Lowcountry Food: Undercover Foodie revealed
As in life, all good things and good dishes must come to an end. Unfortunately, this is my final course. I have been absent as of late due to getting ready to completely uproot my family’s entire life and start the next chapter, and due to the demands of the military, it’s been extremely difficult to schedule some time to write about the delectable edibles in our magnificent town.
But believe me, foodie followers, when I say I’ve been eating and stuffing myself like it’s my last meal. And in many respects, it has.
Regionality is a prevent quality when it comes to cuisine, and nothing (and I mean nothing) can compare to the amazing cuisine that befalls us in our beloved Lowcountry. I’ve been eating around Beaufort as often as possible in the last few months, taking in all the intrinsic qualities that this quaint and happy seaside town has to offer, specifically the numerous local, non-chain restaurants and their pride-and-joy original dishes.
From Lowcountry Produce to Old House Smoke House (In Ridgeland); from Amata Thai Fusion to Maggies Pub and Bistro; Alvin Ords, Fat Patties, Old Town, and even Saltus and Palm & Moon…and so many other establishments that I have enjoyed long before I had the privilege of writing about my foodie adventures. I’ve taken in my fair-share of local cuisine in the last 3 years that I’ve been lucky enough to call Beaufort my home. In all, Beaufort has only increased my affection for Lowcountry specialties like shrimp n’ grits, Frogmore stew, late-winter oyster roasts, pulled pork sandwiches, and River Dog beer; and not-so-local dishes like gnocchi in marinara, fish n’ eggs, oh-so tender steaks and pot roasts, and those magnificent PEI ‘s from Wren.
So, who am I, and what the heck makes me qualified to splice down food and analyze every crumb on my plate under metaphorical magnifying glass?
Well, let’s start with the short list. My name is Courtney Martinez. I’m a wife of a Marine. I’m a mother to a 2 ½ year old who thinks she’s 8. I’m a friend and a daughter and a neighbor. I have lived in South Carolina since I was 10 years old, and though I am formerly a Northerner, grits and sweet tea run through my veins just as much as Everything Bagels and a nice, thin slice of pizza.
I am also one who believes that life is too short to eat bad food, that it will never kill you to try a new dish at least once, and possessing an unwavering openness to whatever appears on your plate is a characteristic that can’t hurt. I am someone for whom pickles use to be a tremendous grievance, and yet, thanks to places like Moondoggies and Old Town, I’ve fallen in love with the cured cucumber. I truly believe in all-good-things-in-moderation and I’m one who holds “no farms, no food” true to her heart, and really wishes her toddler wasn’t so damn picky when it comes to our dinner meal.
I am you, Beaufort, who believes that food is so much more than something necessary for self-sustainability; I truly feel that the family meal is a necessary component in one’s home, that food can be the driving force behind a successful fundraiser, the comfort and joy at the celebratory occasion, and a beloved necessity at the holiday rendezvous.
So, again, you may be asking, what makes me qualified?
If I may be so bold, I will turn that question back around, and ask, “What makes anyone qualified for anything they do?” I think there are two things that adequately answer that question: Passion and Knowledge.
Food is my passion, absolute and unequivocally. This passion drives a big part of my life, constantly searching for the next delicious morsel and continually working on and reinventing recipes so that I may get the very best out of the ingredients at my hands.
To know that one can take basic elements and through recombination and some general chemistry and create an everlasting memory is an extremely attractive challenge. I believe food is one of the best, most available experiences that one can endure in one’s short time on Earth. Food is so much more than whatever 3-dimensional form it takes on your plate. It has soul, various levels, the power to instantly change both mood and atmosphere, and takes a central role in any social gathering.
Doing one’s research can’t hurt, either. From reading everything from cookbooks to autobiographies of my favorite chefs, to researching various herbs and how they influence a certain protein or starch, utilizing local ingredients gathered from the amazing assortment of Beaufort Farmers Markets and persevering through various trial-and-error dishes in my own kitchen, I have only grown in both appreciation and knowledge of the things that we call essentials to our everyday life.
Not only have I been lucky to be in the position of “Undercover Foodie”, I have been beyond blessed to eat my way across an amazing town like Beaufort. While I consider myself a seasoned aficionado for all things edible, Beaufort has imparted its cultivated food wisdom upon me. I have learned to appreciate so many delectables while I’ve lived here, and I can only pray that I can take the lessons of the Lowcountry along with me as I move around the country and appreciate various regionalities while imparting a love for grits along my journeys.
And in my departure, all I can say is “Thank you, Beaufort”.
Thank you for you love of food, your diligence in ingredient integrity, your love for the fresh and the local, for your adherence to gravy and biscuits, to fresh caught Lowcountry shrimp, collard greens, and your love of your fellow man.
I will miss every single ingredient that makes you so unique and special, and I look forward to coming back, to a place that will welcome me with open arms and a plate-full of comfort food, and, at the end of my meal, with a hug that says “Welcome Home.”
~Courtney Martinez, Undercover Foodie
Please take a look at my reviews of Beaufort’s restaurants:
Old Bull Tavern
Breakwater Restaurant & Bar
The Upper Crust
Emily’s Restaurant & Tapas Bar
Maggie’s Pub & Eatery
Bricks On Boundary
A round-up of Beaufort’s BBQ spots
Editors note: We met Courtney by chance one day when we asked her if we could photograph her daughter playing in the playground at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in early spring of 2012 for another piece we were working on. When she asked where the photo would be published, a conversation ensued. We saw and felt her passion, and the rest is history. Things happen for a reason and you should never pass up an opportunity. We will miss Courtney. Her wit. Her way with words. Her insane attention to every detail. Her perfect descriptions of our local food.
You can continue to follow Courtney’s foodie-adventures by following her on Twitter. @FoodieUndrCover