2019 Year in Review: Favorite Coffee Shops, Snacks, and Restaurants

THE 2019-in-review post you’ve been waiting to read is HERE.

Last year I had some of the best food of my life and couldn’t just limit this list to strictly brunch as I did in 2018. If we’re being honest, I couldn’t choose between a couple of my favorites, so I made an obnoxiously long list so I could include allthethings. Classic Spilis.

I’ll review my favorite coffee shops, brunch stops, the clutch snacks of 2019, favorite dinners, and best desserts. Because it’s me, I also included two lists of my favorite cuisines too: Indian restaurants and nachos. Because let’s be honest, is it REALLY an Ashlynbestoffoodlist without them?

The answer, dear reader, is no.

Here we go!

Favorite Coffee Spots:

I’m an extremely boring coffee drinker (cowboy coffee–Americano, black). While I’m no-frills on my coffee, I love spending time in unique shops when traveling to a new place. Here are a couple of my favorite spots from 2019.

Brașov, Romania:

Habitat Concept Room 
Brașov, Romania
We stopped at Habitat for the morning before our trip to Bran Castle.

Gdańsk, Poland.:

Café Józef K.
Gdańsk, Poland
Absolutely loved this shop! I visited during one of our last mornings in Gdańsk and enjoyed this view. The interior is super unique.
Drukarnia Cafe
Gdańsk, Poland
Drukarnia takes their coffee seriously. It’s hard not to be super impressed with their attention to beans and brews.

Paris, France:

Soul Kitchen
Paris, France
The incline up to Soul Kitchen is completely worth the hike for a coffee or breakfast at this little shop in Montmarte.
Restaurant La Recyclerie
Paris, France
A former train station, this cafe offers coffee, lunch, and dinner in an enormous, reclaimed space. Their menu changes daily (based on availability in their urban farm) and they also host workshops on repairs and community activism.
Coffee here is only one euro! They also serve unique cocktails later in the day.
Americano with a view.

Kraków, Poland:

Massolit Books & Cafe
Kraków, Poland
I spent a few hours in this cozy cafe sipping cold brew and perusing their used books. Their coffee is great and they offer hundreds of English titles at affordable prices.

Tromsø, Norway:

Smørtorget
Tromsø, Norway
This. Cinnamon. Roll. Though. I wandered into Smørtorget and immediately decided I had to try one of their freshly baked goods. This roll was perfect for coffee-dipping. The space is gorgeous and cozy, especially during the Norwegian winter.

Örebro, Sweden:

Gamla
Örebro, Sweden
I had to go with my first authentic Fika in Sweden! This vegan treat was a perfect way to start my first day in Örebro.

Best Brunch of 2019:

Budapest, Hungary:

Murok Cafe
Budapest, Hungary
I know, I know, this isn’t a food photo, but Murok is so adorable that I had to include this picture over the bagels and hummus we shared on a chilly November morning. We stopped by Murok so I could shop at the Conscious Design Market, which featured a number of local designers selling sustainable products. To top it off, Murok also allows dogs, so I happily nibbled on a bagel while looking at artisan goods AND pet puppies. The ultimate win, win, win.
Szimply
Budapest, Hungary
A solo trip to Budapest meant extra time wandering the city and visiting a couple of places on my (ever-growing) list. I’d been hoping to visit Szimply for a while–they offer a continuously changing menu with a ton of veg options–and happily had an amazing (and super affordable) meal. This avocado toast was out.of.control and I literally gasped when they brought it out to me. Those colors! That egg!

Stuttgart, Germany:

Kleinigkeit
Stuttgart, Germany
This adorable brunch started off one of my best days of 2019. Kleinigkeit is small and their staff is super friendly; we had our poached eggs with a beautiful view. I can’t recommend this spot enough!

London, England:

Caravan Exmouth Market
London, England
Our last breakfast in London was one of the best brunches of the year. Caravan has a huge veg and dietary-restrictions-friendly menu, along with an extensive coffee selection. I ordered the jalapeno cornbread (!!) with chipotle mayo and avo. I’m still dreaming about this absolutely perfect brunch dish.

Warsaw, Poland:

Shabby Chic Coffee & Wine
Warsaw, Poland
What’s better than brunch? TWO in one day! We visited Warsaw this spring with two of favorite people–Heather and Chris–and had wayyyy too much fun eating pierogi and wandering the city. One morning, Heather and I left early to grab coffee at Shabby Chic and ended up ordering this amazing open-faced sandwich to share. Homemade bread+blue cheese+pears+walnuts+honey is THE combination.
Restauracja Zapiecek
Warsaw, Poland
Full from our secret sandwich, Heather and I brought the coffee back to our apartment, ready to head back out for brunch with the guys. We stopped at Zapiecek for pierogi (acceptable at any time of the day) and ate our dumplings outside in the sun.

Paris, France:

Treize au Jardin
Paris, France
To say I planned our trip to Paris around the World Cup match and brunch at Treize au Jardin is not an exaggeration. Southern bunch?! ALL DAY?!
After ten years in the south, I MISS brunch. And I mean the brunch food that sticks to you all day. I ordered the tomato pie, one of my favorite dishes of all time, and it was delicious. I would rank it third overall best tomato pie of my life–a huge accomplishment–only after my wonderful friend Heather’s version and Babs Ambrose’s pie. It was OUT OF CONTROL GOOD.
Biscuits and pimento cheese–does life get any better than this?

Favorite Snacks:

Somewhere Outside Chernobyl, Ukraine:

Spicy Mustard & Cheese Sandwich
Somewhere Outside Chernobyl, Ukraine
As I’ve mentioned before, I am 100% a brown-bag lunch person. Thankfully we all packed sandwiches on our day trip from Kyiv to Chernobyl, and damn those snacks were clutch. This mustard was unexpectedly spicy but really good (I also LOVE horseradish and to say it was horseradish-forward is an understatement).
If you’re planning on visiting the site of a Soviet nuclear meltdown, pack sandwiches. I can’t stress that enough.

Glasgow, Scotland:

Truffle Fries & Macaroni and Cheese
Chinaski’s
Glasgow, Scotland
Is there a better combination than mac & cheese and french fries? This pre-dinner snack was perfect after a looooong day exploring the city. This literary-themed speakeasy also had amazing cocktails–all you need in the world.

Bran Castle, Romania:

Turkish Coffee & Cheese Roll
Bran Castle
Bran, Romania
Another amazing combination of drink+snacks was the Turkish coffee we ordered before entering Bran Castle and my cheese bread I engulfed after the tour. I LOVE Turkish coffee and the guy making these was hilarious and kind. He even allowed me to ask him multiple questions about the process and snap a few pictures of his work.
This freshly baked cheesy bread was amazing and the perfect end to our Bran Castle visit.

Tromsø, Norway:

Vegan Hot Dog
Raketten Bar & Pølse
Tromsø, Norway
Known as the home of the best hot dogs in the world (according to guests) and the tiniest bar in the universe (according to aliens), Raketten is a small, one-person hot dog making operation in the center of Tromsø. I ordered the vegan version, complete with spicy homemade mustard, fried onions, and a freshly baked ciabatta bun. Whoever thought to put a hot dog in ciabatta?! The kicker here is that I don’t even really like hot dogs and yet this was so good, it was one of my favorite snacks of the year.

Budapest, Hungary:

Tócsni
Vörösmarty Square Market
Budapest, Hungary
One of the absolute must-have snacks in Hungary (or honestly in Europe) is known by a number of names, depending on the region. Tócsni is basically the potato pancake version of lángos, a deep fried dough (similar to an American elephant ear) covered in garlic, sour cream, cheese, and peppers. I prefer Tócsni, especially from the Budapest Christmas Market. Totally worth the food hangover.

Favorite Indian Food Spots:

Indian is one of our favorite cuisines. I’m still trying to work on my skills at home, but there is nothing like authentic meals when we travel. Thankfully, I found a couple of great locations last year:

Fairfield, California:

Amar Indian Cuisine
Fairfield, California
My brother-in-law, niece, and I took a trip to Amar so I could stock up on Indian spices before returning to Hungary. We stopped in the store, grabbed a couple of things (including a huge container of ghee–score!) and at check-out the owner recommended having lunch at their restaurant next door.
I’m so glad we did! This was Caroline’s first Indian meal and girl can put down the naan like her aunt. The restaurant was great and had soooo many options available for lunch.

Gdańsk, Poland:

Zaika Truck
Gdańsk, Poland
We grabbed lunch at Zaika while we were walking St. Dominic’s Fair. We ordered the curry and loved it.

London, England:

Indian Kati Rolls
Camden Market, London, England
My apologies for the blurry photo but I only snapped one picture before eating this amazing wrap. We stopped at Camden Market on Saturday afternoon and the entire place was absolutely packed with people. Thankfully I was able to find the Indian Kati stand and this wrap was incredible. Masala paneer in a naan wrap is all you need in the world.

Kraków, Poland:

Bhajan Cafe
Kraków, Poland
My lunch at Bhajan was the perfect way to end an amazing day in Kraków. I traveled to the city solo and spent the morning wandering the parks and visiting a couple of bookshops. The entire menu is veg friendly and the staff were kind enough to not judge me eating a meal meant for two people entirely on my own. Sooo good.

Budapest, Hungary:

Rajkot Palace
Budapest, Hungary
I actually had my favorite Indian meal on New Years Eve. Rajkot Palace was amazing; this Palak paneer was on point and Chris’s chicken vindaloo had him sweating from the spiciness.

Best Dinners:

Glasgow, Scotland:

Hillhead Bookclub
Glasgow, Scotland
There is something to be said for just honestly good sandwiches. We spent our last night in Glasgow enjoying Hillhead Bookclub’s unique menu and options. This veg reuben included seitan pastrami on dark rye bread.

Cluj-Napoca Romania:

Casa Dacilor Brancusi
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Our last night in Romania we ate an amazing traditional meal at Casa Dacilor Brancusi. Of course everything I ordered was potato-based (always, ha) and this dinner was the perfect end to a fun road-trip through Romania.
This is the Salată Orientală.
I also ordered Cartofi franțuzești, which is a French style Romanian dish of potatoes, eggs, and cheese. My amazing friend Monica (whose hometown is Cluj!) always made this dish for me in Hungary and it was so special to order this with her in Romania.
The star of the show were these Papanaşi, Romanian doughnuts. I still dream about them.

Kraków, Poland:

Marchewka z Groszkiem
Kraków, Poland
I absolutely love this restaurant. I ordered my favorite pierogi–Ruskie–with a side of the blue cheese sauce (out of this world).
As well as strawberry and mascarpone dumplings for dessert. The owners were kind enough to let us order a couple dozen to take home with us.

Tromsø, Norway:

Bardus Bar
Tromsø, Norway
We absolutely loved this tiny restaurant in Tromsø. I ordered the mushroom and barley risotto and it was soooo good.
Plus you can’t help but love a dinner with a view of the city’s library! ❤ ❤

Kyiv, Ukraine:

O’Panas
Kyiv, Ukraine
I can’t say enough about O’Panas. Their menu is incredible–full of traditional Ukrainian food and wine–and the atmosphere is fun and comfortable. A place I can order a deruny, mushroom soup, and varenyky?! Easily my favorite dinner of 2019.
View from our table.

Best Dessert:

Suisun City, California:

It’s It Ice Cream
Suisun City, California
One of the best parts of visiting my sister in northern California is sharing an It’s It ice cream sandwich with the coolest girl in the world, my niece Caroline. Our favorite is strawberry and according to Caroline, ice cream sandwiches are appropriate for any time of the day. Best way to live life.

Pannonhalma, Hungary:

Viator
Pannonhalma, Hungary
After a long walk around the Pannonhalma grounds (in perfect weather, such a beautiful day) we stopped for a late lunch at nearby Viator. This dessert was amazing.

Szigliget, Hungary:

Villa Kabala
Szigliget, Hungary
An absolutely terrible picture, I know, but one of my favorite desserts of last year was enjoyed overlooking Lake Balaon on a date with a good friend. We ordered four (!) courses and left happy. This restaurant is an absolute gem.

Mezőlak, Hungary:

Garden & Ice Cream Shop
Mezőlak, Hungary
Only open during the summer months, this adorable shop in Mezőlak offers the best ice cream around. We spent a couple of perfect afternoons enjoying ice cream and wandering the small village.

Mindszentkálla, Hungary:

Kő fagyi?
Mindszentkálla, Hungary
Located near Balaton in the sleepy village of Mindszentkálla, Kő Fagyi? is a quaint ice cream shop with absolutely amazing flavors. The owners were previously a dress designer and software developer who sold gave up their careers in Budapest to make ice cream. I was encouraged to try a scoop of mango–which is usually my least favorite flavor–and within seconds I knew this cone would be the best I’d have all year.

Favorite Nachos:

Nachos are my all-time favorite food. While finding a decent order in Europe is tricky (so much disappointment) I managed to find a couple of awesome options this year.

Örebro, Sweden:

Mocca Deli
Örebro, Sweden
An unexpected treat in Sweden, these nachos were topped with all the best veggies.

London, England:

Maria Sabina @ Southbank Centre Winter Market
Jubilee Gardens, London, England
I know nachos don’t scream “winter food” but I couldn’t pass up the chance to order my favorite food at the winter market in London. This guac was amazing.

Tromsø, Norway:

O’Learys
Tromsø, Norway
Here’s the thing: Oumph! brand meat substitutes are the absolute best. High in protein, low in carbs and fat, the Swedish brand is my favorite. It’s always such a treat to find a restaurant that carries Oumph! and this was the first time I’ve had them as nachos (all the hearts for eyes emjois).
So amazing, I ordered them twice.

Vacaville, California:

Freebird’s World Burrito
Vacaville, California
Sorry Europe, but nachos in America are just so good. I ordered Freebird’s when I visited my sister in California last spring. My only complaint is that these nachos used Beyond Meat, (which is great!), but that they were more expensive than the steak option. Boo.
Still awesome, even at the premium price.

Sign in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Cheers to good food in 2020! 🥂🥂

Seven Days in (Mostly North) Charleston: How Many Biscuits can one person eat in a Week?

The answer, my friends, is a lot.

There are many things I miss about Charleston: the good food, the good beer, and the amazing people I met in my ten years living in South Carolina. Last week I traveled to the Lowcountry at the very last moment to pack up the rest of our belongings. The stress of moving, especially in the blazing Charleston summer heat, was offset by getting to see the people I miss so much, as well as eating #ALLTHETHINGS that I have been intentionally sectioning off from my brain as a way to survive not living around some of the best food ever.

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Me. Everday. But let’s be real, that’s everyone in SC from the months of May-September.

So what to do if you find yourself in Charleston for a couple of days? Feel free to follow this timeline of biscuits, bookstores, and beer.

Where are We?

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Charleston is a coastal city located in South Carolina and known for its food, culture, and history. Originally dependent on slave labor for crops including indigo and rice, the city’s economy is now dominated by tourism. Having been away for two years, it was insane to see just how much Charleston and the surrounding areas have grown and changed. The city is a lot more than what you’ll see on Southern Charm; the area is diverse, unique, and 100% recommended.

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The iconic Ravenel Bridge although #keepit to Mr. Ravenel.

Prepare yourself for the brutal heat and humidity in the summer; recognize that you will be in a constant state of sweatiness. But on the plus side, everyone is just as sweaty as you are, so use the heat as an excuse to drink all the sweet tea (no thanks), beer (alright), or Royal American Signature Punch (yes please).

With only one week and a million things to finish, these were my absolute musts while in town (see below for my added must-do, see, and eat list). Disclaimer: I lived and stayed with our friends in Park Circle, so most of my recommendations and favorite places are in this area. Park Circle is located in North Charleston, about a fifteen-minute drive from downtown and probably holds the biggest piece of my heart.

+Special shout out to my amazing friends who traveled last minute to see me, helped with moving, and supported us via text when things were stressful. My roomies for the week, Heather and Karl (and their amazing pets), made a stressful time manageable and not only withheld judgment on all the biscuits I consumed that week but even encouraged it by leaving out homemade preserves.

My Charleston in a Week:

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Gorgeous flowers in the front yard ❤ Thank you Erika and Heather for always making the flowers beautiful! I finally got to see the Black Eyed Susans I planted in 2016 actually in bloom this year!

Wednesday:

After a 17+ hour travel day all I wanted to do was visit my favorite locations in Park Circle, which I realized is mostly carbohydrate and breakfast food-related places. Embrace it my friends.

Stock Up on All your Carbohydrate Needs at EVO Bakery:

evo-craft-bakery

Via Neil Bansil

EVO Craft Bakery was an absolute staple for us when we lived in Charleston. I always tried to race to the bakery before they closed to buy bread, biscuits, and scones. Thankfully they are now open later and on the weekends! Kids these days just don’t know the struggle.

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Via the Local Palate

The super nice lady behind the counter barely judged me as I bought two biscuits, a scone, and an entire loaf of rye bread and shoved them all in my backpack. “I’m visiting from Hungary,” I repeated, hoping to not give off a super desperate-for-Southern-biscuits-vibe. “Oh, I understand!” she calmly responded as I talked myself out of buying a couple of chocolate chip cookies for the walk.

Grab a Coffee and Re-Stock your Greeting Card Inventory at Orange Spot:

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via Charleston City Paper

With a backpack full of breakfast food, I walked to Orange Spot‘s new location for an iced coffee. I must admit, I was a little sad to find out that they switched spots (just a short walk from the original location) because I love their first building. However, I’m beyond excited that they needed a bigger space for their growing business of honest coffee, sandwiches, and snacks. Plus, I was able to stock up on all my favorite greeting cards from Ink Meets Paper.

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Have Breakfast or Lunch at the Junction:

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HASH BROWNS

Now with a backpack full of biscuits and stationary (the most Ashlyn sentence ever?) I finally decided to have actual breakfast at the Junction Kitchen & Provisions. Located just a couple of streets from our house, we used to visit for brunch periodically. I love their hash browns and Veg BELT (mushrooms, lettuce, egg, tomato). They have also started a partnership with the new bookstore in town, Itinerant Literate, to host the “Get Lit Book and Dinner Club”.

Thursday:

Order the Best Pizza and Breadsticks in all of Charleston (fight me, I don’t care) at Park Pizza:

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Via Park Pizza Facebook

Park Pizza is the absolute best pizza in Charleston. I could have only eaten their pizza the entire time I was in the states and would have been 100% okay with that. They have a monthly special (July’s was a cheese curd concoction) and sometimes add those specials to their regular menu. Two of my favorite specials are the Kurt Brussel (now available all the time) and their take on a Thanksgiving pizza (probably my favorite pizza in the history of the world). I ordered one of my go-tos, the Seven Layer (black bean spread, mozzarella, cream cheese, cheddarjack, black olives, pico, jalapenos, cilantro) which was also the last pizza I had before we moved.

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Me remembering how amazing this pizza is.

Meeting up with Friends to Discuss Life and True Crime at the Mill:

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Via Facebook

Last month Chris and I were watching the true crime series Confession Tapes on Netflix when one of the episodes mentioned a murder that took place at the Mill. “Maybe they mean our Mill?” I jokingly said as I let the dogs outside. As I shut the door, I head the narrator say, “Located on East Montague Avenue in North Charleston, a body was found in the Mill after a fire broke out…” Crazy sometimes how home randomly arises unexpectedly (you can read more about the forced confession of Wesley Meyers and the death of Cynthia Margiotta here).

I love the Mill. You know you can grab a drink, play pool, see a band, or just hang out on the back patio. Happily, I was able to meet up with Jen and Joel to catch up on life.

Friday:

Get your Fancy Taco on at Pancito & Lefty:

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My face when this dishes arrived

Pancito & Lefty recently opened in the northern area of downtown Charleston. After a long (and so sweaty) day of moving, we had dinner at Pancito & Lefty after it cooled off outside. Their menu is AWESOME and we ordered a ton of food including tacos, the super addicting street corn, and mushroom tamales. In addition to their menu, Pancito & Lefty also offer a Mezcal tasting option, which I would never try on my own, but was nice to sneak a taste from a more experienced Mezcal-enthusiast friend (Adrian, who should probably put that on his resume).

Bonus: Try and Entice the Owl across the Street to Hoot at You

Karl was successful, Heather and I were not.

Saturday:

Praise all that is Wonderful at Los Reyes:

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When in Charleston, I have to visit Los Reyes. An absolute staple for us when we lived in South Carolina, Los Reyes also helped me overcome all of the stress and terrible-ness that comes with working retail for five years. They have multiple locations, but my favorite is off of Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. Their no-frills food is quick, easy, and genuine. I met the owners while working at Best Buy and absolutely fell in love with the couple. It was amazing to visit Los Reyes with a group of awesome friends (both in town and that came to visit! I know the best people), to catch up on all things life: new and terrible music, youths, and how refried beans are the best addition to any meal.

Enjoy Live Music at the Royal American:

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via Argot’s Facebook

I was so excited to learn that my friend’s new band would be playing at the Royal American the weekend I was in town. Argot, created by a couple of the members of the now-retired Great Yankee, played a set on Saturday. I love the Royal American, not only because of the above-mentioned Signature Punch, but also for their “No PBR, Don’t Even Ask” sign and $2 house-made whiskey shots. It’s a great venue to see a show too as the bands play on the left side of the bar. I loved being able to visit one of my favorite bars, hear fun music, and see an awesome friend. You can read more about Argot’s great EP in the Charleston Post and Courier.

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Via the Sonic Post

We were planning on leaving after Argot’s set, but after seeing the final band warm-up, we decided to stay to watch the Tan & Sober Gentlemen play an for more than an hour.  The North Carolina-based band is a hybrid of Carolina folk music and the Irish band Flogging Molly, or as they state: “Scotch-Irish hillbilly insanity they dub ‘Celtic punk-grass.'” They were a lot of fun to see live.

Bonus: Check out Argot’s B-Side Session recording of “Beast of Your World“.

Bonus: Have a Dance Party:

Sometimes after having one of the best days ever, you just need to come home and have a Cardi B and 90s R&B dance party. Morbo is definitely not impressed:

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All humans are vermin in the eyes of Morbo.

Sunday:

Sleep in because you’ve Had a Long Week and you Deserve to #TreatYoSelf:

But seriously.

Have Brunch (or Finish your Graduate Thesis) at Holy City Brewing:

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Hiya Crunchwrap

Real talk though, brunch at Holy City Brewing is the best. I consider myself a brunch-enthusiast and their menu is one of my top choices in Charleston. Our friend Joel develops the changing brunch options and always creates something fun and genuine. I mention that you can finish editing your graduate thesis during brunch because that’s precisely what I did the last month before I defended. Sometimes in order to proofread forty pages of your own writing, you need an empty picnic table, a couple of light beers, and solid breakfast options.

Get a Friend Like Mine who Makes Delicious Bruschetta:

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Seriously the prettiest dish.

One of the absolute best bruschetta dishes ever.

Roll up kids, its Keanu Time:

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Movie time means Keanu-time. We chose the Bad Batch because the preview leads you to believe this film has a Mad Max-esque setting starring Khal Drogo as a high-waisted pants-wearing gangster and Keanu Reeves with a giant mustache. The actual movie is… well… not so much that. I’m still processing my feelings about it.

But there’s always time for John Wick but-every-gunshot-is-Owen-Wilson-saying-“wow”.

Monday:

Enjoy Breakfast Scones at EVO Bakery:

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We enjoyed a couple of scones for breakfast (goat cheese for me, lemon for Heather) and were actually able to eat outside before it became too stifling hot to breathe. I can’t decide if I like EVO’s biscuits or scones more… and prefer to live in a world where I can have both.

Pick out a Couple of Books at Itinerant Literate Bookstop:

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As mentioned earlier, I was a little sad to see Orange Spot move to a new location, but was immediately fine after realizing that the Charleston Bookmobile now had a permanent spot in Park Circle at Itinerant Literate Bookstop (in Orange Spot’s building). The store is absolutely adorable and they have a ton of cool workshops and events in the area. One of the most interesting initiatives is their “blind date with a book” where customers choose a book based off of a sentence written on the cover. Pretty awesome.

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I love books.

The store also boasts a large local author section including a couple of books penned by professors I’d worked with at College of Charleston. I’m excited that they ship books as well so I can continue supporting them even in Hungary.

Devour a Cheese Plate at Goat. Sheep. Cow., North:

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Goat. Sheep. Cow. is an amazingly adorable cheese and wine store that recently opened a second location north of downtown Charleston. Started by two friends, Patty and Trudi, I was so excited to hear that they had expanded. My friend Jen suggested we visit for lunch and I happily agreed, having only visited the downtown store once before moving. The north location is awesome, with a wine and lunch menu that is all the heart-for-eyes emojis. We had the “crack” cheese, vegetable plate, and split a grilled cheese (you’re seeing the theme here) for lunch.

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Tomato Pie and Karlitos for Dinner because YES:

Heather is basically world famous for her tomato pies. For those unfamiliar with this dish, a tomato pie is exactly what it sounds like: a savory baked pie of tomatoes, onions, and cheese. I first had a slice at the Stono Market Cafe, owned by Ambrose Farms. In 2015 I even won a “Most Local” award for my version at the Tomato Pie Competition hosted by Mixson during their “Tomayto Tomahto” event. Heather’s is AMAZING and so perfect for a hot summer night. Karl also mixed his version of mojitos, known as Karlitos, and they were fantastic. Cheers all around to one of the best dinners ever.

Have a glass at Stems & Skins: 

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via Charleston City Paper

Stems & Skins opened in Park Circle a couple of months before we moved, so it was great to stop by with friends. Husband and wife team Matt and Angie Tunstall have established a fun rotating menu of different wines from across the world, beer, and snacks. When I visited they had both a Slovenian white wine and the Hungarian Tokaji style that is developed on an old volcano less than an hour from our house in Hungary. It was awesome to see some of my international finds at a small wine bar in Charleston.

Tuesday:

Tomato Pie for Breakfast because you’re Living your Best Life:

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How do you get through the stress of moving, working with a ton of different entities (on three different time zones) trying to accomplish one goal in a limited amount of time? Tomato pie for breakfast. Trust me on this.

Vaccum-seal Park Pizza because what a Time to be Alive:

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Karl had the best idea in the history of mankind when he jokingly suggested we break out the vacuum sealer to package pizza to take back with me to Hungary. “What the hell?” we shrugged. It was worth a try. So we successfully vacuum-sealed Chris’s favorite pizza (Steeler minus the mushroom: marinara, mozzarella, pork sausage, hot cherry peppers, caramelized onions, and provolone) and mine (Bradwell w/ veg crumbles: olive oil, mozzarella, provolone, veg crumbles, fig preserves, caramelized onions, apples, bleu cheese, pecans) and an order of triple cheese garlic strips because if you’re going to go through airport security with vacuum-sealed pizza, make it count.

All the Broccolini:

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Broccolini–a cross between asparagus and broccoli–was one of our summer staples in Charleston. Chris and I used to grill these crispy vegetables at least twice a week. Their existence in Hungary however, is non-existent; the closest we came to finding the elusive broccolini was in the Netherlands, but a friend grabbed the last bundle. I was so excited and happy to snag two portions at the overwhelming Whole Foods and Karl was nice enough to roast broccolini for us to enjoy with our Park Pizza. What a time to be alive, indeed.

TUESDAY IS BOCCE NIGHT IN CHARLESTON BUT IT WAS CANCELED BECAUSE WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Wednesday:

EVO Bakery Small Dishes:

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Hi Joe! Via EVO Bakery’s Facebook

While I was in town EVO Bakery was hosting a week-long menu of small dishes with a different menu each day. A friend who now works at EVO designed and cooked Wednesday’s menu, which featured a ton of unique (and veg!) options.

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I know, its off-center, but I was so excited for the HCB + GrowFood collaboration! More on GrowFood below.

We had the Bloody Mary Toast, Hot Kale and Mushroom Salad, Apple Jicama Salad, and Baba Ganoush. All were great, but the Bloody Mary Toast with the horseradish sauce was out.of.control.

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Actual footage of me seeing this menu.

Saving the Best Fries for Last at Holy City Brewing:

We started our trivia team–the Only People Paul Likes–a few years before we moved and I’m so glad the team has continued to play each week. Chris and I take trivia really seriously (as does the rest of our team) so being able to play twice while I was in town was amazing. HCB’s trivia is fun, unique, and not for the faint at heart; if you are looking for a place to play trivia in town you should definitely check out Dave’s Wednesday competition.

French fries are Joel’s favorite food and he makes the best version of loaded fries, perfect for when your team is working diligently for that first place title. This is a version of their Collision Fries (sharp cheddar beer cheese, house smoked bacon lardon, melted cheddar cheese, house fresno ranch, scallions, and Bull’s Bay smoked sea salt) but the “Ashlyn style” meaning no bacon.

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Our team tied for first this week, making Wednesday the best end to a super quick and busy visit to Charleston.

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I love my neighborhood.

Things I successfully brought back from SC to Hungary:

  • (2) containers of Pawley’s Island pimento cheese
  • (2) pizzas and (1) order of cheesy bread from Park Pizza
  • (1) freezer bag of seitan and tempeh products
  • (2) bottles of Duke’s mayo
  • (2) six packs of Holy City Brewing’s Overly Friendly
  • (3) books from Itinerant Literate Bookstop
  • (6) cans of Amy’s refried black beans and soup
  • (3) packets of French Onion dip mix
  • (4) small bags of seeds harvested from our yard by the incredible Heather

Bonus: If you find yourself in Charleston for a week, here are a couple of additional must-see dos, eats, and drinks: 

Twenty Six Divine: A husband and wife culinary team that run a beautiful restaurant specializing in small bites and afternoon tea (Charleston, SC).

GrowFood Carolina: The first food hub in South Carolina, I worked with this amazing group of people to bring locally sourced items to the College of Charleston. Look for their label at restaurants.

Edmund’s Oast: My favorite birthday dinner restaurant now has their own brewery and exchange. Go for the amazing beer, cornbread, and atmosphere (Charleston, SC).

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor: The Gullah Geechee have a long history in Charleston and the surrounding barrier islands. You can learn more about their history, culture, and language at one of the many sites located on the Corridor that stretches from North Carolina to Florida. We also hosted Queen Quet my final semester at CofC.

Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe: Owned by the awesome people at Ambrose Farms, they have the best southern dishes and also sell a variety of their produce, casseroles (including tomato pie), and locally sourced meats (John’s Island, SC)

Coast Brewing: Family owned, Coast is another one of the original breweries in Charleston. They have limited hours and beers but are expanding to include longer tasting times (North Charleston, SC).

Sea Island Savory Herbs: The most beautiful and magical place to buy plants and learn more about growing your own herbs, flowers, and vegetables (John’s Island, SC).

Gene’s Haufbrau: Gene’s is my favorite place to have a beer, fried green tomato sandwich, and play board games with friends (West Ashley, SC).

Double Charleston Bonus: Share Your Story CofC. Before moving in 2016, a team of students, staff, and I collected over fifty stories of experiences in Charleston. Inspired by the aftermath of the AME Church Massacre, we wanted to provide an outlet for those in the Lowcountry to share their stories of friendship, love, and justice.

 

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Currently Reading: All of the Women in My Family Sing (Edited by: Deborah Santana)

Currently Watching: The Confession Tapes (Netflix)

Things I’m Loving 9.15.2016

To Watch: House of Cards and Dexter (again)

One of the things I’m really start to catch up on is all the TV shows I missed working 1,000 hours a week at CofC while finishing up my graduate thesis. I know I’m late to the #netflixandchill trend but it’s been awesome catching up on new shows (House of Cards) and old ones (Dexter).

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Kevin Spacey is disappointed in me.

My love of Kevin Spacey and Political Science is obvious as to why I waited to start House of Cards until I had time to enjoy it. I know the show got some flak for the third season, but honestly I enjoyed it and the Putin-inspired character. Not going to lie–I watched the last season in one day.

Chris and I finally finished rewatching all 8 seasons of Dexter (thankfully Chris had them all on his laptop when we didn’t have internet for a while) and I realized a couple of things that I’d like to share:

  1. Doakes alone is THE reason for a rewatch. tumblr_inline_mw2fyio9qk1rbheui
  2. Nothing is ever going to be as good as season 1 and 4. So get over it.
  3. Deb gets so. much. better. after season 1.
  4. I don’t hate Lumen (and the Barrel Girl season) as much as I originally did. I think the producers and writers did a shitty job framing the season after Trinity. They did a bad job setting it up, but all in all, its a good season.
  5. Brother Sam (Mos Def) is absolutely still the best guest character on the show. mos-def-as-brother-sam I always get people asking me “WHAT? WHY?” Because he is. Lately I’ve been trying to reflect on the experiences and people who have been absolute shitheads to me over the past couple of years, so his message at the end of episode six is resonating:

    Just let it go. Can’t live with the hate in your heart. Eat you up inside. We gotta find some peace in life.

  6. I really like season 7. Maybe I just like Joey having a bigger role (finally)?
  7. The last two episodes (and basically all) of season 8 are the fucking worst. Still. There’s no excuse, Showtime.

To Play: Diaspoura’s Demonstrations

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I first met Diaspoura (Anjali Naik) when I worked as the Internship & Student Coordinator for the Sustainability Office at CofC. Anjali played at our 2015 Sustainability Week Kickoff event and then again in 2016 at the best event the Sustainability Office ever hosted EVER– 2016’s Words Unspoken. Diaspoura starts at roughly 39:31 but I recommend watching the entire thing because its the greatest collection of performances at the College.

Demonstrations was released right before we left the states and I’ve been listening to the album non-stop since we hit Hungarian soil. A merging of electro and dreamy experimental, the songs blend together to form one solid 30 minute block of chilling and reflection. “What They Said” and “Stay” are two of my favorites (“What They Said” starts with mmm change the world before it changes you anymore/we have so much time, but right now I’m fine). “Forget You” and “Apology” are such a beautiful back-to-back combination that I think really define the album.

In an article with Charleston City Paper, Anjali notes:

“I never felt like I had space where I could introduce my narrative to whatever was going on. So I thought, you know, I’m just going to tell my own narrative as it is, and that’s going to be my own documentation for anyone else that comes along.”

Slayyyyyyyyyyyy. Is that not the most badass inspiration for an album? I’d definitely recommend getting the amazing usb thumb drive that also includes extra songs, videos, and best of all a zine created just for the release.

To Do: Fantasy Football

Week 1 is always difficult but at least I have #84 on the field and #1 in my heart back on my roster again.

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For whatever reason I became obsessed with fantasy football last year. I did pretty well–finished second overall–so I joined even more leagues this season. I’m not really a fan of a particular NFL team so I’m not sure why I love it so much. Maybe its the research, strategy, or more excuses to obsess over Antonio Brown and Cam Newton, but I’m playing in three leagues this year (including two all women leagues and being the only woman in one league). First week I’m three for three but that definitely won’t last.

To Eat: Brunches Like This

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My favorite part of the weekend is that Chris and I get to spend the mornings together making brunch. Its been a struggle getting eggs the right amount of over easy without Chris’s favorite egg flipping spatula and the lack of rye bread is rough, but we love it. One of the best things about Hungary is that it seems like eating potatoes at every meal is acceptable, which totally works for me.

To Read: There Could Be Blackberries and Wordwound

Two of my former interns Olivia Cohen and Nicole Fernandez have graduated from the College and moved on (and international!) to new roles. Their blogs There May Be Blackberries and WordWound are my new favorite things to read.

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Olivia, who was one of our first social media/editors and then ran the Garden Apprenticeship program my last semester at the College, has recently moved to Nicaragua to pursue work in sustainable agriculture. I was humbled and honored to be mentioned in her latest blogpost, which I’m still trying to put into words how much that means to me. Read her blog here.

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Nicole established one of the greatest event series at CofC with Social Justice Coffee Hour. Over the course of three semesters we also worked (and worked and worked!) to create the foundation for Share Your Story CofC, which collected stories from the community as a way to tell our collective narrative. Now graduated, Nicole is moving to France to teach! In her newest post she notes: “See, the thing about living anywhere new is that you’re redefining expanding your whole worldview.” My thoughts exactly. Read her blog here.

to Look Forward to: Audrie & Daisy

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Netflix picked up the rights for Audrie & Daisy and they’ll have it up for streaming on the 23rd. The documentary tells the stories of the aftermath of three sexual assault cases in the United States. Focusing on the impact of the assaults on the survivors themselves, it looks at how we as a society treat (blame) survivors and (forgive) perpetrators of abuse in the United States.

What’s important to understand is that its not just high school peers acting out these narratives, but adults (parents, police officers) allow for those who committed the crimes to largely get away with it, while discrediting survivors. With the new reports of assault from UNC, USA Gymnastics, and Stanford, we really need to work on the bullshit way we treat survivors. Aligning with the attackers while second-guessing survivors keeps people from coming forward and their attackers free (Although I’d argue that with the current system in place, most perpetrators end up staying out of prison).

Watch the trailer here.

Next post: Home Sweet Hungarian Home (we finally got our stuff!) and maiden voyages on our bikes around town.

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