Category Archives: Food and Drink

Low Country Visit – Mepkin and the Music Man

Living High on the Hog in the Low Country! 

A couple of days spent in Charleston, South Carolina included the Nativity Exhibit at Mepkin Abbey (now an annual event in my family) and the most fantastic Southern buffet I've ever eaten.

Mepkin Abbey has a huge collection of Nativity sets from all over the world and mounts a display of selected (and some loaned) pieces each year for two weekends around Thanksgiving.  I know there will be photos soon at Spanish Nativity

The monastery location on the banks of the Cooper River is beautiful and serene.  We purchased oyster mushrooms and a couple of worthy books from the gift shop. And then it was time to eat!  (Well, actually I think it's always time for "a little something.")

The local family member said she had been told the best barbeque was in Moncks Corner (no, the name doesn't have anything to do with the monks!).  Thank goodness for iPhones and Google – they made short work of finding the Music Man's Bar B Que

The best!  Every item on the buffet was fantastic – rice and hash, stewed okra, green beans, mac and cheese, pulled pork in vinegar sauce, smoked chicken, fried chicken, beef ribs, bread pudding, banana pudding, Oreo chocolate pudding, bread and butter pickles.  Iced tea included.

Only open Thursday through Saturday with a lunch on Sunday, this is amazingly good food.  Paper plates and plastic utensils and a modest ambience help you stay focused on the food. 

Two aspects of Heaven in one day!

Random Thoughts on food and festivals

Pierogi Last evening I saw a television show that included hordes of people eating pierogis in Whiting, Indiana.  I think I actually know someone who lives there – and she never mentioned the pierogis.  Some friend!

I wonder if there's a piroshki festival somewhere.

Florida is full of fruit and vegetable festivals – strawberries have two – Plant City and Starke.  Chiefland and Newberry both have watermelons.  Windsor has zucchini.  Dade City has kumquats.  There's a peanut festival in Levy County and somewhere there's a fresh corn wing-ding as well.  And I almost forgot the Bostwick Blueberry Festival – one day only and specializing in a blueberry pancake breakfast.

Now I take another sip of Diet Coke.

Patron Saint of Archivists and Barbeques

St. lawrence Of course, it's the Feast of St. Lawrence!

Here's a bit of background on the archives connection:

A patron saint of libraries and librarians is Saint Lawrence the Librarian. He is a third century saint and martyr (died AD 258) who had responsibility for the written archives and records of the early church.

St Lawrence was one of seven famous deacons of the early church. The other six deacons along with Pope St. Sixtus II (Xystus II) were captured by the Emperor Valerian on August 6, 258, and martyred. They were buried together in the cemetery of Callistus. The oppression of the Christian church was very severe, and many Christians fled Rome or died.

As librarian and archivist, Lawrence was thought to have a list of all the members of the early church, and the locations of all the mythical hidden hoards of gold belonging to the Vatican. Captured by the soldiers of the Emperor Valerian a few days later, on August 8, 258 AD, he was told to produce all the wealth of the church. He was given only two days to bring all the treasures to the imperial palace. Particularly desired were the names of all the Christians who were also Roman nobles, since they could be ransomed for gold by the emperor, or executed and their wealth confiscated by the emperor for the state.

Lawrence gathered up the all the diseased, orphaned or crippled Christians on the appointed day, brought them to the palace, and told the startled emperor that "These are the treasures of the church!"

Thanks to - go there for details of St. Lawrence's roasting on the gridiron.

You'll be happy to know that a reliquary with St. Lawrence's head is in the Vatican Library.  And remembering the problems that institution had with scholarly thieves several years ago, I hope he's watching out for them.

In the meantime, put some of your papers in acid-free folders and fire up the grill!

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Always the good first:

Thumbs up Haagen-Dazs "five" ice cream - particularly the ginger.  A light ice cream with an intense flavor.  I'm not even an "ice cream freak," but this got my attention and then my taste buds.



Thumbs down Not good:

The idiotic YouTube (and everywhere else) of the "hip-hop" wedding procession.  First of all, the dancing isn't that great and reminds me of the Funky Chicken.  Secondly, they could have done this at the reception.  Thirdly, is your wedding ceremony really just your Andy Warhol 15-minutes-of-fame?

And what was the church thinking?

Go buy a carton of ginger ice cream and consider these questions while savoring the flavor.

In Praise of the Grapefruit

Grapefruit Why bother?  Because February is National Grapefruit Month, of course.  Honestly, the educational work that I am forced to undertake for my faithful readers. 

The grapefruit's origins are uncertain.  First described in 1750 as the "forbidden fruit" in Barbados, it took a while to catch on.  Even when it was grown in Florida, it was mostly ignored.To learn more about grapefruit (well, practically everything), you can go here.

Better still, head to the nearest fruit stand or grocery produce aisle and indulge in the grapefruit.  It will put sparkle in your morning, clear your sinuses, provide an elegrant broiled first course at dinner – and generally expand your citrus horizons. No longer "forbidden" but meant to be enjoyed.

And now for something completely different …

What about The Incredible Eggman?

Wouldn't your breakfasts be better with a 40-second omelet? 

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one I love.  I can put off almost everything until "next year." I review the last several years' worth of resolutions and find that generally I've accomplished one or two items.  I decide what to eliminate, what to roll over, and what to add.

And I take a second to look back through the year by paging back through my appointment book and set up next year's calendar.

Time for an omelet? 

Oh, the joys of wine!

I can’t remember the last time I blogged anything about food or drink, but after a few days in the Napa Valley of California, it’s inevitable.

The crush was in process.  Wineyards sparkled with foil bits tied on the vines to keep the birds away. The weather was the spectacular autumn that Northern California can deliver.   And the wine.  I used to scoff at wine tasting in my severe youth (actually I didn’t even drink out of high principle and a desire to annoy).  Well, I had a Gewurtz that was a delight – just the right fruitiness when it came into your mouth and a lovely dry finish.  And yes, it paired wonderfully with Vietnamese food.

But that was nothing next to the Sterling Malvasia Bianca.  Bordering on a dessert wine with a perfume-like fragrance, a marvelous combination of pears and honey – but still with a crisp finish.  And my research shows that it’s one of the most ancient varietals, coming from Greece to Sardinia and Sicily and thence to California.

I won’t even get started on the food!  St. Augustine is a great town and we do some great things with seafood, but California is "food fanatic" country.  Again, since age and growing good sense have enabled me to eat without lecturing everyone else on the evils of the flesh, I ate moderately and, oh, so happily.  Best moment – a fricassee de homard at Angele.

Now it’s back to real life – and a lighter diet.  But what a time we had!

Foods for the Season

As we draw towards Easter, it’s time to do some shopping and lay in supplies. On the Fifth Sunday in Lent, it was the custom in England to eat carling peas (pigeon peas/black-eyed peas).  On Palm Sunday, it was figs. 

I learned this today, wandering around the Internet for material for my church bulletin column.  If you like strange (and marginally useful) history and ideas for religious holidays, I can’t recommend Catholic Culture highly enough. Everything from prayers to history to recipes.  A worthy cause – and did I forget to mention that they’re having a fund drive?

We find a wealth of information on the Internet and 99.9% of it is free.  But someone is doing the work, buying the server space, and then letting us come in and feast.  Think of a site that’s done a lot for you – and throw a little cash their way.  Buy a product, book, CD, or make a donation.