Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pudgy Brie: An account from the first ever Foodie Friends Bike Tour

A foodie co-worker and I were discussing some places downtown we were itching to visit when I came up with an idea...why don’t we bike to all of these places on Saturday and finally check them out? We started the tour at the Farmer’s Market in Marion Square with fresh squeezed lemonade and those amazing mini donuts. They were the best donuts I have ever had. Seriously. Like small elephant ears, still hot, with a generous dusting of powdered sugar right on top. Next, we hopped on our bikes and headed down King street to stop number two: Caviar and Bananas. I wasn’t sure how many snacks I would be divulging in throughout the day, so I opted for a tiny key lime tart. Heaven.
C&B's Meatloaf "Cupcakes"
Look at that hunk of mac n' cheese!!

Perfectly portioned key lime tart
Next, we headed to Heirloom Book Co. where they sell only cookbooks--new and vintage. The shop’s bookshelves are lined with oldies like "The Virginia Housewife's Cookbook" which features a recipe for cooking calf liver and doing something pretty crazy with a duck, and newer ones from chefs du jour like The Lee Brothers. We browsed for a few a were hungry for our next stop, Bull Street Gourmet.

Conveniently located across the street from Heirloom is Bull Street Gourment's brand new second location. I had never been to the first, so I went in with high expectations and was quite pleased. The space is very elegant and the wine racks are an art form in and of themselves. I have to say though, their “famous chicken salad” was pretty standard and tasted almost exactly like my chicken salad. Red grapes and nuts and all. Hmmm, maybe this means my chicken salad is famous too? Or should be? Either way, I wasn’t overly impressed with the food but would go back for a treat and to take a rest, or to read a good cookbook any day.


Or next stop was a place I have been absolutely dying to go…a cheese shop. We pulled up to goat.sheep.cow and all I could think was “how charming!”. I know that makes me sound like an old lady but charming really is the best way to describe the storefront with its planters with pretty lavender colored flowers and simple store name on the window calling us inside. I would not, however, use this word to describe the service. As soon as the fromaggier (is this a real word?!) began discussing his favorite French cheese I put on my beret and yelled “Bonjour!” to really get in the spirit of things. Maybe that’s why he disliked us so much. It was all in good fun and I walked away with a delicious “pudgy brie” in hand. I definitely recommend perusing the shop, but maybe on a day when the grouchy guy with the chef pants is absent.

Next on the agenda was Baked. Ever since I had seen Baked’s logo, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I was a little disappointed in the variety of their selection but really happy with the chocolate peanut butter thing I tasted. It was amazing. Crunchy and sticky and marshmallowy and delicious! Apparently the bakery now goes by the name of Bakehouse and you should at least check it out for the very cool club room to the left with a large farm table and leather chairs.

Peanut buttery goodness. To the left, many leather-bound books.
Next, we stopped into Charleston Cooks! which is a foodie’s heaven--gadgets, and unnecessary ice cream scoops, and miniature whisks, and everything amazing I could possibly ever want but don't really "need". They also offer cooking classes which we decided wouldn’t be half as much fun as our foodie bike tour.
I don't know what I would do with these, but I still want them!

Our final East Bay stop was Amen Street for some calamari and cocktails. The “Holy Basil” was a crisp, refreshing way to end the East Bay gallivant.

Everyone say "Bonjour!"
We made one last quick stop into the new Belgian Gelato, where a sampling of the pink Grapefruit was a delicious treat! I didn't have time to ask what the difference between Belgian and Italian gelato is but I all I know is I really miss the frutti di bosci and melane I used to eat every night when I studied abroad.

 We rounded the corner, passing a giant heinous cruise ship and headed toward The Vegetable Bin. What a find! I never would have known this place was here as it almost looks like a very, very old (and small) grocery store but has the most amazing produce. Think heirloom tomatoes, brussel sprouts, local honey and pollen, pineapple, peaches, and more. If I lived downtown, I would be there every week to stock up my fridge.

2 Pineapples in a pod

Just down the road was our last official stop of the tour—Ted's Butcherblock. I had been really anxious to check this place out because of 3 reasons: 1)They have a foodie trivia every month 2) they have a bacon-of-the-month club 3) I was ready for yet another snack. Ted’s looks like a great place to buy meat but I really wanted a cheese plate. I settled for sampling some of Allie’s pimiento cheese and it was amazing. It was smoky and spicy and very, very smooth. I’ll definitely be back for foodie trivia pronto.
On the way back toward King Street, we decided to stop into Hom, the new “ping pong beer bar”. Interesting name, unbelievable drinks! The Ren & Stumpy is made from their own strawberry infused vodka and fresh squeezed lemonade. It had hints of mint in it (say that 5 times fast!) and was so good I was craving it the next day. I will definitely be recreating it soon. This is such a quirky bar and their twitter post today said, "Sunny Side up Egg stuffed in french Toast with Truffled Boursin Portobello hash". Late night food or brunch delicacy? I'll have to visit again soon to decide.
Hom chopped salad, tiny red spatula not included
Ren & Stumpy

Fried green tom's with pimiento and chow chow
 So, that rounds up all of the stops we made on our 1st foodie biking adventure. I can guarantee there will be more in the future and since a new place opens every week here, we will definitely be there to check it out. If you would like to joing me for a foodie bike tour, please email me at Brinkley118@gmail.com . Until then, me and my beret will be waiting!