Southern Season Uncorks Thursday Wine Tastings

southernseasonA Thursday night Southern Season wine program which was recently the subject of a renewed promotional push got off to a fairly standard start: Last week’s $15 tasting covered Portuguese wines, while tonight’s session is devoted to what to drink with “a casual Easter brunch or an elegant Easter dinner.”

But in a month or so, Summer Thursday Uncorked will take a more interesting turn, with a line-up that’s refreshingly offbeat. In June, the program will tackle wines from films; wines from Germany (other than Riesling) and wines from the former Communist nations of Central and eastern Europe.

For the complete schedule, visit southernseason.com. Tastings begin at 5 p.m.

Southern Season Launches Weekly Shopping Trolley

Southern Season is off the path typically beaten by tourists, so the gourmet retailer is launching weekly trolley service to the store.

Starting today, Southern Season is offering a $45 Wednesday package which includes transportation to and from the Charleston or Mt. Pleasant Visitors Center; a demonstration of “regionally-based recipes”; lunch and shopping time.

The trolley leaves Charleston at 9:30 a.m., and returns at 12:30 p.m. It swings by the Mt. Pleasant Visitors Center at 9:45 p.m.

For tickets, visit zerve.com, or call 416-1240 for more information.

Author Sheri Castle Helps Prepare Party Hosts For the Holidays

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Stewart Waller

Although students in Sheri Castle’s holiday hors d’oeuvres class at Southern Season this weekend will learn how to assemble a range of impressive items, not every dish on the demonstration menu is highly elaborate: The first appetizer on the syllabus is a roast beef, asparagus and Boursin wrap.

Castle, a cookbook author and cooking instructor from Chapel Hill, N.C., is a proponent of keeping kitchen projects manageable during the holidays – especially when expecting lots of hungry guests.

“Don’t tackle more than you and your schedule can handle,” Castle advises. “Make sure your menu includes plenty of make-ahead and low-maintenance items; It’s fine to fill in with a few thoughtfully purchased items.” Continue reading

Chef Bill Smith Demystifies Gravy at Southern Season This Monday

bill_photoPumpkin pie may polarize, and oyster dressing may excite, but there’s no Thanksgiving food which terrorizes so reliably as gravy.

“People are always calling me up at this time of the year, sounding as if they are standing at the stove with whisk in hand, and asking for instructions on making it,” reports chef Bill Smith of Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner.

Smith (whose status as the son of a renowned Jerusalem artichoke pickle maker earned him a spot in my seasonal pickle story this week) is now bringing his gravy expertise to Southern Season ‘s cooking school. He’s teaching a course this Monday at 6 p.m. For $50, participants receive instruction in three different gravy-making methods. Continue reading

Anne Quatrano Brings Her New Cookbook to Southern Season

quatAtlanta’s Anne Quatrano is such an accomplished restaurateur that it’s somewhat mind-boggling that she’s never before published a cookbook. But the chef behind Bacchanalia, Star, Provisions, Quinones, Floataway Café and Abattoir this month halted the confusion with Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality.

Quatrano this Monday will appear at Southern Season to promote her book, which is organized by month. According to Quatrano, November is the month for buttered rutabagas, yeast rolls and hummingbird cake.

““As one of the first restaurateurs to transform a reverence for traditional cooking into a fresh, modern style, Anne Quatrano has inspired and nurtured a generation of young chefs,” Charlestonians Matt and Ted Lee say in a blurb for the book. “After reading Summerland, we can say with certainty that our entertaining will never be the same.”

The free event starts at 4 p.m.

Southern Season Hosts Advocate of Attractive Vegetarian Dishes

Eat-Your-Vegetables-Joe-Yonan-CoverBecause restaurant review dinners tend to include their share of pork products, and because I’m taken with what area growers harvest in early fall, I’m in the habit of ordering vegetables at lunch.

Commendably, most Charleston restaurants list at least one all-veg plate on their midday menus, no counting the DIY assemblage of sides that’s typically available. But I’ve frequently found myself wishing that the plates amounted to more than meatless heaps. Even when restaurant vegetables taste great, they don’t look very pretty.

I put the problem to my friend Joe Yonan, who’s in town today promoting his new book Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook. I’m admittedly biased, but the book’s been a hit with my vegetarian roommate and her usually-carnivorous boyfriend. (I gave her the book as a peace offering soon after we met, suspecting she assumed someone who worked as a food critic would harshly judge her dietary choices.)

Yonan agrees that even chefs who’ve come around to the idea that dishes without animal flesh can be imaginative, compelling and nutritious often fail to appreciate the visual opportunities presented by produce. Continue reading

Holly Herrick Explains Cream Puffs and Eclairs in Latest Cookbook

Charleston cookbook author Holly Herrick is planning a number of local appearances to promote her new book, Cream Puffs & Eclairs, the second volume in The French Cook series.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, Herrick will be stationed at The Peanut Shop, 92 N. Market St., for a book signing from 1p.m.-4 p.m.  And on Sunday, Nov. 24., Herrick’s teaching a choux pastry class at Southern Season’s cooking school (although if you’d prefer to catch Herrick sooner, she’s leading a mother sauces class this Sunday at 2 p.m. The session costs $40.)

Herrick’s book will be released tomorrow.

Southern Season Brings Bike Parking Front and Near Center

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burgundvia

The stretch of Coleman Boulevard that’s now home to gourmet retailer Southern Season is one of the area’s bike-friendlier blocks, with a clearly delineated bike lane and multiple bike racks on the south side of the street.

Until recently, though, Southern Season presented a cyclist’s quandary: The store tucked its bike rack behind the attached restaurant, in an area so isolated that a valet attendant this Sunday told me there wasn’t any bike parking available. “Starbucks doesn’t even have a bike rack,” he said in reference to the neighboring cafe, shaking his head sadly and offering to watch my bike if I propped it up against a picnic table in front of the store.

According to publicist Becky Tanenbaum, I may have shown up one day too soon. In an e-mail sent this afternoon, she writes, “They moved the bike rack to a more visible place two days ago.”

So take note, biking gourmands: The rack’s now “in front of the cooking school on the front side.” Sounds like you can’t miss it.

Southern Season Touts Daily Deals

sscoffeeGourmet retailer Southern Season today announced its daily promotion schedule for its new Mt. Pleasant location, set to open on Thursday, Sept. 5.

From Monday, Sept. 9 through Thursday, Sept. 19, the store’s marking Mondays by serving up a free scone with the purchase of a large cup of coffee. On Tuesdays, orders placed by the end-of-day Monday will be delivered via courier to Charleston area addresses, free of charge. Wednesdays are free gift wrap days, and Thursday customers can get three deli sides for the price of two.

The grand opening celebration concludes with a Sunday, Sept. 22 bonanza featuring a Moon Pie-eating contest; a blindfolded jellybean flavor identification competition; a $10 lowcountry boil and a scavenger hunt for kids. If what you’re seeking is more information about the festivities, you’ll find it on Southern Season’s website.