Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tea Rooms

Since I started writing about food a few posts ago (and digressed somewhat to other things), I will now return to that topic. I had been musing over the fact that our "traditional" foods have been reinvented and are served in fine restaurants the city over. But this time of year, several area churches hold annual "tea rooms" where folks have an opportunity to have a taste of the homemade versions of some of these recipes. I went to one yesterday at Old St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (which is on the road that leads to the plantations). The church itself sits in a lovely setting of moss-draped oaks and centuries-old tombstones. The food, made by parishioners, was delightful, with choices such as she-crab soup, okra soup, shrimp pate, and Huguenot tort, to name a few. There is also a boutique in the church hall where hand-made items which the "church ladies" have created are for sale. You can even buy cookbooks with the traditional recipes for the foods you've just enjoyed. The tea rooms, accompanied by the beautiful white Bradford pear trees in bloom, are the first signs of springtime, the most glorious season in the Lowcountry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Name That City!

So here we are enjoying our wonderful reputation as the number 2 tourist destination city in the country - not to mention a wonderful place to live. Movie and TV crews visit our city often, showing off its beautiful architecture, great restaurants, and gorgeous natural landscape. So it was no surprise to hear that the Today Show would be filming here this week. What did come as a surprise was that, when the show actually aired showing footage of our Holy City, the narrator was talking about Charleston, West Virginia! No kidding! Apparently, the story was about cities which had maintained a steady housing market in these tough economic times. True, our own Charleston has weathered the storm better than many, but certainly not to the degree the "other" Charleston has. Apparently, that gives the capital of West Virginia a leg up on our town. The mystery remains why footage from our Charleston was shown while telling about the other city - I guess the reporters and producers of the show must've been wishing they were here instead!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's in a Name?

I was planning to continue writing about food, but I decided to take a side trip to talk about the names of certain places. Recently there was an article in the Post and Courier (our hometown newspaper) about the renovations at the bandstand at the Battery. It prompted me to write a letter to the editor crediting the newspaper for using the correct nickname for the structure - a "bandstand." It seems that everyone who sees it these days calls it a "gazebo." I also mused in my letter about how the paper could be helpful in reminding (or informing) folks of the names of other locales which seem to have had their monikers changes inadvertantly as of late. Call me a typical Charlestonian - I'd like to hang on to some of the past when it comes to certain things. After all, that is what makes this city stand out from the rest.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You Eat What????

In my previous blog, I mentioned food and that "Lowcountry cuisine" has become a big tourist draw. Some visitors actually come to Charleston for the restaurants themselves! Chefs these days are taking some of our old staple recipes and creating dishes for the 21st century palate. That's all fine and good for an evening out. But at home (or at an oyster roast), give me the old-fashioned Frogmore Stew rather than "Lowcountry Boil." And I'll reserve my heapin' helpin' of Hoppin' John for New Year's Day!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Moving On to Other Subjects

So the rest is history, as they say. So now in your Charleston 101 course, we'll move on to another topic: food! These days, one of the main draws to the area is the proliferation of wonderful restaurants. Back in the old days, when I was young, eating out was rare. There were about three good places to eat in the downtown area. And they would never dream of serving up some of the Lowcountry cuisine that today has become renown in restaurants. Dishes like shrimp and grits, red rice, Frogmore stew (aka lowcountry boil) and hoppin' john were the meals for the common man - which you got away from if you went out to eat. It's amusing - and amazing - to see that folks from away are discovering these foods and finding them to be special enough to get dressed up and go out for!