Wine + Food Festival’s Economic Impact Is “Essentially Flat”

cwf3The Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s most successful 2014 innovation may have been a mobile app, according to a visitor survey report released today by the College of Charleston.

According to the report, 100 percent of the 975 attendees who completed the e-mailed survey downloaded the free scheduling app. More than one-third of them credited the app with enhancing their festival experience.

Other introductions weren’t as warmly received: For example, a mere five percent of respondents named the Artisan Market, an element of the remade Culinary Village, as an event they’d like to see return in 2015.

Overall, the numbers closely mirrored those collected last year. “The study is essentially flat in comparison to last year, although out-of-town guests spent more this year than ever before,” College of Charleston associate professor Wayne Smith is quoted as saying in a release, which pegs the economic impact at $9.8 million. Continue reading

Jessica Harris to Lecture on Charleston’s Food Peddlers

Nearly two centuries ago, a Charleston curmudgeon wrote to the Post & Courier to complain about local peddlers’ sing-song patter:

“The public cry should be regulated,” the anonymous writer asserted in an 1823 edition of the paper. “The negro should be taught to announce what he has to sell and suppress his wit.”

According to food scholar Jessica Harris, who quoted the correspondence in a 2010 Southern Foodways Alliance address (posted above), street sellers “kept on keeping on” in the African tradition, using flirtation, rhythm and rhyme to hawk their porgy, she-crab, strawberries, oysters and watermelons. While Tony the Peanut Man is now one of the last living links to the era of shouted advertisements, Charleston was once a capital of Old World-style marketeering. Continue reading

King Street Cookies Stays Open Later

cookiesuigMy first, brief experience at King Street Cookies — which last month opened just a few doors south of Calhoun Street — wasn’t especially revealing: A baker emerged from the kitchen with a tray of fresh ginger snaps just before I was about to order one, so I ended up with a hot mouthful of butter and sugar.

Having spent the day eating oysters, I was happy for the sweetness, but the slim mass of melty pastry didn’t help me deduce much about its true flavor or texture. And as for the dozens of other cookie types on offer, I still don’t have a clue whether you should order red velvet or toffee crunch. What I could fairly determine was that I really liked the optional 25-cent cup of milk add-on (the bakery has a summer camp-style self-service machine) and that King Street Cookies would make a great late-night stop. Continue reading

Chewing Over Minerality in Wine With an Actual Geologist

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Minerality, a favorite word of wine lovers, is sometimes assailed for being non-specific: “It’s a word everyone’s using for everything,” a Chablis producer grumped in a recent Wall Street Journal column devoted to the term’s omnipresence.

But a recent conversation with wine blogger Jameson Fink prompted me to wonder whether the real problem is drinkers’ limited understanding of geology. Does “minerality” mean something else to earth science pros? Can a Ph.D. taste notes of igneous rocks?

Sadly, no, says Bob Nusbaum, a geology professor at the College of Charleston who conducted research at North Carolina wineries (presumably on topics slightly more sophisticated than the one I asked him to address.) Continue reading