This week I was looking for some new eats in Columbia, so I decided my best bet was to ask @yesevamoore, the excellent political and food writer for The Free Times, which is quite similar to Creative Loafing in content and general swagger.
Ms. Moore pointed me in the direction of Spice Junction, a restaurant which opened this summer, and happens to be less than a mile from my office way out in the access road wastelands of West Columbia.
Side story – Eva wrote a nice article about a new cookbook called The Whole Hog Cookbook, which generously featured pictures of my friend Emile’s pork farm, only for everyone to find out later that the cookbook was paid for by Smithfield. Not only was he unknowingly promoting the king (dictator?) of industrial pork, but they didn’t credit the photos as Caw Caw Creek farm. Essentially, they want you to think their facilities look something remotely close to Emile’s swine Xanadu. Sows crammed into crates, covered in blood and wounds and sores do not make for a great cookbook cover I guess.
While Spice Junction is the usual buffet of various regional Indian specialties, I enjoyed my lunch. Super friendly people, an open, clean space, and the curries are bright and flavorful, without any tired, soggy meats. The goat was especially notable, with that firm, but tender texture one aims to achieve in beef bourguignon.
The blistery, hot bread, doused in butter (or likely, ghee?) was a nice touch.
Another restaurant near my office I learned of via Free Times is a raw food restaurant called Good Life Cafe.
I have very little experience with raw food, but I was pleasantly surprised at how excellent my “tacos” were. My photo doesn’t do it justice; it was much more vivid and enticing in person. The kale side is stellar, so much flavor, and texturally on point. I liked the crunchy and juicy jicama “not potato” salad, though I think this portion exceeds the amount of jicama I’ve consumed in my life. The tacos were the opposite of bland. Salsa, guac, cashew “nacho cheese” and “sour cream”, and deft savory spicing of the walnut meat provide enough flavor for any doubter. I could eat this every day and feel good about myself. In that way, it reminds me of Dynamic Dish. I very much look forward to digging into their menu.