Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making time for lunch: Jason's Deli

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but years ago, before the reality of adulthood smacked me in the face, I had this idea in my head that once I grew up and got a job, I would become someone who lunched.  Maybe it was watching one too many episodes of Sex and the City that fostered this illusion.  But I was somehow convinced that I would be able to have multi-hour lunches in nice restaurants with friends in the middle of the week.  Then I graduated from college, and reality caught me in a choke hold.  Not only did I not have a "real" job (I moved back home for 2 months after graduation and worked in the same job I'd had during my college summers until I moved back to SC), I was faced with paying bills.  Once I moved back to SC, I was basically living off of my graduation money (thanks family!) for 2 months until I found a job.  Not the lavish one that was going to allow me to grab a table at the semi-swanky place where they serve luncheon instead of lunch, but rather one in the same field as my summer job had been.  I made next to nothing and was fully introduced to the world of the hour-long lunch.  Not only did I not have the funds for the nice lunches, but I also lacked the time.  That one hour time frame was strictly enforced.

And so, my dreams of fully becoming a Miranda (and let's be honest, except for our career choices, I really am Miranda Hobbes) were dead in the water.  Now, 7 years later, I make a little more money and can actually afford a nice lunch every now and then.  But I'm still a slave to the one hour time limit.  I don't know how many of you have ever tried to go out to lunch in downtown Columbia during the week, but if you have, you know that you either need at least 90 minutes or go super early or super late.  It's not because the service is slow, but because of the sheer volume of people.  Plus, you have to drive everywhere, and if you're like me, you manage to hit every single red light between work and your destination.  So 60 minutes to get to your car (if, like me, you can't park directly outside your office), drive to the restaurant, compete with 700 other people for a table, wait for your food to be prepared, eat, drive back, and walk back.  It can be done, but it's tough.  Which is why when I find myself lucky enough to have an afternoon off, I make sure I go out for lunch.

And that is exactly what I did when I found myself with the afternoon off on a beautiful Friday in June.  I got off work at 1 and had a few errands to run before I went home.  I also had some stuff to do at home, so I figured that I'd grab lunch to go and eat at the house.  I wrapped up my errands around town and decided to stop in at Jason's Deli.  Jason's is a great little chain of sandwich shops, primarily in the southeast, but with a few other scattered locations.  The one in Columbia opened about a year ago, and I've been there a couple times since.  Everything I've ever had at Jason's Deli has been great.  I have a friend who swears by the Muffalettas.  I like to try something new whenever I go, so on this particular occasion I opted for the Zucchini Grillini, a newish item on the menu.  It was a hot day in late June, so I figured something a little lighter would be a good choice.  And it was.

Oh hey, Instagram...
This awesome sandwich had a TON of grilled veggies: Zucchini, spinach, red onions, tomatoes, and kalamata olives, plus roasted red pepper hummus and muenster cheese.  Utterly amazing.  I devoured this thing, which may have been because it was around 2:30 before I got to eat it, or because it was so good.  The sandwich comes with a choice of chips, fruit, or steamed veggies.  I went with the chips.  I didn't end up finishing them because this sandwich was so filling.  Don't be fooled by how little it is more than enough food.  The next time I go in, I may have to break my "try something new" rule in favor of reliving this wonderful food moment.

So.  Not only does Jason's Deli have an awesome assortment of sandwiches, they also have a ginormous salad bar, a gluten free menu, and a vegetarian menu.  Definitely something for everyone.  And don't forget to grab some free soft serve on your way out.  Really?  How do you say no to that?

Final Rating

You can find Jason's Deli on Facebook, Twitter, or the web.

Jason's Deli #163 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recipes and BIG NEWS!!!!

This is a "kill 2 birds with one stone" kind of post.  Or as my grandmother would say, "Kill one bird with two stones."    Part one features a killer dinner in with R.  He cooked.  I watched baseball.  Somewhere, Donna Reed is having a coronary.  Part two is the BIG NEWS that has taken over Hungry Lady land.  So let's get started, yes?

Dinner in.  Three cheers for Pinterest for providing endless hours of procrastination, nerdgasms, and new recipes that I will pin, but likely never make.  Also, for providing the two recipes we tried on this particular evening.  First, we made (and by we, I totally mean R) Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo.  Yes please.  Packed with flavor and super creamy.  Utterly delicious.  Second, we made Baked Asparagus Fries.  These were utterly divine.  We didn't bother with dipping sauces, because we didn't really need them. They were crunchy and not so bready that the asparagus disappeared.  And except for the fact that breading anything is a royal pain, these were pretty easy.  Of course, we also threw in a salad for good measure.  I would very strongly suggest trying both of these recipes.  There was enough pasta for a small army, and R said it was still really good after being reheated the next day.

Such an awesome dinner.
Moving on.  Part two.  The BIG NEWS.  The new project that The Hungry Lady is somehow going to fit in between two classes, homework, and a full time job. Are you ready?  Wait for it.... Wait for it....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brunching downtown: Motor Supply Co.

Good news y'all!  My crazy summer class has finally ended, and work is returning to normal, so that means you'll get to enjoy my ramblings a little more often!  At least until the middle of September when my fall classes start - Econ and Finance.  Seriously.  Who thought those two should be paired together?

Anyway.  I'm still working on catching up on a ton of posts.  With this one, I'll be finally finished with May, so I'm hoping to get caught up soon.  There are some pretty awesome things happening in Hungry Lady land, but I want to get caught up before I share the news.

And now, without further ado, let's talk about the most important meal of any weekend: Brunch.

Way back at the end of May, L's boyfriend came into town for a visit.  They had all kinds of fun things planned, but on the Sunday he was here, it was all about food and Game of Thrones.  I'm sure you've picked up by now exactly how nerdy my friends and I are, so you should not be surprised that a day long GoT marathon was in order.  But first, we needed sustenance.  And L's boy had to meet the parents. So the friends tagged along to ease the tension.  Where better to go than Motor Supply Co. Bistro.

L has been telling me for years that I needed to go to Motor Supply, but I somehow never made it there.  On this occasion, I was glad I did.  It was an utterly gorgeous day in May, and we were sitting on the patio.  There were 7 of us, so we took up a pretty big table.  We started with a basket of pastries, a round of coffee, and mimosas and bloody marys.  

First the bloody marys.  I ordered the O.C. Bloody, which comes with a variety of vodkas.  O.C., if I remember correctly, stands for owner's choice.  It was perfect.  It wasn't thick and it didn't get watered down by an overabundance of ice.  It had just enough spice to give the tongue a little ZING! but not enough to be overpowering.

Next, breakfast.  We were actually pretty unadventurous when it came to ordering.  There was a quiche, some french toast, a basic breakfast platter, and 4 orders of crab cakes benedict.  Mine was the only one I got a picture of - really taking pictures of 7 plates just wasn't going to happen.  I had the crab cakes.  It came with a bowl of fresh fruit, and grits. I pretty much despise grits, so I asked for hash brown casserole instead.

What a beautiful plate of food.
First the hashbrowns.  They were almost creamy from all of the cheese used.  It was almost like eating a hashbrown risotto.  They were awesome.  The crab cakes were perfectly cooked.  They definitely were spot on with the crab to breading ratio too.  Read: almost all crab, very little breading.  The eggs were just perfectly poached so that the yolk ran a bit when I cut into it, but net enough to make a huge mess.  The hollandaise sauce?  Divine.  Wonderful flavor that accentuated the flavor of the eggs and the crab cakes.  And, of course, the fruit was juicy and very very fresh.

One of the best things about Motor Supply? The menu changes daily. So it's really just a big surprise as to what you'll get.  Though, judging by how awesome brunch was, any meal will be delicious.  My new plan is to try to get there for lunch and / or dinner one day.  I've seen some of the lunch menus, and they've made my mouth water.  Some day...when I have the time to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

Final Rating:

You can find Motor Supply Co. Bistro on Facebook, Twitter, or the web.

Motor Supply Co Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Celebrate Julia Child at Terra this week

It's a pretty big week in food history.  The illustrious Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912, and died on August 13, 2004.  Which means, that had she lived, she would have been celebrating her centennial this year.  Amazing.  Known for bringing the French style cuisine to the U.S., Ms. Child is celebrated everywhere.  And this year, Hungry Lady favorite, Terra, is throwing a birthday bash.

Running from August 14 through August 18, Terra is offering a three-course meal (with or without wine pairings) to celebrate the life and death of Ms. Julia Child.  The flat cost of the meal is $30, $40 if you let Terra pick out your wine pairings, and $50 if you let them pick wine from their reserve wine list.  Not a bad deal, especially when you know the food is going to be good.

Terra is known for its use of fresh, local ingredients.  In building a menu to showcase the French style, I hope that Terra is able to stay true to that philosophy.  Of course, after looking at the menu, it looks like they will be.  Now.  Who wants to go to dinner tomorrow or Friday?

You can read the full press release, including the menu, after the jump.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Hungry Lady Travels: The Steamer in Gulf Shores, Alabama

About 2 or so weeks ago, I started to tell you all about my vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama for The Hangout Music Festival.  Can't remember that far back?  You can read part one here.

So after 3 utterly amazing days of music, sun, and sand, we were ready to close out the festival in style.  Sunday night's headliner was the Dave Matthews Band.  Given that I haven't enjoyed DMB since they saved me from an ill-advised R&B and rap phase in the mid-90s, I wasn't excited about Sunday night at all.  Until the gang decided that we'd have our farewell dinner that night.

After watching the sun go down over the water to the dulcet sounds of The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side of the Moon, L & I headed back to the condo for a little pre-dinner beverage or two, while E, G, and J ran across the beach to catch DMB.  J, actually being a DMB fan, stayed for their whole set.  E & G stayed for a couple songs and then headed back to join L & me for a beer or two on the balcony.  We had decided that since DMB ended at 11 p.m., we were going to shoot to get to dinner right as the set ended and J was going to meet us there when she was done.

Later that evening, we meandered from our condo to our destination: The Steamer.  Let's talk about The Steamer.  It is, as you would imagine, a seafood restaurant.  But, for all of you who claim to only like seafood when it's fried, you're out of luck.  The Steamer only offers baked, steamed, grilled, or raw food.  Sold.

There were 5 of us, so we ordered quite a bit of food and shared most of it.  We had 18 baked oysters, smoked tuna dip, one pound of mussels, 6 snow crab clusters, and 1 1/2 pounds of royal reds.  Plus new potatoes, corn, sausage, and slaw.

Everything listed above, except 1 crab cluster and 1/2 pound of royal reds.
Let's talk about the oysters for a minute.  We got one order of Baked Rockefeller Oysters, and one order of the Baked Parmesan Oysters.  Not only were they gigantic, they were unbelievably delicious.  An excellent topping to oyster ratio.

These were the Rockefeller Oysters.
Needless to say, I wasn't eating any of the royal reds (those are a type of shrimp, for those of you not in the know), so L & I split 3 crab clusters.  We probably should have only gotten 2.  Again - gigantic and meaty.  And so juicy and flavorful that you didn't need any butter to dip them in.

Trust me, this looks like a lot less food than it actually is.
We probably could have also done without the mussels and the smoked tuna dip, but I don't regret a single bite of either dish.  Besides, after spending 3 days in the sun, running across the sand, and subsisting primarily on snack food, we were all ravenous.  We tore into our plates and it was dead silent at our table, except for the sound of the crab crackers.  If you know this group of people, you know that silence is an unusual occurrence.  We're a chatty group.  But apparently hunger and deliciousness trumps conversation.

By the time we finished, and we made a valiant effort and had very few leftovers, we were so stuffed we could barely walk home. Just to give you an idea, here's the "after" shot:

We filled two of those buckets in the center, and had leftover shells and such on our plates.
What an incredible time.  There's really no place like the Gulf Coast for seafood.  And don't let the prices on the menu scare you - everything is big enough to share.  Much like the Hangout has become tradition, I think The Steamer will fit in nicely with our plans for next time.

Final Rating:

You can find The Steamer on Facebook or the web.

The Steamer Baked Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon