Picnic Practicality Strategies

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.

Picnic Menu

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:

RECIPE

Red Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Scallions, Toasted Pecans, and Roquefort

(Serves 8)

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

Garnishes:

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

 

Packing List

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!

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#1 Recording Artist, Easton Corbin Hitting the HonkyTonk Saloon Stage June 22

June 13, 2018 § Leave a comment

Event Organizers Anticipating a Full House at Popular Venue Charleston City Papers Reader’s Voted Best Country Bar, Deemed a “Country Gal’s Dream”

Easton Corbin made history when his self-titled debut album yielded two consecutive No. 1 hits, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It” in 2010. That was the first time since 1993 any American country male artist had achieved the same success.  The Trenton, Florida native, who once worked at Ace Hardware while building his following,  eventually moved to Nashville and signed with Mercury Records in 2009.

Currently touring the country on an exhaustive tour, the 36-year old singer/songwriter will hit HonkyTonk Saloon’s stage on Friday, June 22. Lauded for his traditional country sound, authentic lyrics, and mastery of understatement, Easton will wow the 600-seat audience with live performances of songs from his three studio albums and complete performance repertoire.  Doors open at 6 p.m. The tickets include Corbin’s show and two opening artists’ shows. Tickets range in price from $25 to $65 and are available at Eventbrite.com

 

About HonkyTonk Saloon – HonkyTonk Saloon delivers two times the country-themed fun with locations in downtown, Charleston and nearby Ladson. Live country music, line dancing, mechanical bull rides, barbecue from Queology’s pitmaster kitchen, and a slew of delicious brews and cocktails make HonkyTonk an excellent place to party with friends. The Ladson location is located at 192 College Park Road. For more information call 843.569.6000 or visit HonkyTonkSaloon.com

Kickback Mule Signature Charity Cocktails Featuring Belle Isle Moonshine Now Being Served at Tabbuli

June 6, 2018 § Leave a comment

Belle Isle will Make A Charitable Donation to Fisher House Charleston for Every Kickback Mule Sold

In honor of LGBT pride month through the month of June and through the summer months, Tabbuli is serving $10 Kickback Mules prepared with Belle Isle Black Label, Ruby Red Grapefruit, or Honey Habanero Moonshine(s) combined with ginger beer and lime.

Belle Isle Moonshine belleislecraftspirits.com is distilled in Richmond, VA using 100% organic corn and perfected 19th-century techniques. The result is a smooth, potent cocktail base minus the burn and intense taste of vodka or other liquors. The cocktails were created specifically to highlight the flavors of each of the three labels.  The specialty cocktails will eventually roll out for service at two other Charleston Hospitality Group (CHG) properties, Queology and HonkyTonk Saloon.

Enjoy the goodwill with every refreshing sip, knowing that Belle Isle will donate a percentage of sales from each drink sold to Fisher House Charleston, a charitable organizing that provides housing for Charleston area veterans, active service members, and their families during hospitalizations or extended medical treatment.

About Tabbuli – Serving authentic Mediterranean fare including falafel, hummus, gyros, and tabbouleh, and situated near the harbor, Tabbuli is also a popular entertainment venue for drag shows, music and Hookah bar. Tabbuli actively supports the LGBTQ community, Aids, PRIDE and Invisible Illness.  Tabbuli is located at 6 N. Market Street, downtown. For more information, call 843.628.5959 or visit tabbuli.comBELLEISLEMULE

Country Music Star Rick Monroe to play at HonkyTonk Saloon Saturday, June 2.

June 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

World-class entertainer Rick Monroe brings his music and a magnetic presence wherever he goes. With a down-to-earth Country resonance, Monroe is no stranger to the stage: he’s performed in 17 countries – and every U.S. state except for Oregon. The seven-time Jagermeister Country Brand Ambassador has opened for Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Aaron Lewis, Eli Young Band, Charlie Daniels Band, Dwight Yoakam, Montgomery Gentry, Patty Loveless, Trick Pony, Emerson Drive, Pat Green, Randy Houser, Josh Thompson and more; entertained former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and U.S. troops in Vietnam. Last year alone he traveled over 100,000 miles and played over 120 shows.

Show-goers can expect to hear Rick’s current single, the sultry “This Side of You,” and other songs from his upcoming EP, GYPSY SOUL. Monroe will also revisit tunes from his previous EP, IT’S A LOVE THING, including his third Billboard hit “Great Minds Drink Alike.” The “Great Minds” music video has logged over 300,000 views on YouTube, and added to Monroe’s already impressive fan base. For those who aren’t familiar with his music, Rick advises them to come to the show for a good time and to be ready for “just about anything.” “I love to play,” the handsome singer notes. “And I want everyone to play along. I like to think of my shows as an interactive sport.”

Rick grew up in a variety of places – California, Connecticut, Kansas, North Carolina, even England, and his love of music and outgoing personality naturally drew him to the stage. Now based in Nashville, Monroe, believes GYPSY SOUL shows the kind of diversity he can offer as an artist. He says, “I’m not so linear in my approach to music; I’m more diversified. My influences range from A to Z and I always try to put that into my music. But my home base will always be Country because it’s not just about the hype of an idea; it’s based on songs.” Fans can expect to hear a wide range of material – but Rick promises that it will all be quality. If his chart success is any indication, it’s clear Monroe knows what folks want to hear – and he’s eager to give them exactly that.

Rick enjoys sponsorships and/or endorsements with Monster Energy Drink, Banded Brand (Clothing and Water Fowl Gear), Framus Guitars, Speakeasy Jewelry and CRKT Knives.

Rick’s show begins at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday at HonkyTonk Saloon, which is located at 192 College Park Road, Ladson. 843.569.6000. HonkyTonkSaloon.com. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com or at the door. 

Charleston Hospitality Group at a Glance

May 31, 2018 § Leave a comment

Who We Are and What We do – Our Around Town and Not Just Downtown Properties

Hospitality and Goodness for all Occasions

Charleston Hospitality Catering

28 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

events@CharlestonHospitalityGroup.com

 

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

Fillbar.com

Kick up Your Heels Fun

HonkyTonk Saloon

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

Super Sized, Full-Flavored $5 Lunch Specials Available at Tabbuli

May 30, 2018 § Leave a comment

Satisfy Midday Hunger with Mediterranean Classic from Falafel to Gyros with Dine-In Lunches

 

Tabbuli is 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.

Tabbuli is located at 6 N. Market Street, downtown Charleston, 29401. For more information, visit tabbuli.com or call 843.628.5959.

Breakfast All Day and Brunch is Hot, Hot, Hot in Restaurants

May 29, 2018 § Leave a comment

The National Trend Includes Charleston

It’s not uncommon to see lines of people wrapping around popular breakfast and brunch destinations in Charleston and around the country. This is true not only on weekends, as we saw more in the past, but during the week, as well.

Several factors are driving the trend, going back to 2008 and the Great Recession. During that time, people were seeking a better value when dining out. Lunch, as opposed to dinner, and especially breakfast served all day, fit the bill. Changes in traditional 9 to 5 hour workforce and a burgeoning millennial and senior citizen clientele are especially drawn to the menu format.  The ability to linger and savor a more diverse breakfast menu for longer periods of time also increased the appeal of indulging in a mimosa or a Bloody Mary and other less conventional “breakfast or brunch’ cocktails.

A recent report from statista.com reveals exactly what folks are looking for when they’re eating breakfast or brunch at a restaurant forecast by professional chefs for 2018. Leading the list are ethnic inspired breakfasts. In the survey, 63% of respondents are interested in “ethnic inspired” breakfast items that might include Asian-flavored syrups, Chorizo scrambled eggs and coconut milk pancakes.  Forty five percent cited avocado toast,  39% cited traditional ethnic breakfast, 36% cited overnight oats, and 29% cited breakfast hash as likely breakfast trends this year.

But the hottest of all is perhaps one of the oldest favorites on the breakfast books, the humble potato. Side Delights reported potatoes as a favorite growing brunch trend as consumers continue to embrace brunch beyond the weekend. According to Side Delights, “Brunch is a top food trend in 2018 for restaurant goers and home cooks, with the four top breakfast components being eggs, potatoes, bacon and bread.”

We conducted a survey with 5,000 of our Facebook followers (almost all based in greater Charleston) asking them what they look for in brunch or breakfast when dining out.

Here are some of their responses:

Dewey Kirkland: “Bacon and booze. Rich Hollandaise over cured meats and crunchy, buttery, toasted bread. What’s not to love?”

Stephanie Philips: “I love brunch! I mainly eat it on the weekends, but would eat it any day. I don’t know a girl who doesn’t love a mimosa or any variation on it. I agree on bacon and am also a big fan of country ham.”

Kimberl Drake: “Brunch is awesome, but breakfast for dinner is the absolute best. As a southern girl, bacon makes breakfast.”

Stephen Ulak: “Something on the light side and different. Maybe avocado toast, an open-faced egg sandwich, something with an egg on top and the yolk runs all over, cornmeal pancakes, breakfast sandwiches with a variety of bread choice and vegetable based rather than bacon, sausage or ham, and bowls with fruts, nuts and yogurt.”

Genny Smoak: “Shrimp and grits for both brunch and for dinner. Mimosas with brunch.

Judy Bernstein: “I’m not a huge brunch person per se, but there are times when breakfast food is just what you need. After a long day of travel, I want a warm, gooey omelet. When I’m sick, cinnamon toast is my comfort food. When I need something light, it’s scrambled eggs. For these reasons, I love places that serve breakfast all day.”

Melanie Neichin: “I find it romantic to dine with someone after sleeping in and going out for yummy food. Eggs Benedict, bread basket with strawberry butter, omelets with potatoes and great coffee and I am in.”

Judith C. Johnson: “I think that brunch as an all day affair should include veggies. I love omelets with lots of greens and cheese, too. Here in the South, be prepared to be served buttery grits or even cheesy grits.”

Shelley Mahon Wood: “My favorite brunch item is eggs Benedict. A gourmet omelet bar is nice as well. If I were to have a cocktail, it would probably be a good Bloody Mary.”

Responses to similar questions from Toast! General Manager Andrew Abernathy reflect the opinions and preferences of those queried here and general national trends. At Toast, which serves breakfast all day (along with Toast of  West Ashley and Toast of Summerville), Abernathy says Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s are the most popular beverage. Eggs Benedict, Eggs Meeting Street (an indulgent stack of fried green tomato, a crab cake, poached egg and remoulade sauce), and the garden omelet are the most popular breakfast choices. Stuffed French toast and surf and turf are also very popular with the Toast crowd, which he describes as “customers of all different ages and from a variety of countries.”  Every day peak hours are from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Nearby Eli’s Table also serves elegant breakfast options seven days a week and it is served until 3 p.m.

 

 

For more information, visit toastofcharleston.com or elistable.com

 

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