Pan Roasted Gulf Grouper with feta soufflé, braised spinach, tomato jam and citrus butter at Boshamps

Boshamps grouper feta souffle spinach citrus butter

When traveling, being the foodie that I am, I thoroughly research the local restaurants. I look at reviews, check menus and ask locals for suggestion. On a recent trip to Destin, FL, I happened upon a restaurant called Boshamps. It had all my requirements for dinner at the beach. Fresh, local seafood, interesting menu, at or near the water (amazing views) and finally that it is not a chain. Let me say, I was very pleasantly surprised, so much so that we ate there twice on our trip.

I’m going to focus on the first night for this post and maybe tackle the second meal on a different post.

I started with oysters and they were delicious.

OYSTERS BOSHAMP
baked with caramelized vidalia onion, Alabama feta, house-made bacon marmalade

I love raw oysters and most of the time when you start adding a bunch of stuff to them I think you lose the essence of the oyster experience. That was not the case here. Each ingredient was very well matched with the huge, big, juicy local oysters. See the photo below, click to enlarge.

For my main course I had what many reviewers considered a signature dish.

PAN ROASTED GULF GROUPER
Alabama feta cheese soufflé, garlic braised local spinach, house made Alabama tomato jam, citrus butter

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of a soufflé with fish. I’ve made a tomato jam at home with salmon before but still, this all together vexed me. It did not take long to come around. The fish was perfectly prepared, crispy and light. The soufflé had a texture and flavor that sold it like a starch and the feta added a richness. The garlic greens were fresh and the citrus butter added just the right amount off acidity. The tomato jam added a bit of sweetness to balance out the meal. It was all fantastic.

If you visit the Destin, FL area, I highly recommend Boshamps. It is right on the water, they have a huge outdoor bar and even a little beach area for the dogs and kiddos. The service was very fast and friendly and we loved the food, both times.

Boshamps Oysters in Destin, Florida

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Pan Roasted Gulf Grouper with feta soufflé, braised spinach, tomato jam and citrus butter at Boshamps

Panera’s Thai Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe

Thai chopped chicken salad from Panera

The Thai Chicken Salad from Panera Bread Company is one of my favorite salads. It is fantastic. It has everything I look for in a great meal. Crunchy, a little heat, a little sweet, sour, tangy and lots of savory. The dressing, the peanut drizzle… nom, nom. I would say, I love this salad, so much so that I endeavored to make it at home. Low and behold, it wasn’t that hard and mine might, just might, even be better.

After a quick Google search, I came across a recipe that I based mine on. So hat tip to Cheerios & Lattes for their Panera’s Thai Chopped Chicken Salad post.

One thing I had to add was spicy pickled carrots. I know, I just know the carrots in Panera’s salad have a bunch of heat and sour. Another thing I tweaked was using jarred roasted red peppers, it was easier and added a little bit more sour. I also changed the vinaigrette to add more heat and the peanut sauce drizzle I used chocolate almond butter. Yep, you heard that correct, chocolate almond butter instead of peanut butter. I’m telling you, don’t knock it.

For my palette, this was perfect. It had all that I loved from Panera’s version but more of what I like. More heat, more sour. Even my happy mistakes like the chocolate almond butter and sambal oelek turned out fantastic. I can’t recommend this salad enough. Make it your own and let me know how you tweaked it in the comments.

 

Ingredients for Spicy Pickled Carrot

  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, cut in quarters
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

Ingredients for Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Peanut Drizzle Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chocolate almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large head bibb lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup, edamame, thawed
  • 3 roasted red pepper, drained and sliced in thin strips
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1 cup fried rice noodles (the crunchy kind in the can
  • Canola oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Directions for Spicy Pickled Carrots
This can be done ahead of time.

  1. Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat with rice wine vinegar, water, salt, carrots and jalapeno.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove from the heat.
  3. Allow to cool and place the mixture into a sealable jar (Mason Jar). Top off with water if need be and place in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Directions

  1. First make the vinaigrette. Add the rice wine vinegar, sambal oelek, sesame oil, powdered garlic in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Next the peanut drizzle sauce. Add the chocolate almond butter (or regular peanut butter), hoisin, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, soy sauce, water in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the canola oil and continue whisking. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large skillet or grill pan to just past medium. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper (we’ve already added a lot of sodium). Cook the chicken to desired doneness and allow to rest. Once cooled, slice in strips or chunks.
  4. Start your ovens broiler. Toss the thawed edamame lightly with canola and place on a sheet pan. Broil until slightly charred. Set aside.
  5. To plate, add the chopped bibb lettuce to a large plate. Distribute the carrots, edamame and roasted red peppers evenly. Lightly dress with the viniagrette. Add the fried rice noodles. Top with the chicken, drizzle with the peanut sauce and garnish with the chopped peanuts, cilantro and green onions.
  6. Enjoy.
Panera’s Thai Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe

Soby’s Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini and Habanero Butter Sauce

Sobys bacon wrapped tenderlion

Soby’s was one of the first upscale restaurants to open up on Main Street here in Greenville, SC. We’ve had a number of important dinners there, including our wedding dinner. As long as I have been going there, one of my favorite meals has been the bacon wrapped pork loin with broccolini, mashed potatoes and a habanero cream. The habanero cream sauce is the hit of the dish and it makes me crave it. I crave it so much, I decided to remake this meal at home.

I have to say, this was about as close of a recreation as there gets. The crispy/fatty bacon (I use Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked) is a nice balance against the lean pork loin. The crunch broccolini adds freshness and lightens the dish. The whipped potatoes are the glue and the habanero cream sauce… oh that spicy cream sauce blends perfectly with everything. The best bite is when you get a bit of all the components together on the fork. I love when meal components are great alone but are enhanced by each other. Amazing.

I’d like to offer a hat tip to Let’s Dish for the Habanero Cream Sauce recipe. I only slightly modified it.

 

Habanero Cream Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pork loin (they come in two packs at my grocery)
  • 4-6 slices applewood smoke bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • 1 large bunch of broccolini
  • 2-3 large baking potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Salt and pepper
Directions for Habanero Cream

  1. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook until the rue is light blond.
  4. Slice the habanero in half and add to the pan. Note: for less spice, only use half. For even less spice remove the seeds and steams.
  5. Whisk in the milk and increase heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
  6. Stir in the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and keep warm. Remove the habanero halves before serving.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Wrap the pork loin tightly with the applewood smoked bacon keeping a slight overlap on each wrap.
  3. Place the pork in oven pan and roast until desired doneness about 25 minutes. The last few minutes you can switch to the broiler if the bacon is not crisp enough.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into uniform chunks. Place in pot of cool salted water with the smashed garlic cloves. Bring to boil and let them go until fork tender. Strain potatoes and using a ricer, food mill or food processor “mash” until you achieve the consistency that you like. I mash the garlic right in with the potatoes for extra garlicky goodness. Return potatoes to the pot, add approximately 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, as much half and half, heavy cream or milk as you like and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
  5. To save time and keep from clean two large pots, while the potatoes were boiling I add a steamer to the same pot and steamed the broccolini. You can do this in a separate pot if you like, but it worked out just fine using the same one.
  6. Once the broccolini are as tender as you like (I prefer mine almost raw), set aside.
  7. To plate this like Soby’s does, after allowing the pork to rest, slice the pork. Add the potatoes, three pieces of pork (as seen above), top with broccolini and pour the cream around the edges of the plate.
  8. Enjoy!
Soby’s Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini and Habanero Butter Sauce

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Charleston, SC

McCrady's, my favorite Charleston Restaurant

I’ve seen a lot of list of the best restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. Some are really good but all are based at the end of the day on personal preference. How much do you want to spend? What kind of food do you prefer? Can you get a reservation? These questions are much more likely to drive what your favorites are going to be. Most of the restaurants I’ve listed, you can expect to pay $50/person plus drinks. Expensive for some, I know, but you get what you pay for. There are certainly more affordable options to eat in Charleston, they just didn’t make my top five list.

We travel to Charleston several times a year. It is a short three hour drive from our home in Greenville, SC. I’ve said it before in other posts, but I love Charleston for the history, the beaches and the food. My wife loves the history, the beaches and the shopping (not necessarily in that order). It is just about our favorite place to go. I’ve eaten at A LOT of restaurants over the years, but a few keep me coming back over and over. Here is my completely biased and unscientific list with a few bonuses below. By the way, if you are planning a trip to Chucktown (as no one calls it) and need some advice, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help. Or, if you have some suggestions for me, pass those along in the comments as well.

  1. McCrady’s

    My favorite restaurant ever. This is the pinnacle, my culinary Mecca. Executive Chef Sean Brock, a James Beard awarding winning chef, grew up eating a lot of the same southern things I did. He took that old school knowledge, sourced the finest local ingredients (people, he has his own farm) and applied modern techniques. The result is not just food but amazing dinning experiences, it is art.

  2. FIG

    Another amazing restaurant from another James Beard awarding winning chef, Mike Lata. This small restaurant also focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. The simplicity of the food is what gets me every time. Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” That is what you should expect here, elevated cuisine. Perfectly executed, well balanced and tasty food. Even the name FIG, or Food is Good, is perfectly simple.

  3. Fulton Five

    Shhhhhh. This is a local favorite and as fate would have it, where I got engaged to be married. It is that kind of place. Southern Living routinely (if not every year) ranks it as the most romantic restaurant in the south. The food is ridiculous as well. A heavy Italian influence is clear on the menu but most of the ingredients are sourced local based on the season.

  4. Husk

    IF (and that is a big capital IF) you can get dinner reservations, the restaurant is totally worth the visit. All ingredients (exept maybe some wines) are sourced this side of the Mason Dixon line. This is the second restaurant Chef Sean Brock opened and was named “Best new restaurant 2011” by bon appetit. This is southern cooking at it’s best. Think pork chops, bacon, fried chicken, collard greens, buttermilk biscuits and on and on. (Another shhhhh, but if you can’t get dinner reservations, stop by for lunch or go by the Husk Bar next door.) This restaurant was so popular, they opened another one in Nashville.

  5. The Ordinary

    Truth be told, I haven’t been here yet. We have reservations for next week. I’m preemptively adding this one to the list. Why? Two reason, Chef Mike Lata (see FIG above) and seafood (after all, it is Charleston). I’ll follow up with more legit reasons after we are back.

Bonus dish: Hank’s Seafood a la Wando

Hank’s is, in Charleston terms, a new restaurant, but it immediatly became a favorite because of one dish. Seafood a la Wando. Follow the link to learn more or see how I tried to make it at home.

Bonus view: Fleet Landing

Fleet Landing is right on the water. On a nice day, you can sit outside and watch the dolphins and other sea creatures playing. You can also watch the cruise ships let out (some times the best people watching, especially the European ones.) This is one of our favorite lunch spots. I’ve heard they have a great brunch but we never make it passed… well, see the next item.

Bonus brunch: Poogan’s Porch

After a long night of whiskey drinking at Husk Bar, you can cure your ills. Poogan’s Porch, named after a dog that hung out there (love it already, right?), has the best southern brunch you could want. Get there before Church let’s out though, our you’ll be waiting a while.

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Charleston, SC

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Roasted Duck Breast Dudleys on Short in Lexington, KY

Trips to visit my wife’s family takes us right through Kentucky. I love that part of the drive. Rolling, lush hills. It is a beautiful part of the country. Going up we make the trip from SC in one big drive. Lately we’ve been breaking the trip back in two legs. Why do we do that? Well I’d like to say to lighten the stress of the trip. The real reason is bourbon. Kentucky = Bourbon. I have been a whiskey nut since college and I’ve been collecting whiskey for about 10 years. Anyway, half way home (right about Lexington, KY) puts us smack dab in the middle of The Bourbon Trail. A stay in downtown Lexington can get me to most of my favorite distilleries in 30 minutes to an hours drive. My Mecca.

What does this all have to do with food?

When planning our first trip, as any foodie would do, I started asking where we should eat. A number of folks suggested that we go to Dudley’s on Short. A quick look at the menu and I was sold. Only then did I start looking for a hotel that would provide easy access to the restaurant. We have subsequently been back to that same hotel and the same restuarant several times, each as enjoyable as the last. On our last trip I had Roasted Duck Breast. Dudley’s describes the meal as such:

ROASTED DUCK BREAST
caramelized sweet potato, pickled apple, watercress, maple gastrique

As with all the meals we’ve had the flavors are honest and restrained. It was maybe a little sweet for my taste but the crust on the duck and the watercress helped some to balance it out. The duck was cooked perfectly (not always easy to do). The sweet potato, apple and the gastrique were all well conceived and complimented each other nicely

This might sound weird but some of our favorite items on the menu are salads. The Kale salad was literally a revelation and we make it at home several times a month. Dudley’s describes the salad here:

KALE AND PARMESAN SALAD
dried cherries, pine nuts, lemon, olive oil

Truly, this salad screams restraint. So simply, yet so delicious. If in the area, I recommend Dudley’s on Short. I’ve read some reviews about it being pricey and the “posh” place to be seen, but I would disagree. Dudley’s will be a regular routine for us.

Have you been to Dudley’s on Short? What did you think?

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Duo of Greenbrier Farms Lamb at American Grocery

American Grocery - Greenbrier Farms duo of lamb

I always enjoy a visit to my favorite restaurant in Greenville, American Grocery. This particular trip was a date night and just happen to be our two week wedding anniversary. Jen and I both agreed we need a break, and Jen suggested AGR. It might have had something to do with them having Paella on the menu. If you’ve been to AGR, you know. Their menu changes every single day. If they have Paella on Thursday, that doesn’t mean it’ll be there on Friday. Knowing this, I still called and got reservations. I spoke with Darlene, owner and in-house sommelier, when I called. After the reservation was made, I asked if she thought the Paella would be on the menu tomorrow (Friday). She offered to ask Chef Clarke, owner, chef and husband to Darlene. I told her not to worry about that, we are coming anyway.

Making a long story, longer…on Friday afternoon I peeked at the menu (Darlene uploads the menu for that night in the late afternoon), the Paella was gone. When we arrived, however, we were greeted by Darlene, who whispered that they had saved one Paella for Jen. Awesome! Love AGR!

I started my meal with the Crispy Veal Sweetbread, crispy farm egg, sea island pea hash, green garlic cream, pickled ramps (pictured below). It was great. I love when chefs us offal, I think it truly respects the animal when you use every thing you can. This veal was super crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The egg was perfectly cooked as well with the yolk broken, I mixed it together with the other ingredients. The pea hash and pickled ramps where delicious. Like most dishes at AGR, all the components of the dish are good, but together they are perfect.

My entree was the Duo of Local Lamb, sunchoke – potato cream, wild mushrooms, swiss chard, lamb jus (pictured above). The first of the lamb duo seemed to have been maybe braised, then shredded, then formed back, then seared. It tasted a lot like a REALLY good pulled pork medallion. On top of that was house made mustard which matched perfectly. The second lamb was loin that was tender and juice and cooked perfectly. Chef might have cooked this in a very similar way to how he prepares his duck breast. The outside was crunchy and almost sweet and as you can see (click on the above image to see a larger version) the inside was pink. The wild mushrooms added the earthiness and the swiss chard added that bitter punch. The lamb jus was deep, rich and very flavorful. The sunchoke – potato cream was also rich and very creamy and was the glue holding this fabulous meal together. Again, perfect.

As a side note, Jennifer did get the Paella (pictured below). Her meal consisted of AGR Paella – cobia, mussels, shrimp, calamari, chorizo, saffron rice, spring vegetables. I tasted it and it was delicious. The rice and chorizo alone would have been worth getting this dish. You then add a bunch of fresh seafood and it was over the top.

Crispy Veal Sweetbread, crispy farm egg, sea island pea hash, green garlic cream, pickled ramps
AGR Crispy Veal Sweetbread
AGR Paella – cobia, mussels, shrimp, calamari, chorizo, saffron rice, spring vegetables
AGR Paella
Duo of Greenbrier Farms Lamb at American Grocery

Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood

Seafood a la Wando Hank's Seafood, Charleston, SC

As I’ve mentioned in several posts, we go to Charleston, SC often. We love the history, shopping, beaches and most important for me, the restaurants. Many of my favorite restaurants are in Charleston. One restaurant you won’t find on my favorites list is Hank’s Seafood. It’s not because I don’t like Hank’s. The food is very good and consistent. The atmosphere is awesome. The seafood is fresh. I’m picky with my favorites list.

The restaurant isn’t on my favorites, BUT they may have my favorite dish in Charleston. Hank’s Seafood a la Wando. This dish is fantastic, maybe a little rich, but amazing. I don’t often order the exact same thing every time I go somewhere, but I love this dish so much, I get it now every time.

The menu describes it such:

“Sautéed Shrimp Scallops and Fish deglazed with Sherry finished with Crabmeat, Button Mushrooms and Scallion in a Shellfish Saffron Cream Sauce Served with Fried Grit Cakes”.

I shouldn’t have to say any more than that. The seafood is fresh and cooked well. The mushrooms are a surprise of supple earthiness and the fresh scallion and a punch of freshness. The fried grit cakes are the perfect starch to balance the rich sauce. Oh and there is the sauce, very heavy sauce with a hint of saffron velvet. The sherry is a nice acid that brightens the whole dish. Ahh…yum! One of the best things I have eaten. As much as I love to try new things, I’ll get this until they take it off the menu.

PS. Hank’s isn’t on my favorites list but that is not because I don’t like the restaurant, we go often. They just aren’t the type of restaurant that I look for when naming favorites. Most restaurants on my fav list, I couldn’t point to a dish like the Seafood a la Wando, because the never have the same menu twice.

I would recommend Hank’s and highly recommend the Seafood a la Wando.

Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood