Good Taste February/March 2020

Above photograph by Zach McCabe

 

EAT – Pineapple Ink Tavern

When sea trade became more prevalent between the Caribbean and Europe and North American coasts in the 14th-16th century, the sweet taste and short shelf-life of pineapples made them a hot commodity: rare and expensive. So if you lived in early Augusta and were able to serve pineapple at a dinner you were hosting, it was a sign that you had gone all-out for your guests. Stories abound of party tables with a pineapple as the centerpiece, on doorsteps as decoration to welcome guests, and pineapples stuck on fence posts by sea captains to indicate their safe return home.

When business partners Allan Soto and chef Brandon Smith finally decided to open the restaurant they’d been dreaming of since they met four years ago, they had to come up with a name that reflected the “modern American fare” that the menu boasts, featuring unique approaches to dishes that make the South special. Once they got Elizabeth Lopez on board with her management experience in other high-profile Augusta restaurants, they had a winning team. The lore of the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality is so ingrained into Southern culture they decided it was a logical inclusion in the restaurant’s name – Pineapple Ink Tavern. The “Ink” references the arts community that Augusta has boasted for so many years. Our city may be known for golf, but there are tons of talented artists, art galleries, tattoo parlors and a prestigious arts program at Augusta University.

This blend of Southern hospitality and artistic vision are ingrained in Pineapple Ink Tavern’s “come as you are” approach to the restaurant industry. It’s open for lunch and dinner Wednesday-Saturday and stays open late for drinks and small plates. When I ask Smith what his favorite dish is, he laughs and says, “That’s like asking a mom who’s her favorite kid!” But he makes sure to highlight a few of the chef-inspired twists on classic pub dishes. There’s the Sloppy B – essentially a wild boar sloppy joe – grilled cheese made with house-made cheese, and for dessert,  Sticky Pineapple Pudding. Its location at 1002 Broad St. makes it easily accessible, whether you need to grab lunch to take back to the office, are looking for a fun dinner with friends, or are out late and looking for a creative cocktail. No, not everything on the menu has pineapples – it’s Southern pub food with a unique twist – but the hospitality that the pineapple embodies is clear in everything from the menu to the atmosphere, welcoming in every way.

Lagniappe

The recipes for the headlining cocktails at Pineapple Ink Tavern were concocted by previous feature Zach McCabe of @all.equal.parts. With the restaurant’s approach to southern hospitality, it makes sense that the first one would be called Come As You Are – a rum-based drink featuring, of course, pineapple!

 


Photograph by John Antaki

ARTISAN – Shooting Star Acres

When the world was reeling after World War II from depleted food stores and crumbling infrastructure, the agricultural world responded by doing everything it could to make food plentiful and cheap. Seventy years later and we now, in this country, have an overabundance of food with a focus on quantity over quality.

More recently there has begun an underground movement that is spreading, a movement started by farmers and chefs and people who like good food, a movement to focus a little more on nutritional value, saving endangered species of plants, the quality of life animals, and so many more important aspects of the food chain that had fallen by the wayside.

Though neither Alicia or Hunter Weiss grew up on a farm, when they got married and started a family, they became increasingly dissatisfied with the suburban Philadelphia area they called home and really wanted to become less dependent on that environment and provide a place for their children to grow up where they could learn the importance of knowing where food comes from and appreciation for the work and resources that go into every egg, every tomato and every carrot they eat. So they jumped all in one year ago and bought a farm in Dearing, where they’ve already had a successful summer of produce and have grown their flock of birds to over 40!

The birds include innumerable varieties of chickens, ducks and guinea hens, each one cared for with high-quality grain to supplement their natural diet, cozy roosts to lay in, and free range of the farm. And “of course” plenty of gentle pets from the kids and Alicia, who clearly has a soft spot for each of the sweet animals and calls them by name. Hunter is the self-proclaimed “project guy,” with a list of talents he applies to everything from building raised beds to expand the garden to a giant coop to accommodate the ever-expanding menagerie.

The goal of Shooting Star Acres isn’t just to feed their family, they continue to share the overflow with the community, selling at farmers markets around the area and contributing to events like the Augusta Boucherie this past autumn.

 


 

Photograph by John Antaki

 

SIP – Another Cup Herb Co.

When Emily Martin moved to the Augusta area eight years ago, she was broadsided by her allergies to the pollen that sweeps through Augusta each spring. When Benadryl and allergy medication left her still feeling foggy-headed and slightly desperate, she decided to look for a herbal option. Little did she know that that first blend of nettle, lemon balm, rooibos and peppermint would not only enable her to stop taking allergy medication, but would lead to a successful business venture.

“Allergy Blend” is now her best seller, but she’s added a long list of other teas and products to her shop. As an herbalist, Martin’s goal is to solve every day problems, from an upset stomach to an upset day. So, each tea starts with a single ingredient that counteracts a symptom and then she builds each blend to balance flavor. Whether it’s the “Beautiful You,” with antioxidant-rich ingredients like Indian green tea, calendula and hibiscus; “Sweet Energy,” with Yerba matte, ginkgo leaf and sweet basil; “Happy,” with St. John’s wort, passionflower, and peppermint;  or one of many others, each tea has its own combination with a desired result of a yummy flavor and healthier living.

Hot tea isn’t the only option, either. Iced tea is easy to make, as each tea can be easily put into a tea bag and steeped overnight in the refrigerator for a refreshing, cold-brew drink. If you’re just interested in the aromatherapy aspect or drinking tea isn’t your thing, Martin also makes pillow sachets and lollipops!

Over the years, her business has grown, making it possible to find her fabulous tea blends at Augusta & Co., The Pie Hole and online at anothercupherbco.com.

With each blend having it’s own unique flavor and beneficial properties, there’s a long and varied list to choose from if you’re looking for something new and refreshing.

Appears in the February/March 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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