Menu Close

Category: Cooking

Ho, Ho, Ho: Horrible Holiday Hors d’oeuvres


Nearly every holiday is associated with one or more foods traditionally served during the celebration. We have grilled hamburgers and hotdogs on the Fourth of July, Halloween candy, and perhaps the most prominent of all: turkey on Thanksgiving. For years now I’ve been lobbying for Tandoori chicken with curried rice to become the traditional meal of Columbus Day in honor of his intended destination, but with minimal success (please, write your Congressman). Yes, I’m a big fan of all these traditional festive feasts, with one exception. Culinarily speaking, I hate Christmas. Call me a Gourmet Grinch or the Scrooge of Seasonal Sustenance, but I just do not like any of the food and drinks that are unique to Christmas. Read more

Joe Kwon of folk rock band The Avett Brothers talks about Charleston and his own food blog

Image by Todd Roeth



Wednesday February 8, 2012

by Scott Wink of


Charleston, SC  –
The Avett Brothers are coming to the North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday February 12th, 2012.  We got to talk with Joe Kwon, the cello player in the band, that also happens to be a
pretty great food blogger.


Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :
What are some of the most commonly found snack foods found on an Avett Brothers tour?


Joe Kwon:  Well we were told by an RN once that we lose
too much water. So we do seem to have lots of water, sports drinks of choice,
kettle chips, granola bars, cereal, milk, OJ, and mixed nuts. Pretty boring,
huh? We like to keep it simple.


CFB:  How is each of the members of The Avett
Brothers different when it comes to food preferences?


Joe Kwon:  I probably shouldn’t go down that road. I
have the “pleasure” of ordering food for everyone and let’s just say,
sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do. With the ever growing group we
have it’s difficult to find ONE cuisine that everyone will like. I will say
that our go to places are Thai, pizza, burritos, or burgers. Can’t go wrong
with those categories.


CFB:  What are you favorite songs to perform live?


Joe Kwon:  Oh, I love Laundry Room, Indolence, Once and Future Carpenter, I & Love & You, Go to Sleep, I guess those would be
my favorites but I love to play all the songs really. I get such a thrill being
on stage!


CFB:  Which musicians/songs are you currently
really wowed by?


Joe Kwon:  Interestingly enough I’ve been going back to
my classical roots as of late. I’ve been getting really into listening to old
symphonies with new ears. It seems as though for me classical music is
constantly evolving in my understanding of the pieces and I get something new
out of the pieces when I come back to them years later. I guess one song in
particular I’m wowed by right now is Song of The Birds by Casals. It’s a simple
and yet such a beautiful piece.


CFB:  Do you have any restaurants that you
absolutely must go to if you are in a certain city?


Joe Kwon:  I’m definitely starting to amass a list of
such places. It may not always work out the way I want it to so I never make it
a MUST GO type of scenario, but I will definitely try to sway the group to go
to one place or another.


Image by D.L. Anderson

CFB:  What do you think about Top Chef?


Joe Kwon:  I think it’s one of the only credible reality
shows on TV. I haven’t watched many episodes of the show but what I’ve watched
I’ve liked. We’re on the road too often to really keep current with any shows.


CFB:  What would make a perfect day of eating at
restaurants around where you live in North Carolina (breakfast, lunch, dinner,
dessert, and drinks)?


Joe Kwon:  Funny you ask this. I have this idea of what
it would be like to just take a day of eating in and around my area. All of
these restaurants are within 30 minutes driving distance of my home and I love
them all. I would start my morning off at Guglhupf Bakery for a nice light
breakfast of a quiche or bread and cheese, followed by a stop off at 3 cups to
get some coffee from Counter Culture coffee which happens to be roasted just
minutes from my house. I’d then stop off at one of three restaurants depending
on my mood, Thai China, China Express, or Sandwhich. Each of those three
restaurants has a favorite comfort dish I love to order and I can’t just choose
one. If money and time weren’t an issue here I’d drive out to Pittsboro, NC and
visit Fearrington House for a 5 course meal. At this stage of the eating game,
I’d be stuffed so I’d probably need to walk around a bit to digest. I’d drive
to Chapel Hill and park on the east side of Franklin Street and walk to Lantern
for some dessert and a cocktail. I’d then head back to Durham for a night of
beers at Fullsteam Brewery and hopefully have a DD to drive me home because I
love me some beer!!


CFB:  Have you ever eaten at any of the great
restaurants in Charleston?

Joe Kwon:  I have eaten at one but I don’t recall the
name. I remember they were known for their shrimp and grits. Maybe you know of
the place?

CFB:  I love your blog   do
you have any other talents or hobbies?


Joe Kwon:  I’ve recently been turned on to wood working.
I’m just starting now but I’d love to get really into it. There is definitely
something special about creating things with your hands. I also love to take
photos, but recently I’ve been preoccupied with the wood working HA!

CFB:  Would you share a family recipe with us?


Joe Kwon:  Sure, if you ask nice. 


(Joe Kwon then shared and posted his mother’s kimchi fried rice recipe with pictures on his blog)

Recipes: Mama Kwon’s Kimchi Fried Rice (김치 볶음밥)

DateWednesday, January 25, 2012 at 8:20AM

Mom was over at the house yesterday and I couldn’t resist having her make me some kimchi fried rice before she left. She explained to me that kimchi fried rice is a dish that everyone loves in Korea. It is a dish probably originated, yet again, in the poorer communities of a way of using up every bit of resource. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage that has iconic state in Korea. There are hundreds of different permutations of the side dish, and every family has their own recipe.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the space or time (or permission) to post mama Kwon’s kimchi recipe, but I can post this simple recipe for when your stash of kimchi goes past it’s prime.

Behchu kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) is what we’re working with here. Kimchi has several stages in it’s life cycle. Once it’s past it’s prime is when there are a couple things you do with it. Make kimchi chigeh (kimchi stew) or make kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice). The dish centers around this over fermented kimchi, and some sort of protein.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 lb over fermented kimchi
1/2 lb chicken, beef, pork, or tofu (any protein will work)
4 cups day old steamed jasmine or Korean medium grain rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 egg per person
Start by cutting up the protein into small half inch cubes removing all the fat and connective tissue. Next chop up the kimchi to small chunks as well, and set both aside. Bring a large frying pan to medium high heat, and add the oil and protein. Cook through. Add the kimchi, and stir fry all of it together for about 2 minutes. Add the cold rice, and incorporate into the kimchi/protein mixture. Stir fry for several minutes until the rice is heated through. Remove the pan from the heat, drizzle the sesame oil over the rice, stir, and eat right away, or heat up another frying pan to fry up your egg. The egg isn’t essential to the dish, but is totally worth it.

Bon Appétit!
많이 드세요
-Joe Kwon

Some of you may be asking where to get said ingredients. Well if you find your local korean market you can find both toasted sesame oil as well as kimchi. Make sure you’re buying the right kind of kimchi though. There are more than you can imagine.

Thanksgiving dinner tips: 3 ways to cheat and 3 celebrity chefs’ upgrade tips

Sunday November 20th, 2011
by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC   –  On Thanksgiving most of us have a pretty long list of “must have” foods.  Everyone in your family seems to have their own favorite dish.  For those of you with unlimited time and resources you can stop reading now. You don’t need the following information. For the other 95% of you with limited time and resources what follows is some much needed ways to cut down on your kitchen work load this Thanksgiving and add a few surprises to your menu.  I am giving you 3 items that you can purchase instead if making from scratch that I am confident are equal or better than what you could make and 3 recipes from some celebrity chefs that will keep your family and friends believing that you are the best cook on the planet.

These will save you lots of time and are of top notch quality

Mashed Potatoes:
Simply Potatoes is the first and only packaged mashed potato products that I can get behind.  I agree that instant mashed potatoes are horrible.  These are not instant mashed potatoes.  The main ingredients are real potatoes, half and half, whole milk, butter, and salt. 

Directions for use:
Buy, open, microwave, serve. 

Your family might not even realize you didn’t peel them.

Pecan Pie:
Pies can be very difficult to make.  The crust, the filling, the consistency…..those are all major problems that could leave you without a pie on Thanksgiving Day.  If one step goes wrong your in trouble.  Luckily this year the pecan experts at Young Plantations in Florence, South Carolina are selling their amazing pecan pies in a Piggly Wiggly near you.  The pies are only $9.95 and you can really taste the pecans.  I have tasted them already and the nuts are fresh, the filling is firm and not too sweet, and the crust is perfect.  These pies typically retail for much more than $9.95 when you order them online or at store in the mall.  

Cranberry sauce, gravy, or any troubled dish:

This tip can vary based on which city you live in.  Basically if you have a dish or area in which you have had trouble in the past……outsource it.  For example Ted’s Butcherblock has been doing this great Thanksgiving Day take out menu for several years.  Our favorite items on the list are the cranberry sauce, gravy, or soups.  If you don’t live near Charleston call around to some of your favorite local restaurants and see if they are doing a Thanksgiving Day menu and I bet they would be happy to package a few items for you to take home on Wednesday night.


Fried shallots on your green bean casserole: Top Chef: Masters contestant John Currence from Mississippi was featured in Bon Appetite Magazine this month talking about his favorite Thanksgiving Day recipes.  A trick he told me about a few months ago was using fried shallots on your green bean casserole instead of French’s Fried Onions.  Slice the shallots thin, batter, fry and top on your casserole.  Think “blooming onion” goodness!

Tom Cholicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey:  If you have had troubles with dried turkeys or just have ran out of ideas try Tom Cholicchio’s recipe.  He gives you good tips on making the gravy from the turkey neck and wings and also how to rub butter under the skin of the breast to keep it moist and end up crisp. 

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheese Biscuits:  Heavy on the cheese and heavy on the butter this recipe is sure to please everyone except  your doctor.

Marcus Samuelsson came to Charleston (of Next Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters )

CharlestonFoodBloggers Scott and Crystal Wink with Chef Marcus Samuelsson (center)

Wednesday Oct 25th, 2011

by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC  –  On October 20th the winner of Top Chef Masters Season 2 and current Next Iron Chef contestant ( #NextIronChef ) Marcus Samuelsson came to Charleston to give a cooking demo in West Ashley at Signature Appliance Center showroom.  Samuelsson has won multiple James Beard Awards and is owner of hot NYC restaurant Red Rooster.  The event was sponsored by the company Bluestar which makes restaurant quality gas ranges for use in the home.  Several features of the stove that Marcus highlighted made my wife’s mouth water at the thought of owning one… mouth was watering while smelling Marcus cook.   Getting high enough heat for a wok was one of the most impressive features.  Also impressive was the amount of customization you had when it comes to choosing your range.  There are thousands of combinations and almost 200 colors you could choose from to create your own unique range.

During the demo Marcus cooked dishes from his cookbook: New American Table.  Dished included meatballs, tacos, soup, salmon, spiced cake.  Marcus was able to seamlessly prepare his dishes while interacting with the crowd.  He seemed to enjoy sharing his thoughts on the constant evolution on what is considered American cuisine.  Marcus had a chance to try some Charleston food earlier in the day.  He mentioned having lunch at Alluette’s Cafe downtown on Reid St. 

The portions were humorously tiny but delicious.  You could fit 2 complete tacos on the end of a fork (see below).  The soup was probably our favorite dish. I was surprised at how well almonds and mushrooms blended together. We are going to have to get his cookbook and try some of his recipes out at home.  Here was the full menu:


Prosciutto Flatbread

Corn Pancakes with Chili-Covered Gravlax


Salsify Soup with marinated Mushrooms

Chorizo-Style Meatballs with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Chicken Sate with Baby Spinach and Garlic Feta Dip

Fish Taco


Malva Pudding

Music and Food Festival coming to Charleston October 21-23rd….imagine eating Chef Sean Brock’s food while sitting 6 feet from The Zac Brown Band…

Friday, September 30th, 2011

by Scott Wink of

Charleston, SC- The culinary hot spot of Charleston, SC just cranked up the heat on
the burner!  The Zac Brown Band has organized a 3 day Southern Ground Music and Food Festival to be held at the Blackbaud soccer stadium.  Zac
Brown is known for his “Eat and Greets”. Fans get to hang out and break
bread with the band before the show.  Many of the food items served are
Zac’s recipes.  See the attached video clip to hear him discuss the
concept.  The Zac Brown Band will be performing at the end of each
night. In addition to three performances from Zac Brown Band, the bill
will feature:

– My Morning Jacket

– Train

– Eric Church

– Fitz and the Tantrums

– Warren Haynes Band

– Steel Pulse

– Trigger Hippy

– The Del McCoury Band and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

– Dangermuffin

– Brett Dennen

And performances by Southern Ground Artists:
– Sonia Leigh
– The Wood Brothers
– Nic Cowan
– Levi Lowrey
– Blackberry Smoke
– Clay Cook
A second stage will feature performances by additional musicians in between main stage sets.

The concert will be featuring several amazing chefs including Rusty Hamlin and RJ Cooper.  Both Chef Sean Brock and Chef Mike Lata
are two of Charleston’s most nationally acclaimed culinary rock starts
will be participating.  Concert goers will have a choice of buying
general admission passes, VIP upgrades to include BBQ and beer, or Front
Porch Stage Boxes which include a 4 course sit down dinner prepared by
the chefs and only feet away from the musicians!!!!  This is the
ultimate sensory experience.  Besides The Zac Brown Band I am most excited about seeing Brett Dennen, Fitz and the Tantrums (again), Dangermuffin, and My Morning Jacket.  Get your tickets now before they get devoured.