Why FIG’s Nomination is a Boon For Local Chefs

FIG-interiorFor the second year in a row, Charleston doesn’t have a shot at claiming the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award (the last local nominee was Cypress’ Craig Deihl, who competed for the honor in 2012.) But as FIG’s beverage director David McCarus points out, his restaurant’s nomination in the Outstanding Wine Program category is a testament to the city’s thriving kitchen culture.

“This is awesome for Charleston,” McCarus says. “The possibility for Charleston to be seen as an entire entity, that’s awesome.”

Although the Beard nomination process isn’t an exact science, McCarus suspects judges were swayed by the service at FIG. “The wine list is like step A,” he says, comparing an impressive list in a poorly-staffed dining room to a gorgeous plate of food sloshed on its way to the table by an inept server. Continue reading

School’s in Session at Edmund’s

oast1If school means chalkboards, desks and books, the new quarterly beer program at Edmund’s Oast doesn’t entirely qualify. But everyone who attended the first installment of the Monday night course left with a few tidbits likely to liven up their next non-sanctioned drinking session.

The “Beer School” series consists of four 90-minute meetings, each devoted to a theme. Future meetings will cover beer and cheese; old-world IPAs and new-world IPAs, but leader Brandon Plyler last week tackled Trappist beers.

“It is not a type of beer,” Plyler, a certified cicerone and The Charleston Beer Exchange manager, clarified at the start. “It’s not even a mark of quality.” Continue reading

Wine Strolls Return to Middleton Place

SONY DSCMiddleton Place is again closing out the first half of its Wine Stroll season with a rum salute.

On June 25, the plantation will serve samples of light, dark and spiced rums, in addition to rum punches and Caribbean snacks. Middleton Place has not yet announced the price of the rum event – a press release warns it “may be individually priced” – but standard Wine Strolls through the gardens cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Middleton Place Plantation members receive a $5 discount.

The Wednesday night series begins on Mar. 12, and resumes on Sept. 3 after its heat-related hiatus. The program runs from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. For more information, call 556-6020, or visit middletonplace.org.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Adds Monthly Beverage Dinners

Kiawah Island Golf Resort is now two events in to its year of monthly beverage dinners, which began at The Ocean Room in January and winds up at Jasmine Porch in December.

The new program showcases a multi-course paired dinner at a property restaurant on the third Thursday of each month. Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House is hosting the next event, a $65 bourbon supper featuring grilled salmon, pork tenderloin and pound cake. The Mar. 20 dinner starts at 6 p.m.

For reservations, call 266-4636.

Southern Beer, Made for Mealtime

fullsteam_SLW1Attendees at this past weekend’s Brewvival, widely considered one of the region’s top beer festivals, were granted sampling glasses at the event gates. Yet forks and knives might have been more suitable for some of the ales being poured: Brewing’s vanguard is especially interested in highly complex, multi-layered flavors right now.

Sean Wilson of Durham’s three-year old Fullsteam Brewery takes a different approach: “My personal comfort zone is how the right beer can enhance a meal, or how it can facilitate community and conversation. Outlandish beers tend to try to turn a beer into an experience — I know because we make a few of them.”

Wilson acknowledges nuance isn’t always the most direct path to recognition and customer acclaim. But he believes food-friendliness could become a defining attribute of Southern beer. Continue reading

Social Hosts Wine Tasting Tomorrow

A glass of wine at a Charleston restaurant typically costs about $10. But for the same price, Social this Wednesday is selling tastes of 50 wines.

The taste-around is being organized in conjunction with the wine bar’s seventh birthday.

The event runs from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. For more information, visit Social’s Facebook page or call 577-5665.

New Mt. Pleasant Store Supplies Home Beer and Wine Makers

zolakoma

zolakoma

Many of the yeasts, hops and malts that Peter Kinslow sells at Yeast: Everything Homebrew are also offered by online retailers. But Kinslow says that kind of availability doesn’t much matter when a kitchen project goes awry on a weekend afternoon.

“The big thing for homebrewers is the whoops on a Saturday, when yeast doesn’t get going the way it should,” says Kinslow, who this week opened his Mt. Pleasant store. “Even Monday, if something horrible went wrong, it’s ‘I’ve got to get over to the shop today.’”

Kinslow is keeping hours suited for serving hobbyists, staying open on Sundays and closing on Wednesdays.

Although Kinslow took up homebrewing years ago in Denver, he’s never before run a supply store: He came up with the idea after being laid off from his job. “I thought it was time I did something for myself,” says Kinslow, who spent 27 years in the IT industry. Continue reading

Wine Awesomeness Opening Shop on Spring Street

Wine Awesomeness, the millennial-focused wine subscription club which opened its first small office above The Gin Joint, is bringing its online retail concept to a Spring Street storefront.

For the past two years, the outfit has sold its curated monthly wine packages – which arrive complete with tasting notes, recipes and suggestions for music pairings – via its website. The program has acquired subscribers in 40 states. (The Wine Awesomeness team has also stayed busy throwing parties and hawking a rose developed in partnership with Naomi Watts’ brother, Ben Watts. But that’s another story.)

“Now we’re going to start playing around with bricks-and-mortar,” says Logan Lee, Wine Awesomeness’ CEO. “Our vision is the real world experience of what the website is like.” Continue reading

Tristan Hosts Blind Tasting Dinner

Wine dinner announcements typically tout the wines scheduled for pouring, but for its “Smack Down” supper next Tuesday, Tristan is keeping the featured wines a secret.

Guests at the $95 dinner will blind taste two wines with each of the five courses, then vote on which wine they prefer. The menu includes charred spot prawns; veal breast lasagna and five-spice cannoli.

Representatives from Constellation Brands and RNDC will select the wines.

For reservations, call 534-2155.

New Ordinance Requires Bouncers at Wine Bars

beraldoleal

Beraldo Leal

A new city ordinance requiring certain bars to station bouncers at their doors probably wasn’t meant to protect Charleston’s citizenry from Cotes du Rhone drinkers who huddle around candlelit tables, debating the finer points of French cheese. But because the law applies equally to bars serving liquor and bars serving only beer and wine, Bin 152 is now being forced to pay a door person three nights a week.

“We have 10 to 15 people sitting at the bar, and most of them are there to get away from the drunkenness of upper King,” owner Patrick Panella says of his late-night crowd, adding that he’s never been approached by a patron demanding a last-call shot of Silver Oak. “At the end of the night, everyone’s very polite and cordial.”

According to the ordinance, bars open until 2 a.m. must have at least one security person and one door person on duty after midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; Exact numbers are contingent upon maximum occupancy limits. The ordinance also stipulates that bar owners monitor parking lots used by patrons; keep their sidewalks clear and close their windows and doors by 11 p.m. if music’s playing. Continue reading