All posts by Peter Tsai

Charleston Sweet Tea Vodka – Frosty Beverage Friday

Sweet Tea Vodka I’ve already talked about the delicious food I had on my culinary tour of South Carolina (Shrimp and Grits and Bojangles Fried Chicken), but it would be wrong to omit another South Carolina low country favorite that helps the locals beat the summer heat. I’m not talking about food on this one, but instead a delicious sweet iced tea vodka drink that was all the rage at the local bars.

Because sweet tea is a Southern favorite, it’s no wonder that this drink is so popular in Charleston. For those that don’t know, people in the deep south add a lot of sugar to their tea (almost too much for my liking), and the resulting sweetness is a perfect way to mask the strong vodka flavor. In fact, the first comment that most people make upon trying this drink for the first time is that they can’t taste any alcohol at all.

Click here to read more about Sweet Tea Vodka

Shrimp and Grits (Prawns and Hominy) – Great Meals

peter_tsai_food_shrimp_grits-3

If you are a regular to the blog you might know that I went to South Carolina a few weeks ago to photograph a wedding in Charleston and get my Southern Cooking fix. I’ve already written about my fast food experiences on this trip (see my post on Bojangles’ fried chicken), but I did get to sample some highbrow South Carolina cooking during the wedding as well at the restaurant Tristan at the French Quarter Inn.

The bride and groom really love food, and their reception seriously had some of the best wedding food I have ever eaten. The highlight of the meal was definitely the Shrimp and Grits, or ‘Prawns and Hominy’ as the restaurant Tristan likes to call it. While those who have never had this dish might think that the combination of shrimp and grits together (pictured above on the right) is weird , trust me on this one – get over it, eat it, it’s delicious and you won’t regret it.

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Fooding Overseas – Taiwan Live Fish Restaurant

Shiyuan Taiwanese Live Fish Restaurant

“Waste not, want not” the old saying goes – and the next Fooding adventure definitely does just that.

As you probably know, most people outside of America are not squeamish about the fact that meat was once a live animal. In Asia, they take it to the extreme. There, the ultimate sign of seafood freshness is being able to go to a restaurant and point at living meat (future meal) swimming around in a tank and then 10 minutes later, have that formerly living meat show up at your table cooked in 5 delicious ways, head, skin, and bones still attached – almost every part of the fish utilized in some way. This is the story of my Taiwan Live Fish Fooding adventure.

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Bacon Salt Review

Bacon Salt Ingredients and Nutritional Information

When we first heard about Bacon Salt a couple of years ago, Jon immediately bought a couple of bottles for both of us. It held such promise… after all, bacon makes everything taste better!

And for a while, it was amazing! I dashed it on eggs, on mashed potatoes, on chicken, on everything. It really did taste like bacon, if it was a bit on the salty side. Slowly though, as the newness of bacon salt wore off though, reality set in.

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Austin Wine Festival 2009

Austin Wine Festival 2009 - Go Texan

Today all of the members of Fooding Blog took a field trip to visit the Austin Wine Festival. Despite the May Texas heat, we managed to have a great time sampling various local wines from the Texas Hill Country and beyond.

You may say to yourself, “Wine in Texas?” Why yes, there is indeed a lot of wine in Texas. According to the Orbitz Insider Index, Austin is the 2nd Fastest Growing Wine Destination in the Nation. Also, the Wine Society of Texas tells us that there are well over 100 wineries here in the Lone Star State.

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Brazilian Caipirinhas – Frosty Drink Friday How To

Add a couple of lime wedges and you are done.

When I went to Brazil in 2004, I quickly learned about the country’s national drink, the Caipirinha. At every bar and restaurant around town they were serving up the good stuff. Why do Brazilians like Caipirinhas so much? Not only does this drink taste really good, it’s also deceptively strong. The magical ingredients of sugar and lime go a long way to mask the strong taste of the Brazilian Cachaça rum too. Also, this drink served on the rocks is a refreshing way to cool off from the Brazilian heat.

Now that Brazilian Churascarias like Fogo de Chao have become popular in the States and are serving up Caipirinhas in a restaurant near you, I thought I would share this recipe, especially during the economic downturn. Why pay $8 for this delicious drink at Fogo de Chao when you can make all the drinks you want for roughly the cost of only 3 of these tasty drinks at a high dollar restaurant?

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How to Make Simple Syrup (with pictures)

One of the most common components in mixed drink is simple syrup, which as the name suggests, is very simple to make. Simple syrup is just a mixture of water and sugar, but the secret ingredient is a little bit of heat.

Because sugar and water don’t mix completely in cold drinks, it’s important to heat the water when mixing in the sugar to ensure that the sugar dissolves completely. Using simple syrup instead of mixing in the sugar into every drink also saves a lot of time and energy if you are going to mix up a lot of drinks.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • a stirring device

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Add water to a pot and heat on high until it boils, reduce heat to medium.
  2. Add the sugar to water and stir.
  3. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the water becomes yellowish and clear.
  4. Remove the simple syrup mixture from the heat to cool.
  5. You can now mix your drink or bottle the simple syrup for later.

Check out the picture gallery below for a visual.

Happy Fooding!
-Peter

All photos courtesy of Peter Tsai Photography

Fried Chicken Fast Fooding – Bojangles, a Southern classic

When I found out that I was going to spend a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina a strange craving suddenly manifested itself in my belly. It was a craving that had been dormant for almost ten years, but upon the mere mention of the Carolinas it sprang back to life instantly. It was an urge to eat fried chicken, not just any chicken, but possibly the best fast food fried chicken I have ever had.

That urge, it turns out, was for Bojangles’.

For some strange reason, this awesome fast food chain is only in the South, and only in certain parts of the south… mostly North and South Carolina. I used to eat it growing up in Tennessee and in Atlanta but by the time I was in junior high, all of the Bojangles in Atlanta had disappeared, so we had to drive to North Carolina to get any. Then I moved to Texas where there are no Bojangles at all – so until this past weekend, I had not gotten my Bojangles on in nearly a decade.

First thing I did was leave the airport and head straight for the nearest one. Was it as good as I remembered? Heck Yes! The chicken is moist and flavorful, and the spices used in the batter are amazing. The skin is crispy and delicious. Still the best fast food chicken I’ve ever had.

What makes Bojangles so good then? Apparently they never freeze their chicken and they freshly batter the chicken in store. Also, everything is fresh (they have a no biscuit over 20 minutes old rule). I strongly recommend getting the dark meat (the leg and thigh combo is awesome)… made the mistake of getting the chicken breast on my second trip there last weekend… don’t do it! Nothing beats some fried dark chicken meat.

The sides are amazing too. For sides, no question about it… get the mac and cheese and the dirty rice (which is infused with ground meat, pepper, and chili flakes). A lot of people like their fries too, which I agree are good as well. A lot of people make a big deal about their sweet tea, but I just think it’s OK… a little too sweet for me. Also, the biscuits are probably the best of any of the fast food chicken chains as well!

So, if you are ever in the Deep South and you are hungry for some chicken… by all means – go to Bojangles! You won’t regret it. I Hope you enjoyed this review and if you want to learn more, check out the Bojangles’ website at www.bojangles.com

Happy Fast Fooding!
-Peter

All photos courtesy of Peter Tsai Photography

Fooding on the Road – 10 Pound Lobster at the Barking Crab

Fooding on the Road Adventure – The Barking Crab (Boston, MA)

I went to the Barking Crab in Boston last weekend expecting a tasty lobster meal. What I didn’t expect was seeing a giant 10lb edible sea monster from the deep sitting on the table in front of me. 

This lobster was massive – as large as a toddler and with pinchers that look like they could cut off a finger or 3! Luckily the claws were tied shut so it was safe for the staff to parade this guy around. Incredibly enough, on the day we went there was also an 8lb lobster making the rounds (you can see him in the picture below looking as large as the little kids petting him).

children are amazed at the size of an 8lb lobster at the Barking Crab in Boston, MA

When we asked how much these guys would cost, the owner said that since a 1.25lb lobster usually runs 25 dollars and this guy is 10 pounds, it would probably cost about 200 dollars!  Wow – that’s one way to eat an entire month of groceries in one sitting. It should be noted that this restaurant is somewhat known for it’s large food though, as it was featured on the show Man v. Food on the Travel Channel.

I would definitely give a thumbs up to the lobster (which tastes amazing with purified butter) and the clam chowder (full of bacon-y goodness). For the more adventurous, the steamers (baked clams) are a Boston favorite and they taste great, if a little fishy. Just be sure to ask someone how to clean the steamers before eating or you will get a mouth full of grit.

Overall, the Barking Crab is very solid restaurant with beautiful harbor views and a great outdoor patio. The food is priced reasonably, but this isn’t a cheap meal especially if you are going to have lobster. One of the best deals if you want to eat lobster is to split a clam bake, which includes a lobster, steamers, clam chowder, and cole slaw for about 40-50 dollars. The restaurant has cheaper fried seafood options and burgers as well, so your non crustacean loving or broke friends can come along too.

Also, make sure to try some of the local beers from Harpoon and Samuel Adams to wash down the seafood goodness.

Happy Travels and Happy Fooding!
-Peter

All photos courtesy of Peter Tsai Photography