steak and mashed potato

Take Steak and Potatoes Up a Notch

Steak de Burgo was created in Des Moines, Iowa around 1939.

Just another name for steak and potatoes, this rich  dish is traditionally made with a good cut of beef tenderloin, covered in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Because it is so easy and quick to make, I thought it would be a perfect recipe for just two people, but ingredient portions could be increased to serve more.

As an accompaniment, my mashed potatoes were made using russets.  Yukon Gold would produce a more creamy, buttery textured dish; however Russets was what I had on hand.

Regardless if you use Russets or Yukon Gold, the additional ingredients are the same.  Scallions, sour cream, butter, and Dijon mustard are staples in most family refrigerators, for this easy weeknight meal.

Before preparing your ingredients and steak, I suggest you go ahead and cut your potatoes into 1-inch chunks, throw them in a pot, cover with water and start to cook.

Once potatoes come to a boil, simmer until you are ready to use them.  I cooked two large Russet potatoes for two people.

If using Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, you will need about 12-16 ounces, cubed.

steak mashed potatoesI purchased the largest filet Mignon steak I could find at my local butcher.  It weighed just under one pound.

About 20-30 minutes before cooking, I removed the steak from the refrigerator.

It is important to let beef acclimate to room temperature for quick cooking methods.

Link to another article I wrote about this acclimating method

Acclimate For a Good Steak

 

Because you want the meat to cook quickly, I sliced the 2 1/2-inch thick steak, crosswise, to produce two individual steaks.  About half a pound each.

After slicing, I sprinkled salt and pepper on both sides of each steak and allowed them to acclimate.

Meanwhile, prepare your other ingredients…

FOR THE MEAT…

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dry vermouth

chopped fresh parsley for garnish

FOR THE POTATOES…

1/2 cup sliced scallions

3 Tablespoons of sour cream

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to speed things up a little bit, you can use already sliced mushrooms, but for the best freshness and flavor, I suggest using whole mushrooms and slicing them yourself.

Vermouth is typically made with wine, herbs, spices, flowers and seeds. There are two styles of vermouth, dry and sweet.

Sweet Vermouth is just slightly sweet and a reddish brown color, usually includes caramel. 

Dry vermouth is popular in martinis and is frequently referred to as French Vermouth.

***Research for this article revealed that dry vermouth should be refrigerated and used within 3 months of opening, due to evaporation of flavor

***HOWEVER, my dry vermouth used in this recipe has been open for six months and was very flavorful in this recipe. It has never been refrigerated.

DIRECTIONS:

Using a 10″ skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until butter melts.

Add filets.  Saute until internal temperature reads 130º. This should only take no more than  3-minutes per side.

Make sure you under-cook the meat at this point.

DO NOT COOK IT TO SERVING TEMPERATURE.

Transfer meat to a plate and tent with foil.

Add mushrooms to skillet; saute until browned, 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, basil and oregano; stir together and cook until garlic is fragrant, 40-60 seconds.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Saute mushrooms, garlic, spices

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Combine cream and vermouth then stir into pan with mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combine the cream and vermouth in a cup.

Stir into skillet with mushrooms.

Turn down the heat to medium, and reduce mixture by half.

Add meat and accumulated juices to the pan.

Cook until meat reaches desired doneness.

Serve steaks with the sauce.

steak potatoe mushrooms vermouth

Turn down the heat and allow sauce to simmer to reduce & intensify flavor.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Return steaks to the skillet to allow all flavors to combine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR THE POTATOES:

After cooking potatoes till done – a fork enters the potatoes easily; drain in colander.

Return drained potatoes to hot pot; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes, removing any remaining moisture.

Remove from heat.

Stir in scallions, sour cream, butter and mustard.

Smash potatoes using a potato masher to reach desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

This really is a simple, filling meal and can be paired with a light red wine or rose for a perfect weeknight meal for two.

Let me know if you decide to try this meal and send pictures of how it turned out.

Keeping cooking…

*Adaptation of recipe found in Cuisine For Two Magazine

 

 

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JoAnns Food Bites celery Curtis Stone

Crazy for Crispy Celery

Earlier this year, Chef Curtis Stone developed a 9-course tasting menu centered around celery, for his restaurant Maude in California.

He created a celery salad; reduced celery juice for an apple sorbet and braised some stalks for a celeri barigoule.

Celeri Barigoule – a traditional Provencal dish of artichokes braised with onions, garlic and carrots in a seasoned broth of wine and water. Early culinary cooking, the artichokes were stuffed with mushrooms, however, modern cuisine no longer uses mushrooms. Some preparations are stuffed with spinach, carrots and cheese.

Celery has a crunchy texture, slightly bitter, earthy flavor which has long been served as a cooling accompaniment to hot wings.

celery wings

Although not my favorite vegetable in the garden, celery has some wonderful nutritional benefits.

Celery and Nutrition

Before the 16th century, celery was used exclusively as a medicinal herb.  Now, it is one of the most popular vegetables in the Western world.

Full of antioxidants and low in calories, only about 16 calories per 100 grams, celery is great snack for anyone on a diet regime.

Its leaves are rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are good for a healthy skin and night vision.

Considered to be a functional vegetable because it contains lots of non-soluble fiber, also known as roughage.

A very good source of minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

celery

Celery in the garden

Grown in bunches that consist of leaved ribs surrounding the tender, choice heart.

Pictured is the most common variety, pale green Pascal celery.  The Golden variety is grown under soil or paper to prevent chlorophyll from turning it green.

  • Ideally, planting should be in full sun, 8-10 hours daily; however, it is NOT heat tolerate.
  • In the United States, it is a summer crop in the north and winter crop in the south.  Be sure that temps will stay between 55 and 70ºF throughout the growing period.
  • They like fertile soil and constant moisture.
  • From seed, start indoors for the best success rate, 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost date for your area.
  • The National Gardening Association claims soaking seeds in warm water overnight prior to planting will reduce germination time.
  • Transplant seedlings 10 to 12 inches apart, direct sow seeds ¼ inch deep. These will need to be thinned to 12 inches apart when they reach about six inches high.
  • Mulch after planting and immediately water.

Celery requires soil that is moist and well fertilized. Make sure to monitor plants closely.

Tie growing celery stalks together to keep them from sprawling

Celery in the kitchen

celery kitchen

When buying celery, choose firm bunches. The leaves should be bright green and crisp.

Store celery in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Leave the leaves and the stalks attached until ready to use.

Wash thoroughly and trim off root end.  The leaves are edible and are great in soups, stews or salads.

The ribs (stalks) are typically ate raw, but are common in the “holy trinity” of cooking,  a Mirepoix

  French cooking says mirepoix – combination of celery, onion and carrots.

  Cajun cooking says holy trinity – combination of celery, onion and bell pepper.

Quick kitchen tips for celery:

BLANCH – 3 minutes

BOIL – 3-5 minutes

STEAM – 3-5 minutes

SAUTE – 3-5 minutes

Not recommended for roasting or grilling.

For later use:  Cut up celery stalks in 1-inch pieces.  Blanch in hot water for 3 minutes.  Remove and immediately place in ice bath to stop cooking process.  After 30-40 seconds, remove from ice bath and place on a paper towel to dry.  After drying for 5-10 minutes, place flat on a cookie sheet and set in freezer.  Allow to freeze overnight.  Place pieces in air tight zip lock bags and store in the freezer until ready to use.

The tops and wilted leaves can be stored (without blanching) in freezer bags and added, still frozen to a pot when making stock.

The cooking applications for the celery stalk are numerous.

What are the ways YOU cook with celery?

 

 

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bitters cocktails joanns food bites

Are Those Bitters In My Drink?

What are “bitters?”

herbs cocktails bitters Historically, bitters were derived from herbs, roots, fruits, infused with wine and used medicinally during Egyptian times.

During the Middle Ages, distilled alcohol was included but bitters were still used as a preventative medicine.

In the 19th Century, the British incorporated Canary Wine (white fortified wine imported from mainland Spain or the Canary Islands).

 

Sherry and Port are fortified wines, which are wines augmented with a dose of brandy or other spirit.

By the early 1800’s, Americans had developed what we now know as the “cocktail,” a mixture of  liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.

Today, they are used to flavor spirits or cocktails, similar to cordials (schnapps), but do not include any sweetening agents.

Varieties of Bitters

The most well known is Angostura bitters.  It does not include any bark from the angostura tree, but is instead named after a town in Venezuela.

Angostura bitters was used to prevent sea sickness and stomach aliments during the late 1800’s.

Orange bitters are made from the peels of Seville oranges, cardamom, caraway seed, coriander and burnt sugar in an alcohol base.

Orange bitters are usually found in old cocktail recipes.

Digestive bitters usually are served with ice at the end of a meal in many European and South American countries.  Examples include:

Jagermeister from Germany

Campari from Italy

Cocktail bitters add zing to mixed drinks and usually sold with bottle droppers, because of its concentrated pungency.

Making Bitters

Bitters are made very similar to cordials:

infusion    or    maceration   + distillation

infusion – extracting flavor from herbs, leaves or fruit by steeping them in liquid

maceration – soaking the herb, leaves or fruit in a liquid, to incorporate the bitter agent into the liquid

distillation – combining your flavored bitter liquid with alcohol

No sugar is added during the process.

During the distillation process a high alcohol level is reached, causing the liquid to taste bittersweet, hence the name.

The process of developing bitters for flavor enhancement is a bit complicated.  A great deal of time, effort, trial and error go into creating these libations; therefore, they can be very pricey.

The spice cabinet of the cocktail world

spices herbs cocktails bitters

Most Popular Uses

For years, bitters have been thought to be a digestive aid and appetite stimulant.

Can be used in a plethora of mixed drink recipes or even in food preparation.

A few drops can be added to a salad;  stir into your morning java or tea; elevate deviled eggs.

Can add another layer of flavor to soups and stews.

Just make sure to use conservatively.

The most popular used today in cocktails are:

AMER PICON

ANGOSTURA BITTERS

FERNET BRANCA

PEYCHAUD’S BITTERS

ABBOTT’S BITTERS made in Maryland

BOONEKAMP from Holland

GAMMEL DANSK from Denmark

Orange Bitters, usually from England

STONSDORFER and UNDERBERG BITTERS from Germany

 

citrus bitters cocktails I recently purchased citrus bitters to help with evening digestion.

Ingredient list:  dandelion root; dandelion leaf, burdock root, orange peel, fennel seed, yellow dock root, angelica root, gentian root and ginger root, water, cane alcohol – NO WONDER IT WAS SO EXPENSIVE – $10.00 for 2 oz.

Made by Urban Moonshine in Vermont, it is 30% – 35% alcohol content.

What I have been doing is adding 3 – 4 drops of in my cocktails, depending upon the flavor of the drink.

For my tequila drinks, I add 4 drops.  For whiskey based drinks, I add 3 drops.

The citrus flavor was noticeable in my whiskey cocktail.  However, it seemed to enhance margaritas.

I did not experience any bloating or heartburn, as I usually do with evening adult beverages.

 

Where to Buy

I have yet to buy bitters via the internet, but here are some sources…

Handcrafted in Colorado, shipped throughout the United States – http://cocktailpunk.com/

Distribute Fee Brothers – very popular bitters brand – https://www.kegworks.com/

Basic flavors with bottle droppers – http://bittercube.com/shop/  

Do you use bitters?  Let me know in the comments.

cocktails bitters herbs spices alcohold

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Simple Asian Dinner: Pork and Rice

This simple Asian dinner is my substitute for Chinese take out.  Some “fast food” Chinese is loaded in MSG, which I try to avoid.

Although easy, this Pork and Rice dish is filling and a great option for a weeknight meal.

It can be done in only one pot and one skillet, for less clean up.

What is Monosodium glutamate?

MSG is the salt based compound used as a flavor enhancer in dishes needing a more intense “meaty” taste.

Although deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, MSG has been linked to severe headaches, bloating and general discomfort.

Found in many processed foods, it can be harmful for those diagnosed with hypertension, (like me) due to the salt compounds raising blood pressure.  Therefore, it is best for me to control how much salt is in my food.

Although this recipe calls for a small amount of baking soda, which also contains sodium, it can be eliminated from the recipe, without compromising the flavor.

The baking soda is used to intensify the brown color of the pork during cooking.

Ingredients for Pork and Rice

Because the cooking process moves very quickly in this recipe; I advised preparing all ingredients while your rice is cooking.

Pork and RiceGo ahead and prepare your Long Grain Rice according to package directions.

I chose Uncle Ben’s because it is gluten free.

Just make sure to make the equivalent of four servings.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients.

 

8 ounces boneless country -style pork ribs.  Cut them into 1/2″-bite size portions

4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided in half
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons classic stir-fry sauce
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
6 scallions, white and green parts chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Instructions for Pork and Rice

Marinating porkAfter cutting the pork into bite size portions, place it in a clean bowl and combine with 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, the brown sugar, the cornstarch, and the baking soda.  Let pork sit at least 15 minutes, at room temperature, or cover and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the stir-fry sauce, sherry, ketchup, salt, pepper and the other 2 teaspoons of soy sauce; allow to sit.

When rice has finished cooking, drain in a mesh strainer to remove all water.

In a 12-inch, non-stick skillet heat 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil on high heat, till very hot.

Add pork in a single layer.  Make sure it sizzles as soon as it touches the pan.  This will ensure proper browning.  Disgard any remaining juices from the pork marinating.  Cook the pork WITHOUT STIRRING, to get a good crust, for about 2 minutes.  Turn the pork to brown all sides of the meat.  This could take up to 5 minutes.  Once the pork is browned, remove from pan and place in a clean bowl. Cooking pork riceReturn skillet to heat.  Add another Tablespoon of oil to the empty skillet. Leave skillet on high heat.  Add the beaten eggs.  Once the eggs set (takes about 30 seconds), stir with a rubber spatula.  Move eggs to one side of the pan…add remaining Tablespoon of oil to the empty side of the pan; then add the scallions and garlic to that side of the pan.

pork and rice eggs scallions garlic

Saute the scallions and garlic for about 40 seconds, till you can smell the garlic.  Add the rice and begin to incorporate the rice, eggs, scallions and garlic together.  Stir in peas and stir-fry sauce mixture.  I added another Tablespoon of butter to mine as well.

Add the pork.  Cook for approximately 3 minutes until everything is thoroughly incorporated and hot.  Serve.

Simple Dinner

This recipe may incorporate a rather large list of ingredients; it actually comes together very fast.  This dinner could be prepped and on the table in less than 40 minutes.

The Pork and Rice could be served on its own, but I decided to add a small side salad. It contrasted very well with the hot rice.

The original recipe actually appeared in Cook’s Country Magazine; however, I made a few changes because I despise oyster sauce and use it so rarely, it is not worth buying it.

Using the classic stir-fry sauce instead of oyster sauce was delicious.  It is usually sold in the Asian food section of all major grocery stores.

Pork and Rice Asian simple dinner

If you decide to make this recipe, please email me your results and snap a few photos – Thanks.

 

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Shucks Oyster Bar

Shucks Oyster Bar Shines Like A Pearl

I don’t have to explain the difficulty in finding a great oyster bar when you do not live anywhere near coastal waters; but, Mr. Pitmaster and I discovered a pearl in the Upstate culinary scene.

Shucks Oyster Bar is a husband and wife owned eatery just 30 minutes southwest of Greenville, South Carolina. Not only do they serve great oysters, the James River variety from Virginia were my favorite, but they have a full menu sure to please even the most picky eaters.

Shucks Oyster BarThe restaurant sits in downtown Anderson, SC on the town square.

The casual comfortable elongated dining room welcomes those craving good, honest food, reasonably priced.

Chalk blackboards display their impressive list of local brew offerings.

While another board, includes their daily specials and the current oyster offerings.

Opting for their variety platter, I was able to construct my own oyster choices..

 

   1. Petite Sweets – best for those who enjoy the saltiness of oysters
   2. Gulf Fresh from Alabama – very meaty, subtle salt flavor
   3. James River from Virginia – most delicious, meaty, large oysters.

 

Incredible Menu

Because everything Devon and Tala have put on the menu is so appealing, it was very difficult choosing what to eat.

After starting with the oysters, four of each variety is on the platter, I had to try the…

 

Smoked Oyster Deviled Egg. Shucks Oyster Bar Smoked Oyster Deviled Egg

Creamy, but with the perfect balance of smokiness and saltiness from the oyster.

I could have ordered 1/2 dozen more.

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, we had to try the Oyster Rockefeller.  Roasted, covered with spinach and Parmesan cheese, they were almost too hot to pick up.

Shucks Oyster Bar Oyster Rockefeller

Shucks have their own “house hot sauce.”  I highly recommend eating your oysters with this 4-month bourbon barrel aged sauce.  The smokiness of just a few drops will be the perfect accompaniment to your oysters.  Don’t let the “hot sauce” term scare you away, it is not too spicy, even for a wimp for hot foods, like me.

Mr. Pitmaster ordered a dozen peel ‘n eat shrimp.  Fresh and crisp, he enjoyed them as if we were visiting the Emerald Coast.

Shucks menu has many more entrees to try, including a barbecue pork sandwich, served with their very own white sauce.

I asked Devon if I could try his sauce, he brought over a rather large sample.

It reminded me of “yum, yum” sauce from most Japanese steakhouses. Devon affirmed, that was his intention.  It seems to be a cross between tarter sauce, vinegar based barbecue sauce and a creamy vinaigrette.

Shucks Oyster House Mac N Cheese Shucks Oyster Bar Mac N Cheese

Being a Mac N Cheese fan, I had to try there homemade version.

Rich and creamy, this mac n cheese is made with cavatappi pasta, or corkscrew pasta.

Topped with huge bacon chunks, this was filling and the portion was enough for two.

 

 

 

 

Shucks Oyster Bar Key Lime Pie

What best tops off a gulf seafood dining treasure? Well it would be Shucks Oyster Bar’s very own Key Lime Pie. Rich, delicious, without an overpowering lime flavor.

Open an Oyster, You Might Find a Pearl

After trying several restaurants in the Greenville area, this is the best place for oysters.  Of all the oysters we ate that day, not a single shell.

Austin, the shucker for the evening, did an outstanding, speedy job.

The kitchen sits downstairs from the full length bar and dining room; therefore, no excessive noise.

Devon and Tala have a great hospitality skills and making patrons feel right at home.

The restaurant is personable, quaint and unpretentious.  I felt like, I could’ve hung out there all evening.

About 7 PM, on a Saturday night, the place starting filling up, while a local acoustic guitarist set up his mic and amp.

I know we will be back….

Shucks Oyster Bar

315 North Main Street Anderson, SC 29621

Shucks Oyster Bar on Facebook

 

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Birthday gift for a foodie JoAnn's Food Bites

Perfect Birthday Gift for a Foodie

Another birthday has rolled around and although my husband did not inquire as to what I might like to do, I decided to create my own birthday celebration.

Food adventures are what I love to do whenever we go on vacation or visit a new city.

The culinary adventure I planned when we were in Las Vegas was one for the history books and another blog post.

This extravaganza would be exciting for me and tolerable for my husband (he is not an adventurous foodie).

 

First Stop: Downtown Greenville Farmer’s Market

Having only been one time, last summer…I wanted to see what the market had to offer for 2017.

Although we have not lived here very long, I already have a few favorites.

Upstate Greens is owned and operated by Jason and Kim. Jason is a retired Marine who has put his passion for urban farming to excellent use. Upstate GreensSpecializing in micro-greens, Upstate Greens is always popular and sells out of product. Unfortunately, I arrived around 10 a.m. and was unable to buy any of my favorites: micro-broccoli, micro-arugula or micro-basil.

He was SOLD OUT!

Although, slightly disappointed, I had better luck at Naked Pasta.. Using local ingredients to make their own homemade pasta and sauces, Naked Pasta had a line 10 people deep when I arrived.
I rushed to get some spinach-fettuccine; Tuscan bean & basil ravioli; and potato-cheddar agnolotti.

 

Agnolotti is a semi-circular pocket; stuffed with cheese, meats or vegetables. Similar to a dumpling.

Brunch at Stewart Penick’s Terrace Restaurant

Quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in Greenville, Terrace offers breakfast/brunch entrees until late afternoon everyday.

Terrace Restaurant Chef's Hash SpecialToday, I opted for the Chef’s Hash Special; a breaded, country fried chicken steak, with gravy, peppers, onions, potatoes and cheese.  Served with toast and a raspberry jam, it was filling and comforting.

Knowing our itinerary, I only had one lunch cocktail, a Whiskey Girl Peach refreshing sipper. It is one of those drinks that would easily creep up on ya.

Despite my high recommendation to my husband, of the red velvet chicken and waffles, he tried the barbecue sandwich plate.  Terrace Restaurant

I cannot rave about this restaurant enough.  So many traditional southern dishes; each with their own twist to bump it up a notch.

 

 

 

Time for Moonshine Tasting at Dark Corner Distillery

Dark Corner Distillary Birthday Foodie WeekendDark Corner Distillery has a store front in downtown Greenville, offering their Appalachian moonshine, whiskey and their own mixer concoctions.

Patrons can pay just $5 to sample six spirits and keep the Dark Corner Distillery shot glass.

Of course, I enjoy the more sweeter flavors such as peach, apple/maple and butterscotch.  After trying those three spirits, I had to buy a bottle of each.

We also purchased a “crafty cocktail” mixer, Summer Melon.  Made with watermelon juice, mint, lemon juice and of course, Whiskey Girl Moonshine.

Doug & I enjoyed the good conversation with our bartender, Dallas.

 

 

Dinner at Rick Erwin’s Clemson

Although, I have ate at this elegant restaurant before (see my previous review by clicking here);   I was craving a prime filet Mignon and was hoping Rick Erwin’s would not let me down.

Scheduling a reservation for 7 o’clock would round out my foodie birthday extravaganza, I wanted to thoroughly enjoy it.

Waiting for what seemed like eternity, I finally received my Knob Creek and cola.  For me, this was unusual to try a new bourbon, but I enjoyed its smooth texture.

Knob Creek cola Rick Erwin's Clemson

Our appetizer was Oysters Rockefeller, with bacon, spinach and cheese.  Served hot, these delectable bites, started the meal off right.

Oysters Rockefeller Rick Erwin's Clemson birthday foodieOyster's Rockefeller Rick Erwin's Clemson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ordered the center-cut filet, which was cooked absolutely to perfection.  I ordered an accompaniment of cheesy whipped mashed potatoes.

The sauteed mushrooms were so light and meaty; a great way to cut the cheesiness on the potatoes.

Because sides are à la carte, servings are more than enough for 2-3 people.

Center Cut Filet Rick Erwin's Clemson

The birthday dinner was so filling, I took half of it home and enjoyed it a second night.

Although no gifts were given, no cake was baked…this was the PERFECT BIRTHDAY FOR THIS FOODIE.

I think I am going to take a foodie journey every birthday from now on.

 

 

 

 

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Coffee Underground freelancer

A Freelancer Taking a Java Journey

Working from home each day can be difficult. Nagging household chores are begging you for attention. The television is only one click away from a huge distraction, especially if you have writers block.

When I decided (actually my husband encouraged it) to launch my freelance writing career, I created my own planner and set out to create a weekly schedule, allowing me to stay focused on my blog AND my freelance writing.

However, I under estimated the significance of my work environment.

Living and working in a two room apartment, while our home is being constructed has proven to be very claustrophobic. Don’t get me wrong, I love working from home; however, every day and every night, the same four walls can be suffocating.

To relieve my stagnant situation – I needed motivation so… I started this series – Java Journey.

Each week, I will work outside the home for a full day, in a local coffee shop and report back to you what I see, experience and feel.

Goals for this experience:

      1. Get to taste some good coffee. I love a good cup of java. It gets my creative juices flowing and picks me up, especially since I am NOT a morning person in the first place.
      2. Find the quaint hidden gems. Greenville is a foodie town. So many restaurants opening. Greenville Today: 6 New Restaurants in 6 Days. Hopefully, I will discover some great places to work in the future.
      3. Stir the creative juices. Hopefully getting out of the house will help me figure out some places to pitch my freelancing credentials. Plenty of small businesses in this town, which could use an outside prospective to stimulate their profits.
      4. Network? – I don’t know if this will be possible, since 90% of the people I see in coffee shops, are meeting other people. The solo-entrepreneur is not the majority here, which kinda shocks me. Am I the only one?

Today I am at Coffee Underground.

Located in the heart of downtown, but hidden literally below street level, hence underground, Coffee Underground is a full service coffee bar, offering a vast selection of hot coffees, frozen smoothies, flavored milkshakes, frappes, and other beverages.

Hungry? Coffee Underground has an array of pastries, cakes and sweet treats available. But they also have more substantial choices, with simple breakfast plates served all day. Sandwiches, salads, burgers and a kids menu are available. Food can be prepared from open to close.

With a hardwood bar, dark wood tables and trim, the surroundings are homey and comfortable. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee is always present. There are secluded rooms for those needing a more quiet environment. Small sofas and winged back chairs are scattered throughout the dining area.

Coffee Underground Greenville Freelance WriterCoffee Underground Greenville Freelance Writer

 

 

Scenic black and white artwork adorn the original brick walls, creating an unpretentious space. Subtle classic rock ‘n roll music plays in the background.

 

 

 

 

During lunch and in the evenings, Coffee Underground takes on another personality. Offering not only the huge coffee menu, but also adult beverages. Ranging from beer, wine, and mixed cocktails to hot tot-ties, and delectable sweet ice cream based drinks; there is something to satisfy every pallet. Most standard liquor brands are available – Bacardi, Smirnoff, Jack Daniels, Crown Royal and others.

A small theater called The Alchemy is next door, featuring Improv shows and open-mic nights.

A group meeting room can be reserved for birthday celebrations, baby showers or networking meetings, complete with a television monitor for visual presentations. Coffee Underground offers a catering service for large parties.

A minimum purchase of $2 is required for wi-fi access. A designated parking lot is NOT available.

I circled the block twice to obtain a free street space.

As you enter Coffee Underground, you will approach the “place your order” counter. I ordered a large chocolate mocha with whip cream (a drink to compare to all bistros), along with a “build your own omelet.” Prepared with two eggs, bacon, peppers, onions mushrooms and cheese, it was ready within five minutes.

Coffee Underground Build Your Own Omlete

Coffee Underground White Chocolate Mocha

 

I picked up my order at the adjoining counter, once my name was called and sat down.

The omelet was delicious and filling. Served in a large, ceramic, heavy cup, my mocha was creamy, chocolaty and not scalding hot.

I love the coziness of this place. Although very busy with customers, it does not feel loud or overbearing, like a certain bustling chain coffee house can be.

 

 

What a discovery! Coffee Underground is great for…

an early workday

a light, quick lunch

or a relaxing evening cocktail

Coffee Underground Coffee Underground  located at 1 E. Coffee St. Greenville, SC 29601Coffee Underground

  • Monday – Thursday 7 AM – 10 PM
  • Friday – 7 AM – 11:30 PM
  • Saturday – 8 AM – 11:30 PM
  • Sunday – 8 AM – 10 PM
  • Hours change for holidays

www.coffeeunderground.info

 

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