Boston to Columbia SC--what will we eat?!!!!
We may move from Boston to the Columbia area. I've never been. We're all about cooking, food and wine and I'm a little worried that I will have trouble adjusting my cooking habits. Are there lots of CSAs, organic produce outlets, any ethnic markets, or southern markets, cookware shops, etc. We are all about fresh and local. Don't hesitate to try new things. Realize that my last resort markets will no longer be Whole Foods or Trader Joes, that Asian, Italian, Armenian etc. markets and shops with extensive cookbook selections are probably few and far between, but what new food adventures will I be able to have?
Most of the ethnic markets will be Mexican- the South has had a big wave of Mexican immigration over the last two decades. I haven't been to Columbia in a few years, but I would guess that you could find at least one Asian market- all of the large cities in North Carolina have plenty of them.
To generalize a bit, the South has a pretty decent amount of Mexican and Southeast Asian stuff kicking around, as well as its native cuisines. You will not find a lot of the European food cultures that are common in the northeast.
Edit: You might have a look at The Southern Farmers Market Cookbook for an idea of what is in season when, what you can do with it, and where you can get it:
Columbia does have a store called Fresh Market. Its a regional grocery store chain that specializes in quality meat, produce, baked goods and prepared foods. its all very high quality stuff, with prices to match. www.freshmarket.com
You might also be interested in City Roots, an organic farm inside the city limits. I think they are putting together a CSA program. www.cityroots.org
Welcome to the club (see my moniker).
CSAs: Yes, there are a few CSAs and other food collectives. I take part in an organic but not-necessarily-local food cooperative, and get a big container of vegetables and fruits every other week for a reasonable price. Here is a recent Free Times article on urban farming in Columbia: http://www.free-times.com/index.php?cat=1992912064227409&ShowArticle_ID=11012601101334766.
Organic Produce Outlets: There is the All-Local Farmer's Market (http://www.stateplate.org/), which is small but has some good local farmers and food vendors. There is also a larger farmer's market, which is currently in transition/development. I don't know much about it. I did not frequent the old one that much, as it seemed mainly more geared towards restaurants (bulk purchasing). I think they are hoping to change that but I can't say for sure. In the warmer seasons there are some other farmer's markets that pop up around the area. EarthFare is the Whole Foods-like store here. It is like one of the small Whole Foods stores. There is also Rosewood Market for local/organic/healthy foods. There is another health food store, 14 Carrot, west of the city, but I have not been there and cannot comment on it. I do not know if the produce at Fresh Market is organic. I do know that I think that store is utterly pointless and annoying and I only go there when I need mascarpone cheese or creme fraiche, two items I have difficulty finding elsewhere (sigh).
Ethnic Markets: We have good Asian (88 Market and Hyundai Grocery come to mind) and decent Hispanic groceries (many spread out around town).
Southern Markets: I don't know what this is.
Cookware Shops: The Gourmet Shop in Five Points is a combination restaurant/cheese shop/wine store/gourmet packaged food/cookware store. I remember hearing about a restaurant supply shop (maybe heading towards the airport?) but I don't remember any of the details.
Food Adventures: In Columbia and peppered throughout the state are people who, as in other parts of the country, care about food and have good taste, and I imagine that part of the fun will be searching these out. You won't stumble over them as you would in Boston or NY, but that is what will make it an adventure, I suppose. One day last year I drove around for a couple of hours and hit a fabulous local-oriented brunch, a micro-creamery-based ice-cream shop, and a goat dairy selling homemade cheeses and yogurt drinks. There is stuff to be found, and more each year, I imagine. Developing a taste for grits, BBQ, collards, and fried chicken wouldn't hurt, either.
Thank you so much for all of your thoughts. I can't say that our potential move is entirely voluntary, but you do what you have to do, and we have family in Hilton Head as well as in the Myrtle Beach area so leaving Boston, which I love, wouldn't be all bad. At any rate, it does sound like I could adjust foodwise with all of your terrific suggestions, and 'foraging' is always half the fun anyway. I appreciate that you took the time to respond! And we already love grits anyway!
Fort Jackson is located in Columbia, so you will find some ethnic groceries near there, particularly Decker Blvd. There is an all local farmer's market near the university / fairgrounds on Saturday mornings. Other's are on particular days and times during spring, summer, fall. One in Lexington, one at the Botanical Gardens entrance of Riverbanks Zoo. Rosewood Market and Deli is a locally owned and operated good source for info. on co-ops. Soutnern Maverick cooking may be a new food adventure. Be sure to check out Terra and Hampton Street Vineyard for a nice dining experience. Oh yes, and Motor Supply.
Although we don’t have Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s we do actually have a lot of outlets to eat fresh local organic foods that I personally think are better than the aforementioned. As mentioned earlier, the All Local Market in the Olympia neighborhood is fantastic. Just like the name implies it is all local but most vendors are also organic and grass farmers. I shop there each Saturday and you can find milk, meat, veggies, bread, and many other things. It is small but it is great. Check out www.localharvest.org or www.eatwild.com to find the farmers that sell to the public and CSA’s. We also have groups like the Holistic moms network where you can find like minded people. We don't have the number of niche shops like Boston but we do have a few good shops that have great selections of cookware and gourmet foods. Good luck with your move.