Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Noisy Oyster in Charleston

Hello friends, welcome back to my blog. I have a new restaurant for you, I had an opportunity to visit yesterday while I was in Charleston SC. It is called the Noisy Oyster, and if the rest of their food was as good as I had... their food is wonderful. I visited their restaurant on Market St., one of their 3 locations in Charleston, and luckily I was there early and before anyone else. Everyone was nice and friendly, and I was seated quickly and met my waiter Josh. When I travel I keep myself on a budget, so I looked over the menu to see what was good and within my price range. Everything on the lunch menu was very reasonable, plus I was also in the posession of a $5.00-off Appetizer coupon I had secured from a time share booth down the street.

I decided on the She Crab Soup for my appetizer since that is one of my favorite soups. Any creamy crab-type soup is always my favorite, as some of you know I have a great crab soup recipe on this blog, you have to go back through the archives a little. Josh brought out the soup and I was presented with an empty bowl that had a mound of lump crab meat in the middle. The soup portion was in a small pitcher which he proceeded to pour around the crabmeat. He also had a bottle of sherry vinegar which he started to pour until I stopped him and told him I would do the honors. This soup was incredibly creamy and flavorful. The lump crab meat was sweet and fresh tasting, and when I did add a dash of the sherry vinegar it really complimented the soup. I knew it would, but I like to do stuff like that myself.

For my entrée I decided on one of my other favorites, the Shrimp and Grits. I absolutely love grits, all my life I have enjoyed them. Also you can't beat shrimp, so the two of them together is pure magic. These were creamy cheese grits, with the sauteéd shrimp and slices of andouille sausage, layered over the grits and topped with a savory brown tasso sauce. The portion was huge and the best I have eaten. As some of you know Shrimp and Grits is a Low Country cuisine favorite and recipes vary as much as recipes for gumbo. The key is to season the grits properly, some places put nothing in the grits and I hear people all the time say, "they taste like wallpaper paste". This happens when you don't season them with salt, pepper, and butter. Also don't forget when making them, you can substitute half of the water for cream or milk.

The Shrimp and Grits were served with a huge chunk of their grilled cheddar cornbread. Let me tell you about this cornbread. I normally hate sweet cornbread, I say it's bread, not cake. But brothers and sisters listen to me... this stuff was awesome. A sweet flavor, with bits of cheddar cheese running through it, a nice brown crust on the outside. Moist and flavorful, this was the perfect compliment to the dish. The food was tasty and well prepared. Everyone was friendly, and Josh did a nice job serving me.

I was offered a dessert from the incredible-looking dessert tray, but I had no room for anything. They looked amazing though, a Key Lime Pie, a five decker chocolate cake, 5 different cheesecakes, it was beautiful. I payed my very reasonable bill and told Josh what an awesome meal I'd had. I recommend this restaurant very highly, they have a diverse menu and everything I had was great. I apologize for the blue tint to the pictures, it must be my crappy phone camera. I tried adjusting the color of them in Photoshop, but it made the food look even weirder.

Check out The Noisy Oyster when in Charleston, or you can CLICK HERE and look over their menu online. Tell them RouxBDoo sent you!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Dreamland Barbecue

Hello friends, I am sorry about the length of time between posts, but my work has me away from home most of the time. I do not realistically have internet access on the ship, I could but it's VERY expensive. So I am preparing 3, maybe 4 posts while I am home. These posts will curve slightly away from the Cajun and Creole subject, (just a tiny bit) but as you might see they are about as close as you can get to it. After all they are Southern Foods, and what's more Southern than barbecue? So, here we go!

I love barbecue, I love all kinds of it, especially pork. And I love all kinds of pork, they's pulled pork, chopped pork, sliced pork, pork-kabobs, pork creole, pork gumbo. pan fried pork, deep fried pork, stir-fried pork, pineapple pork, lemon pork, coconut pork, pepper pork, pork soup, pork stew, pork salad, pork and potatoes, pork burger, pork sandwich, and little bitty stingin' pork... and big ol' fat pork. pork that flew in sideways, and sometimes pork even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Don't you Forrest? You get the idea.

While cavorting with my colleagues in Mobile Alabama, we decided to have barbecue one day. We were in Jason's automobile and using some sort of mapping device, we punched in the appropriate "Barbecue" keyword and off we went to one of Mobile's oldest and most venerable establishments... Dreamland Barbecue.

My friend Mangesh, being from India, had had little exposure to barbecue. Upon arriving he noticed smoke emitting from the building. After expressing his concern, I assured him that was a GOOD sign. Yes, you could smell the wood smoke all around the outside of the building. We quickly ran inside to avoid further exposure to the searing heat of the Alabama sun. Mangesh is used to the oppressive heat, being from India, but Myself being a pale, fat, white guy, and Jason a mere wisp of a Pennsylvanian boy, were at the sun's mercy.

We settled in and looked over the menu. Our server Tonique, gave us all the scoop on what was good and even brought us a tiny sample of their wonderful smoked sausage. She also brought us a plate-full of small cups of BBQ sauce and a stack of good ol' plain white bread. No pretension, I like this place already. The menu was also posted on a lighted sign in several locations around the room. The place was full of people ranging from businessmen, families, to working men. It had a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.

I ordered the half slab of ribs, as did Mangesh, and Jason opted for the pulled pork sammich. I love ribs as a matter of record, I would normally order a full slab, but I am trying to cut back on portions. The half rack, I was told, is about 6 ribs and should be enough with the sides. I ordered the beans and slaw, as did Mangesh, and finished my order off with an iced tea... yes, you guessed it, as did Mangesh. The Iced Tea was great, and Tonique kept those glasses full. Somewhere along the line, someone got potato salad. I just noticed this in the picture.

Jason seemed to enjoy his sandwich, which always makes me happy when Jason enjoys food. He doesn't eat much more than cereal on the ship and I worry about him. It's a "fatherly" thing I guess, since he and Mangesh both are young enough to be my sons. Mangesh laughingly refers to me as his American Father. All that aside, that sandwich did look mighty good. Lovely white, smoked, pork meat piled high on the bun with cole slaw. It was a nice, soft, Red-Neck whitebread bun too! Not one of those Nurf Foorball looking, "Olde World" natural-tough, grain buns, with more tasteless grain sprinkled onto it, like you get in some "up-scale" delis. Everything was right with this sandwich.

We looked like total tourists because I was trying to shoot pictures for this blog. I was trying using my Crap Phone camera, while Jason and Mangesh were snapping away with their superior iPhones or whatever. The interior is cool and dark. The open wood pit was illuminating the room with the fire, as well as giving everything a slight "smoky" atmosphere. We shot some pics of our lovely and patient waitress Tonique, as well as pictures of the Pit-Master Sandy. Sandy is a large, strapping gentleman who has a hot, but important job of maintaining the fire and all the meat cooking on it. A lot rides on his shoulders... get it? Pork Shoul... oh well forget it.

The General Manager, Margo told me a little about Dreamland and its humble beginnings. How John "Big Daddy" Bishop opened the small eatery in Tuscaloosa, AL in 1958, and his legacy has kept that hickory fired taste, sopped up with white bread, ever since. There are Dreamland restaurants in many locations now in several states, but Alabama is home to this family run business. After talking to a few folks, we strolled into the sunlight, and began shrieking like the pale kids in the Twilight movies at the searing sun, all except Mangesh... remember he's from India.

How was the food? In a word, delicious. The ribs were tasty, I like mine a little more "fall off the bone" but the perfectly charred meat came off clean from the bone and had a wonderful smoke center to its flavor. The beans were very good as was the slaw. The sauce is not very sweet, as I am used to it, but it compliments the meats very well. Jason liked his sandwich, as did Mangesh. Mangesh did mention several positive things about his meal but as usual I couldn't make out much of what he was saying with that accent of his, it's like being on the phone with Microsoft Customer Service. All in all, we had a great meal and I recommend when you are passing through or visiting the lovely city of Mobile, you stop in for some great food. You can check on their other locations if you CLICK HERE. The website will not only give you locations, but the history, and how to order some of their items.