In the swing of the work week, cooking at home is usually what’s for dinner. The weekends, though, are an edible escape.
Friday and Saturday were all about old favorites and a new one.
First, it was a trip to Stax Omega in Greenville. For those of you not from here, Stax Omega is a diner – the homey kind. There’s a big bakery case in the middle – after passing it you may as well go to the mall, because you’ll have something sweet in your hands and a busted button on your pants. I actually went there on my job interview. I remember having a Greek omelet – it was that good.
This trip though, was all about the gyros (year-os, though as a New Yorker, I grew-up saying JY-ros) platter. Slices of moist meat, toasted pita points, diced tomatoes, onion slices, pitted (yay!) kalamata olives, homemade tzatziki (usually Greek yogurt and cucumber) and a honkin’ wedge of feta, that good stuff. I love being able to make it myself. Makes me feel like an artist.
I ate my weight in the gyros, but for me, the guest of honor at this savory soiree was the Greek Potatoes – wedges of crispy, yet satiny potato marinated in and cooked with lemon, oregano and olive oil. If I had military secrets, these could make me speak, immediately. They’re “last meal” good.
Saturday’s lunch brought us to Cribb’s Kitchen, which just expanded in Downtown Spartanburg. This was a first for me. I love trying new places and this place is the reason why. Edgy decor inside, right down to a brick wall with peeling paint on one side and a painted wall with old black-and-white photos of Spartanburg framed on the other. The menu promised a lot. And it delivered.
We got different entrees and split them. For me, it was a burger, I believe it was called the Natori – garlic peppers, cabbage, perfectly cooked patty. Perfection. The cabbage was something special… a texture that deserves repeating on burgers. Try it! I loved the pickles skewered to the bun. For Brian, my partner in over-eating, it was a wrap with shredded chicken and a spicy peanut sauce. The name escapes me, sorry. It was a great combination. The wrap was grilled, which made all the difference.
After that, dessert came from the Cakehead Bakeshop – a gem in the back of the Little River Coffee Bar, attached to the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg (another diamond, or blue topaz, or sapphire – a gem, nonetheless). Their cupcakes are little bundles of joy. Try them! Their flavors will wow you.
Saturday dinner brought us to another old favorite: DellaVentura’s in Greer. I always to want to go into the kitchen to see if my Italian grandmother is back there boiling pasta and peeling tomatoes for homemade sauce. I mean, I expect to look outside and see a big white beacon begging to fall over on me.
Then, the meal. They need a box of Kleenex on the table because it’s tear worthy, I promise. This time, for me it was chicken parmigiana. For B, it was chicken Marsala. Honestly, my versions of these dishes don’t compare (and I don’t admit that easily). Plus, there’s enough food on the plate to feed half the restaurant (another reason I’d swear my grandmother was back there stuffing cannoli).
Dessert there is something you can’t miss. For us, it’s always zeppole – Fried clouds of dough covered in three pounds of powdered sugar (no, really, I’m sure it has to be that much!). This time, the server suggested the addition of cinnamon, and she was onto something… very tasty (and comforting). When I was little, we’d go to the bizarres (or festivals) at the New York churches and you could find vendors with zeppole. They’d drop them (hot) into a paper bag, add powdered sugar and shake. White fingerprints on a shirt were a dead giveaway as to who’d endulged.
Tip: If you want a citrus spark to your chicken – marinate it, but not in lemon/lime/orange/grape fruit juice. The acid in the juice will actually cook the chicken and it’ll be white by the time it’s done marinating. Instead, add only citrus zest to the marinade. Use at least 2 lemons, 3 limes or 2 oranges. It gave a zing to my Greek chicken dinner from tonight. Want the recipe? Check my next post!