Guest Chef @ Elliotborough Mini Bar

OH-MY-CROCKPOT. I’m not gonna get too sappy, but Tuesday was one of the top night’s of my life. I decided to ignore my nerves and apprehension, and accept the challenge of Guest-Chef at my favorite bar downtown, Elliotborough Mini Bar. My job was to prepare all the food, the menu, provide the dishes, and take the orders, serve, clean up, and of course, mingle. AHHHHH!! Well, I don’t know what I was thinking doing all that by myself!?? My whole family ended up showing up and I’m talkin’ SHOWING UP! Y’all are the best people I know and your help was unbelievable. So, on a freezing cold evening in February, and probably the only day calling for a ‘wintery mix’ this year, all of my friends also showed up and made the inside of ElliotBorough Mini Bar steam up!!! Y’ALL ARE AWESOME! delete 010delete 011 My menu included Pulled Pork Sliders with Slaw, Mexican Chicken Tacos with Guacamole, and sides of 4 Cheese Macaroni and Collard Greens….and everything obviously slow-cooked. That means I rolled into Mini Bar 6 crockpots deep!!! CROCKS BLOWING UP….ON A TUESDAY!

Major kudos to Cath for helping me with the menus!

Major kudos to Cath for helping me with the menus!

IMG_0012_2As my family was setting up in the kitchen, we decided we were not going to be so serious and just have fun with this whole night ahead of us. I mean who are we kidding, we are the Kassel family playing house right now. As all four of us stood in a 1ftx1ft kitchen pumping each other up and saying ‘we got this’, I quickly realized we couldn’t all fit and I needed space before we chopped each others’ heads off. In a strict voice I gave out roles: “Jake-you’ll be on the floor serving, Chacha-money controller and hostess with the mostest, Susu and Dad-chefs and plating food.” Dad and I then had a talk about not getting in the weeds and it’s okay to take our time, these are all my peeps anyways. Deep breath. Crockpots on three! Then first order up, a Piggy Plate and a Mix and Match both with Carolina Mustard sauce. delete 007 delete 005delete 008After careful consideration with the plating, Dad and I were so proud with our first order going out successfully and cheers-in’ in the kitchen when Jake comes back with another order. He has given us now a ‘ticket’ reading “3 (1) MM (EC) and (1) PP (MB).” What!??? “Jake back in the kitchen! What does this mean!??” Jake in a cut-to-the-point tone replies, “Table 3, 1 Mix and Match with Eastern Carolina sauce and 1 Piggy Plate with Mustard base sauce,” and then promptly exits. Okay..This.Just.Got.Real. and the tables are numbered. IMG_0019Dad and I set up a system in the kitchen, he does the tacos, I do the sliders and the sides, and he tops everything off with the garnishes. We were reaching around each other and throwing terms out like, “Hit me with the collards!” “You got sauce on that?” “I need a taco!” “Is this a mix and match!?” “Wait for the gauc!” (AND keep in mind also making way for people to walk through to clean wine glasses and get to the bathroom in very close quarters.) Then we had a big order, “Jake order up!” Jake comes back and we have multiple baskets to go out at the same time. All of sudden he loads baskets all the way up his forearms, looks at Mom and says, “Can I get a follow?” Chacha goes to grab the last basket before it’s been sprinkled with garnish and I accidentally do an impulsive snap at her and Jake says, “Yea..never take a plate from expo Mom until it’s ready.” At this point my cheeks are quivering to hold back laughter because I don’t have time to break and we are all being so serious and in the moment concentrating. We were so into it and everything we talked about earlier flew out the window. We came here to work!  delete 003

Thanks for the shot Belinda and for coming!

Thanks for the shot Belinda and for coming!

delete 009One of the best parts of the night was I could see everyone coming into the bar. The kitchen is in the back, but open so you can see straight to the front door. Every single one of you that walked through made my heart beat even faster and my tail was wagging a thousand times a minute. Throughout the crowded bar I could hear from the back, “Crockpottuesday” and it was such a powerful moment. I stepped out from the kitchen and saw my Mom passing out cookies for dessert, running around with my computer case as her money bag, and working a crowd so in her element. She then took a seat between two of my favorite co-workers, across from my oldest friends from childhood, and my ‘newer’ friends on either side. I then turned and saw my brother walking around taking and serving orders like a pro and jamming to the awesome live music he arranged by his friend Cal Fahey. And then my Dad, after working hard in the kitchen, was shaking hands, talking with his friends that showed up, and making connections with my hotel friends at the bar. Tuesday night was the definition of Crockpottuesday and it’s pinnacle. It also just so happens that this post marks the 100TH POST ANNIVERSARY!! I couldn’t have imagined anything better and am in shock that this all began in a small NYC apartment on a Tuesday, my day off from work each week. All of you are what make up this crazy term and y’all’s support and coming out to this event will be one of my favorite memories of all time. Anna, thanks so much for the encouragement and opening up your doors!IMG_0008_2 IMG_0005_2And a special thanks to this girl for helping me day of in the kitchen!!!!!IMG_0020_2After the event Jake and I were in my car headed home to drop off all the crockpots and he looks at me and says, “I think that’s the coolest thing we’ve ever done as a family.” Jake I think you nailed it, Kassel Family Restaurant coming to you soon….IMG_0009_2

Poogan’s Porch

Poogan’s Porch I tell ya was the second restaurant I went to when I moved back down to Charleston in early April of 2012. Being my first time walking onto that porch though only followed over a 100 years worth of footsteps before me. The original building of Poogan’s has been standing since the late 1800s. Poogan’s is snuggled up in a grand Victorian home on Queen Street that was converted into a restaurant in 1976. The original family sold the house and what ended up coming with it, a dog named “Poogan.”  The story goes that Poogan hung around the porch looking for scraps of food which the restaurant owners happily allowed. Three years later, Poogan passed away and he was buried under the restaurant’s porch. People sometimes say that the restaurant is ‘haunted’ with his ghost, but he’s a sweet pup so he’s always welcome!

Photo Cred: Poogan’s Porch

My first experience at Poogan’s 3 years ago was with Catherine and we sat in the main dining room area of the house and I had the fried chicken. To this day, I have been back multiple times and have ONLY had the fried chicken. I guess when ya know…ya know. Last week Katie, Jay, and I all went and sat at the bar for Poogan’s ‘Roll-back-Menu.’ This is when for a week or so out of ever year, the restaurant rolls their prices back to when they first opened in 1976. That means my fried chicken is under $10 and appetizers are around $4. Baller on a buuuuuudget!

We were greeted by bartender Eric and then a familiar face, Mr. Kyle DeGolyer! Kyle and I met through our dear mutual friend Julia and have bonded over food, crockpots (gonna need to borrow), and shall we say Zero George?IMG_0006

So roll-back, the three of us began our journey with BBQ shrimp and sausage over grits with tasso ham gravy, gouda mac and cheese, a spinach salad, and the most amazing slap-yo-grandma-good buttermilk biscuits with honey butter.

Photo Cred: Poogan's Porch

Photo Cred: Poogan’s Porch

As y’all can see these are not my pictures because it did not even occur to me to take a single minute to snap a photo until the spotless white plates were glaring back at me. Poogan’s has really nailed down the authentic downright Southern comfort food. This is what the South is all about. This is the food I want to eat when I’m sitting next to my good friends and enjoying good talks and laughing because life feels good with a warm biscuit in your hand. Moving on.

You’ve heard me say it, coming to you now, my go to, the best fried chicken.IMG_0001

The chicken has the exact crispy crunch to soft juicy inside ratio that any chicken eater is looking for. The chicken strategically is placed on a bed of dreamy whipped potatoes that creates the perfect combination bite. I’m a huge fan of combination bites. It’s all about the flavors matching and how they dance together in your mouth. (Stares out window wondering if that’s a weird sentence, decides to keep it.) The chicken is also served with collard greens which I am all about these days since my recent experiment. I noticed these collards had some of the stems still attached and I enjoyed eating them all the same. This somewhat infuriates me though, as I spent what seems like hours, detaching all of the stems from the collards I made. Will know next time it’s okay to keep some in there, thanks Poogan’s.

Jay indulged in the fried chicken as well and Katie went with her go to, the roasted catfish.IMG_0003As for dessert, Katie made an executive decision and ordered the bourbon chocolate cheese cake. And again, sorry for the picture delay, but this dessert was ambushed upon hitting the table.IMG_0009Just as the thee of us were leaning back in our stools and crossing our hands behind our heads, Kyle asked if we had time for his speciality cocktail. Absolutely. Kyle is a master mixologist and has made the finals in Art in a Glass for the Wine and Food Festival and Next Top Cocktail for Charleston Fashion Week. His concoction goes by the name “Shall Not Covet” and consists of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Lillet Blanc, homemade Coffee Bitters, Strawberry Angostura Syrup, and powered egg whites. I don’t know what I just said, but watching the assemble I was hypnotized. Making cocktails is such a foreign world to me and I would never know that coffee bitters and egg whites would create such a sophisticated drink. IMG_0007And for his final signature touch, Kyle uses the strawberry Angostura syrup to spray through a plastic top with a cut out of a “X.”IMG_0008I’m officially a scotch drinker….but only in “Shall Not Covet” style. Kyle thanks for another amazing Poogan’s experience!

Happy Hump Day Crocks!IMG_0005

Fallon in da House!!!

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This week’s Friday Feature comes from the girl who loves and appreciates food as much as I do, who I can always count on for an “I’m in,” and who’s always down for dessert….coming in hot…..Miss Fallon Marie Sposatooooooooo!

Sposato Family Braciole

“Crockheads…I hope you’re ready to be schooled in some authentic Italian eats because this is the real deal…. a Sposato family favorite I’ve been eating since I was a kid. BUT. Full disclosure: it appears as though no one in my family writes things down or keeps recipes. This is a very loose recipe…I tried to keep up with my dad as best I could.

Anyhow…Christmas time in the Sposato household means one thing: Italian food traditions. Every year we bake Italian pastries by the plenty (biscotti, pizzelles, totos, etc.) and we celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fish on Christmas Eve. Occasionally, we have lasagna on Christmas day.

On the 26th when I was “working remotely” aka on house arrest with my computer but doing nothing productive, I decided to cook with my dad and document an Italian dish we eat all throughout the year. This dish isn’t complicated but does require many hours simmered in sauce – perfect to be adapted for the crockpot.IMG_0001

Braciole, pronounced bra’zhul, can be cooked with meatballs or in place of them with pasta. Known as braciole in the United States, in Italy they’re called involtini, which means “little bundles”. The little bundles we put together are thin slices of beef with a savory filling, rolled and held together by a toothpick. Interestingly in our variation we use raisins, which are surprisingly good in savory dishes.

Ingredients:IMG_0003
-Approx. 2.5 lbs top round steak thin sliced or flank steak thin sliced
-4-5 cloves of minced garlic, more or less to taste
-2 small boxes of raisins
-Large bunch of fresh parsley
-Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
-Italian seasoning
-Garlic salt
-Pepper
-Toothpicks
-Jar of store bought marinara sauce
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Pasta – penne or other small type

  1. Cut beef into strips. This depends on personal preference but I suggest 1-2 inches wide. The beef is easier to work with if its really cold so keep it refrigerated until the last moment.
  2. Layer on each beef strip garlic salt, pepper, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, raisins and Parmesan cheese.IMG_0004
  3. Roll strip up into a little bundle and secure with one toothpick per bundle.IMG_0002
  4. Once you have seasoned and rolled all strips, put them in olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the bundles, remove from heat and add to the crockpot.IMG_0008IMG_0006
  5. Add store bought marinara to crockpot and let simmer for 3-4 hours over low setting.

Optional:

After we browned the braciole, we deglazed the pot with good red wine for the base of our sauce. Then we put our sauce in the pot and added peppers, whole canned tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Once this was all stirred together, we added to the crock pot over the meat. Again, it depends on personal preference with the sauce.IMG_0007

To serve:

We served this with penne pasta. Remember to remove the toothpicks prior to serving or remind your diners to do so on their plates and please don’t sue me if you forget. Buon appetito!”IMG_0005

Fal, this looks amaaaazing and I would like for you to cook this for the crew sooner than later please :) Thanks for your Friday Feature!!!10698590_10102538326664937_5254771097725680975_n

Southern Mac and Collards

Good day Crocks,

Last night I had a trial run of some dishes for my upcoming guest chef night at Elliot Borough Mini Bar. I am super nervous because number 1: I am no chef. The people who have participated in this in the past are all cooks from restaurants which is extremely intimating. Number 2: I am a…crocker? which is different because the bad boy does all the work, I’m just there to throw it all in. Number 3: I relate more to a writer who strictly writes about food and now here I am on the other end. So, yes nervous, but also thrilled about the opportunity and wouldn’t want to cook at any other establishment! So the rules of last night: You couldn’t say a dish was ‘good’. I needed some real feedback with describing words and solutions to what the dishes needed. Here’s how it went:

                                                 Crockpot Mac and Cheese

IMG_0018Ingredients
-Medium HT Traders shell pasta
-1 stick of butter, melted
-2 eggs, beaten
-4 cups of cheese: American, Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyère
-1 can evaporated milk
-1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
-1 cup 2% milk
-Salt and Pepper to taste
Yields 6-7 servings
Cook pasta according to package. Transfer to crockpot and stir in melted butter.IMG_0022 In a separate large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, evaporated milk, cheese soup, and milk.IMG_0020 Pour mixture over macaroni in crockpot and cook on low for 3 hours.IMG_0023IMG_0028

(Original recipe calls for only putting the first 3 cups of cheese in crockpot and then adding the last cup at the very end just on top and sprinkling with paprika.) So my personal assessment, I wish the macaroni kept some of the creamy consistency it started with. If you look at the last two pictures, picture one is before the mixture cooked for three hours and it was very soupy. Picture two, the macaroni soaked up most of the liquid and the cheese separated a bit. However, Jayman and Raymond both agreed that they preferred this texture better. I believe Ray even stated, “This is more of a high end macaroni dish”. Katie had me add more salt and pepper which I agreed it needed and then Louise had a good recommendation, she wanted more sharpness. The cheeses cooked together to create a smooth taste and she wanted more of a bite from some sharp cheddar. And sweet Cath said her palate was too immature to know what we were talking about and she just really liked it. Thanks Cath I love you. Moving on to the collards.

                                                    Crockpot Collard Greens

Ingredients
-1 ham hock, 2lbs
-Collards 4.5lbs=~3bunches
-2 tablespoons Olive oil
-1 yellow onion, medium diced
-3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 cup chicken broth -1 tablespoon cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon granulated sugar
-salt and pepper
-Red pepper flakes
Yields 6-7 servings IMG_0004 IMG_0002 Place dat ham hock in the middle of the crockpot and well come back to it. Side note, ham hocks are awesome. I’ve been somewhat naïve of them as I marched straight up to the butcher asking for one and he had to redirect me to the prepackaged section. They add so much flavor and make me feel like I’m a Southern grandma cooking for my family of 10 on a Sunday with the dogs barking on the front porch. IMG_0006Thoroughly run collards under warm water in the sink to make sure all dirt and grit washes off, dry them, and set aside.

Next, heat olive oil in a large pot on the stove top. Once collards are dry, use your hands to remove collard leaves from stems and throw stems away. Allow plenty of time for this process because separating through 5 pounds of collards mimics paddling upstream in a kayak. I was going strong, but wasn’t making a dent and couldn’t see the dock. Worst part, my olive oil was burning! During this time I thought of Mama Connie and how she always had collards simmering on her stove top. I respect you so much more Mama Connie for all those long hours you did in the kitchen! Tip: Prepare the collards first and then heat your olive oil. Once olive oil is hot, add in the onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are clear. Next add in chicken broth and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. I used chicken stock I had saved from a  previous crockpot meal. Remember to always save the juice!IMG_0008 IMG_0010 Stir in collards a handful at a time, adding more as they wilt. I made the mistake of using too small a pot so I had to transfer some collards out to the crockpot prematurely to make more room. So again, make sure you use a very large pot. Also, I noticed the bottom of the pan was burning a bit and I wanted more stock to pour in, but had used it all. I had to substitute some white wine in its place just to give the pan more juice. Once all collards are in the pot, turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, the sugar, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes (your preference on measurement depending on desired spicy level).IMG_0012 Transfer all to the crockpot and cook on low for 3 hours, until the greens are very tender.IMG_0013 IMG_0015 After doing some errands and coming in the back kitchen door after a run, I knew something was right. The kitchen smelled like the Terrill’s kitchen. I’ll always think of that kitchen of home to the best Southern dishes and casseroles I’ve ever had. I loved eating dinner over there growing up because I was a deprived Southern child growing up with two Yankee parents who did not cook things like pineapple casserole or green bean casserole. (Mom, Dad-just kidding, just making the story more intense.) As I lifted the lid and lowered my face into the pot, Southern Sunday scents of a home cooked meal swirled in my nostrils and my mouth began to water. The last step is to take out the ham hock and cut it into bite-sized pieces and then stir it back into the greens. Now for the taste test.IMG_0026I wasn’t sure if the collards needed more sugar. Jay said it just needed a little more salt so I let him do the honors. Ray said he is used to collards being drenched in vinegar to the point where he can only eat a certain helping. He said he could eat these for days so they might need some more vinegar. Jay quickly opposed this idea so I went with Jay, sorry Ray, but I do appreciate your input. Louise and Katie said the collards didn’t need anything, and sweet Cath was happy. At the end of the day everyone is going to like their collards somewhat differently and I had to focus more so on whether or not they had a good base because you know I’M ALL ABOUT THAT BASS ‘BOUT THAT BASS. IMG_0030(Not pictured: Jayman and Susu) Thanks for coming out and testing frands and thank you to Katie for making some dank BBQ chicken, to Cath and Weez for the wine, and to Raymond for the ice cream sandwiches and snickers. I’ll let y’all know how the big day goes or hopefully will see y’all there: February 24th!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Crocks, Whatchu know about soup weather. It’s hur! This roasted red pepper soup is great with a good ole fashioned grilled cheese. If you like red peppers you will love this soup. If you don’t, you will hate it, it tastes exactly like a red pepper and some other stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

First cover those suckers in olive oil so they shine like a baby’s bottom. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. Same thing. Make them shine.IMG_0002Next roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes on each side until soft and blackened. Mine still weren’t very blacked after the allotted time so I also broiled them on a high setting for about 5 minutes longer on each side. IMG_0001IMG_0005Once ready, pull out of the oven and cover in tin foil to steam for 10 minutes. Then remove foil and allow to cool. When touchable, peel off the skins and pop out the green stem and seeds. This will call for some careful dissecting.

Now for creating the soup. In a large pot over medium heat, add some olive oil and toss in the onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are clear. Next, add the carrots, celery, and parsley- about 3 minutes longer. IMG_0004Then put in your cumin and bay leaf. The original recipe I was following also called for garam masala, but I did not have this so left it out, otherwise add 1/2 a teaspoon. Stir to combine all and then add your roasted pepper chucks and stock.IMG_0006Cover and turn heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes until carrots and celery soften. Your nose will tell you when it’s ready. IMG_0008Now for the disaster. I transferred the soup to my food processor oh so carefully, made sure the lid was on tight, pressed pulse, and red pepper hot ass soup flew all over me and my kitchen. My food processor was and is broken!!! WHO KNEW. I feel like I get myself in these situations a lot. I immediately became pissed and my ‘hanger’ levels really started to surface. I think for these reasons people HATE cooking. Somehow, I managed to clean everything up though and place a dish cloth around the lid and finish pureeing the soup. I then transferred everything back to the pot on the stove, stirred in the heavy cream, added salt and pepper to taste, and ate a Oreo to calm my nerves (was out of wine).IMG_0009

All in all, my two *scents*- let the final product marinate overnight, it’s twice as better the next day. Oh and have a proper working food processor or an immersion blender would even be better. Note: must invest. That night I would say it was descent. I ate a full bowl and even had seconds, but it did seem bland. However, I did pack the soup for lunch the next day and it tasted like a new soup! I’m talking Trader Joe’s worthy. I brought Fallon a tuber ware of it too and she was happy. I think the flavors just needed some extra time to really come through and say hey, I’m here to party.

DC Adventure

“AHHHHEEEMMM.” Clears throat. Sits at desk and opens up WordPress on computer. Scratches nose. Looks out the window at the beautiful colonial lake under the million dollar construction. Changes Pandora station to Milky Chance. Leaves and open blinds in living room. Puts on cat slippers. Sits back down. SUSU FOCUS!!!!!! It’s been two months and I’ve forgotten how to sit still and write! But bear with me because I’m coming back, slowly but surely. Proof is in the pudding. (right…Mary, Ray?) I’ve made some good crockpot dishes that I *intend* to share with you including Beef Stew over Egg Noodles and a Roasted Red Pepper Soup. I also ate for the first time at Amen Street and got some good pics and stories to tell. However, first, my DC trip to visit Mary.

Mary is a good friend for many reasons, but one of my favorite things about Mary is her dedication to show a friend a good time. Y’all should have seen the itinerary she sent me before I even went up there.  She had each day planned with activities and was such a good host. When I first arrived early Friday morning, she picked me up and took me to her hood in Georgetown. She has a cute studio-esque apartment right off Wisconsin Avenue. IMG_0015We dropped my bags off and grabbed a coffee from her local coffee shop, walked around for a bit, and then rented bikes! We rode all around the downtown passing the monuments, the White House-sup Obama-,National Mall, and all of the museums. I felt very city again. We stopped at a food truck and ate outside and enjoyed the perfect weather which I really lucked out with all weekend (and would only happen because Mary was involved, always lucky). After exploring downtown, I wanted to see where my Dad grew up in DC so we jumped in the car and drove about 15 minutes out to his house in Chevy Chase. It was pretty cool to stand there and see where my grandparents and pops lived. My dad had also sent me a pic of him in front of his house so I decided to mock it which turned out for a funny photo. IMG_0016We then headed to Pearlz Dive for drinks. We were pretty impressed with ourselves for lasting up until 2:30pm before our first cocktail. We hung out there, then got espressos and ice cream back near Mary’s place. I love that about a city. Everything is close. For dinner the first night we went to Eno Wine Bar. We sat at the bar and split a bottle of red wine and ordered a charcuterie platter, a Margherita flatbread, and jalapeño lemon deviled eggs.IMG_0017 Wow. Everything was delicious, but more importantly it was really fun to sit up there with Mary. We haven’t lived in the same city since 2010 and I forgot how this was one of my favorite things. Mary and I have the same birthday (why she claims we’re even friends which makes me furious) and we are currently in our golden year, meaning 26 years old and born on the date 26. I realize we over play this “golden year” thing way more than others, but for some reason, it really does mean something to both of us. This is a special year and 26 is the time for it all to happen! Hashtag #snowglobetalk. After our loopy dinner, we headed to Virginia to hear Mary’s stepbrother Eric’s band and dance all night. Check them out, they’re awesome Party Like Its.

Saturday. Whoa. DC you’ve already kicked my butt. And this is the part I really want to share. Mary made brunch reservations for the two of us as well as my Aunt Anne and Uncle John at a restaurant on the waterfront called Famers Fishers Bakers. I was really looking forward to seeing Anne and John after all these years, but unfortunately they weren’t able to make it due to snowy weather out in Virginia. We will have to go back guys because this place was insane! Mary and I had no idea what we were getting into for brunch. We walked into a huge restaurant right on the water and in front of an ice rink.IMG_0025 IMG_0019IMG_0018The restaurant itself is beautiful with tall ceilings, triangle beams creating a rustic look, and huge windows illuminating the inside. We were sat at the perfect table for two in the middle of the restaurant and were able to take it all in. My mouth was watering and I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like Keeper. Our adorable waiter Kyler, who wore a navy blue bow tie, glasses, and cute fitted dark jeans, explained the restaurant does strictly a buffet style for brunch. He offered to start us off with the Sparkling Punch Brunch Bowl that serves 4 people while we got up and fixed our plates. This is a huge bowl with pieces of cut fruit and juice and then a bottle of cava brut. I’lll come back to this. I have a problem with buffets. I have to try everything. Even things I would never order I feel that I HAVE to get them on a buffet. Our plates were overflowing with pork belly, sliced ham, beet salad, kale salad, cheese grits, crab dip, pulled chicken, guacamole, grilled corn, vegetable fried rice, watermelon, and I’m out of breath. IMG_0020 IMG_0022And as if this wasn’t enough, the restaurant has ‘traveling trays.’ This means cocktail waiters that walk around and offer you additional food. So then we were also partaking in these people coming up to us saying, “Slice of pizza? Fried shrimp ma’am? Would you care for some sushi? How about some biscuits and cinnamon rolls.” What!! IMG_0023I have NEVER had a brunch like this. And to top it off, I was feeling goooood. I’m sorry. I don’t know what it was about that Punch bowl, maybe that it was for 4 people instead of 2, but Mary and I had lost it. We didn’t even have to move to drink because they gave us these extremely long colorful straws that transferred the alcohol from the table straight to us chillin 5 feet back in our chairs. We were so full, but couldn’t stop eating, and were border line falling out of our chairs. It was awesome. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard like we did that day in a while. This was quite the experience and I recommend everyone making a special trip to this restaurant while in DC.FullSizeRenderAfter brunch we somehow shopped along M Street and then went straight to Mary’s bed and slept for a good 2 hour nap. That night, we went out with her neighbors to a DC club and danced night 2 away.IMG_0028On day 3, we met up with Mary’s family for yet again another crazy brunch. We went to Masa 14, all  you can eat and drink for $40. Here we go. Y’all, we brunched from 1pm until 8pm. I’m laughing now because it was so ridiculous and yet so fun. I know in my past life I was a Zmuda. Papa Dukes likes to call me Susu Zmuda and I’m ay-okay with that. This brunch was a tapas style where you order small plates and just keep them coming! We had breakfast pizza, breakfast tacos, mushroom flatbread, pork belly benedict, seared salmon, bacon fried rice, quiche, smoked brisket, AND mimosa after mimosa. Those Zmudas/Tafts are some fun peoples. IMG_0033After day 3, Mary and I went to bed at 9pm and woke up at 9am. It was needed. We had breakfast at a cute restaurant under the bridge and then I was off back to the airport on a already 2 hour delayed flight. However, in good ole Mary fashion, I was able to get on a different and earlier flight to Charleston. Zmudula- thanks for a wonderful and much needed weekend! Cheers to 26!

#A2Smealathon

Crockheads,

Meet my friend Andrew Lovedale:AndrewThat’s right, former star of Davidson College in North Carolina and professional basketball player in France and Switzerland. Andrew recently contacted me to share his story and I have to pass it along as his motivation and journey are very touching.

Andrew is from Nigeria and was living in London attending school while playing for Manchester Magic when he was recruited to play in the States. While playing for Davidson, Andrew was amazed by how much athletic gear the team was given, only to dispose of it after they ‘wore it out’. Back in his home town of Benin City, Nigeria, this is not common as kids play ball barefoot or in poorly made sandals. Andrew realized quickly he needed to take action. He asked his teammates to place their old shoes in a box in the locker room after their games. The summer after his first year, Andrew took all the shoes back home for the kids.

Throughout his time at Davidson, this movement increased and three years later he took back basketballs, jerseys, and even more shoes.

During Andrew’s senior year at Davidson, his project was highlighted in articles in USA Today and on ESPN.com. He ultimately collected over 10,500 pairs of shoes and raised $15,000. Even after all this, Andrew felt he needed to do more.

In 2009, Andrew created his non-profit called Access to Success to continuously develop his movement, implement clinics and after school programs, and most importantly, sustain a long-term program in Benin City. Crockheads, Andrew and I need your help. We are asking for you to ‘save a seat’ at your Thanksgiving table for a child. It cost just $22 to provide a hot meal a day for a child in Nigeria for an entire month. A2S needs to raise $40,000 to sustain its daily feeding program for the 2015 year. From November 25th until December 31st, they are campaigning to raise $40,000 so they can continue to provide a nutritious meal for those who often go without basic sustenance.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to actually be starving. I am so privileged to have my Crockpottuesday dinner parties and go out to restaurants reviewing the food based on my ‘standards.’ It really puts things into perspective when your $22 can feed someone for a month. Thank you in advance for your donation and have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season! And thank you Andrew for your hard working and making a difference, it is truly inspiring.

DONATE HERE!

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DONATE HERE!

For more information about A2S, click here.