Indigo Road Offers Hotel-and-Dinner Deal in January

proj_oak_pixThe post-holiday restaurant lull usually produces a raft of good eating deals, but a new stay-and-dine promotion from Indigo Road and Charlestowne Hotels is pretty good even by January standards.

During January, the restaurant group and hotel management company are offering discounted downtown rooms which come with a $100 Indigo Road gift card, good at Oak Steakhouse, O-Ku, The Cocktail Club, The Macintosh or Indaco. The rates are slightly higher on weekends, and six nights are excluded from the promotion, but there are plenty of attractive arrangements available. For instance, $179 buys dinner and a weeknight room at the Andrew Pinckney Inn, The Elliott House Inn or King Charles Inn.

The French Quarter Inn and King Charles Inn are also participating.

For more information, call your chosen hotel directly.

Tasting Table Publishes Charleston City Guide

By Tasting Table’s estimation, Charleston is one of the nation’s 10 most interesting eating cities – or at least it’s one of the first 10 U.S. cities to score its own Tasting Table city guide.

The daily e-mail publication, which emphasizes epicurean recommendations, this week released its round-up of local culinary must-dos (Full disclosure: I helped compile it, a process which included multiple camera-toting visits to Dave’s Carry-Out. I’m not complaining.) While you’re unlikely to find any surprises on the greatest hits list, it’s a handy link to share with visiting friends. If I do say so myself.

Guerilla Cuisine Returns With Dinner Featuring Sylvain Chef

cakesSo-called “underground dinners” may no longer be novel – or especially mysterious – but a highly-regarded New Orleans chef heading here for a one-night residency remains a fan of the format.

“Different ways to convey food are part of the food culture of a city,” says Sylvain’s chef Alex Harrell, scheduled to star in Guerilla Cuisine’s first supper of 2014. “A lot of people are a little bit put off by these things, but I welcome them. It gives chefs an opportunity to experiment with food they might not be able to experiment with in a restaurant kitchen.”

Guerilla Cuisine, a roving supper club, has hosted sporadic local events since its launch seven years ago. The concept took a brief hiatus this year while founder Jimihatt served as interim chef at Camden’s Duck Bottom Plantation, but spokeswoman Angel Powell says “2014 will bring a limited season of Guerrilla Cuisine dinners, a few featuring local chefs, but mainly talent from out of town.” Continue reading

Where to Taste 2014 Food Trends

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A few seasons back, Mad Men aired a scene of a focus group behind a two-way mirror: Asked to describe their dogs’ temperaments, the participants choose adjectives like “very smart” and “independent.” “My God,” one of the ad men marvels, “they’re describing themselves.”

When food writers are asked to predict the coming year’s culinary trends, they invariably fall into a similar trap, describing their wishes instead of what’s true. Optimistic prognostications aside, there’s very little chance that briny bee larvae, freekah and Midwestern cooking will sweep the nation in 2014 (for the record, I’m pro-all of the above.)

But a few more realistic predictions have surfaced on a number of 2014 trend lists. Fortunately, since Charleston tends to incubate trends instead of respond to them, you can already experience a number of the foods readying for the spotlight. Here, five up-and-comers, and where to find them right now: Continue reading

Fire Closes Carter’s Kitchen for New Year’s Eve

Less than a week after a fire put Anson’s out of commission for Christmas, an outdoor fire has closed Carter’s Kitchen for New Year’s Eve.

Chef-owner Bob Carter anticipates reopening for Restaurant Week next month.

“Fortunately the fire was contained to our outside deck area,” Carter says of last night’s blaze. “No one was hurt.”

According to Carter, “several air conditioning units, several hot water heaters, the walk-in and a storage unit were all destroyed.”

Restaurant staffers are now attempting to contact diners with New Year’s Eve reservations. The restaurant is scheduled to reopen on Jan. 8.

Get Yer Peanuts, Rice, Grits and Benne Wafers Here

vendingI’m not much for year-end round-ups and awards, but this machine is – without a doubt – the best vending machine of 2013.

The Charleston Museum three months ago installed the machine, which was the brainchild of a business student who’s since moved away. After 126 years, you might think the thrill of putting money in a slot and getting food in exchange would have faded, but you’d think wrong – and the concept is especially irresistible when the foods include peanuts, rice and benne wafers.

“People love it,” administrative manager Susan McKellar says. “I always hear people outside my office saying how cool it is.” Continue reading

Charleston Beer Works Adds Late-Night Menu

wingsCharleston Beer Works is resolving to keep its kitchen open later in the new year.

The King Street bar’s extended food service schedule is set to begin on Thursday. The late-night menu will be available through 1 a.m.

General manager Matt Hensley describes the menu as an extension of the “fresh bar food” concept introduced with a menu rebranding two years ago.

“The only frozen item on our menu are the Tots – and quite frankly, you just can’t mess with a good manufactured tot!,” he writes. Continue reading

Christmas Dinner Aboard the USS Yorktown, c. 1953

yorktown12What’s on your relish tray this Christmas?

The folks at Patriot Points kindly shared this 1953 Christmas Day dinner menu from the USS Yorktown with us: That year, the meal got rolling with three kinds of olives, three kinds of pickles, shrimp, saltines and turkey consomme.

Spokeswoman Holly Jackson says the holiday menu has changed slightly in the intervening 60 years: “We did, however, have the ham, turkey and sweet tea this year at the staff Christmas luncheon,” she writes. “We’d never stray from that!”

For the menu’s inside pages, read on. Continue reading

Zero George Cooking Class Wins Recognition From Food & Wine

cook3“I’m starving,” a student in Zero George’s weekly Saturday morning cooking class exclaimed as she reluctantly handed off a cauliflower floret for the next student to examine.

Executive chef Randy Williams’ two-hour instructional sessions, which this month were honored by Food & Wine as one of the nation’s top three new cooking courses, are far from frivolous eating-and-drinking affairs: He doesn’t uncork a bottle of wine until the second hour starts. Instead, as I observed when I swung by this weekend, the classes are designed to emphasize contemporary techniques and encourage students to think like chefs.

On Saturday, Williams – wearing a chef’s jacket and cowboy boots – demonstrated how to prepare a butternut squash puree, roasted pork loin and olive oil cake. The cake recipe he distributed was written out in metric measurements, because “that’s how more people like to do it now.” He also stressed asymmetrical plating and advised that “people are getting away from blanching vegetables ahead of time.” Continue reading

Chasing Gochujang at Ko Cha

tofuBasic logic suggests a city’s sole purveyor of just about anything has a distinct economic advantage. But what happens when he or she gets tired of selling it?

Tucked into a West Ashley gas station is Ko Cha, an excellent Korean luncheonette. The folksy restaurant serves up scallion pancakes lumpy with sweet, fat shrimp; slinky japchae intertwined with fresh vegetables and an outstandingly crisped chicken donkkaseu (the Korean version of katsu, the popular Japanese cutlet), drizzled with a cross between fermented fish sauce and British brown gravy, per tradition. The kimchi is perhaps a smidge tactful for fans of raging funk, but the cucumber pickles have a lightly-spiced snap.

Understandably, many local fans of Korean cooking flock to Ko Cha — which previously did business under the name of Rice B – for their gochujang fix. The defining condiment of Korean cuisine, gochujang is a sonorous mix of chile peppers, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice and sugar. Nothing else exactly resembles the paste. Continue reading