting to have a meal to be savored and enjoyed).

A brief description of the atmosphere and service: @116 is located on State Street, which is a cool strip of restaurants, bars, and a few interspersed shops. Just to give you an idea of the locales on State Street--it houses New Brookland Tavern, Cafe Strudel, State Street Pub, Good Times (more about that in a later post), Terra-(which I still need to try), and @116, plus some. @116 has a very comfortable, neighborhood hang-out feel, with local art on the walls, and mismatched tables and chairs. There is a small bar in the back of the restaurant. We chose the only 4-top table available at the front of the restaurant that gave us a nice view of the street. The server, Amanda, who was the only server for the whole restaurant, was very personable and knowledgeable about the menu. She freely gave recommendations and was perfectly attentive without being over-bearing. The bartender helped Amanda deliver food on a few occasions, and he was also very nice. Rebecca and I commented several times how much we liked the atmosphere--it is unlike any other restaurant I can think of in Columbia. It felt like we had just discovered a hidden gem--a place that is part dive, but also au courant.

And on to the food: @116's menu consists of a page of Tapas, a section of Sopas y Ensaladas, and Pizzas. There was also a hefty list of specials, listed on the board pictured below.

They had some wine specials, including a couple $4/glass and $18/bottle wines. We chose a bottle of Garnacha De Fuego, a light red wine, which Amanda accurately described as having a slight cherry finish. It was good.

Our group ordered a variety of items-here's a run-down and a brief note on each item:
Mediterranean Platter- they were out of Falafel for this plate, but the chef substituted a chick pea/red onion salad to take it's place and it was yummy. The Marinated Orzo Salad was my favorite item on the plate.

Mediterranean Platter- orzo salad, hummus, pita, reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pickled veggies, and chick pea salad
{sorry for the horrible picture quality--still trying to figure out my new camera}
Hot Onion and Bleu Cheese Dip served with Toasted Baguette- ah-mazing. I could easily have eaten the whole thing by myself, (but trainer will be proud).

Onion Bleu Cheese dip--aka Heaven in a bowl--when we ran out of baguette, we ate it with a spoon
Smoked Tomato Bisque- really thick and rich; a little too smoky for my taste, but others at the table liked the smokiness. Also served with nice crusty, warm baguette.

2 pizzas- a Spanish Pie which was topped with goat cheese, bell pepper, spinach and Serrano ham, and the Chef's Pie with goat cheese, Serrano ham, pepperoni and extra garlic. The pizzas are just like I like them--made on crispy, thin flatbread crust and not over-powered by the sauce. (Simple, yet quality base ingredients allow for more sophisticated toppings to be showcased as they should).

Rebecca and I both got a special salad which
consisted of spinach with strawberries, walnuts, red onion, bleu cheese crumbles and a simple olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Very fresh and classic.

Coffee Spiced Flank Steak- I didn't taste this one, but Matt said it was interesting, (not sure what he really thought of it, but he finished it all). I did taste the mashed potatoes that accompanied this dish and they were also interesting...there was an herb taste that we couldn't quite place. I guessed tarragon and James guessed thyme; Amanda asked the Chef for us and it was actually thyme, (1 point James).

Coffee-Spiced Flank Steak

Empanada of the Day- there were actually 2 to choose from, one with meat and the other vegetarian, (which I appreciated). James ordered the vegetable version and it was truly a Spanish empanada--the dough was fried crisp on the outside, but was pretty thick, and so good dipped in the minted sour cream dipping sauce. (Which tasted pretty close to a tzatziki sauce--a nice, fresh complement to the heavy empanada). It was accompanied by a few fried plantain nuggets. James was very impressed that he could see the authentic fork marks around the edges of the empanadas--truly homemade.

{again, horrible pic, sorry}
And finally, (told you we all like to eat!), I ordered another special, Spinach ravioli. It was a very hearty serving, and a pretty classic and delicious pasta dish.

It's not surprising that we didn't have room for dessert, and I regret I didn't even ask what they were. Next time.

Bottom line--awesome service and atmosphere; food that would bring me back even if I didn't already love everything else! And some cool "icing-on-the-cake" tidbits: my husband loved the music--he assumes it was satellite radio, but he said they played some Stevie Ray Vaughn and Deja Voodoo by Kenny Wayne Shepard. He was impressed. They also have a White Russian menu; very chic and different.
And, if you're a local artist, get in touch with them via their website; their recent ad in the Free Times says they're looking for new artists to display in the restaurant for Spring.

We'll be back soon! Thanks @116 for a great experience.

Friday Quickie

Just a couple things:

image via here

1. Dianne's on Devine is having a 3 for $30 Menu for the month of March, (that's starting tomorrow, y'all!) Dianne's is always a treat, but not always affordable, (for me anyway), so take advantage of this special!
(Select one item in each category)
First Course
Seafood Stuffed Cannelloni
Almond Encrusted Goat Cheese Salad
Tuscan Caesar or Mixed Greens
Second Course
Swordfish Oscar
Marinated Lamb Kabob
Chicken Riggies
(Chef's hometown favorite)
3rd Course
New York Cheesecake with Strawberries
Crème Brûlée
May not be combined with any other promotional offer.
Reservations Recommended (803) 254-3535

image via here

2. $1 Saturday Wine Tasting at The Gourmet Shop: February 27, 2:00-5:00pm
  • Paul Cheneau Cava Brut $9.99/btl
  • Semler Sauvignon Blanc '08 $20.99/btl
  • Joseph Phelps Le Mistral '06 $29.99/btl
  • B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon 07 $18.99/btl

As always, just $1 at the door!!!

And, coming tomorrow--a review of @116 Espresso & Wine Bar...ate there last night and it was so good!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Feature: Thursday's Thinking of Food

This blog was always meant to include reviews of restaurants and local eateries, and since my newly-nourished, (no pun intended), interest in eating healthier, more humanely, locally, and organic, I have been posting a lot about food-related issues and topics. So, as I was planning my post for today, realizing it again discusses local farms, it came to me to establish Thursday blog posts as "Thursday's Thinking of Food" posts.
{Full disclosure...the name for this new feature came to me as I was listening to my local NPR station's "Speaking of Schools," hosted by Doug Keel. The titles have the same rhythm and structure...Speaking of Schools...Thinking of Food...yeah? Anyway.}

Here's the first Thursday's Thinking of Food post:
I am officially a member (half-share) of a local CSA!! For those of you wondering what a CSA is, (as my husband was when I broke the news to him last night), CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The CSA I have joined is in Leesville, SC and is called Round River Farms. It's website says: "CSA's are healthy relationships between a community of people and a local farm and farmer. Realizing that in these times not everyone can be on the land growing their own food, a CSA farm entrusts the care and nurture of the land and crops to one skilled in organic farming."

image via here

Staff of Round River Farms will bring shares of the harvest weekly to a designated spot in Columbia for shareholders to pick up. Deliveries will begin in early May and go through October, and the variety of produce and herbs that they grow is amazing! Click here to see a list of the Spring, Summer and Fall crops. I am so excited to have fresh, locally and organically grown vegetables all Spring, Summer and Fall! The CSA accepts full or half shares, full shares providing enough veggies weekly for a family of 4 or more, and a half share providing enough for 2-3 people. You can bet that once I start getting my weekly haul I will be posting about it here!

And in other organic food news, as I was perusing Earth Fare's website yesterday to find the coupon for the FREE pizza dough and mozzarella cheese with purchase of sauce coupon, I came across the video tour of Hickory Nut Gap Farm, below:

Hickory Nut Gap Farm - Local Farm for Earth Fare from Earth Fare on Vimeo.

If you're interested in why grass-fed beef is actually better for humans, cows, and the earth than corn-fed beef, click here for an interesting article on the subject.

And finally, here is a list of vendors that will be at the All-Local Farmer's Market this Saturday morning.

Go forth and make wise, healthy, and humane decisions about your food!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free Pizza Makings from Earth Fare

Thanks to my friend, Amanda, I wanted to share this awesome coupon with you. Between today and March 2nd, use this coupon to get FREE Earth Fare pizza dough and FREE Rio Briati Mozzarella with the purchase of an Earth Fare pasta sauce.

Click here for even more Earth Fare savings and coupons.

And here's a video of an Earth Fare employee demonstrating how they make their pizzas:

Now That's a Pizza! from Earth Fare on Vimeo.

*Update...I just went to Earth Fare to snag my pizza deal and the savings was almost $7! Earth Fare brand pasta sauce is $2.50. A $2.50 organic, home-made pizza? Yes please!

A Word for Wednesday


a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom

As in:
This blog post from A Cup of Joe, where she introduces K! Pizzacones, a new Manhattan eatery. Kelly Dobkin of the blog Eater NY describes the new pizzacones thusly: "The long wretched years of flat pizza ennui have finally come to an end."

image via here

I adore pizza, so I would love to try one of these, but Jo reports: "I went up there for lunch and got a mushroom pizza cone. At $4.90, it was expensive and sort of grody. The dough was bland and there wasn't enough sauce. Still, it was funny to try! xo"
I'd still try one.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.
Definition via here.

Told You There'd Be More...

To add to my list of amazing Columbia events this week:

The Blue Dogs
image via here

Friday, February 26th: The Blue Dogs and The Mason Jars are playing The White Mule. I have a special place in my heart for The Blue Dogs, as they played my high school prom one year. (And little-known fun-fact, a few years before I was in high school, Hootie and the Blowfish played the prom at my school...obviously before they hit it big). Anyway--The Blue Dogs are fun, and so is The White Mule. Tickets are $12 in advance here and $15 at the door. Show starts at 9 pm.

Sunday, February 28: The Whig is bringing back Burger Night! $2 burgers (and veggie burgers!) on Sunday nights, with the purchase of a beverage; (non-alcoholic OK).

Tonight or tomorrow night: Seriously, if you haven't seen it, go see A Single Man at The Nickelodeon; you will not be disappointed. I saw it last night and am still thinking about it. I will be very disappointed and surprised if Colin Firth does not pick up an Oscar win for Best Actor in this film. Show times: 6:00 pm Wednesday and Thursday only.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So Many Things, So Little Time...

There is a LOT going on in Columbia in the next few days...I will probably be adding to this list later in the week, but here goes:

image via here

February 23rd (today): At a City Hall Press Conference scheduled for 4 pm today, Mayor Bob Coble and animal advocates will proclaim Spay Day! National Spay Day is an initiative that promotes the importance of spaying and neutering pets, which significantly decreases the high population of stray animals. The Humane SPCA, Animal Mission, and other local animal shelters are all in support of this initiative. (More on Spay Day events later in the week...see below).

image via here

Tonight- go see A Single Man at The Nickelodeon. This Golden-Globe nominated film starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore (swoon) will only be playing through Thursday.

Friday, February 26th: Go to the Spay Day Benefit Concert at Elbow Room in 5 Points. Show starts at 8 pm and tickets are $5 in advance from Sid & Nancy, or $7 at the door. Artists include: Kenley Young & the Open Fires, Mean Weiner, Todd Mathis, The Thirsties, and Josh Roberts & Leslie Branham. All proceeds benefit the local Humane Society.

image via here
SC Book Festival poster art by Columbia's own Claire Farrell

Saturday, February 27th: The SC Book Festival is this weekend--February 27th-28th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and admission is FREE! I plan to go Saturday to check out some of the presentations by authors of cookbooks. There will be all kinds of authors on hand to speak about their books, sell you their books, and sign them too--children's books, arts books, history books, you name it! [For those of you who are big fans- Dorothea Benton Frank will be at the Festival discussing Return to Sullivans Island at 12:45 on Sunday]. Click here for the full Saturday and Sunday schedules.

image via here

Also on Saturday- ride your bike, skate, walk or ride the bus to the State House at 2 pm to attend the Transportation Transformation event, DJ Chris Wenner will be spinning. This event has been organized by Aaron Johnson and Grant Robertson, who are running for Columbia Mayor and City Council, respectively. According to the Facebook invitation, "the purpose of this rally is to draw together disparate groups in order to improve Columbia's transportation system." I for one love public transportation--in other cities. It sucks in Columbia. And I work with a population that has no choice but to depend on our broken and embarrassingly under-funded system...we should all care about this issue. "The problems with our transportation affect our safety, our environment, our health, our economy, and our quality of life."

So, what's on your agenda this week and weekend?

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Valentine's Surprise

I totally forgot to fill everyone in on the super-secret, exciting, and so sweet surprise that I got for the hubs for Valentine's Day...

We will be attending the March 19th Ben Folds and a Piano show at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC! And we are staying in a hotel that night too...(when you're relatively poor, a night in a hotel is so exciting).

A big thanks to my friend Rebecca for suggesting and handling the logistics for this awesome surprise--she and her husband Matt will be joining us on our Charlotte extravaganza!

Got any fun spots to hang out post-show? Anyone ever been to The Fillmore?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Pretty Sweet Little Saturday

James and I slept in this morning and then awoke to venture to the All Local Farmer's Market--one of my favorite Saturday activities. The market was especially busy this morning, which is a good thing!

We headed straight for the Wil-Moore Farms table to snag a dozen eggs before they ran out, and we also got a 7-year aged white cheddar there, from Happy Cow Creamery, (a part of the Wil-Moore Farms network of farms). Right next door, James bought a container of Bacon and Cheese Soup from Spotted Salamander Catering. The only other items they had left at that point were Beef Lasagna and Cheese and Corn Chowder, both of which also sounded awesome.

We moved on to purchase some herbed soft cheese, (an ancient Roman recipe), from a vendor that I cannot remember the name of, nor find it anywhere...(if you know, please let me know)! And then I picked out some beautiful flowers from Floral & Hardy. The Mills, the husband and wife couple who run the Floral & Hardy farm, are so nice--Donna even threw in some extra Anemones in my bunch when she heard I was taking pictures to post on my blog. As I mentioned before, they have amazing blooms that last forever! Last time I bought cut flowers from them, they lasted almost 2 weeks. Also, if you frequent Earthfare, help out the Mills and mention to them that you'd like them to carry Floral & Hardy flowers.

Floral & Hardy Anemones

Tulips- (bulb still attached!)

My beautiful Anemones back at home

As we left the market, I caught sight of one of the best signs I could ever see on a Saturday morning:
I am a sucker for a good garage sale--always have been--so we walked across the street to see what treasures we could pick.

I got a few awesome vintage serving pieces and James found a really cool old 1963 dictionary. The woman who sold us the dictionary said it was one that you bought in sections at the grocery store and assembled over time. Cool.
Amazing green glass chip and dip server- my favorite find!

Adorable vintage child's plate (for my nephew to use when he's at my house)

Small glass bowl with gold details, pear-shaped wooden plate, and salt and pepper grinder

Better shot of the pear plate- so cute!

Horrible picture, (sorry!), of a metal serving tray with wooden handles and a stand

And finally, our 1963 add-as-you-go Webster's Dictionary in it's new home, on our blue bookshelf.

I can't wait to use the serving pieces at my next gathering. And we spent a whopping $15 on all of these items!

Also, for those of you who have told me recently that you're reading and enjoying this blog, thank you very much. You have no idea what it means to know that others are benefiting from this endeavor--very flattering.

Coming soon: my foray into making French onion soup from scratch, (my plan for Saturday evening).

Friday, February 19, 2010

opening day.jpg

Great way to spend a Friday afternoon. USC baseball opening game.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And the Weekend Starts Now

My picks of fun events happening in Columbia this weekend...

Thursday, February 18th:
image via here

-Opening of Josh Drews' exhibit at Art + Cayce. Drews is local a printmaker and art teacher, and the exhibit will feature monotypes, a specific type of print. The gallery will be open tonight from 6-8, with Drews answering questions about his art at 7 pm. The exhibit will be up through March 18th. Click here to read Judit Trunkos of the City Paper's review of the exhibit.

-WineStyles California Wine Tasting and Art Show with Karen Peru Campbell; $5, refunded with any purchase from the tasting line-up. This event is from 5-8 pm. (Karen also happens to be the wife of Fulton Campbell, my Hampton Hills Biggest Loser trainer!)

Friday, February 19th:
-Opening of 2 solo shows at Gallery 80808: Laura Spong's "Renovations" and Anna Redwine's "Frauenau." For a PREVIEW of Ms. Spong's art, click here. For a PREVIEW of Ms. Redwine's art click here.

image via here

-The Blue Iguanas Bluegrass Band will perform at Utopia Food & Spirits from 8-11 pm. I have personally never heard the Blue Iguanas, but they will be playing at St. Lawrence Place's Oyster Roast fundraiser in 2 weeks, so I'm anxious to hear them. (Formerly the High Lonesome Bluegrass Band). If you've never been to Utopia, you should check it out--it's a cute little hippie-ish bar and grill off of Rosewood Drive; they have a great music line-up weekly, as well as $.25 wings on Sundays and $1.00 tacos on Mondays.

Saturday, February 20th:
-All-Local Farmer's Market, 8am-12pm, 711 Whaley Street. Click here to see this week's vendors.

image via here

- It's USC Baseball opening weekend! Saturday's game against Duquesne is at 3 PM. (Friday's is at 3 pm and Sunday's is at 1:30 pm). Go Cocks! (I can't help it-I was raised on Gamecock baseball, and adore it to this day).

Sunday, February 21st:

image via here

The South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company will perform The Chemistry of Color at the Columbia Museum of Art at 3 pm. This event is to accompany the major art exhibit on display at the museum until May 9th called The Chemistry of Color: Contemporary African-America Artists. Cost is $10 or $5 for students. Click here to purchase tickets.

What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shouldn't We All Care What We're Putting In Our Bodies?

As I explained it to my Social Policy class Monday night, I have a new "passion," if you will...educating myself and others about the food, namely meat, that we are putting into our bodies--and the bodies of our children. #1 on my 31 Things for my 31st Year List was to become more aware of what I eat, where it comes from, and how it affects my health.

The first thing I did towards this end was to read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This promptly had me not eating animals...if you haven't read it, you should. I have since watched Food, Inc. and investigated a few of the local meat producers, Caw Caw Creek Farms and Wil-Moore Farms. I have also begun shopping more at the All-Local Farmers' Market at 701 Whaley St. in Columbia.

Today I came across two articles that are valid pieces of investigative journalism questioning the safety of the meat we eat in this country--the safety of beef processing as well as the antibiotics fed to the animals.

Here is an article I found on the blog Grits and Gravy: Adventures of a South Carolina Foodie. The article by Michael Moss of the New York Times questions the safety of beef-processing methods in America.

This article I found in my Pew Charitable Trusts weekly e-mail, Pew News Now. It is a report by Katie Couric of CBS investigating if feeding farm animals antibiotics is producing drug-resistant bacteria. (I think, how could it not be?!) Here is the video report, aired on the CBS Evening News on February 9, 2010.

In the midst of all of this educating and investigating and finding out things I never wanted to find out about the meat that is raised and slaughtered in this country, I am also learning about people who are doing the right thing. The right thing not only for the people they are feeding, but also for the animals they raise for meat. Two of those people, locally, are Emile DeFelice, of Caw Caw Creek, and Kristian Niemi of Rosso Trattoria Italia (and Gervais & Vine). Niemi does his best to serve local ingredients when possible, as well as humanely and organically raised meats, such as pork from Caw Caw Creek Farm. See the video below, Episode 1 of a new series called Off Menu with Kristian, where he takes a tour of Caw Caw Creek and then demonstrates a recipe of Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Chutney.

Stayed tuned for more posts highlighting local restaurateurs and farmers doing their best to serve healthy, humanely treated, and locally-grown meats and vegetables.

A Word for Wednesday


severely critical; fault-finding

As I was reading Breakfast at Tiffany's, (my book club book of the month), last night, I came across this word. It was used in this context: "Holly looked upon Mag most censoriously as she flirted with the men at the party." (Not a direct quote, but something like that...)

image via here

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.