Sweetwater Tavern

Hey!

It’s been a VERY LONG time since my last post, but a lot has happened since then.  I graduated from law school, got engaged, took the bar exam and moved to Virginia (in that order).

Since moving to Virginia I’m excited to share a lot of culinary adventures on this blog.  My first is from Sweetwater Tavern in Falls Church, VA.  My fiancé and I recently tried out this restaurant and it is a good one!  They have a large indoor dining area with a very busy bar as well as a spacious outdoor veranda.  We opted for the outdoor seating since it was a nice fall day.  Not only was their food delicious but their beer menu is extensive and unique.

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I opted for the Ghost Town Pumpkin Ale.  It was lightly spiced and came with a spice crumble on the rim.  My fiancé wanted to order the Double Barrel Ale, but unfortunately they were out of that so he opted for the Crazy Jackass Ale.

Along with our beers we shared the shrimp and blue crab fritters.  They are served with a grilled corn salsa and sauce that has a spicy kick to it.  They were delicious!

 

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Shrimp and Blue Crab Fritters 

Last but not least I ordered the Southwest Chicken Salad.  It had a light hint of barbecue sauce that added a nice subtle sweetness.

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Southwest Chicken Salad
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CHARLESTON.

Happy 2017!

To start the year off right, my BF and I took a trip to the beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  While we were only there for 2 days, we enjoyed every minute of it! There’s so much to do in the city, and for foodies like us, we couldn’t devour all of the southern cuisine fast enough.

We tried out several food spots.  The first night we went to the Oyster House on Market.  This place was by FAR our favorite.  Not only was the food outstanding, but the service was great, too!  I can’t wait to go back to Charleston to eat here again.  It was also a really pleasant evening (even though it was early January!) so we sat outside on the restaurant’s veranda.

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The Oyster House on Market – menu
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Treated us to complimentary champagne!
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Bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with crab
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More…bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with crab.  These shrimp were so so good.  I highly recommend them!

 

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Bucket of fresh seafood and some corn

 

On our first full day in the city, we strolled around the Charleston market, got caught in a southern downpour of rain, hopped into the Low country Bistro for lunch and enjoyed some shrimp and grits and jambalaya, purchased some artwork at a local art shop, (and some souvenirs too!), took a carriage tour of the city, walked around Battery Park, visited a candy shop for some warm southern pralines, shopped in the oldest building in Charleston -none other than a liquor store ;), and went to Hymans Seafood for dinner.  Although we enjoyed every minute of our day, we were extremely disappointed with Hymans.  And by extremely disappointed I mean – it was one of the worst restaurants I’ve ever visited.  I won’t go into too many details but the gist of it was food poisoning, hair in our food, the rude manager who refused to serve a couple stating that the restaurant was “closed” when their website hours clearly stated it was open for at least another hour; and no, they didn’t even offer to comp the dish with the hair in it.

Long story short, no pictures from Hymans will appear on Gluttons Abroad!

Here are a few pictures from the many enjoyable parts of our trip –

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Rascal took us on a carriage tour.  We booked in advance with Old South Carriage Company .    It was an enjoyable 1 hour tour of the city.
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Hmmm….
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Battery park
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Rainbow Row!
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Charleston’s Candy Kitchen!!!
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YUMMMM Pralines!

North Goa: When in Goa

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

This post is a throwback to when I was in Goa.  One of the most enjoyable experiences in Goa is the food.  The Portuguese inspired dishes are such a different and delicious experience from anything you will experience elsewhere in India. I tried some of the most exotic things I have ever eaten – one of those things being – cow tongue.  Yes, say that ten times fast and you might believe it was something else :P.

One place my family and I enjoyed the most for not only food but overall experience was the Zanzibar beach shack located on Baga beach.  This “shack” is an open-aired spot right on the beach.  I highly recommend a stop here, even if just for a quick bite.  It’s not only great during the day when you can watch people hanging out on the beach, but also a totally different experience at night.  We ordered several plates and shared them, which gave us all great opportunity to try a variety of dishes.

Traveller’s tip: One word of caution for those not native to India but curious to try the food is to avoid water that is not bottled, including ice (which is definitely tempting in the sweltering heat in May), and be cautious about eating fresh (uncooked) fruits and vegetables.

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Tongue.  It’s tender, but has a gritty sort of texture. An interesting experience, but I must admit I wasn’t running back for more.  Photo Credit: SHAUN REGO.
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Choritzo and Pao. This is a traditional Portuguese dish. Choritzo is a spicy sausage with onions and potatoes. On the side is Pao, which is basically a soft, fluffy bread you eat with the choritzo. It really is a must try when in Goa. Photo Credit: SHAUN REGO.
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Calamari in a butter garlic sauce.  I love Calamari, and this was some of the best I’ve had. It was tender, cooked perfectly and the butter garlic sauce was perfect.  If you’re not looking to be too adventurous with your food, and tongue and choritzo don’t interest you,  I would definitely try this.  It reminded me of a shrimp scampi, but with squid instead.  

The Cowfish

Hey all,

So here’s another Charlotte, NC restaurant that turned out to be a winner! My boyfriend had scoped this one out earlier with some friends, and when I went to visit this summer, it was top on his list for me to try out.

The Cowfish, is a burger and sushi joint (hence the creative name), that serves everything from – you guessed it – burgers and sushi, to milkshakes, salads and fried pickles.  Let’s get right to the pictures!

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I started out with the Cucumber Mint-ini.  It was delicious and very refreshing.  Highly recommend any day, but most especially on a really hot summer’s night.

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Appetizer: lobster and crab spring rolls.  Quite the showstopper.  Not only was the presentation eye catching, but the spring rolls were stuffed full of fresh blue crab and large chunks of Maine lobster. Surrounding the spring rolls was a Thai chili sauce with a spicy honey marmalade.  Perfect for dipping.
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The Texas Longhorn.  As you can see, I opted for a burger.  It’s a half pound beef burger with cheddar cheese, onion strings, jalapeño bacon, barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato. Each burger comes with a side, pictured here are the fried pickles.

The burger was delicious, and perfectly cooked; however, I think I was most excited to try fried pickles, which I’ve never tried before.  They were very good, with a crispy coating, and creamy dipping sauce.  However, word of advice – I did find them to be very heavy with the already loaded Longhorn burger, so while I tried one at the restaurant, I packed up the rest and ate them the at home the next day.  I think they tasted even better after I put them in the refrigerator and ended up eating them cold with the other  leftover half of my burger (which I did heat up).

My only issue with the burger was how MASSIVE it was (really nothing to complain about, I know).  To fit it in my mouth I ended up taking out a piece of bacon and some of the fried onion strings.  Don’t get me wrong, I ate the bacon and the onion stings, too!  The BBQ sauce added to the burger was perfect with it, sweet, tangy, but not too overpowering.  My boyfriend opted for the bison burger.  I’ve never had bison before so I tried a bite of his, and I must say it was really, really good, but with a much more distinct meaty and smoky taste than a beef burger.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of his burger before it quickly disappeared.

And if you’re still hungry after that, or you’re like my boyfriend and ALWAYS have room for dessert, you can opt for one of their many delicious milkshakes.

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The Marshmallow Crispy Treat: Rice Krispies and mallow cream blended with vanilla bean ice cream.

Another great menu item.  My boyfriend devoured this before you could even say Marshmallow Crispy Treat.  I’m not much of a milkshake person as my stomach doesn’t quite get along with milkshakes, but of course I had a taste. If you enjoy vanilla, you will love this.  It’s very creamy, with a strong vanilla flavor, and a great amount of crispy crunch from the rice Krispies for a fun pop and texture.

Finally, I have to comment on the great service at this place, too.  We went on a weeknight, at around 5:30/6pm and had approximately a 20 minute wait for a table.  The wait wasn’t too bad, but I can only imagine how busy this place would be on a Friday night or weekend.  I’m not sure if this location takes reservations, but it would be great if they do.  Our waiter was very attentive and service overall was on point.  Additionally, check out the many accolades The Cowfish has received on their website.  Including being listed on Charlotte’s 25 Best Restaurants in 2011 by Charlotte Magazine.

Now, off to the gym. 🙂

 

Nom Nom…Ramen?

Happy Sunday!

Today’s focus is on a Philadelphia favorite of mine.  Sometimes the best food comes from those little places that you walk by all the time, and only end up going to because someone else takes you.  Nom Nom Ramen is one of those places for me.

Nom Nom Ramen is a little Japanese ramen noodle restaurant with one location in Center City Philadelphia at 20 S. 18th Street, a quick walk from Suburban Train Station.  The first time I went was when my cousin and I met up for lunch in the city.  I worked right around the corner from this place, but had never been here before, always thinking in my mind as I passed by that “ramen” meant those little noodle packages you get at the grocery store for 10 cents apiece. Luckily for me, my cousin had been to Nom Nom Ramen, loved the Japanese noodle soup, and decided that we should meet here for lunch.

That first visit to Nom Nom Ramen for me was over four years ago, and since then I’ve made numerous trips back.  My most recent visit was with my sister, who loves this place even more than I do!

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Here’s a picture of the front of the restaurant.  The bright orange color stands out as you pass by the often busy street.
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We arrived for lunch early on a Saturday.  We were the first ones, but the place quickly started to fill up.  It used to be an “order at the counter” place, but just within the past year this location switched to restaurant style service.
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The menu as of July 2016.  Please note that this spot is cash only (but well worth the trouble of running to the bank…or the ATM that’s around the corner).

The menu might be a bit intimidating if it is your first time trying a Japanese ramen soup.  If you like spicy foods, like me, you will love the pork belly tonkotsu karai ramen.  This bowl is a fiery red, miso pork broth with pork belly, scallions, tender bamboo, and Japanese mushrooms.  You can add an egg for an extra fee.  For those not too inclined on spicy foods, try the shio broth. This broth, known as the “salt” broth is creamy and not spicy like the karai.  As you can see from the menu, if you prefer your soup a little more customized, you can ask for adjustments in the way the noodles are cooked, or a less salty broth.  I’ve never asked for an adjustment, so I can’t speak to how well that is done, but it’s a nice option for someone who may not enjoy the saltiness, for example, that typical ramen bowls are known for.

Another menu item that really is a must try, are the pork buns (pictured below).  These buns are light, fluffy and so, so good.  They are creamy from the mayo and pickled veggies, and the pork belly gives them this deliciously sweet and smoky flavor.

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Pork Buns – delicious!!
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Spicy “karai” ramen. This is the “regular” size.  You can also get a large for a little more $$.  Yummmmmmm
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A steaming bowl of spicy ramen soup.

Let me know if you’ve ever been here before, end up going, or where your favorite ramen noodle spots are!

               

                                                                                                               Until then,

                                                                                                               Nicole

South Goa: R&R

Namaste!

May 2016 has been a very good month, so good that I’ve neglected to share my food and travel experiences on Gluttons Abroad.  Hopefully, this post will get me back into the blogging routine as I sure do have lots of exciting things to write about.

As you may have read in my “About” section, the inspiration for my blog came from a trip to India that I was planning with my family.  Well, that trip has come and gone and with it I’ve brought back many memories, pictures, and stories to share.  While our first destination in India was not Goa, but actually a small city called Mangalore in the state of Karnataka, I am starting with Goa, because it’s a vacation destination I think everyone should put on their bucket list.  

Goa is located along the southwestern coast of India.  Its coastline touches the Arabian Sea and the state is known for its Portuguese influence.  That Portuguese influence brought with it, particularly to south India, and especially Goa: Catholicism,  a unique architectural style as seen with the historical churches dating back to the 16th Century, a noteworthy culture known for embracing music, dance and the arts, and most importantly (for Gluttons Abroad) a delicious and distinct cuisine. 

So, you might ask, how did we get to Goa from Mangalore?  

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We took the train!  One of the benefits of traveling from Mangalore to Goa is the option of traveling via train.  The journey was comfortable, although it does take about five hours to get there.  And when booking a train, make sure to book an air conditioned car.  On some trains, not all the cars are air conditioned and since we travelled during May, one of the hottest times in India, the air conditioned car was a cool welcome.  Making the journey quite comfortable.  Also, for those of us foreigners traveling via train, I wouldn’t recommend the food being sold on the train (or the bathroom, which I heard on this one was a hole in the floor, I’m not quite sure if it varies by trains), I didn’t go so I don’t have proof.  If it’s not necessary, my advice is to refrain from the bathroom and food options, but if you’re more adventurous than me I look forward to hearing about those experiences, too!

When we arrived in Goa, my Aunt and Uncle, who had so carefully planned out our journey, had a car waiting for us at the train station.  Once we arrived, everyone jumped into the car and we drove to our first destination…for food of course!

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Our stop was at Zeebop.  And oh boy was this place JUST what I needed after a five hour train ride.  This restaurant is ON THE BEACH, and because the ambience was just what I needed I completely forgot to take pictures of the food!  And by ambience I mean this….

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TOES in the SAND, DRINK in my HAND, FOOD on the TABLE and FAMILY to SHARE it all with.   It really doesn’t get any better than this!

After lunch we made our way to the resort that we stayed at for our first, and only night in South Goa.  We stayed at the Kenilworth Resort and Spa and it was absolutely beautiful.  I would highly recommend this resort if you’re looking for some much needed rest and relaxation.

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Resort entrance
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Inside the lobby: a cozy nook to chat, nap, read, or simply enjoy the view outside
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Hotel lobby
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Enjoying the resort with my nana and sister.

Midwood Smokehouse

Hey y’all,

I am really excited about writing this post because boy did I have the best barbecue ever!  Being from Pennsylvania, there aren’t many BBQ places around here; however, North Carolina really does have some of the best BBQ around.  And lucky me, my boyfriend is from NC.

My boyfriend visited Midwood Smokehouse for the first time a few weeks ago, and was raving about it.  So, I knew that on my next visit to North Carolina, a trip to Midwood Smokehouse was a must, and I wasn’t disappointed.

As we walked into the restaurant, which has a casual atmosphere with a bar, and indoor and outdoor dining areas, the smell of smoked meats and sweet barbecue sauce filled the small space.  Since it was a nice day out, we opted to sit in the outdoor area.  The menu is a meat lovers dream.  You have Carolina pork, beef brisket, burnt ends (which many commenters on Yelp raved about), BBQ chicken, and various different types of ribs.  They also have salads, and delicious sounding sandwiches such as “The Hot Mess” – which is a chuck and brisket burger with a bacon jalapeño spread, monterery jack cheese and caramelized onions.  If that’s not enough, you can even opt for “The Hotter Mess” – which includes 2 bacon wrapped jalapeños.  I’ll have to try those next time. 🙂

We wanted to get a sampling of as much as we could so we opted for the “Well-Fed” platter which we shared.  Here are a few pics of the feast!

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Midwood Smokehouse “Well Fed” Platter
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Midwood Smokehouse – We ordered the Ribs with sweet and spicy sauce, Beef Brisket (lean cut), BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, and Hushpuppies.  It also came with some sliced onion on the side and a mustard sauce.
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My boyfriend and I both agreed that the ribs, baked beans, and bacon wrapped jalapeños were our favorites.  The baked beans were the best baked beans I’ve ever had, as were the ribs.
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There was also two types of BBQ sauce that the waiter brought out – one was a vinegar based sauce and the other was a sweet sauce.  I only tried the sweet one, which was amazing, and I slathered it over the ribs – SO DELICIOUS!  There was so much food we had (a few) leftovers to take home!

Coming Back for More

Hi all,

It’s definitely no easy task selecting what to write about for your first ever blog post.  I mean, the first post should be something memorable, right?  Something to grab your readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more?  Well, whether or not that’s true (or necessary), I’ve decided to start with something that has kept me “coming back for more.”

So my family and I LOVE the Cheesecake Factory. It’s the one place we always all agree on and  even though the menu is gi-normous we ALL enjoy getting the same dish – the bang-bang chicken and shrimp.  If you haven’t tried this from the Cheesecake Factory’s menu, I’d highly recommend it.  It is a Thai inspired dish with chicken, shrimp, peanuts, sweet coconut and veggies all mixed together in a creamy coconut sauce surrounded by a heaping serving of rice in the middle.  If you love the mixture of many flavors all coming together in one dish, then you’ll likely love this one.

If you’re still reading this post and haven’t already run off to the Cheesecake Factory to go try some bang bang chicken and shrimp for yourself, then you’re in luck.  A few days ago, I was perusing Pinterest in search of something to cook for dinner.  Several “pins” later I came across a recipe I had saved months ago, a recipe for a copycat version of bang bang chicken and shrimp.  While I had saved this pin months ago, I had never gotten around to testing out the recipe, so I figured, this would be the day.  Long story short, the recipe turned out GREAT!  I tend to be hesitant about trying out some recipes that I find online, especially ones with a lot of ingredients because I hate the thought of wasting all those ingredients if the recipe turns out to be a dud; however, because I enjoy this dish so much I knew I had to give it a shot and it ended up working out great.  While the lengthy ingredient list can be alarming, don’t rule this one out.

By now you’re probably wondering – is she ever going to tell us how to make this thing?

Recipe can be found at: Ambrosia & Nectar

I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, except I did substitute chili powder for the hot chili oil.  Here’s how mine turned out.

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Copycat Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp