Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Road Trip!

Living in Columbia, South Carolina, has its ups and downs. I like lots of things about living in a big, small town (or small, big town, depending on how you look at it).

The downside is that there are certain things you just can't get here. So, every couple weeks, we need to make a run to the nearest "big city." Charlotte, North Carolina, is only about an hour away, and it offers most of what we can't acquire here.

First Stop: Durango Bagel

My wife is a Jewish girl, born in Queens, New York. This may explain her inability to live without decent bagels. Alas, there are no worthwhile bagels to be had in Columbia (at least that I know of).

There are only the usual-suspect chain bagel stores, frozen supermarket bagels and a local place that used to be good but is now overpriced and underwhelming. It’s completely unacceptable for a city of this size.

Bagels are a tricky item to bake – a round roll is not a bagel. Nothing tops New York bagels, but a plane ticket really adds to the cost per bagel.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered Durango Bagel in Rock Hill, South Carolina. These folks make some seriously good bagels. How good? Good enough to make the drive up there every couple weeks to get several dozen and freeze them.

Is it a perfect solution? No. But until someone realizes this glaring gap in the local food scene and decides to bake a decent bagel, it’s just what you do when you’re in love with a Jewish girl from Queens.

Next Stop: Trader Joe’s

I’ll admit that I didn’t understand for a long time what all the fuss was about Trader Joe’s. All I knew was that while working at Green’s, I was probably asked a couple thousand times if we carried Two-Buck Chuck/Charles Shaw.

Now, however, I get it.

Since Charlotte is quick trip from Rock Hill, it makes sense to continue on up to the Trader Joe’s on Rea Road. We stock up on an assortment of miscellaneous food and some wine. Their wine selection isn’t extensive, but they do have a nice selection of perfectly good $5.99 wines, as well as some decent prices on some other interesting wines.

Final Stop: Brawley’s Beverage

Since we’ve been going to Charlotte anyway, I’ve started poking around looking for other places to stock up on big city provisions. This is how I discovered Brawley’s Beverage. It’s a little place on Park Road not far from the intersection with Woodlawn.

The beer selection is pretty impressive and they have some things we can’t get in S.C., like Dogfish Head Brewery. They also have a small, yet eclectic selection of wines at decent prices, coffee from Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, N.C. and an old dog hanging around (which I believe every small business should have).

The guy working the store the day we stopped in was a little…brusque, shall we say. But, he was helpful when needed and even helped me carry some beer to the car.

All in all it was a successful trip. I'll be posting later about some of the stuff we bought.

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