June 18, 2018 § Leave a comment
What to Pack, What to Eat, and Where to Park for an Idyllic Lowcountry Picnic Experience
By Holly Herrick – Charleston Hospitality Group Editor
Late spring and early summer in Charleston afford comfortable temperatures for outside dining, and the landscapes’ heaven-sent and generous brush of beauty across the area with gorgeous views of everything from swaying marsh grasses and open water to shaded parks or secluded gardens.
While spontaneous picnics for two or three are easily put together with a quick run to a great wine and cheese shop and a whimsical trip to the nearest park. More specialized, romantic and substantive picnics demand a little more advance planning. Here are some tips from our well-seasoned picnic team:
Picking the Best Location and Time of Day
When I was a child, every time I saw my mother pack up our huge, vintage woven straw picnic basket, I knew we were going to Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This was a favorite summertime destination for my family. As fun as it was, it was a long drive and I’ll never forget the warm, soggy, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that quickly filled with gritty sand with each gust of wind on the beach. So, for this reason alone, I suggest staying away from on-sand beach picnic spreads, unless you can find a picnic table at one of the beaches, such as Folly Beach under and on the pier.
Some wonderful downtown parks for a picnic include small, intimate Washington Square at Broad and Meeting Streets, White Point Garden at The Battery at the lowest tip of the peninsula where “the Ashley meets the Cooper,” and historic Hampton Park located near The Citadel at 80 Mary Murray Boulevard. The 60-acre park is the largest in town, and arguably one of the most beautiful. Dripping with Spanish moss covered live oaks, beautifully tended garden beds, a duck pond and miles of walking trails, the winding road that encircles it follows the path of the historic Washington Race Track, built in 1792. Waterfront Park near One Vendue Range presents a vast view and breezes off The Cooper River and easy swinging benches to park and take it all in or spread a blanket on the well-groomed park lawn near the gorgeous pineapple fountain in the center of the park.
Mosquitoes, the bane of the Lowcountry, tend to flock at dusk and early evening. Avoid picnicking at these times and when the earth is damp. A sunny, slightly breezy day, will help keep the bugs at bay, and so will bug spray, if you are inclined to use it.
The two primary concerns when packing for a picnic are food safety and freshness/variety. You want to avoid using sauces or ingredients (such as mayonnaise) that can cause food poisoning when not refrigerated. Stay away from foods that are best-served hot and focus on foods that will be delicious and safe to eat at room temperature or slightly warm. Variety and the tastes of your guests is important, too. To make a slightly elegant, satisfying basket, pick from some of these suggestions:
- One or two types of cheeses, especially those that are best slightly warm and melty, such as camembert, Fontina, or goat cheese.
- A nice baguette of bread. No need to slice. Just tear and spread on the cheese.
- Grapes, berries, peaches, and other summer fruits. Cube sweet cantaloupe or honeydew and skewer with ham or prosciutto and fresh basil for an easy bite of deliciousness.
- Easy summer or tea sandwiches with butter, smoked salmon and cucumber or roasted asparagus and Dijon mustard.
- Easy transportable desserts such as delicious chocolate chip cookies or shortbread.
- Chilled beverages for everyone. Fresh lemonade, wine, fruity sangria.
- Crunchy, fresh mayonnaise-free salad. I love this red cabbage slaw from my cookbook, Southern Farmers Market Cookbook (Gibbs Smith). It can be made ahead, is healthy, delicious at room temp as well as cold, and everybody loves it:
Red Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Scallions, Toasted Pecans, and Roquefort
1 medium head red cabbage, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, cleaned and finely diced
1/3 cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled (or substitute fresh goat cheese)
7 slices bacon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Trim the rough outer leaves off of the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and then cut out the core and discard. Cut the halves in half again, lengthwise. Slice each quarter into very thin, consistent 1/8-inch-thick-slices. Toss to coat in a large bowl with vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Cover tightly with a damp kitchen towel and marinate at least 3 hours but no more than 5 hours at room temperature (or refrigerate to marinate overnight).
Rinse the scallions and trim off the root; dice finely and set aside. Crumble the Roquefort into chunky pieces and set aside. Cut the bacon into a 1/4-inch dice and cook over medium-high heat until crispy and golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain; set aside.
Discard all but 1/2 teaspoon of the reserved bacon fat. Heat in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook until golden, tossing to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, as well as salt and pepper to taste; set aside to drain on paper towels.
Just before leaving for the picnic, put the chilled, marinated cabbage in a large, plastic bowl with a lid. Top with the scallions, cheese, nuts and bacon. Toss vigorously just before serving.
If you’re looking for something completely cooked, packed and packaged ahead, Queology makes a beautiful picnic pack including rolls, barbecue pork or chicken, choice of two sides for $29.99 (enough to feed four) and 25-piece and 50-piece wing platters. All you have to do is pick it up at 32 N. Market Street, 843.580.2244
Although wonderfully nostalgic, a wicker picnic basket it not obligatory. A sturdy carrying basket or bag (ideally with built-in temperature regulation) will do. Here are a few more items to add to your list:
- Plastic or paper plates
- Plastic cups/glasses
- Paper napkins
- Cutlery as needed: knives, forks, spoons
- Serving utensils
- Picnic blanket/folding chairs
- Cutting board
Happy International Picnic Day!
May 11, 2018 § Leave a comment
Officially part of Fort Sumter National Monument, Fort Moultrie has ties to The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, World War I, and World War II and dates all the way back to 1776. It is an exceptionally patriotic place, and for that reason alone, it makes it the perfect destination to celebrate Memorial Day (May 28) or any warm, beautiful summer or spring day. But, there are so many more reasons to visit and linger at this Charleston destination gem.
Located on Sullivan’s Island, it is an easy trek from any greater Charleston locale, but it is the sheer beauty of the place, easy parking, and almost illegally inexpensive day passes, that make it well worth spending a good chunk of the day here. History buffs will revel in the clear and well-written information boards strategically placed along the walking path to show what events took place, where, when, and why.
With its birds-eye views of Ft. Sumter (actually so close it feels like you can touch the ancient fortress), this patriotic perch also affords sweeping views of the entire harbor, the edge of the Atlantic, and a doll’s house sized distance view of tiny steeples and columned mansions of the Charleston peninsula. If you are lucky, you will catch views of dolphins frolicking in the shimmering waters and a salty, soul-reviving sea breeze.
Parking is exclusively for monument visitors (not the general beach crowd), so it is easy to access and included in your entrance fee. Fees for a group of four adults (family pass) is $5, children age 15 and under are admitted free, single adult tickets are $3, and senior citizens (age 62+) are admitted for $1 each. There is a designated picnic area and dogs are welcome to walk the grounds – though no food or dogs are welcome inside the visitor’s center. Guided tours are also available.
Fort Moultrie is located at 1214 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including on Memorial Day. For more information, call 843.883.3123, ext. 220 or visit www.nps.gov/fosu.
April 23, 2018 § Leave a comment
Satisfy Midday Hunger with Mediterranean Classics from Falafel to Gyros with Dine-In Lunches
Tabbuli is now serving dine-in only lunch specials from their zesty, authentic Mediterranean menu.
Monday is American burger day, served with cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato and a pickle. Tuesday is gyro day, served with shaved gyro meat, fresh lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and a generous dollop of creamy, cool Tzatziki on a soft, fresh pita pocket. On Wednesday, Tabbuli guests can sample a hummus trio including classic tahini and chickpea hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, and pesto hummus with a small Jerusalem salad. Thursday’s special is chicken Lula sandwich, stacked with two marinated and grilled chicken patties, Tzatziki, feta, tomatoes, bacon and red onion. Wrap up the week on Friday with falafel pitas or falafel appetizers. All of Tabbuli’s lunch specials are $5 and served, dine-in only, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
About Tabbuli – Located just feet from the Cooper River and Charleston harbor, people flock to Tabbuli for authentic Middle Eastern staples like lemony smooth hummus, hot, crunchy falafel, gyros and lemon chicken and rice soup. Eclectic entertainment choices include drag queen shows, fashion shows, live music, and bubbly hookahs. Soak up the sea breezes from the large open-air patio while you sup and sip, the Tabbuli way. Tabbuli is located at 6 N. Market Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. For more information, visit tabbuli.com or call 843.628.5959.
April 2, 2018 § Leave a comment
Here’s a summary and quick refresher on what we’re doing these days at each of our restaurants and properties. We hope you’ll keep us in mind when you’re looking for delicious food and great entertainment. Happy Spring!
Have a Toast! Worthy Day
Casual and homey, our Toast teams ensure every guest feels right at home, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Serving breakfast all day, Toast is famous for its Double Deluxe French Toast (lauded by The New York Times), Eggs Meeting Street, and enormous, flaky biscuits – made fresh every morning.
Three locations – downtown, West Ashley and Summerville.
155 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. 843.534.0043
717 Old Trolley Road, Summerville, 29485. 843.900.4422
2026 Savannah Highway, West Ashley, 29407. 843.556.0006
Romantic Little Dining Indulgence
Tucked away in the heart of Charleston’s Historic District, Eli’s Table’s doors open onto a romantic dining room that extends to a spacious, dog-friendly outdoor dining patio. Eli’s Table’s interpretation of Lowcountry-French Bistro cuisine arrives plated in the form of Charleston red rice breakfast hash and shrimp & grits Benedict for breakfast or brunch, chicken & sweet potato waffles for lunch, or a silky, smoked Gouda fondue appetizer and day boat scallops for dinner. Live Cuban jazz every Thursday.
129 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. 843.405.5115
Fresh, Fun & Fabulous
Located just feet from the Cooper River and Charleston harbor, people flock to Tabbuli for authentic Middle Eastern staples like lemony smooth hummus, hot, crunchy falafel, gyros, and lemon chicken & rice soup. There are hefty, juicy burgers to satisfy the American palate, too. Eclectic entertainment choices include drag queen shows, fashion shows, live music, and a bubbly hookah menu. Soak up the sea breezes from the large open-air patio while you sup and sip, the Tabbuli way.
6 N. Market Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. 843.628.5959.
Que the Que!
Low and slow smoking technique go into almost everything prepared at Queology. Fall-off-the-bone chicken wings are brined, smoked for hours, flash fried and tossed with one of four signature sauces (or try them “naked”) as well as lip-smacking smoked pork ribs and chicken. Nachos layered with barbecue sauce, queso, cole slaw and shredded smoked pork or chicken, and bacon-infused, wing-garnished Bloody Mary’s take on a life of their own. Weekday Happy Hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
32C N. Market Street, downtown Charleston. 29401, 843.580.2244
Hospitality and Goodness for all Occasions
Charleston Hospitality Catering
Twenty eight years of experience come to your event table when you let Charleston Hospitality Catering do the work. Charleston’s beautiful settings from marsh-edged waterways to stately, historic homes, invite casual barbecues, elegant parties, bachelorette bashes, and private dinners. Whatever the occasion, select from our menu of hors d’oeuvres, salads, entrees, sides and dessert or the menus of any of CHG’s restaurants and we’ll artfully craft an event that meets your tastes and budget and will not soon be forgotten – if ever.
Charleston & Surrounding Areas
Nina Koutsulis – Catering Director
843.576.4116 OR 843.860.9974
Oysters with a Side of Southern
Cove Oyster Bar & Grille
North Charleston’s only raw bar, Cove is awash with the briny, fresh flavors of local and regionally selected raw oyster gems as well as chargrilled and roasted varieties. Start your seafood feast with a creamy bowl of sherry-laced She Crab and wrap it up with an authentic lowcountry crab cake dressed with a zesty remoulade Whether seafood or southern, Cove has you covered with style in a contemporary nautical setting.
7690 Northwoods Boulevard, North Charleston, 29406. 843.580.4040
Get Your FILL
FILL Restaurant & Piano Bar
Serving up dueling piano shows and sophisticated, international dining selections every Tuesday through Sunday evening, FILL sets the stage for the ultimate dinner and a show. Some of the best local pianist talent converge to entertain the family-friendly audience while they dine on the likes of roasted corn and jalapeno bisque, shredded chicken tostadas, jerk grilled chicken, and maple crusted salmon. Reservations suggested for weekend piano shows.
Iron Gate Plaza, 1150 Hungryneck Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843.800.3042
Kick up Your Heels Fun
HonkyTonk delivers two times the Western-themed fun in greater Charleston. Live country music, male revues, line dancing, mechanical bull rides, a barbecue menu straight from Queology’s pit master kitchen, and a slew of delicious brews and cocktails, HonkyTonk is an excellent place to party with friends and is also a top destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
192 College Park Road, Ladson, SC, 29456 843.569.6000
32D N. Market Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. 843.577.2474
March 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
Charleston Digest May 11 Edition is All About Moms & Graduates
Charleston DIGEST’s May issue will feature a Love Lines for Moms & Grads page, where readers will have the opportunity to write a gratitude or love note to their mothers, grandmother or recent graduates.
Interested participants simply need to compose up to 144 characters. Visit charlestondigest.com and click on the PayPal link. The love line fee is $5 for the words and $10 for the words and a photo. CHG’s marketing department will follow up with an email to you to receive your love note and photo (if desired).
We look forward to hearing from you and spreading the love! Submissions due by May 1st, 2018.
About Charleston DIGEST – Charleston Digest is a monthly newspaper featuring news about Charleston’s dining and restaurant scene, local events, local personalities, recipes, and happenings. It reaches 6,000 persons via high-end boutique hotels, spas, gyms, realtors, Charleston Visitor Center, and car dealerships and tracks readership online at charlestondigest.com. It is published by The Charleston Hospitality Group; a restaurant and entertainment group comprised of several venues.
Toast of Summerville, FILL Restaurant Bar & Grille Celebrate Easter with Special Menus and Tabbuli’s Special Brand of Entertainment
March 27, 2018 § Leave a comment
Other Charleston Hospitality Group Properties Celebrating with Easter Egg Baskets and Free Goodies
Family-friendly Toast of Summerville will feature an all-you-can-eat Easter Buffet on April 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hot buffet will feature scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and turkey sausage, home fries, shrimp and grits, crab cakes, chicken breasts, pineapple and brown sugar-glazed ham, seasonal vegetables, whipped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and deluxe stuffed French baguette toast. Cold menu choices will include mixed green salad, pasta salad, muffins, fresh fruits, biscuits and assorted desserts. Adults are $26.95, children ten and under are $13.95 and children three and under are free. Toast of Summerville is located at 717 Old Trolley Road, Summerville, SC 29185. For more information or to make reservations call 843.900.4422 or visit toastofcharleston.com
FILL Restaurant & Piano Bar will serve a buffet of three cheese scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, French toast sticks, pancakes, and breakfast potatoes. Lunch style items will include fried chicken and gravy, honey glazed ham, mashed potatoes and green beans. Salad, dinner rolls and assorted desserts, including Easter Eggs with a Surprise, will wrap it up sweetly. Adults are $21.95 and $9.95 for children 10 and under. The buffet will be served from 9am to 4pm. FILL Restaurant & Piano Bar is located at 1150 Hungryneck Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. For more information or to make reservations call 843.800.3042 or visit fillbar.com
Tabbuli will serve an (individually priced) Sunday brunch menu of gyro eggs benedict, Mediterranean eggs benedict, Tabbuli omelet, Mediterranean omelet, Charleston breakfast, mimosas, mimosa carafe, and Ultimate Bloody Marys. Brunch will be served from noon until 3 p.m. and include an Easter Drag Brunch Show. Tabbuli is located at 6 N. Market Street, downtown Charleston. To make reservations call 843.628.5959 or visit tabbuli.com
Other Charleston Hospitality Group properties, including Eli’s Table, Queology, Toast of West Ashley, Toast! (downtown), will be serving their regular menus during regular hours and offer Easter egg baskets containing an assorted “gifts” of menu/meal cards, gift cards, t-shirts, and mugs. For more information on these restaurants and their locations, visit charlestonhospitalitygroup.com
March 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
LET’S TALK PARKING & TRANSPORTATION!
These just released additional choices for reduced cost, congestion and transmission options around Charleston apply to the general public as well as food and beverage employees.
- The City of Charleston offers discounted rates in four area parking garages:
–$7 flat rate after 3 PM; $5 flat rate after 5 PM (City will prorate if parked before 3 PM) at:
- Lowcountry Go: Lowcountry Go, a recently launched commuter services program, connects real people with real commuter solutions in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. Employees register and are connected with fellow commuters to share in the cost. http://www.lowcountrygo.com/
- UBER and LYFT Carpooling: Both have the ability in their apps to add multiple stops so you can pick up a friend or co worker and share the fare to work and back home! No parking or driving expenses. Check Uber or Lyft to learn more.
- CARTA: CARTA has launched an app that shows real-time movement of vehicles. Employees are encouraged to try CARTA again, if they haven’t recently, because services are evolving. https://www.ridecarta.com/services/transit-app/
March 12, 2018 § Leave a comment
April 6 to 8 is Coming Soon!
Fifty-Year YMCA Veteran Jan Parsons Shares Her Goodwill Perspective
“Flowertown & the YMCA are Summerville,” says Timmi-Jo Pashuta, a resident of Summerville, former teacher at YMCA and current CHG social media marketing specialist.
The Flowertown Festival was founded in 1972 to support health and wellness programs at the Summerville YMCA. The celebrated three-day weekend, recognized by Southeast Tourism as one of the top 20 events in 2016, will take place on April 6 to April 8 this year. Summerville, known for its beautiful old homes, sweet tea and abundant azalea, dogwood and wisteria blooms, celebrates The Flowertown Festival in style on Main Street and Azalea Park hosting restaurant vendors at The Taste, Children’s Jubilee/Kids Fest, and a Farmer’s Market on Saturday and Sunday.
Jan Parsons, Vice President of Health & Wellness at the Summerville Family YMCA, has been with the facility since 1988 and working for the YMCA for fifty years. The veteran, who will be stepping down from her full-time job to a part-time capacity this November, is a big believer in The YMCA and especially The Summerville Family YMCA, which she describes as a “non-profit, family organization with Christian-based principles and 14,000 members.”
“It’s our biggest fund-raiser of the year, by far and we expect it to bring in anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 for the YMCA this year. The money goes into our budget for scholarships, financial assistance and membership fees. Last year, we gave away $300,000 towards these types of causes. However, The Flowertown Festival also benefits greater Summerville and the community with the vendor booths and both civic and business profits. It’s just so much fun to see the community coming out to see and enjoy everything,” says Parsons.
For more information about the event, visit http://summervilleymca.org/flowertown-festival/and be sure to come visit Toast of Summerville’s booth where they will be serving breakfast all day: shrimp & grits and biscuit sandwiches.
March 7, 2018 § Leave a comment
Star Drag Queen Performer at Tabbuli
A Preview of Things to Come in this month’s issue of Charleston Digest, published and distributed March 9. We loved talking with Ava!
Charles Stark has been performing as a drag queen for fourteen years, since he was twenty years old. As an openly gay child he was often bullied in school, which left him shy and insecure. “Performing changed my life. I found an acceptance in the community when I started performing. I have made some of my best friends in fellow performers and found inspiration in the shared creativity within a cast. Performing with such varied people has pushed me to make myself the best I can be,” says Stark.
He describes Ava Clear, his drag alter ego as “a firecracker with the face of a goddess and the mouth of a sailor.” Though he previously performed locally at Club Pantheon, he joined The Tabbuli drag team in November 2016. “When I walked into Tabbuli, I was amazed at the unique atmosphere. I have performed all over and never worked in an outdoor venue. With the lights, the palm trees and the lighting and sound set up by DJDJ, I feel like I’m transported to Miami every time I perform there. Being outdoors also has its own set of particular challenges, and I’m always up for a challenge.”
In addition to a challenge, Stark is drawn to performing in general because of the control and attention it affords his Ava persona. “When onstage, you control the audience. You can truly change a person’s attitude. If someone is having a bad day, they can come to the show and forget about things for a while and just have fun. Plus, it is a high when you walk onto a stage and receive applause from hundreds of people.”
When he’s not performing, Star works as a full-time flight attendant. He loves the travel and adventure and has visited Europe, Australia, all over the Caribbean and Bahamas and the United States. Of all the cities he’s visited, Paris (which he describes as “magical”) is his favorite. He also hosts other drag events and monthly Bingo games. “I enjoy the hosting vs. performing. It lets me work on different skill sets,” explains Stark.
You can catch Ava Clear and some other members of Tabbuli’s talented drag queen team on Tabboo Tuesday drag shows hosted every Tuesday evening from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tabbuli also hosts a Drag Brunch on the third Sunday and special drag events. For more information visit tabbuli.com or on Facebook at Tabbuli Grill.