Maya Del Sol’s Moroccan Mondays

moroappsIt seemingly doesn’t take much to transform Maya Del Sol’s new dining room into a Moroccan restaurant: A few ornamental tagines; a soundtrack of Arab-Andalusian music; and mint green tea poured from a silver berrad appear do the trick.

But chef Younesse Alami — a Marriott catering sales manager who every other Monday takes over the Park Circle venue – doesn’t merely summon his homeland through material things. He returns to Morocco every December to press oil from his brother-in-law’s olives and buy raw spices.

“I know what I’m getting,” Alami says. “Like the ginger: You grind it, and it’s straight from there to the suitcase to the freezer.” Continue reading

Local Restaurants Playing Documentaries on Their TVs

sunriseTime was, the only things a drinker could hope to learn while perched on a barstool were the details of a fellow patron’s latest heartbreak and the bartender’s preferred method of mixing martinis. But educational opportunities have lately picked up at a handful of Charleston establishments where the TVs are tuned to documentaries.

At Kanpai, chef Sean Park likes to play Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the acclaimed film about an exacting 85-year old sushi master. But other venues are using their Netflix accounts – which save them the trouble of purchasing cable or satellite service — to stray further from their menu themes. Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice for Seeking Local Restaurant Advice

foilman

foilman

Lest the following sound petulant, I want to emphasize at the outset how much I enjoy responding to reader requests for restaurant recommendations. As my grandmother might say, I don’t eat eight burgers a week for my health. The fun of exploring the local food scene is sharing what I find: I love trading tips with residents and helping visitors plot their Charleston dining adventures.

But it’s astounding how many e-mails don’t provide any details about what the writer’s seeking. “You probably get questions like this a lot, but it looks like there are many great restaurants in Charleston,” a correspondent wrote this morning. “Can you recommend any that would be within walking distance of the Embassy Suites near Marion Square?”

According to a downtown Charleston restaurant map I picked up at Tales of the Cocktail this summer, that narrows the choices down to about 107 eating places. I consider many of them pretty great, but I have no idea whether the writer and I have the same definition of greatness. He sounded like an awfully nice guy, so I’d hate to steer him wrong.

By contrast, another future visitor last week sent me his tentative dining agenda, along with the following guidelines for additional ideas: Continue reading

Italian-American Grandmother Hosts Pop-Up at Butcher & Bee

GiuseppeMasili

GiuseppeMasili

Maybe you make regular trips to the Bronx to eat meatballs. Maybe you grew up down the block from an Italian grocer in New Jersey. No matter your red sauce background, Nicole Albano claims, you’ve never eaten anything like her grandmother’s cooking.

“I bet very few people, if any, in Charleston have ever experienced Italian-American food like this,” says Albano, who’s spearheading a pop-up Butcher & Bee dinner with Ann Albano at the stove. “Though there are very good Italian restaurants in Charleston, and plenty of relocated northeast Italian Americans from New York, Boston and Philadelphia, I would say that most are likely more familiar with Italian-American restaurant food.”

By contrast, Albano says, her “nan” works in a Depression-era idiom which prizes versatile, belly-filling dishes. Although the menu for the Oct. 27 event hasn’t yet been finalized, Albano’s specialties include fried zucchini, stuffed artichokes and chicken parmigiana. Continue reading

Support Grow Food Carolina by Dining Out Tonight

5-percent-growfoodHaving trouble deciding where to eat tonight? We can narrow your choices down to 23 worthy restaurants.

The following restaurants are donating five percent of sales to Grow Food Carolina, which supports local farmers, eaters and chefs by systematically addressing the logistical marketing and distribution challenges faced by area growers: All you have to do is eat.

Place your generous orders at Blu Restaurant, Burwell’s, Cru Cafe, Glass Onion, Green Door, Hank’s Seafood, Heart Woodfire Kitchen, High Cotton, Hominy, HUSK, Langdon’s, McCrady’s, Mercato, Basico, Opal, Peninsula Grill, Republic Lounge, SNOB, Ted’s Butcher Block, The Lot, Tristan, Verde or Xiao Bao Biscuit.

Charleston Chefs Get VIP Treatment at Greenville’s Euphoria

The Grocery

The Grocery’s oyster-based contribution to Taste of the South.

Greenville this weekend hosted the eighth edition of Euphoria, the song-and-food festival founded by Edwin McCain and the restaurateur behind Soby’s. While I couldn’t stay for the entirety of the event (Taste of Charleston beckoned!), it didn’t take more than a few hours to appreciate the city’s enormous civic pride, which seems to extend equally to its restaurants and rubberized sidewalks.

But with stiff competition in both directions on I-26, Greenville may still be a few years away from unseating either Asheville or Charleston as a culinary destination. Continue reading

New Tasting Event Near Market

For tourists who can’t choose which restaurant near the City Market should get their weekend dining dollars, the new monthly Taste of the Market event should be a boon.

Starting this Thursday, 10 restaurants will set up sampling tents and tables in the Palmetto Carriage Company Lot from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Neighborhood stores will also be represented, and organizers are planning chef demos and live music.

Presented by the City Market Hospitality Association and Charleston Culinary Tours, the event features food from Lowcountry Bistro, The Peanut Shop of Charleston, Noisy Oyster, Mad River, AW Shucks, Wild Wing Café, Tabbuli, Charleston Crab House, Henry’s and Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill. A sample from each vendor is included in the $10 adult ticket price.

Taste of the Market will return on the third Thursday of every month.

Charleston Wine + Food Festival Releases Complete Schedule

BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival

BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival

The complete schedule for the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival wasn’t available when today’s food section went to press, but prospective ticket buyers can now find the entire agenda on the festival’s website.

Among the new events offered are breakfasts at Basico, Callie’s Kitchen and the Rarebit; a pair of events featuring Atlanta chef Kevin Gillespie; dinners at Edmund’s Oast, Xiao Bao Biscuit; a Poogan’s Porch dinner starring pioneering cocktail revivalist Dale DeGroff and a demo by Thai food champion Andy Ricker of the ever-growing Portland/NYC Pok Pok empire. In keeping with current beverage trends, there’s also a sherry seminar on the schedule. Continue reading

Review Star Ratings Defined

Readers will always debate whether critics got a restaurant’s star rating right, but we’re hoping to help ground those discussions by providing a better sense of what the stars mean to us.

A box defining our rating criteria will now run with every Post & Courier restaurant review. Eagle-eyed readers will notice the definitions have been very slightly tweaked to reflect the diversity of the local dining scene. Like most contemporary newspaper dining sections, we’ve removed any allusions to fine dining standards from our criteria: Nowadays, a restaurant can deliver a five-star wow without ever unfolding a white tablecloth.

Additionally, it’s Post & Courier policy to always award at least one star. Should you choose to dine at a one-star restaurant, Godspeed. Continue reading