Food & Beverage

Local Cooking With Recipes From Holly Herrick

Photographer: Rick McKee Publisher: Gibbs Smith, June 2009

When I began my quest to eat locally, I discovered that the most difficult part was knowing what to eat and when to eat it.  I wanted to eat in season but I was stumped by my lack of knowledge regarding local growing seasons.  Browsing the shelves of Fiction Addiction for a book that would help me out of my dilemma, I picked up the Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick and discovered the perfect book for me.

What make this book a fantastic choice for newbie locavores is the way Holly opens up the world of seasonal eating and farmers markets.  She acts as a guide, explaining the importance and benefits of eating local food, giving you tips on what to bring/what not to bring to a farmers market, and providing suggestions on how to stock a pantry that is ready for seasonal cooking.  Recipes for each course are grouped by season for ease and clarity.  Beautiful photographs by Rick Mckee show the tantalizing beauty of dishes made from fresh, local food.

Holly focuses on the Southeastern region of the US: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  For those, like me, who have no idea what is in season when, the included state-by-state charts of seasonal produce are indispensable.  State-by-state listings of farmers markets and listings of online resources to locate farmers markets really take away any excuse for not exploring the world of farmers markets and local food.

Whether you are a seasoned locavore or just beginning to enjoy the world of wholesome, fresh, local food, I highly recommend this excellent book.  Want a free copy of it?  Holly has given me a signed copy to give to one lucky reader.  Check out the Leah Loves Local Facebook page for details.  For more information on Holly Herrick or any of her cookbooks, please visit her website.

To give you a taste of what is in store for you in Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, here is one of my favorite recipes (reprinted with permission):

Strawberry Mint Clafoutis

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs (preferably local)

1 cup whole cream

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 quart whole strawberries, green tops removed and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar.  Form a well in the center and add the eggs, cream, salt, vanilla, and mint.  Gradually incorporate into a smooth batter, whisking well.  Generously butter a 9-inch pie pane.  Line the bottom with whole strawberries, top-down.  NOTE: Use enough to entirely fill the bottom – the quantity will depend on the size of the berries.  Pour the batter over the top.  Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and the center is set.

If desired, brush the top of the warm – to room-temperature clafoutis down with a thin layer of warmed strawberry jelly for added sheen.  Serve warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream, a fresh strawberry, and mint leaf for garnish.

Serves 6-8

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Stone Soup

Stone Soup in Landrum

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of finding a new favorite local restaurant.  I had just finished moving (which is always a stressful time) and needed an oasis.  I found that oasis at Stone Soup in Landrum.

Suzanne Strickland, the proud owner of Stone Soup, named her restaurant after the folk tale in which neighbors come together, each bringing a small offering to the table, and discover their offerings are multiplied into enough food for the village.  She could not have picked a more appropriate name.  Stone Soup is truly a community based restaurant and Suzanne cares about everyone who walks in the door.

One adorable corner.

The Stone Soup experience is pleasing from the moment you see the restaurant.  A charming building tucked amidst bushes, trees, and flowers, Stone Soup is a perfect combination of elegant and down-home.  You can choose to sit outdoors and enjoy nature or sit inside amidst pictures of proud horses and their owners.  Landrum is horse country and Stone Soup reflects the people who live in the community.  Aesthetically pleasing in every way, including the tablecloths unique to each table, and the multiple small dining areas rather than one large dining room, the atmosphere is one that fosters conversation and connection.  Our server, Jonathan, was perfectly delightful and added to the enjoyment of our experience.

The most amazing lunch I have ever enjoyed.

The food at Stone Soup is hands-down the best I have ever had in the Upstate.  My husband and I stopped in for lunch and he enjoyed the Stone Soup Burger and potato salad while I relished the daily panini and soup.  The Stone Soup burger is made from local meat and has fried green tomatoes, goat cheese and a special sauce.  My husband opinion?  “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a burger this good and I’ve had a lot of burgers.”  (Direct quote from him.)  The panini for the day was a delicious combination of bacon, spinach, tomato, avocado, and three cheeses.  The orzo meatball soup with mushrooms and red peppers was indescribably scrumptious.  You just have to try it.

Intimate and charming.

Stone Soup is a perfect place for a romantic dinner or lunch with friends.  The wine list is extensive and a variety of beers are available, including some local brews.  Suzanne sources as much food as possible from local farms which means her menu is splendid and good for the community.  She is also planting an onsite garden.  Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner, Stone Soup truly has something for every palate.  When friends or family visit and ask me to recommend a must-visit restaurant, Stone Soup will now be first on my list.  It is absolutely worth the drive!

 Stone Soup is located at 1522 E. Rutherford Street in Landrum.

Hours:  Lunch: 11:30 am-2:30 pm (Tuesday thru Saturday), Dinner: 5:00 pm-9:00 pm (Tuesday thru Sunday), Sunday Brunch: 11:00 am-2:30 pm

For more information visit the Stone Soup website.

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Acme General Store

201 Trade Street in Greer

Yesterday afternoon was a beautiful day to wander through downtown Greer on my way to Acme General Store.  Owned by Chris and Denise VandenBerghe, Acme General Store opened in May 2011 and has been a Greer gem ever since.  Shara Fordyce welcomes each customer with a friendly greeting and the willingness to share her knowledge about any item in the store.  In keeping with the long history of general stores,  Acme General Store seems to have a little bit of everything along with a warm atmosphere and skilled staff.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Acme General Store carries everything you need to make your trip into the great outdoors an enjoyable experience.  From clothes and shoes to backpacks, sleeping bags and tents, Acme General Store has something you can use.  They carry a wide range of survival food, hiking equipment, and items for campsite cooking.  Acme General Store is the place to shop if you enjoy disc golf since they have a vast inventory of supplies and are proud sponsors of Greer Disc Golf.

Cigar, wine, and craft beer lovers will be pleased to find that Acme General Store stocks the products you love and, if you’re a foodie, there are many items that will tempt you including homemade fudge.  If you’re looking for a gift, select something from their unique jewelry case which includes locally made jewelry.  Need a greeting or birthday card, wrapping paper, or batteries?  Acme General Store carries those, too.

With multiple old-fashioned style barrels filled with candy and a toy section stocked with Lego products, puzzles, cars, board games, and many other toys, children and the young-at-heart will find something to love at Acme General Store.  If you’re in a nostalgic mood, you can pick up a set of jacks, a Slinky, or one of my favorites from childhood, a Wooly Willy.  Take your child upstairs and catch their excitement when they see the climbing and activity wall and the Nerf gun arena where they can load air cannons with balls and shoot them across the room.

To get your morning started or refuel during lunch, try The Lunchbox located in Acme General Store.  Offering Leopard Forest Coffee and a selection of bagels, sandwiches, homemade ice cream (from Greenwood Ice Cream in Atlanta)and a kid’s menu, The Lunchbox is another great feature of this fantastic store.

The next time you’re in downtown Greer, stop in at Acme General Store.  You’ll be glad you did.

Acme General Store is located at 201 Trade Street in Greer.

Visit the website or Facebook page for hours and more information. 

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Night Owl Chocolate

For years I’ve felt comfortable calling myself a chocolate lover.  Then I met Makesha Duncan, a woman whose affinity for chocolate is so far beyond my own that I can now only comfortably call myself a chocolate liker.  Throughout culinary school and her jobs in various pastry kitchens, Makesha maintained a passion for creating decadent chocolate treats.  Eventually her passion for chocolate moved beyond creating with chocolate to creating chocolate itself and Night Owl Chocolate was born.

Chocolate in the melanger.

Night Owl Chocolate is the only bean-to-bar chocolate company in the Upstate. Makesha and her husband, Dave, begin each batch of chocolate with single-origin, fair-trade, organic cocoa beans.  After the beans have been hand-sorted to ensure that bad beans do not get into a batch of chocolate, the beans are roasted and crushed.  The crushed beans are winnowed to separate the shells and then the cocoa nibs are juiced to create the chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor is ground together with sugar and vanilla beans in a melanger for 30-40 hours straight.  That’s right.  30-40 hours.  The chocolate is then aged, tempered, molded, and packaged.

 Simply typing the words to describe the process of chocolate-making cannot convey the skill and patience required to make an excellent batch of chocolate.  Makesha and Dave spend hours upon hours in their chocolate kitchen, crafting high-quality chocolate.  For them, Night Owl Chocolate is a labor of love resulting in excellent locally made, organic chocolate that delights the taste buds.  When I took my first bite of the 70% Dark Chocolate bar made from Madagascar beans, I knew that Night Owl Chocolate is meant to be savored, not merely eaten.


There are many reasons one might purchase Night Owl Chocolate.  Fine chocolate makes a welcome gift and can be the perfect way to end (or begin) a day.  For me, though, purchasing Night Owl Chocolate means I can enjoy chocolate that has been made in a responsible and ethical manner by passionate and talented people who live in my community.  Indulging my sweet side while supporting my community sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Like Night Owl Chocolate on Facebook to stay up to date on offerings and discover more about chocolate. 

Night Owl Chocolate is currently sold at Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery and The Wild Radish Health Store.  For information about ordering directly from Night Owl Chocolate, email Makesha Duncan:

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The Community Tap

The place for beer, wine, and awesome people.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like my beer and wine but what brought me to The Community Tap for the first time was my love of Magners Irish Cider.  I walked out of the store with a growler of Magners and an appointment to sit down with one of the owners, Mike Okupinski, to discuss how this great source of craft beers and hand-selected wines came to be a part of the Greenville community.

Craft Beer Goodness

It did not take more than a few moments with Mike to realize that the word community in the store name is more than just clever branding.  When the notion to open up a store focusing on craft beer first came to him nearly three years ago, the first community member to support it was Anna, his wife.  While it was not an easy journey from idea to realization, he found support along the way from friends, local business owners, and his business partner, Ed Buffington and Ed’s wife, Kim.  Ed brought his love and knowledge of wine as well as his willingness to work hard and dream big to the business.  The great relationships Mike and Ed have built with their distributors and the other businesses in the neighborhood also add to the sense that The Community Tap really is about bringing people together.

Fill up a growler with one of ten tap brews.

The Community Tap contributes much more to the community than just a fantastic beer and wine selection.  Works for sale by local artists are displayed in the shop and tasting room and the store served as an in-season site for those with CSA shares from Greenbrier Farms to pick up their farm-fresh food.  Mike and Ed also enjoy sponsoring and participating in various local events.  The Trifecta IPA that you might see on tap at other local restaurants and bars is just another one of the many contributions Mike and Ed have made to the Greenville area.

Meet new friends while enjoying excellent beer and wine.

With the vast array of high quality craft beers, 60 hand-selected wines, ten taps pouring a variety of different brews, locally made Sweeteeth chocolate bars, and an event board filled with information on fun local happenings, it is no surprise that the door to The Community Tap never stays closed for long.  Weekly tastings in the tasting room allow wine and beer lovers to enjoy delicious offerings along with the knowledge and expertise of Mike, Ed, and guest hosts.  Private tasting sessions are also available.  Mike and Ed are more than happy to answer any and all questions and offer personalized recommendations based on a customer’s palate.  Mike, Ed, Whitney, and Daniel make even the quickest visit a pleasant experience.

Hand-Selected Wine Goodness

The Community Tap became my go-to place for beer and wine not simply because of the variety and quality of the offerings but because I am thrilled to support a marvelous local business that truly strives to build and strengthen our community.  Whether you are stocking up for holiday parties and guests or just want to have craft beer or a bottle of wine on hand for the end of a long work day, visit The Community Tap and discover why it truly is a Greenville treasure.

The Community Tap is located at 205 Wade Hampton Blvd. in Greenville. 

Visit The Community Tap’s website or Facebook page to find out more about hours, tap offerings, tasting dates, local events, and more.

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Loving Local

The 3/50 Project

Since beginning this website, I have had many opportunities to converse with others about the importance of supporting one’s local community.  People are quick to ask me how I make an income with this site and most are surprised when I tell them that I do not get any income at from it.  One man even asked me why I put in all the time and effort each week if there is not a paycheck at the end of a post.  I told him the truth.  I simply love my local community.

To me, each local shop or restaurant is a physical manifestation of the dreams and determination inside my neighbors.  The charitable organizations in the community are made up of people trying to impart strength, resources, and knowledge to others and doing their best to build a strong, vital, and healthy community.  Local events are ways for people to truly connect with each other and make offline friends.  Attending a performance at a local theatre or listening to a band play at a local venue is more than just entertainment to me.  It is a way for me to support and encourage the dreams and hard work of my fellow community members.

Loving local is more than just a catchphrase to me.  It is a lifestyle based on the idea the best way to occupy Wall Street is to buy from the stores on Main Street.  The best way to build community is to engage in the community.  The best way to grow is to have strong roots.  This week I encourage you to check out the 3/50 Project and show your love to a few of the many fantastic local offerings in the Upstate.

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Milano Pizzeria & Restaurant

My favorite place for Greek and Italian goodness.

The holidays are fast approaching and soon there will be an influx of friends and family members pouring into town to enjoy the festivities.  Holiday fare will satisfy up to a point but there will be times when you need something more than turkey or Christmas cookies to sate the appetite.  I recommend Milano in Simpsonville for the times when you need a break from the kitchen or a local place to catch up with a friend.

Save room for dessert.

Milano is my favorite local Greek and Italian restaurant because the food is scrumptious and the portions are generous.  There is also a charming local feel about it.  The atmosphere is conducive to discussing business or enjoying a date-night dinner for two.  Milano offers a wide array of options including pizzas, salads, strombolis, calzones, subs, sandwiches, burgers, Italian dinners, Greek dinners, and a children’s menu.  I personally recommend the Chicken Portofino or the Steak Stromboli.  Start with one of the appetizers and save room for one of the tantalizing desserts.  If you’re  in a hurry or want to make your coworkers jealous, Milano also offers a full carryout menu.  With a friendly staff, plenty of seating, and mouthwatering food, Milano is the perfect place for a meal with friends or family.

Milano is located at 633 Southeast Main Street in Simpsonville and serves lunch and dinner every day.  

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Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery

Local. Sustainable. Delicious.

I was a Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery enthusiast before this refreshing addition to Greenville was even open for business.  Since purchasing food grown and raised on local farms is one of the best ways to promote community sustainability, I spent hours following online links, emailing farmers, and checking produce calendars to find out what was in season.  Then I heard through the grapevine that a cafe and grocery store featuring local products was coming to town and I eagerly anticipated an end to my time-consuming process.  Located on Cedar Lane, in the middle of one of Greenville’s food deserts, Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery provides local, sustainable, nourishing food options for the community.

I love fresh bread.

This oasis began as a poolside conversation between two friends that grew into the treasure it is today.  Jac and Mary care passionately about making a positive impact in their community and it is clear to see that they have done just that.  They work with over 50 local farms to bring fresh produce, meat (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and goat), eggs, dairy products, and bread to their customers along with other grocery staples.  They take the time to get to know the farmers that help stock their shelves.  Mary uses as many local ingredients as possible to bake most of the goodies found in the cafe including the signature pogacha. Her scones were called “the best in Greenville” by a visitor from England and I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of the pumpkin pie.

A Different Kind of Community Center

Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery provides more than just wholesome food.  People are building relationships with Jac, Mary, and each other.  As we sat outside talking, Jac pointed out the wooden bicycle racks gifted to them by two regular customers.  Cyclists from the Swamp Rabbit Trail dropped in for a snack and left refreshed and smiling.  Other customers arrived in their cars and left with plenty of healthy food for their families.  The sheer number of happy customers indicates that Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery is quickly becoming a community staple.  Stop in and discover why so many visitors turn into repeat customers.

Visit Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery on Facebook or the website for more information, hours, and location.

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BiGrani’s Brew

A Place To Feel The Taste of Pleasure

It seems only appropriate that my first local feature is BiGrani’s Brew since I was inspired with the idea for this website during one of my many visits there.  Gracie Tilmon opened BiGrani’s Brew on April 10, 2010 as a way to honor and remember her coffee-loving mother.  An article from The Greenville News hangs on the wall to the right of the counter and describes Gracie’s journey from grief over her mother’s death to her decision to preserve her mother’s legacy through her own coffee shop.

I found BiGrani’s Brew at the end of a long search for a coffee shop home.  Finding one was not easy for me.  I wanted baristas who were friendly and down-to-earth, an environment suitable for working in, a delicious cup of coffee, and a reasonable commute.  After years of trying places that did not quite fit, I had almost given up.  Then I finally decided to try a place on Wade Hampton that I passed nearly every day and the search was over.

Tanya is the best!

The coffee is worth savoring and the service at BiGrani’s Brew is outstanding.  Recently, my husband wanted enhance my day with caffeinated goodness but was unsure what to order and Tanya helped him remember that my favorite drink was a vanilla latte.  On the mornings when I am running behind but still want the lift that BiGrani’s coffee brings to me, I can call ahead and my latte is waiting for me in the drive-thru when I arrive.

BiGrani’s Brew offers a wide variety of beverages from hot, frozen, or iced espresso drinks to smoothies and organic iced teas.  Food offerings include pastries, muffins, soups, salads, and sandwiches.  I highly recommend the hot vanilla latte or the exclusive BiGrani’s Mocha.

With free Wi-Fi and plenty of room to spread out, BiGrani’s Brew is the perfect place to study, work, or enjoy time with friends.  The open seating area and stage equipped with a microphone and speakers makes it a great space for meetings or performances.  Bring your business project, your book club, or your desire for a pleasant environment and good coffee to BiGrani’s Brew and see why it truly is “A Place To Feel The Taste of Pleasure.”


BiGrani’s Brew is located at 2520 Wade Hampton Blvd. (across from Denny’s) in Greenville.

Hours: Monday – Saturday 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. 

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