Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sunday Brunch at The Triangle

Sunday is reserved for one thing. No, not church. Not family. No...Sunday is brunch day!!!

Also commonly referred to as "Sunday Fun-day". No Sunday is complete without a bloody mary or mimosa, a heaping pile of food, and great atmosphere. For me, Sunday brunch is more sacred than anything your local preacher could be offering up. It's the closest thing to a ritual I adhere to (not counting Friday night Shabbat dinner at my folks place). First reason I love brunch so much is that it is socially acceptable to be shit faced by one in the afternoon. I have been a fan of day drinking since college and think it is the truly responsible way to drink; you get your party fix, you are much more alert having just woken up, and you will most likely wake up the next day completely sober.

So the usual brunch spot for my crew is the Triangle Char & Bar in Mount Pleasant. It is known for horrible food, which is true....except for Sundays. I admit that my fiance and I have come up with a fool proof regular brunch order which guarantees us great food, so if you go there for brunch and have a crappy dry omelet...you've been warned.

Triangle is always packed on Sundays, for good reason. $1 mimosas, great spicy bloody mary's, and a fun outside bar area. What I am more interested in talking about however, is their fried chicken livers. These things are spectacular! and the only thing my fiance Matt and I will EVER order from this place. Every Sunday brunch we go there and split the $7 order of chicken livers and a carafe of mimosas and walk away buzzed and so stuffed with food that we waddle lackadaisically back to our vehicle. 

To most people, fried chicken livers sounds disgusting. I understand that. I love third category meats (organ meats to the non culinary crowd), and   chicken liver to me is a special treat. They are also fairly common in the south, where people love the weird stuff (feet, snout, tail etc.) which is fantastic for people like me! you wont find chicken livers on a Manhattan brunch menu that is for sure.

This dish is brunch perfection. The fried chicken livers are accompanied by cheese grits and tasso gravy- a kind of creamy sinfully good pork based sauce that literally makes your tastebuds do high-fives-and all finished off with a fried egg for good measure. It ends up being a creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet slop-bucket of glory. I cannot sing this dishes praises enough. I seriously just want to make out with it, or get it intravenously. And, it is such a filling dish that I could never safely finish one on my own, so it makes the perfect brunch plate for Matt and I....two pigs in shit we are when Sunday rolls around.

As I said....Sunday is for brunch....and of course, friend chicken livers.

Good Morning Vietnam!!!

I can't help but express my excitement to all of you about finding a new girlfriend. Truth be told, good female friends are pretty hard to find and it was by complete chance that me and this chick hit it off. Her name is Chi, she is straight Vietnamese but has lived in DC and then Florida for the past twenty years. She's around 42, skinny and gorgeous, and of course being Asian she also looks like she is about 28-years-old.

Anyways, I had gotten into the topic of food with Chi and she told me she is a huge foodie! So of course I asked all about Vietnamese cuisine, a cuisine I honestly don't know much about. We got to talking about Pho, a traditional Vietnamese dish basically consisting of rare beef cooked in a broth with noodles....from there you can add all sorts of things to it making it unique to you. At least, that was my understanding of it. What I mostly knew about it was that my idol, Anthony Bourdain has on several occasions mentioned that Pho is his favorite dish of all time. I just had to know why!

So Chi invited me to go along with her when she goes up to North Charleston to check out a new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Bac. It got rave reviews for its Pho and she was anxious to find a place where she could get her home cuisine.

I was beyond excited to go, having never tried Vietnamese food, let alone trying it with a true expert on the stuff.

We got to what looked like a pretty deserted strip mall, not a good sign. The restaurant itself was badly decorated, with deep red walls with black lattis trim accented by sporadic bamboo plants in kitchy potters. Even with all this stacked against this place there were quite a few people getting their Pho fix in this small restaurant, most of them Vietnamese. Always a good sign. If local Vietnamese eat here, its good enough for me.

The menu comes, simple, laminated, in Vietnamese with English translation (also a good sign). When I was in Italy I learned that any menu that had Italian first and English second was usually just okay. Here, facing a menu in all Vietnamese would probably scare me off, so I was thankful for the descriptions of each dish. I mean, who knows what you could end up ordering in a restaurant like that.....dog anyone?

Chi told me to definitely get the Pho, but suggested the all beef one for me while she herself was going to get the House Special that came with meatballs, tendon, tripe, and beef. I guess she thought my delicate white girl stomach wouldn't be interested in what the real Vietnamese eat. She was wrong. We ordered the same thing and she was pretty impressed with my daring.

To start, Chi ordered a jack fruit bubble tea. It was more like a milkshake, sweet and thick and perfect for the hot day outside. I had never had jack fruit before and it was surprisingly mild and sweet with a hint of acidity, sort of like a mango mixed with an orange.

Then the main event arrived. Two huge steaming vats of indistinguishably brown liquid, topped with long strips of rare beef, green onion floating on top like mini life preservers. This thing was huge! I mean, serves two people huge. Put you to bed huge.

Hidden below the depths was a nest of delicate rice noodles, swimming amongst the broth, stomach lining, tendons, and believe it or not, meatballs. Relatively bland at the start, the waitress brought us a plate of goodies: Add-ins to spice up, tang-out, flavor up your dish. Basil, lime wedges, bean sprouts and jalapenos beckoned and Chi and I left no man behind. After we added our flavor boosters, we took to those bowls with generous squirts of Sirriacha, turning the mild-mannered brown liquid into a spicy amber hell-broth. This was like a religious experience. The dish is served naked almost, giving the eater the chance to really pay their respects to it by dousing their broth and noodles in spice, salt, flavor, and more spice. Making this one of the most interactive eating experiences I've had.

Chi wasted no time, digging into her bowl like a pro, teaching me the dance of spoon and chop-stick. Both are needed to attack this beast and I fumbled around with both until I finally got the hang of it. For such a small woman, Chi took down that bowl of goodness like a starving street baby. Finished well before I was.

I finally finished my bowl, almost sad that it was all over. My favorite part of the whole dish had to be those meatballs. So completely different from Italian style meatballs that I am so familiar with. These were denser, like solid hockey puck when frozen kind of dense. I can't pinpoint the flavors in them, but I'm pretty sure they were pork....then again, maybe the greatness of them is that they were so foreign to me. Maybe I don't want to know what's in those magical meatballs.

Some things are just best when left to the experts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Juanita Greenbergs Happy Hour Review

There are few things I love more than a cold beer and a good taco. Recently, this budget conscious girl has been on the hunt for the best places for happy hour in the Mount Pleasant area and came across a new favorite, Juanita Greenberg's.I had already been introduced to Juanita’s many times, for a while I referred to it as “that Jewish taco place” due to the ethnically confused name. Situated next to Andolini’s Pizza on Coleman Boulevard, it is hard to miss the bright red building and turquoise shutters. It’s a festive place that like me, doesn’t take itself too seriously and always has a good crowd and friendly staff. 
View from Coleman Blvd

A few weeks ago after a long day at the beach, my fiancĂ©, a friend and I decided to hit up Juanita’s for a happy hour margarita, just the thing to cool us down after a hot day in the sun. That is when we found out about their incredible happy hour: $2 domestics, $3 margaritas, and $1.50 traditional tacos.

Their tacos are out of this world good. We took the bartenders suggestion and got the corn tortillas, two steak and one chicken taco. Her suggestion was spot on as these tacos brought our taste buds right back to our November trip to Mexico. They were perfectly simple, just like authentic street tacos should be. The steak was grilled perfectly and was accompanied by red onion, sprigs of cilantro and melted cheese served with a lime wedge.

Happy Hour Margarita!!
The margaritas were good, fairly standard but perfect on that hot afternoon. The beer selection is superb for a Mexican restaurant, complete with a large array of imported beers including my personal favorite, Sol (similar to a corona but much tastier, served with a lime).The tacos were the true standouts, cheap and delicious. All said and done we all left more than fully satisfied and each of our tabs came out to under $20. So if you are in the mood for great tacos, a fun atmosphere and cold Mexican beers, head to Juanita Greenbergs on Coleman Blvd any day of the week.  

 410 W Coleman Blvd  Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 884-0130