Midtown Deli

This little building houses one of the best deli places in my city, well, at least in my opinion anyway. I know what you might be thinking….what’s so special about a deli shop? Not only do they have some of the best sandwiches around, but it’s also a place that has fully opened since the pandemic. It’s a place that not only can you go to to get a great bite to eat, but it’s also a feeling that a sense of normalcy is slowly starting to return.

When you step inside you can hear the happy chatter of friends, family and newly acquaintance’s just enjoying a moment of sitting down and sharing simple, yet delightful food together….still respecting social distancing of course.

This place has your typical deli sandwiches, salads, wraps and sides, but some with a southern twist. There’s the homemade jalapeno pimento cheese sandwich. It tastes like your southern grandma used to make for family luncheons, but with a slight kick of jalapenos and dressed with fresh tomatoes on your choice of toasted bread. Then you also have the grilled sliced meatloaf with mayo and ketchup on your favorite bread.

There is also my favorite, the crab cake sandwich.

I mean look at that…. it’s a tender pan fried crab cake packed full of flavor, on a lightly toasted bun with remoulade sauce. Don’t worry, you can add as much or little of that tasty sauce as you want. I must confess, I can’t get enough of that stuff…. as you can see.

A deli spot wouldn’t be complete without a club sandwich.

This beauty is stacked with turkey, ham, bacon and swiss cheese with a basil mayo that makes this one not your ordinary club.

There are burgers, and wraps that you can make your own from the long list of meats and breads to choose from.

To finish things off, there is an amazing pecan caramel chocolate brownie…. just one of their tasty desserts.

I think I know where I’m going for lunch soon.

I hope you have a favorite little deli place that you can visit even during these times. It might seem trivial to some, but I’ve always found that food can be such a powerful thing. It can heal, it can bring bittersweet memories of times gone by and things yet to come. It can bring family and friends together even during the hardest of times. It truly does feed the soul. So yes, a little deli spot might be simple, but it can mean so much more.

I hope you go out and find your favorite food memories or moments. I hope you take a moment to explore and find or create something that feeds your soul as well.

No Special Occasion

The other night for dinner hubby and I had take out from one of our favorite Italian places, Anthony’s. It’s a little pricy, so we usually only go there for special occasions, but we had both been craving it and their food is pretty amazing. We haven’t been there since before the pandemic, so like my hubby said, why not treat ourselves. I got one of my favorite dishes, the Chicken Parmesan dinner. What you don’t see is the nice Caesar salad, garlic bread (and there was lots of it) and mozzarella sticks….. it wouldn’t all fit in the picture… not to mention I was very hungry and didn’t pause to take more camera shots of all the other goodies. I think I ate half of the bread before I even finished taking the picture of the chicken parm and spaghetti.

Before the pandemic, hubby and I liked to go out for dinner every now and then, nothing fancy mind you, but just to try something different or just to get out and enjoy ourselves. Most of the time I make us dinner at home because, as you know, I do love to cook, but who doesn’t like to go out and have some one else make you a fabulous meal. So when everything came to halt we started doing take out when we wanted something more and to help our local restaurants. Now that most restaurants are reopened down here, we have gone out a few times. We still enjoy it, but to be honest, we still do take out more times than going out right now.

So as we are sitting at our dinning room table, that we really only eat at when we have people over….before Covid, the table all set for just the two of us and enjoying dinner, it made me stop and think that despite how times have changed for all of us, we have adapted. The world sometimes seems crazy, impossible and even at times disheartening, but we’ve learned to carry on and reflect on what is really important to us. We’ve found ways to enjoy life at a slower pace, to remember the little things that we used to take for granted. To remember what once made us smile before we got so busy and got caught up in everything else around us instead of what we had right here at home. There are still moments that can be overwhelming, but I remind myself to take a breath, and focus on what I have in front of me. I think sometimes we all need to remember that. So, although this nice dinner wasn’t for a special occasion, in a way it is. Maybe we should treat all of the little things, all of those small moments in our lives that we once felt were nothing special as….well….. special. Enjoy every moment with the ones you love and make everyday a special occasion.

Anniversary Dinner and a Tasty Mystery Delight

So today is mine and hubby’s 11th anniversary. No we didn’t go out to a fancy restaurant and I didn’t cook a romantic dinner, instead we both wanted Chinese. Might sound silly to some, but when we were dating, he lived in Boston and I lived…… well down here in SC. We would fly back and forth to see each other as much as we could. On my first trip up there we had spend most of the evening with friends. When we left we were both starving. It was pretty late and there wasn’t much open but this little hole in the wall Chinese place. We ate there and silly as it may sound, it was one of the most memorable dinner “dates” we had. So from then on Chinese food has always been kind of our special thing….. well that and Digiorno pizza for a Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s a post for another time. *whistles softly*. Anyway, so tonight we had our Chinese and as you can see I had waaaay too much…. Cantonese chicken, fried rice, an egg roll, chicken fingers, teriyaki chicken on a stick and some kind of crispy, very tasty fried giant wonton thing.

Ok, not sure what this was and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a giant wonton, but that’s the only way I can describe it. I’m not a master at Chinese food,but it was free and it was good, so there ya go. I think after eating all of this, I’ll be eating salads for a few days.

Lempira Restaurant

One of me and my hubby’s favorite getaway places is Charlotte, NC. It’s only about 1 hr 1/2 away from us, so it’s really not that far. We try to go there as often as we can, even though it’s not as often as we’d like. Typically we go there at least 3 to 4 times a year. We have our favorite hotel we stay in when we stay for a long weekend or more, our favorite places to shop and of course to eat. There are so many great places to choose from, whether it’s for a quick lunch, or a nice dinner. One place we always try and go to is Lempira Resturant on South Boulevard. It features Latin American dishes from Honduras, Salvador, Mexico and even a few from Guatemala.

One thing you will notice when you drive into the parking lot, is that it really isn’t anything fancy, but the place stands out with the beautiful colors.

When you step inside, the first thing you will notice is the place is always packed ( at least before covid). People eating, some waiting to get a table and the mountain of to go boxes on the front counter. I can say, with out exaggeration, that I have never seen a place do so much take out. It seemed like a constant stream of people coming in to get their to go meals, some had to be for individuals and some for a whole family.

The staff there are always so friendly and helpful. Despite how busy they are, the wait staff is always right there when you have a question, or you want for anything else.

Now let’s talk about the most important part, the food. The food is amazing. Everything is reasonably priced and you definitely get your money’s worth. The first time we went there I got a chicken quesadilla.

It came with rice, beans and a salad. (Yes, I still have the picture of the first meal I had there…. don’t you keep pictures of your memorable foodie moments? If no, you really should. ) This was a lunch special…. it was so large it actually filled up the plate, and the plate was not small mind you. This was one of the best chicken quesadillas I have had. The chicken had been marinated and packed in the tortilla with lots of melty cheese. The side salad…. I am not sure what kind of dressing was on that salad, but I could have eaten that just by itself with a spoon.

Another delicious dish they have, which has become my favorite, is the chicken Chimi Flautas.

The marinated chicken is packed into the tortilla, which is rolled then fried until the tortilla is nice and crispy, then topped with cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Again, this was a lunch special and it’s huge. Let’s just say after hubby and I eat there, we are not hungry for the rest of the day.

Sadly, since the pandemic, we have not been able to make it to Charlotte at all this year. I’m hoping that because Restaurant Lempira did so well with their to go orders before the pandemic, that they are hopefully doing well during these trying times. Now that places are opening up here in SC and in NC, hubby and I are counting down the days until we can go back there once again, even if only for the day. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of those very tasty chimi flautas.

Brick Street Cafe

There’s a little cafe near down town where the sweet tea flows freely and southern hospitality comes naturally. This has been one of my favorite places to go for lunch on a Saturday for years. This is one of those places where you meet up with your friends for a girls lunch out or take your sweetie to grab a leisurely bite to eat.

The first thing you notice when you walk thru the big double doors, is all the colors.

Each room has a different color and different design.

Everything feels fun and inviting. Almost like you’ve stepped into someone’s home. Whenever I stop by, I’m always greeted by Miss Sue calling out “My friend!” and embracing me in a warm hug.

Sarah and Jim might own the cafe, but Miss Sue is really the legend there, as they say, she’s the hostess with the mostest. She might be in her 80’s (and she’s not ashamed to tell you that either), but she keeps everything in line and stops to give hugs and greetings along the way. Not only is her personality and caring self famous, but so is her chicken salad sandwich….Miss Sue’s Chicken Salad Sandwich to be exact. It’s a delicious combination of chicken salad with walnuts, cheddar cheese and onions on honey wheat bread.

There are many variety’s of sandwiches to choose from. My favorite is the crab cake sandwich.

I have a weakness for crab cakes and they have one of the best…..a nice sized crab cake topped with their remoulade sauce on a sandwich bun.

If you are a lover of grilled cheese, there is an awesome Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich….melted cheddar and mozzarella cheeses with bacon crumbles and green onions. I like to pair this with a nice tomato dill soup.

There is everything from shrimp and grits, salads, fruit and brie plates and even a “love muffin”….. a muffin stuffed with cream cheese and topped with raspberry jam. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it all.

But you can’t talk about the food and not talk about the cakes. Every afternoon at 12:07……yes 12:07… the music begins to play and out come the chefs, waiters and staff each carrying a variety of to die for cakes. They carry their bounty around the tables so you can get a great view of all their sinfully, delicious treats. There is the chocolate cake, the peanut butter cake and peanut butter pie, the paddy cake, the ever famous sweet potato pie.

Sadly, I don’t like sweet potato, but I can assure you, if you ask anyone else they will say it’s the best. Those are just a few. My favorite is the coconut cake.

The light, fluffy layers surrounded by decadent vanilla cream and coconut flakes. *sigh*. It’s heaven on a plate.

I’m counting down the days until I can go back there again. For now, like so many other places around town, I can get a meal to go or a cake to order, but there is just something about stepping thru those big double doors, seeing everyone relaxing and having a great time, and hearing the oooooo’s and awwwww’s from the bridal or baby showers at the tables nearby. So I will continue to wait patiently until I can sip on that sweet tea and dig into that coconut cake once again.

Dining After Quarantine

That right there…..that luscious, rich cannoli cake from Carrabba’s Italian Grill is a beautiful thing, in more ways than one. This past weekend my mom and I decided to go for lunch….out…in a restaurant. Her and I set aside a Saturday a few times a month to have a girls day, just her and I, no hubby’s allowed, so we can spend some time together. Before the pandemic, we’d meet for lunch then do our errand runs together. But then, like everyone else, everything came pretty much to a halt. We quarantined like every one else and only went out when necessary. Hubby and I did take out during the close down to help the local restaurants, and well, because we missed going and enjoying all the wonderful paces to eat. I’m a foodie ( hence the name foodie in the South) I love to try new places and different cuisines. So needless to say, it was so nice to sit down in a restaurant once again. It was, in a way, coming full circle because this was the last place we ate at right before Armageddon happened….we ate there on a Saturday then Sunday the news broke that by Monday and Tuesday it was all closing, except for take out and essential businesses. So, a few weeks after the restaurants could begin opening their dining rooms (with certain precautions of course) mom wanted to go back and enjoy once again, that wonderful, sinful cannoli cake. The kicker is, I don’t even like cannolis. But this is pretty much in a class of it’s own. It’s a vanilla cake with cannoli filling, with pistachios and a chocolate sauce with a chocolate chip crust and topped with a mini cannoli, I think I shed a tear or two while eating it. Yes, it was a cheat day, but lets face it, every quarantine day was a cheat day. Right!?

I will say eating out now is a little different experience, which is to be expected. Every one working there took the right precautions, wearing masks…. which were very classy I might add.. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that we’d ever think a mask looked classy and stylish ( or I’d even squeee a little over a Wonder Woman one that I just recently bought…..I’m just sayin). They made sure tables were sanitized in between customers and of course, there was social distancing. The menus are scaled down, but the quality and the taste was still on the mark.

I have had a few people ask me was I apprehensive on eating out in a restaurant right now when we are still having cases of covid 19. Honestly, maybe a little, but I feel you just have to take the best precautions, don’t go wild and just continue to live and enjoy life. Yes, right now life is still different than it was several months ago, and it may never truly be the same again, but we have to adapt. I have always found that finding joy in the simplest things….in the crazy, messed up times of our lives, can keep us centered. That’s the one thing that I have learned from all of this, is to slow down, appreciate what you have, and enjoy all those little moments in between. I hope all of you are well and are able to find joy during these times. Maybe even put on your stretchy pants and go find that sinful dessert that you’ve been missing. You deserve it!

When Quarantine Life Finally Gives You Chinese Take Out

Today was the day. It has been almost 2 months since I’ve been able to feast on my favorite Chinese food (frozen doesn’t count). Today our local Chinese restaurant opened for take out. Yes, I am ecstatic that I can finally get one of my favorite food fixes, but throughout this time, I often wondered how was the sweet family that owned Hong Kong doing now that their livelihood had been put on hold. I’m sure this question has been asked by many during this time of life….. wondering if the local shop owner down the street will be able to save their business or how the family that mom and dad were furloughed is faring. I think for a lot of us, it’s made us realized how much we’ve taken for granted. It’s made me cherish the simple things even more. My wish is that when all of this is done and we can get back to some sort of normalcy, when we get to see our family and friends again and go eat at our favorite restaurant, we see the world with clearer eyes. That we stop at times to enjoy life and those little moments that make us smile. To not forget those that worked so hard and sacrificed so much so that we all can move forward once again. So laugh, don’t forget to tell those you hold dear you love them, take time for yourself and just breathe.

So now excuse me while I go savor my General Tso’s chicken and crunchy egg roll.