Sullivan’s Fish Camp | Charleston

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I think the biggest surprise of my last trip to Charleston was Sullivan’s Fish Camp. It has been on Sullivan’s Island forever, but we had never tried it. We spent the evening at the beach, watching the sun set and the waves rolling in. As darkness fell, we walked over to Sullivan’s Fish Camp for dinner. We sat at the bar. This dimly lit restaurant has dive bar feel with dark wood accents, and vintage fishing decor. We were quickly seated at the bar and made immediate friends with the bar tender. She had great recommendations about both food and beverages so we picked her brain before making our decisions.

To start off the evening we ordered drinks: The Deckhand, a delightful blend of flor de caña rum, yellow chartreuse, lime, and strawberry shrub. and the Cap’n Sully’s G & T, and a dish full of cold, fresh oysters. I love oysters. The briny, salty liquid with a dash of lemon juice and the tangy Mignonette. Side note: oysters are so, so good for you and provide so many essential minerals that our bodies need! Give me all the oysters!

We followed this with the Truffle Parmesan Fried Shrimp. The crispy seasoned shrimp melted in your mouth and when paired with the cool roasted garlic aioli it was truly delicious. The star of the evening was the Fish Sandwich. Sounds anti-climactic I know. But every bite was a mouth explosion of flavors. The fresh jerk rubbed mahi, milk bread bun, mayo and peach chutney was a brilliant combination and the recipe for the perfect sandwich.

It was such a relaxing evening. Enjoying all the delicious food, chatting with the friendly bar-tenders, and spending time with my best friend. Sun-kissed, completely covered in sand and smelling like the ocean. Could anything be any more perfect?

We ended the night with a cutie little soft-serve. Who can resist?

If you visit Sullivan’s Fish Camp let me know! I’d love to hear about your experience!

Rancho Lewis | Charleston

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I was so excited to get to try Rancho Lewis this week in Charleston. Chef and Pitmaster, John Lewis, has already been made famous for his bbq restaurant, Lewis, and this new restaurant, “a place where West Texas, Chihuahua, Mexico, and New Mexico meet” did not disappoint. It was busy when we arrived. They don’t take reservations, and the wait time was estimated to be about an hour. The courtyard was lively. Rancho Lewis has a small outdoor bar so you can get delicious margharitas while you wait. We promptly ordered a few and sat down to enjoy. They were strong and fresh and deliciously flavorful. To our delight, the wait ended up being only 15 ish minutes and we were ushered inside to our table. The Texan ranch style decor transported us to a different world. The attention to detail creates a relaxing and immersive atmosphere, from Mexican Equipale Barrel Chairs, longhorn cattle skulls, to lovely Mexican artesania paintings.

We started with freshly made chips and Queso Asado. Crispy and warm chips dipped in creamy and smooth queso. Hint of smokiness and a dash of spice. We raided the self serve salsa bar and tried all the different kinds available. All fresh and perfect with the most delicious hints of spices.

For the main entree I ordered The Lloyd Lewis. The Mesquite steak was grilled to perfection and it came served with cheese, & onion enchiladas, a side of Spanish rice and refried beans. We also enjoyed the Chicken Tortilla Soup, the Christmas Burrito and chicken enchiladas. Every dish was even better than we had anticipated.

As our drinks from the outdoor bar were nearly gone we ordered the So Far So Bueno to share. It came in a big clay bowl filled with tequila, citrus juices, and sparkling grapefruit. It was so refreshing and delicious and beautiful.

The evening finished with a big dish of sopapillas. They came with a delightful little instruction page that laid out how to bite of a corner and pour in a bit of warm honey and enjoy! The honey had a touch of smokiness, was warm, and complimented the chewy fried dough pillows perfectly. Dinner with friends is a beautiful thing. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe. We shared delicious food and had the best conversation.

I do recommend Rancho Lewis if you are ever in the Charleston area! A Tex-Mex experience you won’t regret!

Eldr | Asheville

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The quaint cottage that was once was the old woodworking shop of Biltmore Industries, now holds Chef Eric Burleson’s much anticipated new venture, Eldr. Nestled in Grovewood Village beside the Grove Park Inn, the recently opened restaurant did not disappoint! A welcoming vibe with a lively breath in the air, this cozy and modern of a place beckons you to come in and share a lingered over meal. The bar is gorgeous and the building itself is so cute and quaint. I would like to eat outside next time we go in the secret garden-like courtyard.

We had been anticipating our first meal at Eldr for a while so we were ALL IN. The evening of course began with some delicious cocktails. I started with the Always a Bridesmaid, a beautiful purple drink with Gin, creme de violette, lime juice, basil topped with tiny rose petals. My friend went for a Blackberry Spritz that was both delicious and refreshing.

The menu changes periodically, so we ordered almost everything that was offered, not wanting to miss anything that sounded good. A lot of the offerings are small plates for sharing. We began with the Beef Tartare. Sweet and fresh and the addition mustard seeds on top took it to a whole new level. Next out was the fried squid with crispy and light squid scattered over a plate splattered with squid ink aioli. The whole effect was gorgeous and delicious. The Kombu Cured Red Snapper Crudo arrived in a small spherical dish and was light and refreshing with the most amazing pickled peppers. Duck wings followed in a fermented scotch bonnet and peach glaze. They were crispy and sticky and we ate them with our hands making a mess but how else are you to enjoy wings as much? The last thing we ordered was the Casarecce Cacio e Pepe. Homemade pasta simply tossed with butter, Romano cheese and dusted with black pepper. I think I will now always compare every meal I eat to our amazing dinner at Laura, and this pasta did not disappoint. It was perfectly cooked, light and al dente. The sauce was not overpowering and every bite was a mouthful of flavor.

A second round of drinks was in order and my Gin old Fashioned with Gin, orange bitters, and rhubarb was by far my favorite beverage of the evening. Strong and smooth. My friend chose the Did Someone Sage Peach that was cold and sweet and savory in each sip. A beautiful blend of peach bourbon, bitters, pecan bitters, peach simple syrup, and sage leaf.

We couldn’t end this marvelous meal without trying some of the desserts, so we opted to share the Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake, and the Southern Buttermilk Pie. The polenta cake was the perfect balance, beautifully textured, lightly sweet and airy and so delicious. The buttermilk pie complimented by fresh champagne peaches sweet and smooth and crispy layered pie crust melted in my mouth and was the perfect compliment to a warm and humid summer evening.

Eldr definitely stands up to Asheville’s high foodie standards. I am looking forward to trying some of their early morning offerings with coffee fresh from the espresso bar and a dutch baby which is on the menu and sounds irresistible. If you are ever in Asheville, make sure to put Eldr near the top of your list. We will be back.

The Admiral | Asheville

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Chef Chuck Baudendistle

The Admiral is located in a small unassuming building in West Asheville. The indoors brings thoughts of being on an old ship. The dark wood, huge moldings, and dark aquatic decor. The dimly lit space is cozy and intimate and while it is still partitioned for covid and slightly cramped, it has been designed well. The outdoor patios are well lit and spacious, but we chose indoors for this special birthday dinner because it has been so hot, and rain was in the forecast.

I’ve begun asking for the server’s favorites before ordering because I like to hear how they speak about the food and drinks. Our server was pleasant and had great recommendations for both. Our water glasses were never empty and the kitchen even sent out a sweet little amuse bouche of cucumber slices topped with a dollop of homemade ranch, and at the end of our meal, a little dessert of sugar coated jelly bites, which were both welcome surprises for our evening. The service overall was excellent.

Our evening began with drinks. Some sour beers with the most delightful cans, and two mixed drinks, one mixing Elderflower Infused Gin, Cointreau, Lemon, & Daylily, and the other a blend of Rum, Lime, Mint, Cucumber, Coconut Cream. I’m realizing now I should have asked to taste my friend’s drink, but mine was the mint/cucumber one and while smooth and refreshing, was not excessively flavorful. I would have enjoyed it more if the lime, mint and coconut had been a little more potent.

For my main course I had the spaghetti which was homemade, perfectly cooked to an al dente chewiness and in a creamy lemon and zucchini sauce with lumps of crab. The textures were good. Everything tasted very fresh and the flavors complimented each other well. My mind travels back to the Agnolotti at Laura in Summerville and I wonder if I have been ruined for pasta forever. I’m not sure anything will ever compare. And while this pasta at The Admiral was delicious, it wasn’t the type of dish you dream about and must come back for.

Overall, our experience was enjoyable. We lingered for a long time, soaking in the atmosphere of a bustling open kitchen, the company of good friends, and the pleasantries of being in a full restaurant. I wouldn’t write off The Admiral, however, my ever growing list of Asheville restaurants makes it hard to go back to places a second time. What are some of your must-try restaurants in Asheville? I’d love to hear YOUR recommendations!


Holeman & Finch Asheville

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From Linton Hopkins, the chef and founder of Hopkins & Co, comes Holeman & Finch Asheville. I have been wanting to try it since it opened, but with covid restrictions etc it has taken me a while to get in there. I had a friend visiting from Charleston last weekend and we were able to get a reservation for dinner.

Sidenote: We started our night at another place I had been wanting to go, La Bodega by Curate’, who’s chef Katie Button just won the 2022 James Beard Award for Hospitality last week. This new upstairs bar is so unique and well done. We only had drinks (which were perfect) and sat at the bar, but the atmosphere and environment of this pintxo & wine bar, was energetic and fun and I can’t wait to visit again and sample some of their food menu.

We walked over to H&F and got seated at a tiny table between two larger groups of people. It was very cramped. The table was already crowded with a candle and a vase, and East Fork dessert plates. Which I do love seeing East Fork out at restaurants, but wondered where any food we ordered was going to fit. We ordered drinks. Forgettable. I got oysters which were good but I’m assuming were improperly opened because there were tons of shell pieces that I had to pick out of my mouth after each oyster. I’ve never had that happen before. The charcuterie and sweet potatoes we ordered were fine.

For dessert we shared the sticky toffee pudding. Which I have been looking forward to for a long time. It has been a favorite dessert of mine since we traveled to Prince Edward Island and I was anticipating that sticky goodness. The dessert came out with a warm sauce poured over the top. It was good, but I can’t say it met up with my high expectations.

I can’t say I ever need to go there again. Their brunch does look amazing so I may give it another shot. But I do think it is hard to be a tapas type restaurant with Curate’ right down the road. The standards are VERY high in Asheville. I know it is a small town but just last week TWO chef’s in AVL won James Beard Awards. Chef Katie Button at Curate and Chef Meherwan Irani at Chai Pani. They are doing big things here and other chefs will need to step it up in order to survive. I love living in a foodie city, and I guess I have high standards as well. Food should leave you dreaming about it. Hoping you will never reach the last bite. Wanting to lick the plate clean. And in my opinion, Holeman and Finch doesn’t meet the bar.

fragile

I’ve been feeling very fragile lately. Do you ever feel that way? I’m not normally a weepy and fragile person. Which now that I have written that down, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with being a weepy and fragile person. It’s just not my typical MO.

I lost my job at the beginning of April. It came out of the blue and hurt me so deeply. I’m also weaning off my SSRI. This has been a LONG process, but I really felt like it was right for my health and my body to not be on this medication anymore. (*Many conversations with my doctor and therapist happened before and during this process.) But this greatly exacerbates the fragile feeling. All my emotions and hormones are going freaky crazy and I know they will regulate eventually but right now its pretty intense.

Every piece of me just feels fragile, and I can literally start crying at a moment’s notice. I’m not good with myself when I feel this way. It is my tendency to push through. Push those feelings aside. Keep working. Keep producing. Ignore the fragility and hopefully it will go away. Keep a smile on my face and act like everything is FINE! Never admit weakness!

I don’t think that is the answer right now though.

At the end of March I really felt like God was telling me that my word for this quarter was going to be “change” and I had no idea what that change looked like, but I wrote it down in my planner and trusted that whatever change was coming, God obviously knew about it before I did. I am not a fan of change. So I wasn’t super stoked that I wrote that down as my “word”. Who wants CHANGE to be their word? Nope. No thank you.

One week into April, I lost my job. I already spend every day feeling not good enough. And this loss only made that feeling worse. I wasn’t even good enough to keep my job. And I had worked so hard to be good at it. I know that isn’t why I lost my job. The client was just going in a different direction. But it is so easy for those thoughts to creep in.

Now I am sitting in this awkward place of “What the heck do I do next?” It feels very midlife crisis-y. I’m 40. Changing careers. I’ll probably sell my house and move. Maybe I should also buy that Mustang I’ve always wanted. (don’t worry I won’t do that) But I’m trying to figure out what to pursue now. What things do I actually enjoy and what things am I actually good at and can I combine those things and somehow turn them into a career?

I play the song by Passion, Shake the Dust Off, over and over. It begins “The King can’t lose His balance, He’s never caught off guard” and it reminds me that God prompted me with the word “change” even before anything happened, and He knew this was coming and He knows what is next.

I’ve already talked about sitting in the discomfort but that keeps coming back to me. I think its time to sit back. Be uncomfortable. Feel the pain. And listen. Listen to what it is saying to me. What things can I learn about yourself or the situation? If you let it, the pain and unease will speak to you. C.S. Lewis says, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” What is it that God is shouting to me right now?

And I’m going to sit here for a while and be still. And be gentle with my fragile self. I’m going to sit in the discomfort and ask God to show me what the next right thing is. What is it in your life right now that is making you feel fragile? I’d love to hear from you. We can sit in the discomfort together. ❤

Laura | Summerville

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This week we had the great pleasure of securing a reservation for opening night at Laura, a brand new Italian Family Restaurant in Summerville South Carolina. The Chef, Nico Romo, has two other restaurants in Charleston which we love, so we were so excited to try his “Rustic cuisine inspired by the family dinner table in Italy”.

Arriving a bit early for our reservation, we were lead straight to our table on the outdoor patio. The staff were so friendly and attentive. Our table setting was wonderfully vintage, colorful, and exquisite. We ordered three cocktails, for the two of us, because they all sounded so wonderful and we wanted to try them all. A Blood Orange Margarita, “The Laura”, and the Italian Paloma. The Laura was by far our favorite but the Blood Orange Marg wasn’t too far behind. Both delicious. The Paloma was a bit watered down and not really our favorite.

For Antipasti we had picked the Ricotta Toast, and the Calamari but wanted to hear what our server’s favorites were. When she said both of those were at the top of her list, we knew we had chosen correctly. The ricotta toast was crispy, topped with creamy ricotta, the perfect balance of lemon, a sprinkle of mint and crunchy hazelnuts. Perfection. The Calamari was chilled, nestled in a beautiful red wine vinegar sauce with just the right amount of spice.

For our next course we chose the Margherita Pizza and the Agnolotti. The pizza was hot and fresh, the balance of flavors between the tomato confit, fresh mozzarella, basil, and toasty dough awaking all the senses and evoking comforting memories of home.

Agnolotti (anyəˈlädē/ pasta squares stuffed with a variety of fillings, like small ravioli.)

The Agnolotti. Wow the Agnolotti. If I were to highly recommend any dish, this would be it. I would say run don’t walk to Laura in Summerville and order two helpings of this pasta because one will just not be enough. The most delicate pasta squares filled with a Parmesan cream and tossed in brown sage butter. It was topped with pistachios and a lemon crumb and the first bite melted in my mouth. I sat there stunned at the explosion of flavors and the perfect of soft and light pasta dense with flavor. I am not exaggerating when I say that I think this is the best pasta I have ever had in my entire life.

While we found Laura somewhat lacking in atmosphere, we sat outside and there was no music, and string lights would have been a huge enhancement, there were certainly no complaints about the food or the service. If you are ever in Summerville, South Carolina, this is one place you do not want to miss!

sit with it

I was listening to a podcast while I was driving from Charleston to Asheville last week and the guest speaker said something that really resonated with me. “Sit with the discomfort”

I’ve been rolling those words over and over in my head since then. I think so often we want a quick fix to our problems we are swift to slap a bandaid on the problem without really even figuring out why the problem is there, what the root cause is, or if it is part of a bigger issue.

Last night I started feeling icky. Unsettled. Out of place. Uncomfortable. I was home alone. Watching tv. Just returned from a vacation where I got to spend quality time with some of my best friends. So there’s nothing wrong. But after listening to that podcast, I decided to sit with the discomfort and see if I could figure out what it was trying to tell me. I woke up in the night 4-5 times. Tossed and turned. And this morning got up hours before my alarm because I was so restless. So here I am. Writing this out and sitting with my discomfort. I don’t know yet what I am feeling. But I like the idea of acknowledging it and pondering it instead of dismissing it.

It is uncomfortable to think about the discomfort. And we do not like feeling uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable what do you normally do? Walk away? Change the subject? Ignore the issue? Sweep it under the rug? Pretend everything is fine?

I am a fixer. I want to fix things right away. I jump into fixing mode right away. Here’s a problem, what can we do to fix it?? How can I help? And I know this is beneficial in some circumstances. It’s good to be able to think on your feet and have quick solutions. But sometimes I think we are too quick to try to fix things without really exploring the feelings, the root cause, the deeper issues. Why are you having a bad day? Why are you feeling anxious? What is bringing those feelings up right now? Did something happen to trigger it? Is there something that needs to change?

Maybe we just need to sit here and feel the feelings right now. Sit with the pain and the feelings and the questions. See what they are trying to tell you. Instead of trying to fix it right away. What can we learn by taking some deep breaths and feelings all the things? Maybe you need some time to be quiet. Or pray. Or cry. Or journal. When the tendency is to push things aside, take a few deep breaths. See what your body or mind or Jesus is saying to you. You are feeling discomfort for a reason. And instead of trying to immediately dive into action, take a moment to see if there is anything for you to learn from the pain. Slow down, ask the discomfort what you have to learn from it, and then move on to fixing mode.

Books I read in 2021

  • When I started writing this down, I felt like I probably fell way short of my goal. Each year I try to read as many books as I am old. So my goal would be 40. But once I got the list all written down… I realize I am well over and that’s great! I’ve already started about four more books for the start of my 2022 list! What are you reading? I want to know your favorites so I can add them to my list!!!
  • 1. Fighting Forward Hannah Brencher
  • 2. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry John Mark Comer
  • 3. The Four Winds Kristin Hannah
  • 4. How to not Die Alone Logan Ury
  • 5. Bear Town Fredrik Backman
  • 6. The Butterfly Garden Sophie Anderson
  • 7. My Oxford Year Julia Whelan
  • 8. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
  • 9. Atomic Habits James Clear
  • 10. Share Your Stuff I’ll Go First Laura Tremaine
  • 11. Crazy Rich Asians
  • 12. Rich People Problems
  • 13. China Rich Girlfriend
  • 14. The Dark Sea of Darkness Andrew Peterson
  • 15. The Last Thing He Told Me Laura Dave
  • 16. The Rose Code Kate Quinn
  • 17. The Beast’s Heart Life Shallcross
  • 18. Outer Order, Inner Calm Gretchen Rubin
  • 19. North! Or Be Eaten! Andrew Peterson
  • 20. Ballad of Song Birds & Snakes Suzanne Collins
  • 21. Maisie Dobbs Jaqueline Winspear
  • 22. Magic Hour Kristin Hannah
  • 23. The Girl From The Channel Islands Jenny Lecoat
  • 24. The Mysterious Benedict Society Trenton Lee Stewart
  • 25. The Huntress Kate Quinn
  • 26. The Monster in the Hollows Andrew Peterson
  • 27. The Warden & The Wolf Andrew Peterson
  • 28. Sacred Rhythms
  • 29. Firefly Lane Kristin Hannah
  • 30. What the most successful people do before breakfast Laura Vanderkam
  • 31. 40 Day Sugar Fast Wendy Speake
  • 32. The Sorcerers Stone J.K Rowling
  • 33. The Chamber of Secrets
  • 34. The Prisoner of Azcaban
  • 34. The Goblet of Fire
  • 35. The Order of the Phoenix
  • 36.. The Half Blood Prince
  • 37. The Deathly Hallows
  • 38. The Magicians Nephew C.S. Lewis
  • 39. The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe
  • 40. The Horse & His Boy
  • 41. Prince Caspian
  • 42. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • 43. The Silver Chair
  • 44. The Last Battle
  • 45. Us Against You Fredrik Backman
  • 46. Delicious Ruth Reichl

still

I do not take any time for stillness.

I don’t listen for God.

And I want him to speak to me and show me what I am supposed to do and what is my purpose, but then I don’t spend any time quietly listening for him. He has no chance to speak to me if I am always busy. So maybe this needs to be the year of stillness for me. I don’t need to do anything. Any improvements on my home, and moving about, and big projects or adventures. I just need to make my home a sanctuary where I can be still and listen to God. I don’t need to spend money on frivolous things I think I need.

I just need to be still.

In the noise of life how often do we forget to sit still? Do you ever spend time without your phone, or tv or computer in front of you? Without the music on. Or background noice. Do you ever just sit and listen in stillness?

As I sit and listen I can hear the hum of the heater warming my home. Several birds singing outside in the sunshine. A hawk is sitting on the fence in my neighbors yard. He has been there for the past few days so I guess he has decided to join our little community. He is large and majestic and his screaming call pierces through the morning fog. Fog that is rolling away as the sun breaks through the clouds and chases it back up the mountains. A cardinal cries repeatedly. Calling to its friends. Dorothy goes through 100 pounds of bird food each month, so I’m sure he is telling all his friends there is a glorious buffet awaiting them. An airplane echoes overhead. Thundering through the air and making Nigel cock his head in question. I always tell him “it’s an airplane” but I don’t think he remembers. Will he ever know? A few other birds have joined the cardinal in his song. I do not know all of their voices so I can’t tell you what kinds of birds they all are. My eyes are closed and I am just listening.

The sun is now streaming through my kitchen window warming my face and giving me hope that this day will be beautiful, even if it is cold. My refrigerator starts to hum adding its voice to the chorus. A truck rumbles past on the busy main road. And the heater switches off with a click-click, the fan slowing its motion, leaving me in even more silence. Even the birds are quiet right now. I can hear the low hum of my laptop and the click of my keys as I type these words. Nigel rolls over on his perch where he spends his day looking out the window. The Neighborhood watch. In the stillness do I hear from God? Or do I just hear the low roar of the highway a few miles away. The birds bring up their chorus again. And I’m reminded that God cares for the sparrow. So he will also care for me.

There are so many things to hear in the silence.

I just hope I can learn to hear His voice.