Just kidding, I don’t have a fever!!!! I swear! But I do miss food that is not cooked in my kitchen and spend approximately 90% of my waking hours dreaming about the next meal I’ll eat in a restaurant. To be fair, this was something I did even before we were all confined to our homes, but it’s especially bad now that I’m limited to delivery and whatever random Trader Joe’s entree is in my freezer. This morning I went for a run around King Street and ran face first into a tree branch after I passed Baba’s and started thinking about their quiche. Charleston is the food capital of the South, not that I’m biased or anything, and these are the three places I can’t wait to visit once things are normal, whatever that means:
Owned by two Charleston locals, Basic serves up vegan Caesar salads & summery sounding drinks like Watermelon Stand (watermelon, vodka, strawberry fused Aeperol, lime). It’s tucked away off of King Street in the coziest spot. I can’t wait to sit at the bar with a plate of Sweet Potato Fries and eavesdrop on other restaurant goers, my favorite extracurricular which I am desperately missing in Corona time.
This is the place I take first dates and new friends when I want to show off and seem cool and trendy (reader: she was neither cool nor trendy). Graft has not only the most diverse wines around, they have the most bomb playlists. And not only do they have the most bomb playlists, they have the nicest bartenders/sommeliers/staff. I never feel dumb asking questions about wine even though you could probably find a double bottle of Woodbridge in my fridge right now which I will most certainly be drinking over ice this weekend. The general vibe is inclusive and encouraging (at a WINE BAR! truly an innovation!) and I always try something new and funky and eat way too many snacks.
I miss breakfast so much. Breakfast is my favorite meal. It’s simple, easy to make either greasy or healthy, cheaper than dinner and a good excuse to drink champagne at 9 AM. Why all meals aren’t just breakfast, I will never understand. But, I have found that a greasy diner breakfast is impossible to replicate at home. It doesn’t taste as good if the back of my thighs aren’t sticking to a plastic booth and out of all of the breakfast joints I miss (Waffle House, Eastside Bagel, Toast), I miss BBB the most. Please, if we ever are able to travel again, come visit the East Side neighborhood of Charleston and spend at least three hours (one of which you will be waiting in line, it’s fine, they’ll let you drink) at Big Bad Breakfast. You need to bring a bunch of people with you so everyone can order something different and you can try as many dishes as possible. May I suggest: everything. Especially the Mother of All Biscuits, a pancake, a side of bacon, the bloody mary and the Crab Louie.
Chaotic Shrimp Salad: a recipe
For someone who loves food so much, I sure hate cooking. I feel like as someone who is writing about food, I should not admit this but it’s my free newsletter so who cares: Turning on my oven fills me with dread and if I won the lottery I would keep my day job and spend my money on eating in a restaurant for every single meal and turn my oven into a storage unit for expensive shoes like our girl Carrie Bradshaw. However, I have found that I don’t mind assembling food. I am probably not using my oven and I am definitely not putting my arm inside of a chicken but I actually like chopping veggies up, whisking things in a bowl, recipes that don’t require tools besides a container, a fridge and maybe a spoon. I wouldn’t call it therapeutic but it’s more fun and probably better for my mental health than laying in my bed reading menus of restaurants I can’t currently visit.
I decided to try Jenny’s shrimp salad recipe last Saturday, which I couldn’t resist after her nod to my city’s seafood supply (!). This doesn’t look hard, I thought to myself as I drove to the store with my bright blue mask on and a grocery list in my notes. The sky was blue, the air was salty and fresh, I was feeling optimistic.
I'm not sure why every man in Charleston decided to go to the Harris Teeter at 4:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon, but there we were: me, trying not to bump into anyone with my cart, and approximately 78 men who were acting like they had never set foot in a grocery store before. The self check out line was 12 deep, a dude in the produce aisle rolled over my foot with his cart while I was trying to figure out what the F the difference between a green onion and a shallot is, and I sincerely thought I was going to have to take my clothes off to get the person at the meat counter (butcher counter? the fish monger?) to acknowledge my presence and give me the pound and three quarters of shrimp that I needed.
I did not handle this well. By the time I passed through the seven circles of hell, I mean, got to the checkout line, there was only one lane open. I decided to try self checkout even though I am the kind of person who somehow changed the settings on my work computer so that everything erases itself once a month. I don't know why I thought that in all of the chaotic energy in the Harris Teeter of Mount Pleasant that I was technologically literate or lucky enough to go through self checkout without disaster ensuing but it will come as no surprise that I scanned my stupid bunch of dill and security alarms started going off. Three of Harris Teeter's kind employees came over to assist and finally fixed whatever I had broken. I scanned my horseradish, diet coke, potato rolls, and then set an avocado on the scanner and I swear I saw smoke coming out of the machine. At this point I am the color of a sun ripened tomato, I’m nervous sweating, I'm pretty sure my pinky toe is broken and the line behind me is sharpening their pitchforks and muttering curses.
I finish scanning my groceries, I guess, I essentially black out from humiliation at this point and high tail it out of there. I throw my groceries in my car and promise myself that I will grow a full garden in my backyard before I ever voluntarily enter a grocery store again.
Then I make the shrimp salad and all is forgiven: Peel all 1 3/4 pounds of shrimp and throw it in a big pot of boiling water for five minutes (I used the pot that goes in my instant pot), drain, put in the fridge to cool, mix a few cups of Dukes + a handful of dill + juice of a lemon (I forgot celery and you know what? it was good without it. I don’t think I wanted any crunch besides the toasty roll), then shred the cool shrimp with your fingers and dump it in the mixture.
Let it all sit for at least an hour, overnight if there’s time, then slather some potato rolls with ghee, pop them in the toaster, and eat your shrimp salad with a glass of ice cold prosecco.
My sister and I are best friends and roommates. We are so cute, right? I almost threw her out of the window the first week of quarantine and I’m pretty sure she will change the locks if I play Folklore one more time BUT one thing we can agree on is Yasso Bars, these greek yogurt dessert popsicle heaven on sticks that we discovered when they were 2 for $10 at the HT sometime during quarantine. I know ten dollars for 8 popsicles sounds insane but I used to go to Jeni’s and get ice cream at least once a week so I feel like I’m saving money? Right? Anyway, our favorite flavors are chocolate fudge brownie and mint chocolate chip. Everyone hated the cookies and cream except me, I loved it.
Let them sit on the counter for a couple of minutes before you eat them, if you have willpower and/or self discipline, which I typically do not possess as I am pulling my third Yasso bar of the day out of the freezer at midnight in my dark kitchen.
Have a great weekend & wear your masks!