Taste June/July 2021

EAT – Phở Bắc

By Griffin Nelson  |  Photography by John Antaki

In this unprecedented period in history, while travel is restricted and we long for something unique, there seems to be a greater appreciation for international foods. Phở Bắc on Washington Road in Evans is a crowd favorite and even was able to open a second location earlier this year called Phở Augusta on Jimmy Dyess Parkway.

Mike Dat and his wife, Leslie, have created a solid menu based on the food of their home country of Vietnam. For those who have never tried Vietnamese food, Phở Bắc offers an authentic experience without having to travel. The way most of the plates are designed allows for some customization without intimidation for people who want to try something new.

Phở (pronounced “fuh”) – the word for “soup” – is traditionally made with lots of broth, some kind of meat (often pork or beef) and veggies, both in the soup and additional ones to add yourself at the table. This system allows you to pick and choose what you’d like to put in your soup (though it’s wonderful if you decide to add it all) and means that the vegetables taste as fresh as possible. There are also several different sauces that can be added in at the table to make each plate even more unique for each visitor. Hoisin sauce, is a sweet plum sauce but most of the other sauces you can add are spicy. Made in house from scratch, like pretty much everything on the menu, chili oil and chili garlic paste can add some extra zing to your dish.

If you’re looking for rice instead of soup, there are just as many jasmine rice dishes, called “cơm,” as there are soup dishes, or you can try rice noodles, called vermicelli or “bún.” Whether you choose soup, rice or noodles, there are tons of variations in meats and even a good number of vegetarian options! Every meal is hearty and filling, with huge portions that will likely have you going home with yummy leftovers.

Wonderful Vietnamese cooks create authentic dishes from scratch that are delicious and filling without being intimidating. There’s nothing like a hearty bowl of soup or rice to transport you across the world. Phở Bắc and Phở Augusta have you covered when it comes to amazing Vietnamese fare.


 

SIP – Vibe Smoothie Bar

Photo by John Antaki

I love all kinds of food, healthy food–unhealthy food, food from different countries and comforting home cooking. But on a day-to-day basis, I try to eat as cleanly as possible. I often get distracted with work and either don’t have time to eat at all or just have to grab the most convenient thing, which is not always the healthiest thing. I tried making smoothies for a while, but I just couldn’t get them to turn out very good on my own. Creating the perfect smoothie requires the right recipe and the perfect ratio of fresh ingredients. I was super excited when I found Vibe Smoothie Bar and realized not only how convenient it is, but also how yummy and healthy everything on the menu is!

I first noticed the cool Vibe truck parked on Washington Road one day. I immediately looked it up online and realized that though it often parks conveniently at Evans Towne Center Park, it can go pretty much anywhere. Vibe always post its location on social media the night, before so it’s easy to find. You can even arrange for the truck to come to your event, neighborhood or business!

Founded by Kristina Perez and Ashley Taylor, the two friends saw a need in the area, especially Evans, for a local smoothie business. Perez had the Vibe truck made to their exact specifications, and Taylor designed the menu around whole foods and quality ingredients. The duo is already taking off, making a name for themselves in Columbia County with menu items like Tropical Green, Blueberry Zest and Coffee Date smoothies. Each one starts out with raw ingredients, no mixes and no dairy, so everything is fresh and vegetarian (and usually vegan) friendly. Taylor, a Navy veteran with experience in the food industry, and Perez, a smoothie lover, used their combined experience to create a proprietary formula of 13 superfoods that are included in every smoothie. It adds a flavor boost and increases the number of micronutrients, and the high fiber content helps keep you full for four to five hours, making the smoothie a great meal replacement when you’re on the go. If that’s not quite enough, you can add ingredients like pea or whey protein. Or turn your smoothie into a bowl and top it with everything from granola to fresh fruit and Vibe’s amazing date-based drizzle.

In addition to smoothies and smoothie bowls, the Vibe menu includes fresh-pressed wellness shots, like Tumeric+Ginger, and The Beet – rosemary sourdough with beet pesto, arugula, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze. There is no sugar added to anything on the menu, so everything tastes fresh, helps curb a sweet tooth and fills you up without guilt. It’s the perfect treat or meal replacement, whether you’re on the go or want to enjoy it in one of our area’s beautiful local parks. Both Perez and Taylor want their smoothies and food to be healthy and accessible, so feel free to ask questions about anything on the menu.

Find the Vibe Smoothie Bar truck at locations like Patriots Park, Evans Towne Center and Gateway Park. Don’t forget to check Facebook and Instagram @vibesmoothiebar to confirm that day’s location.

 


 

ARTISAN – Pig Feathers Farm

Photo by John Antaki

When Kenny and Lisa Bottoms bought 20 acres and a house in Burke County in 2016, the plan was to create a homestead that was sustainable and provided for them. It was a lot of hard work, but the chickens and pigs helped clear the land that had once been mostly covered in brush. By naturally rooting around, the pigs helped clear the land and stumps, creating a space for chicken tractors, gardens and more.

A chicken tractor looks a little like a greenhouse – a relatively lightweight, curved metal structure covered in the winter for warmth – that keeps the chickens safe and can be moved around the land. The chicken manure acts as a fertilizer as its pulled from place to place. Only a certain number of chickens can be housed in each tractor so that each one has plenty of space to roam around in the grass. USDA standards are actually quite low for a chicken egg from the grocery store to be considered “free range.”

Pig Feathers Farm raises the bar by using the chicken tractors to provide the birds with plenty of pasture space, keeping them safe from predators, and moving them around to keep the land fertilized and chickens happy.

Additionally, some chickens are kept in the same pastures as the pigs. They get along great, and the chickens help break up the pig manure, so the animals are working together to create sustainability on the farm. The pigs themselves also have plenty of pasture space, with more sections being added as the Bottomses have time so as to allow for a rotation of where the pigs are so that they don’t deplete the land and there  is still space to grow the farm itself.

Pig Feathers Farm currently offers a number of pasture-raised pork and chicken products, from whole chickens to thick-cut pork chops, traditional chicken breasts and pork ribs. Kenny Bottoms explains that part of the reason it tastes better is because the meat hasn’t been pumped full of hormones or had water added. When the animals are taken care of, they really do taste better!

The Bottomses currently sell online through Augusta Locally Grown, in person at the Saturday Market in downtown Augusta, and through their website for local pickup at www.pigfeathers.farm.

Appears in the June/July 2021 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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