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Friday, December 28, 2007

A Trip Down T.V. Lane

As a child of the 1980s, I watched quite a bit of television. I sat there, mouth agape, as Buzz Aldrin planted the MTV flag on the moon. As the Buggles serenaded the dawn of a new cultural movement.

I also spent a lot of time watching some much quieter programming. Like The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. (If the phrase, "happy little trees" does not make you smile, I am truly sorry.)

But one of the shows that is forever burned in my memory was an elegant culinary show simply called: Madeleine Cooks. The star and host, Madeleine Kamman, captivated my young imagination in a way that still befuddles me today. Throughout the course of the show, Ms. Kamman spoke to the audience in a most polite, informative way. Her thick French accent added a special mystique for me. (I hadn't yet met anyone with an accent other than an Irish brogue.) And, though she had a certain grandmotherly quality (her lovely grey hair was swept up into a loose bun), I also remember noticing that she was quite beautiful. Looking back on that now, I see how amazing it was, since as a child, I tended to view people more simply: either young or old. Friend or authority figure. Ms. Kamman was an interesting mix of both. While she seemed very nice on-screen, she also had this intonation in her voice (which may have just been her accent) that to me, had undertones of, "Hey, pay attention and don't mess this up!" Which I love now, more than ever. And, what I now know is that Ms. Kamman is held in high regard for her skill in blending traditional French cooking techniques with seasonal American cuisine. She uses the freshest ingredients and time-honored techniques resulting in nearly perfect, delicious good.

It's funny what a child remembers. A French woman gliding effortlessly through the kitchen, deftly slicing and dicing, drawing me nearer to my glowing t.v. screen as she lifted the lid on a steamy pot of simmering soup and said, "Eeeet smells lovely, no?"

Oui, Madame Kamman. Bien sur.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy & Warm

Coming to you from my warm and toasty couch. And yes, it is a bit cold in Charleston tonight. Currently, I'm feeling warm, safe and blissful. Someone very sweet has made me some homemade kipfel (a nut, flour and confectioner's sugar mixture that is simply lovely). I just googled it and found any number of variations from all parts of Eastern Europe. Suffices to say that these cookies melt in your mouth and should anyone ever offer one to you, you should say yes immediately. That's all for now. I hope this post finds you enjoying, relaxing and peaceful wherever you are.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

When Hospitality & Politics Meet...

It has been such the political month around here. First, Samantha Power, foreign policy advisor for Obama, lunches with us at Fish. Then, over at The William Aiken House, we played host to a press conference for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Oklahoma Congressman Brad Carson during which they announced their support for Barack Obama.

Then, Goldman hits me with the news of his possible run for Vice Presidency of the U.S. on the Colbert ticket. While I'm at it, here are some Vice Presidential Fun Facts:
  • 2 VPs shot a man while in office: Aaron Burr & Dick Cheney

  • 3 VPs were the target of assassination attempts (all 3 unsuccessful)

  • 3 VPs became Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Gates Dawes & Al Gore

  • 2 VPs resigned: John C. Calhoun (went to the Senate) & Spiro Agnew (no contest to pesky bribery charges)

Call me crazy, but I think that proves there is A LOT of room for improvement, vice presidentially speaking, that is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Year's Eve

I have to be honest. I really don't care for New Year's. As my friend Anne says, "It's amateur night." And more than that, I think it's a lot of build up and then a big let down. Have I sufficiently bummed you out? What I think is fun at New Year's is getting together with friends, laughing, talking and singing (yes, singing) over some fantastic food. And NO, this is not some shameless plug for spending your New Year's Eve with Fish. I mean, it sort of is, but it's more about me talking about what happens when great food and good people get together and spend some time. 'Tis rather magical.

But of course, I will give you our New Year's Eve prixe fixe menu. Roasted butternut squash soup. Truffled crimini mushrooms with five-spice pecans.

Then, you get to choose. Maybe you're feeling the broiled Alaskan King Crab legs with spicy cilantro aioli and fava bean salad. No? Perhaps the open short rib dumpling with truffled crimini mushrooms and coffee tamarind sauce. HOLY MOTHER, it is divine. Perhaps you'd like the roasted breast of duck with pumpkin, French lentils, pearl onions and five-spice glaze. Finally, there is the pan seared filet of red snapper with sautéed sea bean asparagus, fried noodles, candied ginger and green curry cream.

Oh, and lest I forget desserts by our new Pastry Chef, Susie Ieronemo: to include chocolate mousse cake sundae and coconut custard, cherry curd & ginger caramel. I know. That's what I'm saying. Yes, New Year's can be a ridiculous romp of sappy songs and bad champagne. But New Year's Eve with fine folks, fine food and libations and the time to enjoy it all? Near perfection, my friends. Time's a wastin'. Please call 843.722.FISH for reservations.

My plans? My couch, Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve and mallomars. Lots of 'um. (Kidding.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goldman May Run As VP On Colbert Ticket

Today, while squelching rumors that The American Theater is "going condo," Patrick Properties Managing Partner, restaurateur, hospitality mogul, Scorpio (November 14) and all around swell guy, Randall Goldman, announced that he may run as Vice President of the United States on the Colbert ticket. Goldman has already formed an exploratory committee and expects to announce his decision in January.

When reached for comment, Goldman said, "I think America deserves me. I see mints on every American's pillow. No child left untucked. No infused-liquors served without a cocktail napkin. Make reservations, not war. That's what I've got so far. Colbert and I are working out the rest."

Late this afternoon, for no particular reason, Goldman said, "Really, I just want an espresso." We'll keep you updated.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holla-Day-Eee! Cell-A-Bray-Eat!

It really doesn't take much to get me to burst into a Madonna song (though I'm not sure our bluegrass buddies Yee Haw Junction do any Madonna, but I digress). But actually, there is a good reason. Sunday night was the Patrick Properties Holiday Party, and it was a true Lowcountry celebration. An oyster roast at Bowen's Island, plus barbecue, desserts made by Managing Partner Randall Goldman and Director of Events Jennifer Goldman and the sweet bluegrass sounds of Yee Haw Junction. As luck would have it, the balmy weather we'd been having disappeared on Saturday. And last night was downright cold and breezy on the water. No matter, our holiday cheer and good company kept us warm. Mad props to young Liam (just two years old) who tried his very first oyster (and didn't spit it out). A true Charleston gentleman. Check out some of the pics.

Mmm, steamy oysters.

Hey, Nico! Look out, rogue oyster!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Power To The People

Samantha Power, foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, dined with us for lunch today. (She spoke at the University of South Carolina School of Law last night.) I must admit; I was in full admiration mode. Power is, among many other amazing things, a Pulitzer Prize winning author for her book A Problem From Hell: America In The Age of Genocide. In the opening of the book, she wrote "We have all been bystanders to genocide...The crucial question is why." I have been stuck on that thought throughout the day. I know, not cheery, but certainly worth pondering.

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law, she came to the U.S. from Ireland at age nine. From 1993 to 1996 she covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia as a reporter for the U.S. News and World Report, the Boston Globe, and The Economist. She remains a working journalist, reporting from around the world, including Burundi, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and contributing to the Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.She also wrote a New Yorker article on the horrors in Darfur and Sudan which won the 2005 National Magazine Award for best reporting. She has seen some of the modern world's greatest horrors and brought it to the world through word. Her most recent work, a political biography of UN's Sergio Vieira de Mello, is due out in February.

No matter who you support politically, it's good to know that people like Samantha Power are out there: being the scribes, the witnesses and giving us the perspectives we need to be better citizens and people of a world that grows smaller every single day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Take Me To The William Aiken House or Lose Me Forever

Charlotte, who handles our corporate events, forwarded me this email she received from a group who recently had their company holiday party chez William Aiken.

"Charlotte, we all had a blast! Best turn out we've ever had for a holiday party! The house was gorgeous, and the food was perfect! Everyone insists we have the party there again next year."

How cool is that, when people INSIST on having their party with us? Like they wouldn't go to the party if were elsewhere?! I love it. It's so darn DECISIVE.

Now. On a completely different note, here's the quote of the day sent to me by a dear friend: "Oh yay - my Moravian love feast buns have arrived."

If you need some back story (because I sure did), here it is. Personally, I find what my mind dreamed up wayyy more interesting than the back story, but what can I say, we're dream makers here, we think big.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Charleston Food + Wine Festival Brings It

Yesterday, we attended a planning meeting for the 2008 Charleston Food + Wine Festival. I'm personally totally psyched for this year's festival. It's my first one alongside Nico, our Executive Chef, and Susie, our Pastry Chef. And, one of my current favorites Suzanne Goin, chef of Lucques in Los Angeles, will be there. Not only did Goin work at Chez Panisse (we have already established my adoration of all things Alice Waters, right?), she also walks the walk when it comes to creating dishes that match both climate and season. In fact, her approach seems very in line with what we do at Fish: it's not just about wonderfully fresh food and wine. It's that people are spending the time to get together in the first place. It's the experience that is at once appealing, dynamic and communal. If you haven't been, you must make this your year. The festival begins February 28.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why We Do What We Do

Emails like this don't just make our day. They make us absolutely positive that we are in the right business. Thank you.

"I just had to send a special thank you. The reception dinner was spectacular. The setup of the room was perfect. The servers were so friendly and professional. The presentation of food was beautiful. All of the food was delicious - our thanks to Chef Nico.

In my two trips to Charleston this year I took the opportunity to dine at many highly recommended restaurants...they were all spectacular, but nothing beats the food at FISH. I absolutely love the Chef's menu, the commitment to freshness, the combination of seasonal flavors, and that wonderful peacefully friendly atmosphere. All the employees there have always displayed a genuine happiness to have me there - and that makes a person feel special. Everybody has been raving about the entire afternoon at FISH that day - you made it special for all of our family and friends. For that, we can't thank you enough."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don't Mess With Texas

On Wednesday, Fish played host to a group of 40 Texans led by Amanda Manning at Carolina Food Pros who run the city's finest culinary tours. Executive Chef Nico Romo put together a tasting that included crab rangoons ( jumbo lump crab, Boursin cheese and plum coulis), butternut squash soup (with five-spice pecans and cinammon cream) and a homemade cocktail sample of our pomegranate-infused vodka. See Nico sharing culinary secrets below.
The room grew really quiet once the food was served, and you KNOW the food was good if it made a room full of Texans quiet (I'm just saying.) Sing it with me: "deep in the heaarrrtttt o' Texas!" P.S. Don't you love this man's hat?

And, so you have a face to put with the name: here's our new pastry chef, Susie Ieronemo hard at work making something delicious and chocolate just for me, I mean our guests.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Serious Yet Fun-Loving Group

Yes, that's how I like to sum our happy little family here at PP. While out at Lowndes Grove the other day, I snapped a photograph of one of the many incredible architectural details: this ceiling medallion. Even without a chandelier it is exquisite.

And, just received this little gem from the hardworking pranksters at The William Aiken House. While doing some organizing at The American Theater, they came across some miscellaneous treasures, including this "lady." Of course, they immediately put her to good use, posing as Catering Manager, Richard Jones' "girlfriend" (patiently waiting for him by his motorcycle.) Can't. Stop. Laughing. Must. Go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Someone, Hand Me My Pink Bass!

Inspiration is coming from all sides this week. Went out to Lowndes Grove with my trusty photographer yesterday to check out the renovation progress. It was absolutely incredible to stand in the Main House, free of furniture, window treatments and decor of any kind. In its raw state, you can see the wood and the architectural touches in their simplest form, and it is all simply stunning.

Standing by the river, we watched the sun begin to set over the golden marsh. It was so peaceful and beautiful, we didn't even want to move for fear of breaking the magic of the moment.

Had a brainstorming session this morning with the sharp minds at The William Aiken House. Let me tell you something, these women know their business, know what's classic and what's a trend and darnit, they KNOW how to throw a party.

And last, but certainly not least is this. Watching The Today Show this morning, I was absolutely blown away by Miss Gabi Wilson, a 10-year old musical prodigy who played A Touch of Honey's "Boogie Oogie Oogie" like it's never been played before. I have my new hero. She is 10 and plays a funky bass.

Check it out. (Note: You have to watch a short commercial first.)

This young girl has a musical gift!
This young girl has a musical gift!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dessert Has A New Name

Say it with me: Susanna Ieronemo. That's right, we're pleased to welcome Susie Ieronemo as Pastry Chef at Fish Restaurant. That means she'll be creating delicious pastries for events at The William Aiken House and Lowndes Grove, too. AND, for the first time EVER, we'll offer wedding cakes, because: Susie has MAD WEDDING CAKE SKILLS. (I told her I was going to say that, but I'm not sure she believed me.)

In an effort to get to know Susie better, we spent a few minutes chatting this morning so I could get the inside scoop, which of course I'm sharing with you good people.

Originally from: River Forest, Illinois (has spent lots of time in the Portland, Oregon area)

Been in Charleston for: Nearly five years, on and off

Previous Gigs: Pastry Chef at Cordavi, Seabrook Island Club and Stephen Duvall Catering

School: Fine Arts degree from Southern Illinois. Planned to study culinary arts at the Providence, Rhode Island campus of Johnson & Wales University. However, through a rather fortuitous miscommunication, she found herself studying in Charleston and has been hooked on the Holy City ever since.

Why the culinary arts? She didn't think she could make a living in ceramics. And did I mention MAD WEDDING CAKE SKILLS?

Name confusion: She has no blood ties to the Apache Chief Geronimo. Yes, even IF their names sound similar.

Best thing she makes: Chocolate cake (pardon me while I swoon)

Favorite sweet to make: Cupcakes

Dream of the pastry chef? Waiting for the day when someone asks her to make entire platters of Hostess-style treats.

Sweet stuff appearing nightly: Susie's pastries are already garnering praises. Come see us.