Friday, August 26, 2011

Real & Good

We just returned from our yearly trip to our favorite place, Charleston SC, and I think we are all a little homesick for the beach. And the food. And the people. (My brother and his sweet wife live there, along with some awesome friends). 

There are several places that are our "must-visits" when we are there so I thought I'd share them with you! 
#1 on that list is Metto. They make muffins like you have never seen...Josh and I swear they put crack in them. Something illegal must be in them - that's how good they are. We had a spiced peach walnut muffin this time that was out of this world, and I also tried a honey latte that was incredible.

I always visit Southern Accent for my Tyler Candle fix. (My favorites are Mulled Cider and High Maintenance.) There's also a fantastic antique shop next door. 

People, Places, & Quilts is another favorite - the staff is so friendly and there are 2 shops to visit - one in downtown Charleston and a gorgeous old building in Summerville.

The Griffon flickr source
The Griffon on Vendue Range is one of our favorite's small, cozy, and has great local beer on tap.

Homemade Pimiento Cheese inspired by our trip to Charleston SC
And now. The original point of this post. One of my best friends from college moved to Charleston with his wife about 7 years ago, and we have never managed to meet up. I had never met his wife OR his beautiful new baby girl, so we made a date to meet at Page's Okra Grill in Mt.Pleasant. I noticed that this place was always packed when we drove by, and most of the license plates were local, which is always a good sign.

The restaurant has about as much atmosphere as Shoney's, which means it's not great first-date material, but, oh, is it family-friendly. The food was SO, so good and all made from scratch - even the dressings & sauces. We got Redneck Rolls as an appetizer without even knowing what they were. (Deep-fried wonton wrappers filled with homemade smoked BBQ and pimento cheese, with a homemade BBQ sauce to dip them in.) I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. We ate our weight in mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, fried okra, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes - you get the picture. And then we went back 2 days later. ;) 

I had never had REAL pimento cheese before - only the pinkish-peach stuff that resembles Play Doh in the little plastic containers that come from the deli section. And I could never bring myself to even really try that. So when I tasted this I was shocked at how good it was. Josh and I immediately looked at each other and agreed that we must duplicate it at home. I started with Bobby Deen's recipe and made quite a few changes to get to this:

4 oz cream cheese (room-temperature)
2 cups freshly-shredded sharp cheddar (I like half regular & half sharp white cheddar) (and DO NOT buy the shredded stuff in a bag - don't do it!) 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 tablespoons pimentos, chopped to whatever size you like 

small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together, either by hand or in a Kitchen Aid. (It can't get much easier than that.) It shapes into a ball if you'd like to make it into a cheeseball - we were dreaming of rolling it in bacon & green onions. It makes a wicked grilled cheese sandwich, and is awesome with a fresh loaf of bread.