Saturday, April 30, 2011

...and then it was over!

It was our last day on the island.  We woke up slowly, not wanting such a wonderful vacation to be over.  We had until 11 to pack and be on our way.  But first, a few things we couldn't leave without doing.

One final bike ride was in order and there was only one more place that we wanted to try.  Signe's bakery came highly recommended, so with a quick shower and spruce, we were on our way. 
I anticipated the vegan options would be slim if any so we went with an open mind, anxious to just see what it was all about.  While all the bakery items looked delightful, we were captivated by the salads in the case.
We took home a side of both the orzo salad (above) and the cucumber salad (below).  We knew we would be eating lunch on the road and these salads made the perfect addition to our picnic.  We also grabbed a loaf of homemade bread: Tom's Powerhouse.  It went unpictured, but was delicious, wholesome and nutritious.

The breakfast items at Signe's did not jump out at us, and was mostly non-veg.  Being the strict vegans that we are, we biked to Flamingo's Doughnut Cafe for one final taste of heaven.  For some reason eating a non-vegan breakfast of eggs and bacon is not ok...but a non-vegan doughnut will slip into my diet occasionally (or twice in one week, but who's counting?)
Before we had even arrived Forbes and I knew exactly what we were going to order.
I had the create your own with lemon glaze, fresh strawberries and blueberry chips.  Yum, yum.
We also ordered the Caramel Apple and one topped with chocolate, peanuts and peanut butter chips.  They were both delightful.

Fully satisfied with our last Hilton Head meal, we headed back in the direction of the condo.  We decided to take a round-about way to have one last ride on the beach. 
It was a gusty morning, strong storms were headed in and we were nearly blown away!
The wind was at our backs so after stopping a lovely couple on the beach to snap our photo, Forbes suggested we attempt to make it all the way back to the condo without pedaling.  To clarify, that is about a 2 mile ride!
We propped our feet up and took the challenge.
No feet allowed!  We made it all the way with the just the wind propelling us forward.  So much for biking as a workout! 

Back at the condo, packing ensued and we were on the road home.  The silver lining: it was only Thursday, and while work beckoned from home, spring break isn't over until Monday!
Lunch was a picnic of leftovers combined with a few local treasures such as the chips, and salads, and these crunchy peanuts.
These peanuts are deep-fried and you eat them shell and all!  They were amazing. 

This concludes our Hilton Head Vacation.  Thanks for traveling along with us!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Charleston Style

It was overcast and breezy, but that didn't stop our fun.  Lord Forbes said he had never been to Charleston and was anxiously awaiting this day.  Turns out he has been there before...and the memories came flooding back to him once we were at the Old City Market.  Nonetheless, our day trip to Charleston was a very fun birthday present for him!

The Old City Market was obviously our first item of business in Charleston.  We toured the street vendors and the boutiques that lined the streets of downtown Charleston.  Of course each shop held amazing treasures.  Some of our favorite finds included these little veggie animals:
How adorable!  I am not a collector of any sort.  I keep things very simple in my home and do not clutter my shelves with anything like this.  However, if I did, I would certainly collect these fellows.
I love the cauliflower sheep and that cute little cabbage dog.
The green pepper wiener dog was great but the cauliflower poodle was my favorite.  They had all sorts of farm animals, dogs and cats.  What a perfect little vegetarian collection!

Wednesday was all about Forbes so we hit up a hat store and a few other places for him.  We didn't find much in the way of clothes...but in the way of food we hit some home runs.  Unfortunately the next few finds I will show you are not of the vegan variety.
The South is known for its pralines.  These are to die for.  As we walked in each candy store, praline samples were literally forced down our throats before we could even mutter the word vegan.  Yeah, right.  Like I would turn down a free sample anyhow!  I swear, after just one little sample my head was spinning from the drug we like to call sugar.  I'm pretty sure if I ate a whole praline it would induce a violent trip of wavy colors and 3D walls.  A sample was just enough for us and we headed to the next infamous shop.
 The Moon Pie museum.  Seriously, these things should be in a museum. 
Can you believe Lord Forbes made it his whole life without ever trying a Moon Pie?  I lived on these things as a child.  I just couldn't deprive Forbes any longer.
Verdict?  Um, yes, the best thing ever.  I thought so.  I am determined to recreate these delights at home with vegan ingredients so my future unborn children will not live as deprived as my husband.

With the shops along the market out of the way we headed off in search of some history and some brews.  Our transportation of choice:
A bike taxi.  It was such a fun idea, but once inside the "taxi" I felt so awful for the poor man who had to pedal us around Charleston.  We gave him a big tip.
He steered us to the end of the Battery and we strolled through the gardens and along the riverfront.
Did you know: Pineapples are a sign of hospitality.  Back in the day, a host would leave pineapples outside their home to signal a party or that people were welcome over.  When they tired of their guests, the pineapples came down to let everyone know it was time to go home.
At the end of the Battery as you head back toward the market, you can make a left on Exchange and find a unique shop inside an assuming building.  This shop was Forbes' favorite.
The Charleston Beer Exchange sells about a million different beers from around the world.  For the birthday boy, we put together a 6-pack sampler that cost about $30!  I'm not sure he has even tried one yet; I believe he wants to savor them for as long as possible.

We continued our walking tour of Charleston back toward the market and our parked car.
We found a garden full of frog statues that were amazing!
We also found a nice spot to cool down from all the walking.
I feel a little breeze in my skirt!

We were ravenous by the time we arrived back at the car and hustled over to the Black Bean Company for a late lunch.

At this point my phone was dying a slow death, and we still needed directions to get back to visit a friend and get back to Hilton Head.  I snapped just a few quick photos but they do not give justice to this delightful meal.
We split the Baked Spring Rolls, the Vegan Tom Yum soup and the Green Ginger Palmetto Wrap.  The Black Bean Company is an all organic, all natural, Charleston based fast food restaurant.  It is actually the anti-fast food, but still serves up speedy meals.  Lord Forbes and I were not disappointed.  We just want to know now if the company will allow us to open a franchise in Mooresville!

After our delicious meals we were suckered into dessert.
The chocolate chip cookie wasn't amazing, but it was vegan and good.  Overall, this restaurant really hit the spot.  The menu was very diverse and had some very interesting, appealing flavor combos.  I would really like to try everything on their vegan menu!  Please just send one of each to my house!

Like I mentioned above, we drove to a friend's house after lunch to say hello.  I met Joanna at the Women of Worship Beach Retreat last fall and haven't seen her since.  Her in-laws attend our church and are great friends of ours.  Forbes had never met Joanna and I had never met her husband Wes so it was fun to make the introductions.  Joanna and Wes are a beautiful couple and have 4 wonderful children.  It was so neat to catch up with her and now I am already anxious for the next time!

We were back on the road by 5pm and made it back to Hilton Head just as our stomachs were beginning to growl.  Dinner was cooked up in a jif, but was still so, so delicious.
Portobella Mushroom Sliders topped with BBQ sauce, tomatoes, grilled onions and pineapple, a side salad also topped with grilled pineapple and corn on the cob.
My mouth is watering just looking at these photos again.  Portobellas really are a favorite in our house.
Grilled pineapple is also my new favorite.  It is sinful.  I am becoming a true believer in cooked fruit.  The heat brings out the natural sugars in the fruit.  Grilled bananas are among one of my other favorite cooked fruits.  The flavor of the pineapple played with the BBQ sauce and grilled onions on these sliders to make this meal wonderful.

To cook the mushrooms, marinate in BBQ sauce of choice and grill for about 3-5 minutes on either side.  You could also pan cook the mushrooms or use a George Foreman if you are inside.  Careful though, the George Foreman will cook off many of the natural juices from the portobellas.

Wednesday was our last night in Hilton Head so we decided to head out on the town for a few drinks.  We found this wine bar on Yelp and decided to check it out.
Wine Times Four is a unique spin on wine-tastings.  They have over 72 varieties of wine and when you enter they hand you a card (similar to a credit card) and a glass.  You then choose the wines you want to try, choose whether you want a 1 oz. pour to sample, a half glass, a full glass or you can buy the whole bottle.  Thus "times four". 
 You just slide your card into the machine and use it like a soda fountain.  This was a perfect option since I am such a light drinker these days.  I took just a few samples of a couple different wines and was satisfied.
While tasting the wines, Forbes and I settled into an over sized chair and played trivia games on the iPhone.  Maybe not the most romantic option, but it certainly kept us entertained.  Later we also swung into the Hilton Head Brewing Company for a quick flight of beers.  None of them pleased my palate, however.
It was off to bed after that.  What a full and wonderful day!  We are getting close to finishing the vacation recaps.  Thanks for following along!

Hilton Head Sampler

Mornings in Hilton Head were laid back and fun.  The weather wasn't great on Tuesday morning, but the rain seemed to hold out at all the right times.

It held out long enough for us to ride to Java Joe's for a cup of coffee and back.
It even held out while we ate our overnight oats on the porch.
Accompanied by jam and homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars.
Why do I even pretend like I am going to eat these two things separate?
I obviously crumbled the bar on top of my oats!

Because the weather seemed to be cooperating with our plans we decided not to hold off any longer and we set out on a long bike ride to the lighthouse.  Along the way we enjoyed a tour of local wildlife.
This guy was perched on his pedestal.  While he looked like he was ready to take flight he actually just stood there holding out his wings, showing off for us!

Then there was this guy:
Ok, I know that photo looks like a bit of nothing, but I swear about 1/3 way from the left and half way up is an alligator head.  This was our second sighting of the week!

By the time we reached Harbour Town the sun was in full force once again.
The day was hardly recognizable from its previous version!
We opted not to pay the $3.50 to walk up the lighthouse and spent our money on the best sorbet I have ever had!  I forgot to snap a photo but the raspberry sorbet from this cute little shop under the lighthouse was exactly perfect.
We walked around the cute little "town" and down the pier.
Harbour Town is cute, but too touristy.  It is one of those places that wouldn't exist outside of tourism.  When you ask the question, what came first, the town or tourism?  Tourism definitely came first and then the town was built around that.  I much prefer the places that are organically cute and then tourism found it.  Does that make sense?

Either way, we didn't spend too much time in Harbour Town.  We pedaled back to our side of the island stopping quickly at Truffles for a cold beverage.
Truffles Cafe came highly recommended.  Unfortunately we weren't in the mood for lunch yet, just for cold drinks.  I enjoyed a fresh raspberry lemonade.  Lord Forbes had a beer.
He found this Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout on the menu and decided to try it, and it was great.  I shared a bit with him and really enjoyed the taste.

Back at the condo later that afternoon, we whipped up a quick and easy lunch utilizing the leftovers we had accumulated over the last several days.

Here is what my lunch plate looked like:
Lunch included leftover Eggless Salad, quick baked beans, carrot and cabbage salad, the last bit of Sweet Potato Hummus and yes in the corner that is sauerkraut topped with vegan 1000 Island dressing.  I used blue corn chips to scoop everything up. 
I also enjoyed some leftover salad from Roastfish and Cornbread.

The combination of delicious food, and a day full of sun and biking left both Forbes and I very lethargic.  Thus the rest of the afternoon was spent vegging in front of the TV.  I began to feel guilty that we were wasting precious vacation minutes, but finally gave into the desire and relaxed.  We drifted in and out of sleep for a few house and then finally roused ourselves to get up and do something.  We decided the best option would be to get out of the condo.  Thus our first outing by car was born.

We landed at the Skull Creek Boathouse, another highly recommended restaurant. 
Once again, we weren't really wanting a full meal, and we knew we had delicious food back at the condo for dinner.  Instead we opted to take advanatage of the happy hour pricing and enjoyed a cold beverage.
I can't even remember what Lord Forbes ordered, but I opted for the flavor of the day with a Raspberry Mojito.  It seemed everything I ordered on vacation was raspberry flavored!
The Skull Creek Boathouse has amazing views off a very large patio.  The place was packed for a Tuesday night, securing its reputation of being one of the best places on the island for dinner.  The menu was extensive and we just couldn't resist trying a little something.
We ordered the Veggie Roll substituting the Goat Cheese Hummus for avocado to make it vegan.  Inside the Spinach Soy Wrapper was sun-dried tomato and tempura veggies.  I swear this was one of the best veggie rolls I have ever tasted.  It was so good I ate half my pieces with wasabi and soy sauce.  That never happens! 

At this point real hunger was setting in, so we headed back to the condo for a real meal. 
It doesn't look like much but these tacos were amazing!  Lord Forbes cooked up Jerk Tempeh on the grill and we topped our tortillas with tomatoes, cabbage, salsa and pineapple with a little extra jerk sauce.  This had great island flavor and filled me up! 

And that concludes Day 4 on the Island.  If you missed them, check out these recaps:

Vegan Faith On Location
Day 1: Spring Break
Day 2: Hilton Head
Day 3: Favorite Food Day

Coming Soon: Day 5: A Trip to Charleston