Soft shell joy and weekend fun.

Posted in Fig Columbia

Wednesday night after Finleaf’s May Day party, the Shop Tart and a friend went to MoMo’s. Though the Shop Tart wasn’t hungry, she had heard they would have soft shell crab BLT’s. Hell yeah. As a general rule, the Shop Tart does not eat such challenging treats as soft shell crab in broad daylight (though she will make special exceptions, like brunch at Motor Supply). Ergo, the following photos are not the best. MoMo’s BLT, however, was among the best. The bacon itself was meaty and delicious, the toasted bread equal parts soft and crispy, the sauce just a little spicy and the crab – just right.

MoMo's Bistro, soft shell crab BLT.

The Shop Tart will always have a soft spot in her heart for soft shell crab at Mr. Friendly’s. She may have tried it before that fateful night a couple years ago on their patio, but never like that. In addition to the traditional fried version, they offered it sautéed or steamed, without any breading. Imagine sitting on a screened-in porch overlooking the creek at Litchfield, just as the sun is going down, sipping your second glass of cold, crisp white wine. You’re still in your swimsuit; maybe you’ve added a pair of cut-offs or a worn cotton oxford – but not both – just for modesty. Each bite of a steamed or sautéed soft shell crab tastes just like that. After a lovely reception for author Tara Guérard* last night, the Shop Tart and a few friends headed to Mr. Friendly’s, where she asked if they could sauté a soft-shell crab for her. In an incredible act of kindness, they agreed. Delish!

Mr. Friendly's soft shell crab, sauteed with ham gravy.

Her friend Kristy enjoyed the fried version, which the Shop Tart finished for her, and it was also a real treat. Where have you been on your soft shell journey this year? The Shop Tart recommends either of the above, Motor Supply, Solstice, Rosso or Terra. Lots of places are offering them sans crispy coating, too. (Eva Moore gave a good run-down in Free Times last week. And the Shop Tart saw the sign at Palmetto Seafoods the other day, just like Eva said. May be picking some up for the weekend.) According to Terra’s latest email, they will be pan sautéing the crabs and serving them with a fava bean, shaved fennel, sundried olive, orange supreme warm salad with salsa verde. Yes? Yes.

If you’re looking for soft shell crab in a verrah casual atmosphere with blue grass playing in the background, consider Smoke Southern Barbecue Revival in Blythewood. Owner Tom Hall was up early this morning and found the Shop Tart on Facebook:

Tom: soft shell pan fried wrapped in smoked bacon w/ white bread and dukes mayo and lettuce and 2 tomato slices. pepper. was really delicious. have a great day. 9:57am

ST: Serving it again this weekend? 9:57am

Tom: we cooked that at smoke last night, 9:58am

ST: Cause we have no children tonight and might make the drive! 9:58am

Tom: yes, all weekend, it was the best thing we have done, we sprinkle q in top 9:58am

ST: Hell yeah. 9:58am

Tom: really good blues trio
see ya, going to the pit 9:58am

Because a girl can’t have soft shell crab for every meal, the Shop Tart took a break yesterday and enjoyed Happy Café’s famous chicken BBQ salad. (It’s only available Thursdays and Fridays, so today is your last chance until next week.) This salad is famous for a very good reason: It is awesome. House-made chicken BBQ over slaw and green salad, topped with creamy dill dressing and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.

Happy Cafe.

The salad is so good that one of the Shop Tart’s companions, Tracie, looked longingly at a table that arrived after them. She was feeling nostalgia for her recently-consumed salad and wishing she was hungry enough to eat another. Speaking of eating too much, the Shop Tart will, if given half a chance. Another person at the table, Pat Patterson (aka Patti O’Furniture), went and ordered dessert, three delicious cupcakes. One was a small version of Happy Café’s famous caramel cake. (FYI: Don’t get sick in this town. People will bring you a bunch of those cakes. You will eat them, because you will be house-bound and powerless to stop yourself. You’ll get well alright, but you’ll need to hit the gym extra hard as soon as you’re up to it.) A second cupcake was topped with what appeared to be basic chocolate icing and turned out to be rich and ganache-like, like a delicious truffle. The third choice was the Shop Tart’s favorite, rich vanilla cake topped with tart lemon icing. It was particularly good mixed with the chocolate. (She recommends two parts lemon to one part cake to one part chocolate. You may come up with your own recipe.)

Happy Cafe.

So…in addition to seeking out soft shell crab this weekend, you may want to consider crawfish at the Rosewood Crawfish Festival on Saturday. (The State published a short guide, if you’re looking for details.) Rosewood Market will be closed for the festival Saturday, but they will be in the parking lot serving shrimp burgers, catfish stew, vegetarian chili and crawfish gumbo to festival goers. Yum!

Get in the Pink is hosting two great events to benefit breast cancer research this weekend. Tonight, head to Dianne’s and Boogie for Breast Cancer. (Check the Shop Tart calendar for details. Get your advance tickets online or at Kicks.) Tomorrow morning, they are hosting a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s on Devine Street from 8 to 10 am. Tickets are $5 in advance or $6 at the door. Of course you like pancakes, but you will also get the chance to see if the Shop Tart still has server skillz. She hasn’t waited tables in a (very long) while and is ready to bust it out for breast cancer. She’ll be the one in a loud print that doesn’t show stains.

You may also want to do a little shopping this weekend. Saturday is the last day of Coplon’s big sale. And Revente is celebrating eighteen happy years in Five Points with a sale. All regularly priced merchandise is 20 percent off Saturday and Sunday. They’ll also be having drawings for fab prizes, including lunch with the Shop Tart (during which she promises to behave and answer any and all questions). VanJean has started the sale ball rolling and they have discounted lots of things from resort and spring collections. “Resort” is what rich people wear to the islands in the winter and what the rest of us wear to parties and the pool all summer long!

Speaking of parties, how would you like to look totally awesome at your next soirée? How would you like to achieve this awesomeness for free? Text “australforest” (but without quotation marks) to 34933. You’ll receive a text in response. You will then call Austral on Forest Drive (790-0770) to schedule your FREE shampoo and blow-out/style ($35 to $90 value). At the checkout, instead of whipping out your wallet, you’ll simply whip out your phone and show them the text message you received. (Pssst…it would be nice to whip out your wallet to tip your stylist, though. Especially since you are getting the service for free!) A professional shampoo and style always looks great, sometimes for days.

Keratin straightened hair by Austral.

Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!

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P.S. We have a winner! Conni, please email the Shop Tart with your address so she can send you your prize! Check yesterday’s post to see everyone’s sunscreen recommendations, including Conni’s.

* The Shop Tart hopes you read all the way down to see this note. The party was so popular, Tara’s books sold out. Honestly, at first the Shop Tart didn’t understand why a non-bride would want the book. Now she knows. The pictures inside are lovely, happy and inspiring, even to an old married lady like herself. They aren’t posed and formal, just full of joy. Liz Banfield’s photography alone makes Weddings worth the surprisingly low price tag of $30. But there’s more! The book is full of entertaining tips that would add fun and elegance to any event. It covers twelve different weddings, twelve different styles. Inspiring! If you didn’t get a book last night or if you were unable to make the event and now want a book, please email Pout and they will get you a signed copy.


Shop Tart Guide to Columbia

7 comments on “Soft shell joy and weekend fun.
  1. Jonathan says:

    I had the softies at Terra last night with some Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux (and by some I mean 3/5 of the bottle). Pan-sauteed with a light dusting of fine cornmeal and seasoning, the little guys playfully faced each other on the plate with a warm salad of fava beans, orange supremes, shaved fennel and olives between them. The plate was marked on each side with a Mediterranean salsa verde.

    grainy cell phone pic:

    They came

  2. THE EAR says:

    I need a blow out at Austral like nobody’s business – are you for serious, shop tart?! XOXO!!

  3. Shana Pass says:

    Thank you for the heads up on the Austral text special. I’ve made my appointment and plan to take the rest of the afternoon taking pictures with the family. I love reading your blog; it’s really helping me find out what’s going on in Columbia. Thanks, again.

  4. Lord Maxwell says:

    I had a soft-shell crab for lunch at Motor Supply yesterday, and it was excellent.

  5. Angi says:

    Central Carolina Community Foundation’s 16th Annual Food & Wine Festival is this evening! 7pm-10pm at the Medallion Center.

    Love the bbq chicken salad and caramel cake at the Happy Cafe. So delicious. I need to remember to go there again soon.

  6. Dave says:

    I’ve been working right across the street from the Happy Cafe for almost 3 years, and I haven’t been in there in 10 yrs! I feel pretty ashamed. That “Chicken BBQ” looks like I will definitely have to give it a try next week! It’ll beat the Stouffer’s crap I usually nuke, that’s for sure.

    Can’t believe you used to work at Hannah Jane’s. It was my favorite place for years! Bread w/ the trio of spreads, salmon roulade, Tanqueray-and-tonic-w/-lemon, Portishead playing on the stereo! It was fantastic back then! I even dated a guy who worked there in 2001, and went there a few times until they closed. It went *WAY* downhill in the last couple of years. (Don’t even get me started on the awful place it was after that – too many Sunday brunches wasted at Tuscany’s!) I miss Hannah Jane’s circa 1995!

  7. Tracie says:

    True story: I went back to Happy Cafe on Friday afternoon (that would be the very next day after our delish Chicken BBQ salad lunch) and got ANOTHER Chicken BBQ salad — this time, to go.

    I think I might be developing a “problem” and I’m kindof glad they only serve it on Thursdays and Fridays. Thank you Pat for getting us there, and thank you Anne for showing me the magical ways of the Happy Cafe Chicken BBQ salad!

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Photo of Anne Postic

Anne Postic

The Shop Tart

Local arbiter of all that is fresh, fashionable and flavorful in Columbia, the Shop Tart has been blogging about shopping, eating and having a great time since 2008.

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