Archive for the category “Southern Cooking”

Joe’s Texas BBQ – A Little Slice of Hog Heaven!

Last week, a colleague and I drove up to Green Bay, WI for a business trip. I think that trip takes the cake for the furthest I’ve gone in Wisconsin since I moved to Milwaukee almost three years ago! Admittedly, I’m woefully bad at getting in the car and just driving to see all this state has to offer. It’s just so easy to stay downtown (walking distance) when you live in the heart of such a great city! However, I’m really glad we made the trip – not just for business, but also for the delicious lunch we had!

Now, it certainly would have been more fun if the trip were to see the Green Bay Packers play, but I did get to see Lambeau Field (that’s where the expo was being held).

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Once we finished the expo, rather than eat less-than-exciting catered food after the event, we decided to use Yelp! to find a local joint for lunch before making the two hour drive home. After a bit of back & forth, we settled on Joe’s Texas BBQ.

Please let it be known that having been educated in the south, I can be a bit particular about my barbecue. Okay, I can be a snob!

The minute we drove up to the small shack and walked in the door, we knew we were likely in for a real treat! The smell was heavenly! Like, stop in your tracks and just take in the aroma of barbecued meet and sauce!

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This is a no-frills place. A whiteboard menu hangs on a wall across from the door and items are erased when out of stock for the day .

Menu

A pleasant woman stands behind the counter waiting to take your order and then checks with the chef to ensure your items are still available. Tables with mismatched chairs adorn the dining room, and a table full of silverware, napkins and various sauces sits in the corner.

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After perusing the menu and considering brisket versus pork, I decided I couldn’t pass up the pulled pork plate and the jalapeno cornbread!

Instantly, the lovely woman walked to the whiteboard and erased “pulled pork” – I had ordered the last of it! Thank goodness nobody had snuck in line in front of me!

Pulled

My road trip partner, Tyler, ordered the brisket and our other colleague, Mark (who met us in GB) tried the rib tips. Both thoroughly enjoyed their meals, although according to my colleague Mark, the tips were a bit of work to avoid the bone! He said that the flavor was worth it though!

From my perspective, the meat was so tender and tasty! I tried both the mild and spicy sauces, and neither disappointed. Although the jalapeno cornbread was dense, it was also full of flavor and delicious! I cleaned that huge plate of food! No problem.

It’s no wonder Joe’s Texas BBQ makes this claim:

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And they have several awards to back up that claim!

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If I ever find myself back in Green Bay, Joe’s Texas BBQ is a stop I’d gladly make. I know for certain I will leave with a full belly!

Lunch & Brunch, Milwaukee Style…

I have been SO BAD about finding time to write, so I’m grateful for a day off, college football on the tube (thankfully, my Clemson Tigers pulled off a huge win yesterday so the rest of the bowl games are just gravy), and a comfy spot to sit with my laptop.

I have some photos from a meal in Vegas, but I think my disdain for that city has prevented me from posting about the excellent Beef Wellington I had at Mon Ami Gabi. I have more upcoming travel (San Antonio, I’m looking at you!), so I look forward to hitting my “She Ordered What?” stride again in 2016.

In the meantime, I have recently tried a few restaurants right here in Milwaukee. They’ve been on my list of places to try, but it took me 2 1/2+ years to check them off the list!

First up was Engine Company 3 in Walker’s Point. My brother was in town for Doors Open Milwaukee and I convinced him to venture out to a new, and very cool joint. The Polenta Con Gamberi e Uovo is not on the current menu, but dear gosh…it was GOOD! Excellent, really! It gave me a sense of good southern shrimp and grits from back in the college days in South Carolina. 😉

I’ve recommended this spot to others, always with satisfied feedback!

Next up is Story Hill BKC in Milwaukee.  Our server – if I recall correctly, Beth – was energetic, funny, and on top of her game. She was lovely, and was totally amped when I handed her my card. She showed no hesitation, though my friend did. It was her rookie outing with me during a “She Ordered What?” meal! I have been known to make dining dates uncomfortable by surrendering the decision to our server. It’s not on purpose, I promise!

I was served a flavorful dish which is a standard on the menu – the Shakshouka. The dish consists of two Local Eggs Baked in Cumin-Spiced Tomato Sauce, Smoked Lentils, Cilantro, Goat Cheese, Sumac Mayonnaise, with Flatbread on the side and our server added avocado because that’s how she likes the dish to be enjoyed.

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I admit that I don’t think I ever would have ordered this dish on my own accord, but that’s the beauty of trusting servers to introduce me to new dishes. The Shakshouka was deliciously full of flavor. It was also a healthy portion, but not overwhelming large. When my friend took a bite, she agreed that Beth had chosen a winner for me!

And, let me say that I love having servers who get so excited about reading the card and choosing a meal for me. Beth wasn’t the only one… Next up: Blue’s Egg (a sister restaurant of Story Hill BKC).

Upon arrival, my friend and I decided to take the opportunity to snag two open stools at the counter rather than wait for a table. We both agree that counter service is usually quite good, and there’s just something fun about being close to the action.  Cory was our server that morning.

When I handed him my card, he admitted that he had been wondering what I had sitting on my menu and then gave it a read, gave me a wink, and said he was “on it”.  Frankly, there were so many interesting dishes on the menu, so I knew there was no way I could choose. I also had heard nothing but praise for Blue’s Egg, so I was confident I would be in for a treat. And, I was! I was served the Blue’s Classic Benedict with a helping of stuffed hash browns.

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A huge serving of poached eggs, pulled ham, english muffin, hollandaise and goat cheese stuffed hash-browns. Hello decadence!

I’m not normally a huge fan of ham, but this shredded ham was off the charts good! Admittedly, I had to have half of the meal boxed up – only because it was such a large portion, not because I didn’t enjoy every bite. In fact, at one point, our server overheard me mention that “holy hell this is GOOD”. That definitely put a smile on his face!

This time, my friend was familiar with my routine and knew to wait to eat until I got a picture of his crab cake and poached eggs as well as his Bloody Mary.

 

In addition to the places I’ve detailed here, I’ve also enjoyed breakfast pizza at Wolf Peach (for three meals!), had many great breakfast dishes at Hotel Metro, and yet I feel like there are a million treasures I still need to visit in Milwaukee. We’re so fortunate to have a great culinary scene here!

What is your favorite brunch spot? Brunch dish?

Cheers!

Ker

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

Melt

4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

AJB

3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

Braise

2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

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and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

Publican

Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

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Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

“Powered by Bacon” – Bacon Bros. Public House, Greenville, SC

It’s taken me a week to write this post, and it’s a shame, because this meal was one of the most wonderful surprises I’ve had in a long time! I was back in South Carolina to visit with friends and to see my Clemson Tigers win their sixth game of the season, and we decided to grab lunch in Greenville after I landed at GSP! It was my choice – uh oh! So, I turned directly to the Yelp! app on my iPhone.

I scrolled through the list a bit, and one name stuck out to me – Bacon Bros. Public House. I’m not going to lie…it stuck out because so many of my friends, and in particular the guys I was to be meeting up with the next day, are bacon fanatics! (hashtag #BACON)

I knew that the restaurant’s name alone would inflict a little pang of jealousy! Aside from that, this fairly new establishment averaged 4.5 stars and had some very positive reviews. My friend Cindy, who was my hostess, taxi driver, and friend extraordinaire, was all in for Bacon Bros., so we headed in that direction. We were meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch on Friday since we weren’t sure if we’d be able to meet up at our tailgate the next day (Greg is a reporter for Clemson and has a pesky job that gets in the way of tailgate fun). 😉

We found Bacon Bros. Public House in a small strip mall. We would soon discover that this is a hidden gem on Pelham Road!

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We waited for a few minutes for an outside table, and for Greg to arrive. As we waited, I was able to check out a bit of the restaurant’s atmosphere. The meat locker immediately caught my eye.

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

It was nice to be able to see the (locally sourced!) pork, beef, etc that would be served up. Not that I’m generally suspicious of restaurants, but transparency like that really inspires confidence in my mind.

I’d also like to give shout-out to the beautiful sink in the ladies’ room. I didn’t take a picture, but it was a very nice sink/faucet.

When we sat down, we were warmly greeted by a gentleman who poured us water. His voice was so calm and sweet that I found myself (somewhat jokingly) asking him to sit down and join us! He politely declined, since he was at work, but he clearly had a good sense of humor about it.

We were then greeted by yet another gentleman (hey, this is the south, y’all!) who “threatened” to sit down and join Cindy and me if Greg didn’t show up soon. Greg did show up just moments later.

In the meantime, at my request, a third gentleman, in the form of our server, Tanner, chose a red beer for me. From start to finish, Tanner proved to be a really engaging and attentive server. He added to the overall experience in a very positive way.

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

He then chose my lunch. Tanner was very cool about the whole process – not a single flinch. It was clear that he and the other gentlemen that work at Bacon Bros. not only know the menu well, but are confident in the food that’s being served.

Tanner chose what he called the sandwich that “is becoming our signature sandwich” – the B.E.T., with a side of Farro Verde.

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

Y’all, this sandwich…maybe it should be called the O.M.G. instead of the B.E.T.! The sandwich consisted of pork belly pastrami, Swiss cheese, fried duck egg, green peppercorn mayo, arugula, and yellow tomato. A fantastic combination – and expertly prepared! Note: the sandwich can get a little messy due to the runny egg yolk, but it’s worth a little finger licking to clean up!

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A close up of the B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The side is definitely not one I would have picked out on my own since it’s centered around boiled peanuts – a snack I never really developed a taste for when I lived in SC. I’m here to tell you that when boiled peanuts are mixed with field peas, tomatoes, and hominy, they are DELICIOUS!

Cindy and Greg were more than happy with their respective choices as well. Cindy chose a burger and onion rings (perfectly battered), and Greg chose the Pulled Pork Shoulder (served with waffles that have country ham in the batter!).

And, I couldn’t resist taking a piece (or two – Bacon Bros. recently increased their dessert portions – the one thing about this restaurant that I would change – revert back to smaller servings of sweets) of Orange Dreamsicle pound cake home.

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

I didn’t end up eating the pound cake until Sunday, and by then it was more dry than I would have liked. However, the flavor was very good – not too overwhelming with the citrus, but light and tasty.

So, in addition to being amongst great company, Bacon Bros. Public House offered fantastic service, a unique and comfortable atmosphere, and spectacular Southern style food. We all agreed that it’s a place to go back and visit.

Note to self: next time, I’m going to get one of those “Powered By Bacon” t-shirts! I should have picked one up last weekend.

And, through Twitter, I learned that my colleagues in the Greenville area had also recently discovered Bacon Bros. and frequently visit for lunch. They had been holding out on me!!!

Because this trip was planned around meeting up with good friends to see my Clemson Tigers play, here are a couple of pictures from campus.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

It was a wonderful weekend – as time in South Carolina always is! If you’re in the Greenville area, I highly suggest finding time to make it to Bacon Bros. Public House. Have you been? What was your favorite Southern style dish?

Cheers!

Ker

A Girls’ Weekend that Always Centers Around the Guys…

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Greenville/Spartanburg to meet up with some of my favorite ladies (and men) for our annual trek to Dabo Swinney’s Ladies’ Football Clinic. Y’all, this is not a “tell me what 3rd down means” football clinic. This is a gathering of 1000+ women with pretty high football IQs (well, most of them know the sport!). The coaching staff is generally quite impressed with the passion for: coaches, players, hometown heroes, and the sport, as well as the knowledge demonstrated through the intelligent questions being asked.

They are equally (okay, probably more so) entertained by the giddy “teenage girliness” that is evident in every session of the “locker room visit”. Some of the women are downright inappropriate (I’m nodding your way – woman who shoved dollar bills in Adam Humphries waistband – with a phone number on one! Incidentally, the money was PROMPTLY returned so as not to violate any NCAA regulations!)

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CW from upper left: Kathleen Swinney and Ali Rogers, Kesley and me, 2013 “All In” token, and Mama Watkins (left), me, and Mama Boyd – all very lovely ladies!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players - and me!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players – and me!

The Ladies’ Clinic is a fundraiser (in its fifth year with Dabo, and twelfth year overall (I believe)) to raise money toward breast cancer research. That’s a cause near and dear to my heart, as well as to the Swinney family. 25% of the registration fee goes toward research (and is matched by Dabo’s All-In Team Foundation) and tens of thousands of dollars are raised through silent and live auction items such as a ride-along with the team from the hotel to the game, participation in Tiger Walk, and tickets to the game ($21,000 total for 3 pairs – one donated by Coach Swinney to match the other two fan purchases), signed jerseys (Nuk Hopkins, anyone?), personally signed helmets (2 x $1,400), and many more. It was a fantastic day – as always!

But, alas…this blog is about adventures in dining – and friends – I had some!

After spending some time in my company’s Greenville manufacturing facility on Thursday, my “second family” and I went to R.J. Rockers for the Thursday night tasting tradition. I’m actually not a big beer drinker, but we always feel the need to get a “double-fisted Ker” shot – for posterity’s sake, I guess. (note: it was HOT and MUGGY that night…not a pretty sight for the chick w/ blown out naturally curly hair!)

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy's Strawberry Wheat on my left.

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy’s Strawberry Wheat on my left.

We then headed down the street to Wild Ace in downtown Spartanburg – with a small group of friends who gathered at Rockers. I quickly made friends with the bartender while we were waiting on the rest of the group to arrive. It’s what I do. 🙂

As a result, he was kind enough to come upstairs and take care of everyone’s drink orders while we were acquainting ourselves with the menu. Wild Ace offers a lot, so I quickly gave up. I turned my fate over to our server, Devin. He started to ask a few questions, but I simply gave him the “talk to the hand” gesture – along with an encouraging smile.

When I was served my meal, I was informed that I was receiving the “Sopwith Camel” (aka: Wild Ace version of the French Dip). The sandwich was fine. I wouldn’t say it was any better or any worse than any other French Dip I have had, but it was good. It was served with chips, which were actually quite tasty (maybe because I had already had the equivalent of three beers at that point, and salty food just tasted good! But, I do think the chips were good stuff).

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On Friday, Cindy, Kesley and I were determined to meet two of our favorite Clemson men in Charlotte for lunch. A mere 90 minutes away, give or take! We met the guys at Duckworths in Ballantyne. We arrived shortly before the guys did (after we amended the meeting time because we were running late!), so we started with some Buffalo bleu cheese chips (OMG!)

Chips

We were meeting my friends Anthony and Daniel, who both work in the Charlotte area. I first met Ant several years ago. I’ve lost count now how many years ago that was. He’s the sweetest, most charming guy – but he bucks that description every chance he gets! He has hash-tagged himself the #LargeAngryBlackMan on Twitter (it’s a joke, y’all…look at that smile!).

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Ant

And, Daniel…well, he and I met through the Clemson Twitter fam as well, but we had a real-life connection as well! One of my most dear friends, Chanda, grew up with Daniel in Orange County, CA! It is indeed a small world, folks! I dug this man since the minute I met him. And…he’s a proud member of the #FKC (Fat Kid Club). See how excited he is about food? (sadly, I went the other way…from skinny kid to not-so much…but we’re both still happy!)

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Former FKC, Daniel

Both Daniel and Ant were very excited to see my indecisiveness play out in real life. When our server, Sandy, came by to take orders, I simply let her know that everything on the menu was fair game, and that she should choose her favorite lunch item for me. She was a little panicked, but ultimately agreed to order for me.

When she came back, she informed me that she had chosen the Fajita Chicken Philly (marinated fajita chicken served on a Philly roll with cheese, peppers and onions).

Fajita

It had great flavor, but it was HUGE! I knew that I could count on Ant to finish the leftovers, and he did. With a smile! After a nice, long lunch, we headed out in different directions. It was so nice to see the guys though!

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth's.

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth’s.

Later that evening, we were meeting another favorite Clemson friend, beat writer Greg, for dinner in downtown Greenville (one of my favorite cities in America!). Greg chose Nose Dive (a Table 301 restaurant – of Soby’s fame (the place I had my graduation dinner so many years ago)). Nose Dive is a newer Gastropub, with an inspired menu! Again, everything looked fantastic, so I just turned my order over to Brian, our server. I let him know early on that I’d have him choose my meal, and that I would like a glass of white wine to pair with it.

Brian was totally game. I could tell he was really considering what to bring me, but he wasn’t worried when I gave him carte blanche. He first came back with a glass of Pinot Grigio – which was nice and refreshing since I had asked my friends to sit on the hot and muggy patio!

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Then, he brought the Roast Chicken which was really half of a chicken served over a bed of croutons and tomatoes (yummy!) and topped with herbs and Dijon sauce. The portion was ridiculous, so half of it went home for Cindy’s daughter (who is a gymnast with a never-ending appetite!). The half that I did eat was delicious! The chicken was so moist and tender, and the herbs and Dijon were perfect accents. Although there wasn’t much in the way of “healthy” sides (I love veggies!), the crouton salad was very tasty!

I’d definitely go back to Nose Dive (although Greenville has so many good restaurants to choose from!). It was great spending time with Greg too (whom we’d also briefly meet up with after the clinic on Saturday – and whom I neglected to take a picture of! Shame on me.)

Saturday, we hit the road nice and early to make it to the clinic, and then just took it easy that evening. We hit up Thai Taste, with Daniel, his wife Kate, and their baby girl, Ella. She is, incidentally, the only child I’ve held in a long time who did not cry! She must be the perfect baby! 🙂 And, she’s stinking cute too!

It was so nice to get down south again, spend quality time with several friends, and have a bit of southern cookin’! What’s your favorite taste of the south?

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