Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Contest Time!

Ok.  I've been thinking about this for quite some time.  I wanted to come up with a contest that somehow relates to the point of this blog, but that wasn't over the top or cheesy.  I think I've finally come up with something.  I hope y'all enjoy it.

Why am I hosting a contest?
I've finally made it to over 100 fans on Facebook, and I'm at 99 on Twitter. In my book, this is cause for celebration!

Who can participate?
Anyone.  Tell your friends.  Send them this way.  I certainly don't mind the extra readers.

How to Enter
I've thought long and hard about this and finally reached a decision.  I want to see your reviews.  Before you panic and decide that you're not a writer and thus cannot possibly come up with a review, I don't want anything complicated or in-depth.  I want to see about a paragraph about a meal or part of a meal.  It doesn't have to be from a restaurant - if you've cooked or someone else cooked for you, I want to hear about it.  And don't forget a picture!

So how's the winner picked?
There are two options here.  1) I can be boring and use random.org to pick a winner out of everyone who submits a review.  2) I can post your reviews/pictures and let y'all vote on our winner.  I like option two better, but if anyone has a strong opinion one way or the other, please let me know.

What do I win?
How does a restaurant gift card sound?  I'm not going to specify a restaurant since I know there are people who aren't in the Columbia area.  But I can tell you that it will be for $50.  And that I absolutely refuse to make it to a chain restaurant.  Once the winner is chosen, he/she and I will discuss a restaurant.

What's the Deadline for Entering?
Ok.  You have one week to get your review/pictures submitted.  All entries must be in my inbox (thehungrylady at gmail dot com) by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2011.  I'll post the entries here  on September 9, and let y'all vote.  Voting will close on September 14, and the winner will be announced on September 15.  When you enter, make sure to include your picture, review, contact info (name and email), and where you would like a gift card to.

Email me, Facebook me, or Tweet me.  And if you have any suggestions, I'll be happy to hear them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let's Talk Sushi.

Sushi has been the fad for years.  Prior to last weekend, I had never had it.  Why, you ask?  Because I couldn't quite wrap my head around consuming raw fish.  The very thought of it weirded me out.  I have several friends who love sushi, so I had promised that I would eventually get over my mental block and we would use my gift card to SakiTumi. Last weekend, I had sufficiently prepared myself to give it a shot.  I took L with me, and was sure to ask for her input before I ordered anything.

After checking out the menu, we decided we'd each get a roll, and then order something else if we were still hungry.  So many things looked good to me, but since I can't eat shrimp, there were a few things that I was able to eliminate right off the bat.  As a side note, a shrimp allergy sucks.  Shrimp seems to be the go-to seafood for every restaurant, and sometimes it's really hard to find a dish that doesn't contain shrimp.  While I can technically order things with shrimp and then pick them out, that always seems to defeat the purpose. Plus I don't particularly relish the idea of missing a piece and ending up sick.

Anyway.  L decided to get her favorite, the Spicy Tuna Roll, and I went with the Charleston Roll (blue crab, avocado, green onion, and Japanese mayo).  Here's where it gets tricky.  Everything tasted good.  The fish was perfect.  The wasabi and ginger served with each roll were excellent.  But I'm still not a fan.  I just don't understand sushi.  In all honesty, I felt like I was eating a big ball of rice.  If I wanted to do that, I'd make rice and home and save myself some money.  The rice just overpowered everything.  L's roll was a little less like that, so maybe I just need a stronger fish, but still.  I could barely taste anything but rice.  And before anyone jumps on me, I tried it with soy sauce, without soy sauce, with wasabi, without wasabi, with ginger, without ginger, and with every combination thereof.  The meal just didn't excite me.  And, though I was pretty full after  I finished (we didn't end up ordering anything else), I was starving and rummaging through my kitchen looking for food about two hours later.

This is by no means a poor reflection on SakiTumi.  I actually loved the restaurant - the atmosphere was cool and laid back and our server was great.  I'd be happy to go back, but I'd probably skip the sushi and order something from the grill instead.

My guess is that I'm doing something wrong.  So many zillions of people love sushi, but I just don't understand the point.  Someone explain it to me.  Do I need to order something different, or do all sushi rolls have an overwhelming rice taste?  Would a stronger fish help?  I'd be willing to try again, but I'm going to need some guidance.  Tell me your thoughts - best places for sushi (and if anyone says Japan, he/she had better be willing to pay for my trip there), best things to try, proper way to eat it (with or without soy sauce/ginger/wasabi), etc.  Help this Hungry Lady out.

No actual rating for SakiTumi, because I don't think it's fair to judge them based on the fact that I don't understand the food.  If I go back and try again, I'll review.

In the meantime, you can check out SakiTumi on Facebook, Twitter, or on the web.

Saki Tumi Grill & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tombo grilled up a great meal.

I really used to be one of those people who gets stuck in a dining rut.  I'd go to the same places repeatedly.  I'd start to get bored, but I wouldn't bother to try a new place.  I don't know if that was because I was too lazy to look for a new place, or too afraid to step outside my comfort zone.  At any rate, this blog has forced me to try new places, and as a result, I've had some pretty fantastic experiences.  Once of the best I've had, by far, was Tombo Grille.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moving makes me hungry

It's that time of year again.  The time when everyone with any sense stays away from downtown Columbia.  Yep.  It's move-in weekend at the University of South Carolina.

Way back in the day (read: 10 years ago) when I was a sweet and innocent freshman and coming to South Carolina for only the third time ever (the other two times had been for a college visit and then orientation), I was a little intimidated.  Probably because I was at a huge state school, in a city that is 700 miles away from home.  I was kept busy during move-in and the days that followed, as USC provides countless activities to welcome the masses to campus, but when my family and I first got to campus, it was a little rough.  We were definitely those easy to spot out-of-towners (and not because my dad was wearing socks with sandals or a Hawaiian shirt with a camera around his neck). Not only did our suburban Philadelphia accents betray us, but we also had no idea how to get around town and were totally lost.  We didn't even know where to start when we wanted to find something to eat.  If only we had had a fabulous food blogger who knew the ins and outs of the Columbia dining scene.  Lucky for all of you incoming Carolina students, you have me.

After polling the crowds on Facebook and Twitter (Huge thanks to all who helped me out!), I have put together a list of places for your dining pleasure.  Some I have been to, and so can attest to their awesomeness, while some are new to me, but you better believe I'll be trying them soon.  If any of you decide to take my suggestions, let me know how you liked it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Totally Rockin' Burgers (pun absolutely intended)

I've been a horrible blogger lately.  Apologies y'all, but sometimes my day job has to take precedence.

Right.  Back to the point of this blog: Food.  On Sunday night, M, L, and I were all set for our weekly True Blood fix.  We were all going to grab dinner on our own and then head to M's to watch this week's episode.  After spending an inordinate amount of time at the hospital welcoming some friends's new baby (congrats R &A!), L & I decided that we were going to grab dinner together before heading to M's (M wasn't hungry, otherwise I'm sure she would have joined us).  After the usual, "what in the world do we want to eat and what's close to M's house" conversation, we settled on the perfect hole-in the-wall for burgers and beer: Rockaway's.

Now, if you're local to Columbia, chances are you've been to Rockaway's (formally titled "Rockaway Athletic Club," but no one calls it that).  If you're not local, you should probably make your first trip there with a local so that you know where you're going - Rockaway's doesn't have any kind of outdoor signage.  If you think about it, that's kind of badass.  They're so well known, they don't need to announce themselves.  I dig it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Free Chipotle!

This weekend in Tax Free Weekend in Columbia.  That means that everyone I know who works in retail will spend the weekend being super stressed, while the general public gets to pretend they're in Delaware without actually having to go to Delaware.

To coincide with this money saving weekend experience, Chipotle Mexican Grill is running a special in Columbia.  And before you ask, no, I don't know if this promotion is being held in other areas.  I just know that it's happening here.  All you have to do is go to any Chipotle in Columbia on Tuesday or Wednesday (August 2 or 3), order some food, and keep your receipt.  Then bring your receipt back to the restaurant any time during tax free weekend (August 5 - 7) and get a free burrito, bowl, order of tacos, or a salad.  Totally and completely free. No tax, no charge, no nothing.  Just make sure you have your receipt.  Pretty awesome deal, yeah?

All the details you need about this weekend.
So why should you go to Chipotle instead of some other chain Mexican restaurant?  Chipotle has the Food with Integrity mission.  You can check out the website for full details, but here's the gist: they use local, sustainable methods of food gathering.  That means using meat that hasn't had hormones or antibiotics added, using local and organic produce, and supporting family farmers.  That's a pretty awesome thing to do.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been to a Chipotle.  But when they contacted me to see if I would plug their tax free deal, I read up on the company.  There are some pretty cool things happening behind the scenes.  I may just take my first trip to Chipotle in the next couple of days.  Plus, this looks really good.

That looks pretty awesome.