More Chillie Bear Memories

chillieMy recent story about Chillie Bears, Charleston’s classic frozen summertime treat, prompted readers of The Post and Courier to reminisce about buying (and selling) the icy cups. Since there’s not much in the way of a written record when it comes to Chillie Bears, their memories significantly enhance what’s known about the early history of the snack – including its demographic and geographic reach:

Growing up on Rutledge Avenue in the 1940s, we bought Chilly Bears, two for a nickel, at the Coastal Ice Cream Parlor on Rutledge near Spring Street. The small cup was decorated with polar bears and we warmed it between our hands, flipped it, and enjoyed. –  Sandra Lee Kahn Rosenblum Continue reading

How Far Do Chillie Bears Roam?

chillie“The secret to Chillie Bears is you have to work with them,” says the clerk at Seafood Alley, one of the last local joints to still offer the frozen treat. Seafood Alley sometimes deviates from the traditional recipe (which calls for nothing but Kool-Aid) and freezes pineapple juice, but the rules are the same.

“You have to use your teeth,” the clerk explains.

Chillie Bears’ secrets don’t end there, though. The history and reach of the iced snack — and the underground economy surrounding it — are largely undocumented.

“Every neighborhood had a lady who sold them,” says Brandon Myers, the 31-year old owner of Seafood Alley. Although he describes himself as “out of the loop,” he suspects the practice has dwindled away since he was a boy. “Charleston has changed so much.” Continue reading

Maker of Non-Stick Brittle Ready to Take Town by Storm

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Patrizio’s Gourmet Italian Brittle doesn’t stick to your teeth, its inventor claims, but now Patrick Tracy is grappling with how to get his confection to stick with the local market.

Tracy is a former oil rig worker, one-time Navy sailor, lifelong candy hobbyist and tireless pitchman. He five months ago moved here from Daytona Beach, hoping to find an outlet for the peanut brittles he sold at flea markets and craft shows in Florida.

“By God’s mercy and my God-given talent, I’ve figured out a way to make peanut brittle that doesn’t stick to your teeth,” Tracy, 59, says. “I would say, literally, without being pompous about it, 75 percent of people who tried a sample would be buyers.” Continue reading

Extension Service Seeks Canning Pros

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As a release announcing Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service’s current recruitment drive for canning coaches makes clear, unskilled canning is a serious matter.

“Canning done wrong wastes money and time, and can very possibly make you sick or kill you,” it warns.

To help the many South Carolinians who want to safely freeze, dehydrate, pickle or can their gardens’ bounty, the extension service three years ago launched its coaching project. “Coaches may teach an individual or small group canning (class); assist agents during classes and help promote classes at farmer’s markets,” country extension agent Gayle G. Williford explains. Continue reading

Farmers Market Accepting Vendor Applications for Upcoming Season

While the city warns that very few food artisans, growers and farmers will qualify for spots at the Charleston Farmers Market, it’s put out a call for vendor applications.

According to the official announcement, “While the Market is presently near capacity, and in fact faces additional space constraints arising from nearby construction, the Office of Cultural Affairs remains committed to ensuring the continuing success of this vital resource.”

In considering applications, the Market Advisory Committee gives highest priority to farmers who sell products grown and harvested in South Carolina, using environmentally responsible and sustainable techniques. For more on the committee’s priorities and expectations, check out the complete vendors’ manual here.

The application deadline is Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.

Following the Chicken Feet Story Further

chxfeetMy blog post about chicken feet, which last Wednesday migrated to print, gave a number of readers occasion to reflect on the Gullah-Geechee tradition of enjoying the same portion of the bird.

The trick to eating feet, according to a Gullah-speaking caller who left a message on Life Editor Teresa Taylor’s voicemail, is avoiding the toenails.

Maverick Southern Kitchens chef Frank Lee concurred in an e-mail, describing the local dish as tender-cooked chicken feet surrounded by potatoes. “Just chew ‘em up and spit out the toenails,” he writes (he also sent along this photo of stock-making at SNOB.) Continue reading

Fruitmania Gardening School This Weekend

Perhaps to keep Fruitmania from getting too wild, the Lowcountry Fruit Growers Society has invited a man named Malcolm Manners to serve as the all-day growing school’s keynote speaker.

Manners, a horticultural science professor at Florida Southern College, will be joined at the Feb. 22 event by a master gardener; a cold hardy citrus specialist and a bee keeper, among other speakers. Vendors selling fruit trees and berry plants are also on the guest list.

Fruitmania will be held at Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd, Moncks Corner. Tickets are $25 until Thursday, when the price goes up to $30 per person. To purchase, call 553-0515 or point your browser here.

Old Firehouse Serving Shad Roe

Shad roe season came early this year, according to Lia Sanders of the Old Firehouse Restaurant.

As detailed in last week’s food section, shad roe is a seasonal lowcountry delicacy. Often served for breakfast, the herring egg sac is not particularly good-looking, but it’s very rich.

“We have shad roe and have been serving it for the last 11 years,” writes Sanders, who reports the ingredient’s now available at Crosby’s Seafood. “We offer it the traditional way, wrapped in bacon and deep fried, or poached in cream for a more delicate approach.”

The Old Firehouse Restaurant is located at 6350 Highway 162 in Hollywood, S.C. It’s open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call 889-9512 or check out the restaurant website.

Euro Foods Has Medal-Worthy Selection of Russian Foods

eurofood1The Tsarist way to usher in next week’s Olympic Games would require a magnum of Champagne and jars of caviar. But for local viewers planning a more authentically Russian celebration, Euro Foods sells most of the needed staples.

Sadly, owner Sasha Pavlichenko didn’t have the pickled herring I wanted to make shuba (sometimes called herring under a fur coat) for my Opening Ceremonies party. But had I been willing to undertake the pickling process myself, he had plenty of fresh herring in the cooler. And he sold me the tinned sardines I needed for sardine butter.

The sardine butter is destined for my attempt at zakuska, a pre-meal snack spread that’s possibly an offshoot of the traditional Scandinavian smorgasbord.  While zakuska didn’t become popular until the 18th century, Russian food writers now hold up the practice as emblematic of Russian hospitality, the rules of which dictate you should never ask a guest whether he’d like something to eat – because of course he wants something to eat. Continue reading

Memorial Service for Second “Mrs. Sassard” Scheduled for Saturday

AR-308179897.jpg&maxh=300&q=100Gertrude Sassard, who for more than half a century presided over the production of Mrs. Sassard’s jellies, pickles, relishes and preserves, died Monday. She was 87.

Sassard in 1962 inherited the Mt. Pleasant condiment company – and the closely-guarded recipes which were critical to its success — from her mother-in-law, Edna. Although Sassard was faithful to the popular Jerusalem artichoke preparation which in 1917 inspired the commercialization of Edna Sassard’s canning hobby, she added a number of products to the line, including iced tomato pickles, iced cucumber pickles and sweet onion relish.

Under Sassard’s leadership, Mrs. Sassard’s artichoke relish maintained its status as a revered Charleston symbol, eventually showing up in television host Stephen Colbert’s standard gift basket for guests. “We have memories of eating it on hot dogs at Pitt Street Pharmacy,” food writer Matt Lee told a Sandlapper Magazine writer; Lee and his brother, Ted, sell nine Mrs. Sassard’s products through their online food catalog. Continue reading