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Friday, February 29, 2008

Let's get ready to......COOK!


Fish is all UP in the Food + Wine Festival this weekend. Tomorrow at 1:30 Nico teams up with Marc Collins of Circa 1886 to face off against Nathan Thurston of Jasmine Porch and Sven Lindroth of The Boathouse. Nico and Marc, this is for you.

Then at 3 pm, Fish hosts a Chardonnay Wine Seminar and at 9 pm, the desserts of Susie Ieronemo take center stage at Bubbles & Sweets. Thanks to the entire Fish team for everything they do to make us proud!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Food, wine, lunching with writers, jazz and um, more food, more wine

'Tis a rather chilly kick off to the Food + Wine Festival, but our excitement keeps us warm. Nico, Catering Manager Richard Jones and Pastry Chef Susie Ieronemo are wheeling a cart over to Marion Square shortly with some of this evening's finest cuisine. (It's SO nice to be within cart-wheeling distance of this gig!) Shot above from my phone shows some tents, one of the many promotional signs and a glimpse of the Francis Marion Hotel.

While picking up badges, tickets and chefs jackets at Festival Central earlier today, I spied my pal Melany Mullens' name. Melany works with Wagstaff Worldwide (experts in hospitality PR and just fabulous folks to know). I look forward to seeing her out and about for the weekend's events.

Had a fantastic lunch out at Lowndes Grove today. Managing Partner Randall Goldman, Lowndes Grove General Manager Ashley Gunnin and I met with CVB Media Goddess Katie Chapman, writer Lynn Seldon and his wife and Marketing Manager, Cele. Randall gave an informative "hard hat" tour of the property; Katie provided lunch and Lynn and Cele brought more goodies and wine. It was very nearly a party! We had a great time discussing story ideas, the state of the hospitality industry in Charleston and international travel to crazy places like Dubrovnik, Croatia. All that and dessert too.

What else? Oh, last night at Fish, our Wednesday night entertainment, The Charlton Singleton Trio, had a special guest. Her name is Cameron Handler. She's a former student of Charlton's and for the record, a HELLUVA musician. She plays a mean trumpet and, fun fact, she was nearly a member of Beyonce's band. By the sounds of things last night, we'll probably be seeing Ms. Handler more regularly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Let me 'splain

Okay, two of our fine sales managers, my trusty photographer and I were out at Lowndes Grove this afternoon taking in the flurry of activity that is the homestretch of this leg of this historic and incredible renovation. We have new photos. However, I must tell you that in an effort to let the artisans, workmen and painters who are toiling so hard complete their individual "works of art," I made the decision to only include one color shot of finished paint. Here's why: I just can't bear to spoil the surprise. I promise you will be blown away by the finished product and these photos are still great in their own right. So, with that in mind, take a look.

In other news, we did some window dressing at 440 King Street today: a little shout-out to the Food + Wine Festival, which by the by, kicks off tomorrow night. Nico and the folks at Fish are super psyched, as am I. It's going to be a big weekend.

One other tidbit: yesterday I received a comment from a fan of the blog (Thank you, gentle reader!), who asked for some personal information about me, like where and what did I go to school for and what exactly is my job. I've tried to keep this blog representative of Patrick Properties as a whole. Because although I'm pretty darn fascinating personally, this just isn't about me.

However, I will say this: I graduated with B.A. in English (Much to my Father's dismay. Upon hearing my major declaration, he groaned loudly.) Oh, and I nearly finished my M.F.A. in Creative Writing (more groaning from Dad). And though I'm not telling you my job title, it suffices to say that my job is quite different every day (one of the things I like most about it). It's marketing, advertising, public relations, writer, blogger, negotiator and things in-between, all rolled into one.

Tomorrow I will give Ashley Gunnin, Lowndes Grove General Manager, the time, space and love she so richly deserves.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek into the GLAMOROUS world of hospitality.

video

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lowndes Grove, the peninsula's last great waterfront estate


We're getting to the homestretch of the renovation at Lowndes Grove. Heading out there tomorrow to take some photographs (which of COURSE we will post). In the meantime, enjoy the beauty of the river and the lovely sunset light. Thanks to Taylor Stewart who took this stunning photograph. Tomorrow, you'll get to meet our new Lowndes Grove General Manager: Ashley Gunnin. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday's Mix

Saw this awesome red-handled egg beater and mixer online today. As we gear up for this weekend's Food + Wine Festival, I can't help thinking how fun it would be, if chefs were operating on that kind of level: unplugged. Nico will be participating in a number of events, including the Chef's Competition. And, our Pastry Goddess Susie Ieronemo, will be dishing up deliciousness at Bubbles & Sweets.

Sunday evening, Nico and the Fish team cooked their little hearts out for The Chef's Feast for the Lowcountry Food Bank. Let's just say they prepared food for 900 guests. Crazy.

And a word on other human appetites. While reading Mark Bittman's food blog, Bitten, he mentioned this.

As a special Monday bonus, I'm including one of Nico's recipes featured at his Charleston Cooks! gig last week. Enjoy.

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS

Ingredients:
4 scallops per person
Oil and butter

Pineapple Salsa
½ pineapple. diced
½ bunch of cilantro
½ red onion
1 red pepper, diced
½ jalapeño pepper, diced
Lime juice
Lime zest
Sweet chili sauce

Sauce:
Sweet soy sauce
Shallots
Pickled ginger
Sweet chili sauce

Marinated Crimini Mushrooms:
Soy Sauce
Honey
Mirin (condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a kind of rice wine, similar to sake but with a lower alcohol content)
Rice wine vinegar
Lemon zest
Garlic

Coconut Rice:
4 oz. Jasmine rice per person
2 oz. coconut milk
2 oz. green peas

Prepare crimini mushrooms and set aside to marinate. Pan sear the scallops in a sauté pan with olive oil and butter. Cook the rice with coconut milk and last with the green peas and marinated mushrooms. On plate, make a bed of rice, green peas and mushrooms on plate. Top with pan seared scallops. Spoon pineapple salsa over scallops and serve.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Friday, Dahhling...We MUST have cocktails.

Man, last night was busy at PP! Nico's cooking demonstration at Charleston Cooks! was phenomenal. The Charleston Cooks staff is wonderful: special thanks to Emily who's such a gracious hostess. Not only was everything deelish, but Nico told some fun stories and passed along some great information about buying and preparing fish and seafood. Pics are up. I also took a little mpeg movie of Nico cooking. There's not really much sound, but still it gives you a sense of what the evening was like. (And no, he's NOT doing one potato, two potato!)

video

And, for those of you who like to peek in on the big parties around town, like last night's Charleston Ballet Theater's 20th Anniversary, here's a look at some of the creative themed tables.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Charleston Ballet Theater & Other Newsy Bits

All day long, designers have been busy at The William Aiken House, preparing for this evening's Oscar Gala 2008: a celebration of Charleston Ballet Theatre's 20th Anniversary. The event is five-star all the way: Oscar nominee-inspired dance performances, fine dining courtesy of Fish, Hollywood themed tables, a spoof of the evening's events by The Have Nots!, an auction, and much more.

Let me just say: the tables are phenomenal. I spied a "Black Dahlia" table (fantastic black and white linens and black orchids), Godfather table (no horse head, sicko) and one that had mini pool table, stogies and a bottle of Gentleman Jack (NICE!)

In just a bit, Nico and I are heading over to Charleston Cooks! on East Bay. Nico's doing a four-course cooking demonstration, regaling folks with stories and the how-to of crab ragoons, sambuca mussels, pan-seared scallops and slow-cooked grouper. YUM and YUM. I will be on-hand briefly to take photos and look longingly at the food I don't get to eat.

Sent some feedback to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council based on the meeting Nico and I attended yesterday. Here's a bit: We’d like to state that the restaurant and hospitality community will be directly impacted by changes in allocation. If our commercial fisherman has to start charging more to make his fewer trips worth taking, we will in turn have to raise our prices. Suddenly, eating local, sustainable seafood is not something everyone can afford. Making smart, environmentally conscious decisions don’t have to be cost-prohibitive, so long as the planning is thoughtful and the dialogue remains open.

And lastly, in soccer news, the PP team took a bit of a beating last night (somehow I still think we might be in second place). The thing about arena soccer is this: things are going along beautifully and suddenly all hell breaks loose in a moment and things go willy-nilly. Like Kris taking a ball to the eye, and still rocking the house might I add. Or Nico getting his foot kicked by an extremely aggressive woman with an axe to grind. Or Shannon nursing an injured knee. I took a shoulder check myself. It's rough out there, kids.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A lesson in fish, the environment and economics

Chef Nico and I spent part of the afternoon with friends from the Sustainable Seafood Initiative at a meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council who "is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida to Key West." Which is a pretty tall order if you ask me.

Today is a scoping meeting of an Allocation Amendment that would, in simple terms, set annual catch limits on both commercial and recreational fishing. These limits will be put into place to better preserve, manage and protect our fish populations. It was a really fascinating discussion, because it brings in so many facets of our society.

1. Money.
2. The environment.
3. Our food and where we get it.
4. Accountability and mindful consumption (on every level)
5. Regulation.
6. Recreational fisherman vs. commercial.

To be honest, I'm still mulling over much of what we heard today, and I'll talk more tomorrow about the issues, but I'll leave you with these things to ponder.

Currently, South Carolina tourism is a $16 billion dollar a year business and growing rapidly. The recreational fishing sector is also growing rapidly. Gas prices continue to rise. The market demand (you, the consumer) for fresh, local fish is growing (and we thank you for that). And, we, as a people, need to protect, preserve and manage the fish populations. Lots to think about. Simmer on that, and we'll talk more tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

10 years of preservation, events and hospitality

This evening we're celebrating Jennifer and Randall Goldman's (Director of Events and Managing Partner respectively) 10 year anniversary with Patrick Properties. As Randall recently wrote to Jennifer in a heartfelt ad in the P&C, "we stepped out of a moving truck onto the ride of our lives."

In the 10 years that Randall and Jennifer have been with Patrick Properties, they have helped it grow and flourish from one property and 11 employees to four properties and nearly 200 employees.

Ten years ago, Upper King Street was a very different place. In 1997, the Patricks acquired their first Upper King Street property, The American Theater, which had been vacant since 1977. Shortly thereafter, they built 440 and 444 King Street and began renovation on 442 King Street, an 1837 Charleston-single style structure that eventually became Fish Restaurant. In 2000, they acquired the William Aiken House, a National Historic landmark that had fallen into disrepair. After a meticulous renovation, they reopened the historic beauty as a one-of-a-kind event venue.

Most recently, they acquired Lowndes Grove, the Charleston peninsula’s last great waterfront estate and sole remaining plantation. The 14-acre property is nestled along the Ashley River and has a Main House, Carriage House and River House. Once again, Patrick Properties,with Randall and Jennifer at the helm, gathered a team of local experts to bring this unique and historic property back to its original splendor. Lowndes Grove reopens for its first wedding of the season March 15.

And, as the Patrick Properties portfolio of properties grew, so too did Upper King Street. The neighborhood is now recognized as the Upper King Design District, an eclectic array of interior designers, architects, restaurants, boutiques and small businesses. That's quite a decade if you ask me.

And perhaps it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that when you tackle historic preservation and hospitality (to include food, drink and events), things can get pretty hectic. I compare it to constantly preparing for a really fabulous housewarming and party that never really end.

Randall and Jennifer have made Patrick Properties their life's work. You don't hear that much anymore: that people love what they do enough that they will dedicate their lives to it. What that says to me is what is happening here is so much more than bricks and mortar, more than linens and decor, it's the building of community and the making of moments. And that is irreplaceable.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Case of the Mondays?

Photo: Lowndes Grove architectural detail.

Thought:
I often find myself reclining amongst the marsh grass listening to the dulcet tones of a flute-playing, winged cherub.

Thanks for the gentle reminder from a fan who said, hey, where are the photos?!

New Lowndes Grove renovation photos are up. The clock is ticking! Some fine craftsmen: painters, bricklayers, landscapers, drywall specialists and more are working their magic as we head into the homestretch of the renovation, which, did I mention included new wiring and HVAC? Yes, you could say ambitious. That would be accurate.

In other news, this Thursday at 6:30 pm, Nico will be doing a fabulous cooking demonstration with our friends at Charleston Cooks! If you've ever wanted to learn the ins and outs of local seafood and watch a truly entertaining and engaging Frenchman, you must make plans to be there. Be warned: if Nico really likes you, he'll probably try to recruit you for our arena soccer team. $55 per person. Call 843.722.1212 for reservations or click the link above.

In other food for thought (for real) news...saw some upsetting footage of animal abuse on the news this morning in reference to the story about the recall of 143 million pounds of beef (most of which has already been purchased/consumed). Not only is the story upsetting in and of itself, but also because a story like this only "breaks" after a lot of yelling by a lot of people for an extended period of time. Stories like this just drive home to me that we must be vigilant in our quest to know the source of what we eat. The next you're eating, take a moment to try and trace your food back to its source. If you can't, ask your grocer or your chef. It really is that important.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Giddy up, it's SEWE weekend!

King Street is bustin' at the seams with folks in town for this weekend's Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. And may I just add that there seems to also be a proliferation of animal print clothing as well? Ponderous.

Last night at The William Aiken House, we played host to a VIP event with Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and The Blowfish. Proceeds of the concert went to the Medical University of South Carolina Charles P. Darby Children’s Research Institute. The concert, at Charleston Music Hall, showcased Rucker, accompanied by a big band, performing Sinatra standards (I swear). Groovy.

Spent a few moments with a dear friend who works at Garden & Gun magazine yesterday. They are, as you might imagine, quite busy on a weekend like this, garnering new subscriptions left and right. She gave me a sneak peak of the upcoming G&G issue that has a great piece on a Chapel Hill chef who has built an array of relationships with local farmers, with very delicious results. Definitely check it out when it hits newsstands.

By the by, the yumminess that is our Valentine's Day menu is running throughout the weekend. Yes, we love you that much.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Valentine's Day 411

What a crazy Valentine's Day. I've had a bit of candy so I'm a little zingy from the sugar buzz. Lots to report.

First of all: Congratulations to Celeste and Charles Patrick (yes, the Patricks behind Patrick Properties). Last night, they received the Community Builder Award from the Trident United Way. The award honors philanthropic individuals who demonstrate excellence in working to improve the community. This year is the first time the award was given to a couple. Evidently, the award was a surprise for the Patricks who didn't know they were receiving award until their names were called. We here at PP are incredibly proud.

Now to Lowndes Grove. Yes, we made it out there this afternoon and WOW it looks incredible. Personally, I am so intrigued by the brickwork. I love to watch bricklayers do their thing, because they make it look so incredibly easy. We'll have new photos to share tomorrow.

And finally, fun fact about our new Corporate Sales Manager Jessica Kafer. Rather than the usual headshot, Jessica offered me this lovely portrait of herself done by her niece. I think it fits in nicely with our holiday theme, no? So, the story on SIS. So, Jessica's sister couldn't say "Jessica" when she was just a wee lass, so instead she said: Sis. And in a typical family-creating-your-identity-in-a-moment style, Jessica forevermore became Sis to everyone in her family. No one in her family even CALLS her Jessica. But if you call here looking to book some corporate business, I suggest you use Jessica, mm 'kay?

Okay, go snuggle with your sweet baboo or something.




Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mmmm, cake.

Didn't make it out to Lowndes Grove today because my designer/photographer/creative partner-in-crime and I spent some time window dressing today. That's right. We have many skills here at PP. The next time you pass 440 King Street, you will see our the fruits of our labor, and more importantly, you'll see the artistry of our Goddess of All Things Pastry, Susie Ieronemo. This is the model of the cake that nearly caused a riot (in a good way) at our Client Appreciation Party. Now showing in our window. If you call 843.853.1810 and ask about that pretty cake, you just might be able to score one.

By the way, in case you forgot, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. We've been getting some rather frantic phone calls today from procrastinatin' Valentiners looking to make a reservation. Hate to tell you, we're booked solid. You could always try sitting at the bar. Nothing says love like filling your Valentine full o' booze. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Meet Jessica Kafer

But first, a Lowndes Grove morsel: You know things are moving along nicely when the floors are getting sanded! So exciting. My trusty photographer and I are headed out there tomorrow to see the latest. It's literally different every time we go. I only wish we had time lapse cameras set up to catch all the action!

Now, meet our new Corporate Sales Manager, Jessica Kafer. She is very cool. A Harford County, Maryland native (when you're from Maryland, you label yourself by county), she comes to us most recently from The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton. Jessica also spent some time in the Washington D.C. area (where I went to graduate school), so we talked about fun places we'd both been. (A martini bar called Felix if you must know.) Anyway, Jessica will be leading the charge on all corporate business for our sweet family of properties. I don't have a photo of Jessica yet, although she suggested my friend Mary, the one who drew UNCLE CARL, could whip up a rendering. What a fabulous idea. I personally think we should all have those rather than headshots. Anyway, if y'all see Jessica on the street, say hey!

Monday, February 11, 2008

10 more minutes

Came across this great bit in Dwell magazine over the weekend. A phenomenon they refer to as "Un-design." But I think it spans many mediums, not just architecture.

"I am talking about a vital carlessness, both pragmmatic and aesthetic. I am talking about a passive willingness to allow poor decisions to invade and govern our environment at every turn. Un-design is fed by America's all-you-can-eat mentality -- another trip to the buffet even though we are stuffed -- and too few question it, because why turn down another plate of popcorn shrimp when there is so much?"

Something I truly love about Charleston is our (mostly) collective rebellion against "Un-design." It's never easy melding history with the future, but it's darn important work. Sometimes the best intentions end up in a mess. Trying to get things done in a hurry, for the least amount of money to feed the demand. Strip malls giving birth to more strip malls. Old growth trees cut down carelessly. Argh. It's how the land of milk and honey turned into a tasteless supersized McMess.

My solution, you ask? I don't really have one, but here's an idea: 10 more minutes. I propose that we just take 10 more minutes a day to really think about actions in any given situation. You can use the 10 more minutes all at once or spread them out over several subjects. So, 10 more minutes to do recycling. Or, 5 more minutes to read the paper mindfully and 5 more minutes of just sitting in your chair thinking. Or 8 minutes of chopping locally grown vegetables rather than opening a can and 2 minutes of stretching. I think you get where I'm going. More thought, maybe a little less "action." Although I believe there is a LOT of action in thought. Anywho, kick that idea around and get back to me.

In other news, The William Aiken House was all up in the news this weekend, thanks to our friends at Lowcountry Brides. Best quote from the article comes from the California bride whose Mom did the "location shopping:" "Mom went over and toured all three. She saw The William Aiken House, and it was like, 'Elise, this is it.'" Thanks, Mom!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday afternoon thoughts

I love my creative pals. Was just watching my friend Joe, photoshop genius, tweak a top-secret PP photo. Earlier, I spoke with my friend, empress of creativity, Amy Reed, about writing, designing and jungle gyms. Yes, really.

Fish is gearing up for the Richter Wine Dinner tonight. Oh sweet wonderful, private stock wines, we adore thee! Wine legend on the premises. Update next week.

And, on the Lowndes Grove front, I learned a bit about mindful, preventative landscaping today. Our Managing Partner told me that part of keeping the majestic live oaks that line the property by the river healthy is to thin out the crown (tops) so that any strong winds move through them more gently.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Take 'er slow

I had a particularly long and busy day yesterday. As I neared the end of it, my mind was still racing with all of the "to-do's" for today bouncing around. I was annoying myself. So, I did a little in-place meditation. Basically, I breathed more deeply, thought about each action as I was doing it and repeated them in my head as I did them. (I'm walking now. I feel the pavement under my foot.) I know this might sound hokey, but it totally worked. So today, I'm reading the Food + Wine blog and came across this great bit about the Slow movement, as in Slow Food, knowing where your food comes from, cooking it with care, mindfulness. Then, I found another cool website: In Praise of Slow. P.S. It's also a book. By the way, the whole idea is less about the word slow and more about the words thoughtful, careful, mindful. Good stuff.

Now, guess who's sleeping over our house during the Charleston Food + Wine Festival? Why, none other than Master Sommelier Bob Bath. For those of you who don't know, Bob Bath is one of only 79 Master Sommeliers in the U.S. and one of only 150 in the world. We're thrilled he'll be spending some time with us, and I hope I get to be the one to put the mint on his pillow. Please, Randall!

By the by, if you haven't yet purchased your tickets for the Charleston Food + Wine Festival, you must. Fish is hosting a Chardonnay tasting on Saturday, March 1. Carolyn Wente from Wente Vineyards, Jed Steele from Steele Vineyards, Sarah DeLoach from Hook & Ladder Vineyards & Winery, David Whitehouse from Trefethen Family Vineyards, Susan Lueker from Simi Winery and Stacy Clark from Pine Ridge Napa Valley Wines will all be on hand.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wedding Season's Coming!

Was re-perusing the "Summer 2008" edition of Charleston Weddings today, and can I just say? We counted at least 5 references to events at The William Aiken House and Lowndes Grove, from editorial to photographers' ads. Too cool! Thanks to all of our friends and vendors who help make us look so good.

The City Paper had a nice little write up today about the Richter Wine Dinner coming up this Friday. Remember? Friday? You promised to make reservations? Richter Wine Dinner? Wine legend sharing his private stock only with us. Yes, THAT wine dinner. I'll wait until you make the call: 843.722.FISH.

Random story: Yesterday, while out at Lowndes Grove looking at the new bluestone, I had this thought. Well, several actually. First of all, I thought how cool would it be to draw in chalk all over this new bluestone. (I know, childhood dreams never properly realized.) Then, I had this flashback of one of my first weeks here at PP when I thought how cool it would be to do chalk messaging near the restaurant. It went over well...until the second time when one of our city's finest "caught" me, chalk in hand and asked me if I realized that what I was doing was considered "defacing property." Um, no? She gave me a paper warning, thank goodness. Nothing says "I love my new job" like an arrest, huh? It became the running joke my first weeks here, and actually served as a nice little ice breaker. (I know, you have a story just like this, right?)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lunching with Mitchell & Other Fun

70 degrees and sunny today in Charleston, so my trusty photographer and I made a quick trip to Lowndes Grove to scan the progress. Please look at this finished ceiling and medallion. The bright beautiful white against the cool and soothing blue. LOVE IT. By the way, if you haven't visited the Lowndes Grove website lately, you need to. Our new brochure is out and ready to be oohed and aaahed over.

Had lunch today with the one and only Mitchell Crosby of JMC Charleston who was kind enough to let me pick his brain on marketing, positioning and branding. Then we got to the real fun: parties, art, jewelry and of course, the stories! Turns out we know a lot of the same people, which isn't too surprising because Mitchell knows everyone, ok? Not only did Mitchell share some great insights and a wealth of knowledge from his experiences, he "introduced" me to internationally acclaimed designer and artist, Tony Duquette's work. You must check out this photo from one of his parties. Too cool. Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Mitchell.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Engagements, wings & the market. You?

Happy news: Sarah, one of our fabulous event managers, got engaged in Asheville this weekend. I just stopped by The William Aiken House office to hear about the proposal and, of course, take a peek at her beautiful ring. It's really funny to see a roomful of event managers, who have seen it all, talk about the upcoming nuptials of one of their own. The news seems to have reenergized the entire office. Congratulations, Sarah!

Buffalo wing cooking tip: Had dinner with some friends right near Lowndes Grove this weekend. Besides having a lovely view of the river, we also had some killer wings made by our host. His secret? Slow cook the wings in a crockpot, then finish them on the grill. Amazing. Best wings I've ever had.

The City Market: Read an interesting article on the rather nebulous future of the City Market in the Charleston Regional Business Journal. It seems that in April, all of the vendor leases expire as the market's management company, The Christopher Co., also reaches the end of its contract.

A few weeks ago when Randall, Chef Nico and I attended the SC Department of Agriculture's "Fresh on the Menu" program, there was some discussion about the Charleston City Market returning to its local, agricultural and farm-based roots. According to the Business Journal article, in the 1940s the market was a popular meat and produce market. Sadly, by the 1950s, the market and the surrounding area had fallen into ruin. Then, in 1974 The Christoper Co. leased it from the city and a rejuvenation followed. From the sounds of the many local farmers, producers, chefs and restaurant owners at the "Fresh on the Menu" meeting, there is great support and enthusiasm for a return to more local products: produce, meats, fish.

Then, in today's Post & Courier, I read that the city collected 3 bids from management companies. The most interesting to us here at PP is the one from the City Market Preservation Trust. You can call it the team of Steve Varn and Hank Holliday, who owns The Planter's Inn, Peninsula Grill and Hank's, among others. The team proposed a two-year development plan. Plans include a concept based on some of the country's great public markets, like Seattle's Pike Place Market or Boston's Faneuil Hall.

We at PP could not be more excited. As supporters of local, sustainable products and producers, we love the idea that chefs, citizens and visitors alike could find what's fresh and unique at a truly local, truly Charleston market. Who knows, maybe one day you'll see Nico down there slinging fish fresh off the boat. (He likes that.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lowndes Grove, Wine & Gil

What started out as a rainy, chilly morning ended as a warm and sunny Friday afternoon on the river. My go-to photographer/designer/creative thinker and I took a quick ride over to Lowndes Grove as soon as we saw the sun peek through the clouds. The breeze was cool off the river, and we felt more peaceful the second we stepped foot on-property. Workmen were buzzing around, so we walked the grounds, taking in the new brickwork and the ground readied for bluestone and oyster tabby. Inside the Main House, they're painting walls and ceiling medallions. It's hard to believe we reopen on March 15! It's going to be incredible.

And while I'm thinking of it, if you haven't made reservations for the Richter Wine Dinner on Friday, February 8, get on it. Space is extremely limited. If you need a refresher, here are the details:

Dr. Dirk Richter, AKA a wine legend, is coming to Charleston for one of only two U.S. appearances. He's the renowned winemaker of the Richter Riesling family of wines, and he's sharing wines from his private library only with us!

WHEN: Friday, February 8, 6:30 pm meet and greet, 7 pm dinner

WHAT: 4 courses inspired by Dr. Richter's 4 private wines

If you're into wine, you'll be beside yourself with a course-by-course discussion of the wines by Richter whose family has been producing award-winning wines for more than 300 years.

THE MENU:
1st Course: Richter Mulheimer Sonnenlay Zeppelin QBA 2006
Sashimi Tuna pizza, crispy bread, lime-jalapeno sirasha, pickled red onions

2nd: Richter Zeltliner Kabinett 1988 (considered one of the best of the century) Spicy Bouillabaisse with scallops, local shrimp, mussel, fingerling potatoes, bok choy, fennel, mushroom in Thai coconut broth

3rd: Richter Erdener Trepphen Spatlese 1990
Local Triggerfish with fried noodles, sea bean asparagus and snow peas in a green curry sauce

4th: Richter Veldinzer Auslese 1988
Fried banana cheesecake spring roll with chocolate plum sauce

And to wrap things up this week, a shout out to our friends at Gil Shuler Graphic Design who I met with this morning. Bon weekend!