Roadside Seafood – A Coastal Dining Gift in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Once you step foot inside this tiny twelve table restaurant situated between the Island Bar and Convenience Store on Folly Road, you are swept away by the smell of traditional Southern fried wonder.? After inhaling your first 400 calories, it is hard to step away.? Ordained with a rustic coastal decor and lobster table clothes, you will feel right at home.? We must be fair, due to the size, there is often a wait for a table depending on the time of day.

Our waitress approached in her Roadside Seafood black tee-shirt and jeans and greeted us with a smile and structured her service to our needs, starting with a drink order all the way through final receipt of bill.? She even took the time to compliment my pairings which were taken well to heart.

This evening, we looked at all the elements of the menu and selected a eclectic range of edible treats.

Southwestern egg roll
Southwestern egg roll

The Southwestern shrimp egg roll is a must.? This gently fried roll is cut in half, oozing with cheese, with a mouth watering combination of seasoned sauteed shrimp black beans, corn and onions.? It is served with sweet chili sauce and BAM sauce.? We recommend you try both and determine your favorite.? This is great appetizer to begin your evening to indulge alone or share.

The Lowcountry She-Crab Soup offers a full bodied sweet and tangy flavor on your taste buds.? This soup is filled with a healthy offering of thick lumps of crab meat and savored with a touch of sherry.? We ordered the bowl and shared and still took some home.? It is a full and complete meal as a stand alone item.? Perhaps a cup may fill your personal needs.? Just a helpful hint.

If you are a fan of tacos and seafood, the BAM Shrimp Taco or Jerk Mahi will not disappoint your cravings.

For the entree, there is an offering of small and large baskets (Difference being one or two sides).? I went with the fried catfish with homemade mac and cheese.? Let us start with the mac and cheese.? It is prepared with large thick Penne style pasta and coated in thick creamy cheese.? You can do red rice, BAM cole slaw or sweet potato fries, but the mac and cheese is so delicious that it can be hard to pass up.

She-Crab Soup
She-Crab Soup

The catfish fillet was a large single piece fried and served up in a basket that was barely big enough for the serving size.? This dish is prepared with an number of spices to offer a sharp and moderately spicy kick as it goes down your throat.

All in all, a delightful dining experience that kept us full for most of the rest of the evening.

Combining traditional Southern cuisine with fresh seafood is a winning combination for Roadside Seafood located at 807 Folly Road, James Island.

Fried catfish
Fried catfish

Sunrise on The Battery – Quiet Morning in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

There is nothing more spectacular than a Charleston sunrise or sunset.? What makes a sunrise so remarkable is the absolute tranquility and silence that compliments a visual show of elegant serenity.? So often, we distracted by the tourists, cars, carriages, golf carts, dogs, runners, bikers and cameras that we lose sight of just home important a quiet moment can be to clear our minds and free our souls.

The Battery captures the essence of a true Charleston sunrise.? With the sun rising from the Harbor on the East and the colors of Rainbow Row and the flowers that ordain the walkway exploding in a shower of positive energy, it is a treat to see.? As you walk or sit, locals with be out for an early morning jog or to walk the dogs.? Don’t hesitate to smile and say good morning.? You know they will.

This visual point of view should sway your intentions to set your alarm a little bit earlier and experience this for yourself or with someone you love.

Good morning Charleston.? A flower to symbolize the start of a beautiful day

There is something magical about that yellow ball rising from the harbor

The smell of the flowers add to the experience

The reflection in the water goes right to your toes

Whether you look to your left or right, the view is perfect

The Palmer House is always a sight to see at 5 East Battery

The very first moments of dawn are a rainbow in the sky

All calm in the Charleston Harbor

Eclectic realm of natural life

All is right when you start your day with a quiet sunrise at The Battery

A Walk Through Old Sheldon Church

By, Minta Pavliscsak

It was threatening rain off and on all day so typical lay on the beach all day plans were out. So we decided on a road trip to finally go check out the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. We picked up a bag of guacamole chips and a ZZ Ward CD, and we were on our way.

If you head south on 17, just before you hit I-95, you will find Old Sheldon Church.

The church was built between 1745-1755 and was partially burned in 1779 by the British during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt in 1826 only to be burned again by General Sherman during his march from in 1865.

Since Sherman’s march, letters have surfaced stating that the church actually did not burn. The letter, written by?Miton Leverett in 1866, explained that the inside was merely torn up beyond repair. Supposedly the materials were used to repair other places that were affected by Sherman’s torch.?

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Now only the brick infrastructure remains, along with a few columns towering around it, the front four still commanding your initial attention as you walk up to the church site. These columns are said to be America’s first attempt at imitating a Greek temple.

As you walk inside the church, there is an altar type stone and the final resting place of Colonel William Bull. Colonel Bull played an integral part in assisting with the development of Savannah’s grid pattern layout.

Lovingly called “Sheldon” after Lt. Gov. William Bull I’s plantation, the church is officially named Prince William’s Parish Church. Lt. Gov. Bull paid for most of Sheldon Church.

Church services are still held here the second Sunday after Easter.

 

Stoll’s Alley: Corridor to History in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon

Today’s hidden Charleston treasure is a narrow corridor situated between East Bay and Church Street.? This narrow walkway donned with historic homes, statues, flowers and moss offers a romantic and historic view of Charleston.? As you walk through, pay close attention to the walls, entryways and driveways.? There are tiny gems throughout this one block walk.

Make sure you add this to your personal walking tour of Charleston.

Walk with me for a few moments as we document this quiet Saturday morning stroll down Stoll’s Alley.

Entrance way right off of East Bay Street

Horse knob by the front entrance of a residence

Lamp post against traditional brick

Old original external decor

Church Street entrance

stoll7

Colonial designed home

stoll8

Devil on the violin

That is a nice way to enter your home

The light shines bright

Love in Stoll’s Alley

We hope you can all enjoy your own stroll and make some wonderful memories from Stoll’s Alley.

Hint:? It is just before White Point Gardens if you are heading toward The Battery.

Poetry Slams into the Hearts of Charleston at Pure Theater

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

On Tuesday, September 22, Unspoken Word hosted the Holy City Slam at the Pure Theater.? Host and MC Derek Berry opened the evening with comedic banter and an expressive explanation of how poetry knows no judgement or boundaries.

Co-host Matthew Foley subjected himself as the sacrificial lamb doing A Letter to the Poetry Slammers as a test for the judges and the audience.? The strength of prose and powerful message of complete emotional release was a driving force to fuel the evening.? From dancing on the stage to an explosion of words, Matthew provided a guideline for life.

The evening featured four performing contestants.? The rules were simple.

  • Each poet performs two pieces.? Round one and round two.
  • Each poet has 3 minutes with a 10 second grace period
  • Five judges rule on a scale of? 1 – 10
  • The top two performers would go on to Round three.? Each finalist scores from round one and two are erased and it becomes a one round finale.

The performances were on extreme ends of the life spectrum, ranging from racial relations to relationships to sexting to infant loss.? There was nothing held back from this core of contestants than included a performer that had only been on stage for the second time in his life.

As the scores were tallied during a brief intermission, local Charleston performers took the stage in an open mic form.? While Marcus Amaker spoke of drowning in a waterfall of love soaked in intimate lust and desirable love, Derek and Matthew cut themselves metaphorically with an ode to a father and a mother.? Both poems released truths of emotionally challenging periods of facing failure and death.

From Mickey Mantle to Lupus, I think every one of the 60 plus members of the audience could internalize from these two poignant poems about family.

In the final round Saeed and Liz were left standing.? First Saeed and then Liz.? The five judges weighed heavily on presentation, content, emotion and impact on the audience.? In the end, Liz took the higher score, but all four contestants came out victorious.? It was a night of the spoken word.? A night where we all sat in a house of worship, with no religion to be found.

From silent concentration to screams from the audience, the extremely active audience participation showed what an important part our lives poetry plays.

For a moment, I closed my eyes and listened to the music play from the stage.? Without instruments; just the lyrics of the heart.

As Derek made note early on in the evening, the night was about not holding back.? It was about complete and unadulterated freedom

Sometime our greatest fear in life is to hear what we don’t want to know.? Expressive emotion is hard; then again so is life.

The Poetry Slam was a night where love and expression came together for all.

Velcro, Molasses, and Cigarette Ashes: Lily Slays the Crowd

By Jessica Edwards - Photography provided by TK-Productions
By Jessica Edwards – Photography provided by TK-Productions

“I think I add a very outspoken, unafraid female voice, musically and socially. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so that inherently creates a dialogue,” says Lily Slay, 29, local musician and comic, on what she adds to the Charleston music scene. She is certainly unafraid, and has chosen to match her aesthetic to her actions: donning loud wigs, kick-ass outfits, and expressive makeup.

She comments “I love when whimsy, absurdity, and brightness in art are used as a veil over darkness and raw, visceral emotion, which is a common theme and a goal for me in my music.” Among her other talents, Ms. Slay is also a cartoonist, sketching a black and white strip called Sad Badger, which is a more contemporary version of Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh fame.

When it comes to working in Charleston, Lily does a little bit of everything—from delivering pizza for D’Allesandro’s to working the desk at Roses and Ruins Tattoo Downtown. Perhaps what she is most well known for is singing for local outfit The Royal Tinfoil. A bluesy/gypsy folk band, Tinfoil’s songs soar along with Slay’s alto in a smooth, but thought provoking progression. To put it simply: once you hear them, you can’t stop listening. Try them out—their entire album is available for purchase or streaming online at royaltinfoil.bandcamp.com

I myself stumbled upon Lily Slay at the Recovery Room on upper King St. She was playing a smaller set, trademark kazoo in hand. Once she finished, I knew I had to find out more about her, so I reached out for an interview. Along with being very talented, Lily is also quite friendly, willing to be frank and open about herself.

On her beginnings, Lily said she was always a musical kid, “but a lot of my flair for performing came from the theater in school. With my alto range and larger frame, however, I never landed big roles. I wasn’t a pretty, petite soprano. I think my longing to create my own character and sing my own music was born of the frustration of not having my vocal ability taken seriously by a lot of the adults in my life.”

Photography provided by TK-Productions
Photography provided by TK-Productions

As an adult, she has certainly created her own character–a wonderful and whimsical strong woman, unabashed of her own talents, with flawlessly applied eyeliner and a killer wit. On songwriting, she says, “I’m often fairly sarcastic, too, but I love a proverbial wink to the listener that says, ‘you’re in on the joke.”’ When asked to describe her style, she puts it this way: “I always say I’m ‘velcro, molasses, and cigarette ashes.’ It means I’m a little gritty, but still polished; a smidge romantic, but a bit cynical.”

She’s not planning on solely sticking to the same kind of music, either. “It’s important to evolve. I want to keep growing and challenging myself. Currently, I’m working on an electronic dance music project and possibly a du-wop garage rock outfit.” And who doesn’t want to hear what that sounds like?

If you’re interested in seeing Lily Slay, you can catch her at Recovery Room with her drummer, Kain Naylor, October 6th. If you want more consistent Lily, she and Mackie Boles, the original line-up for the Royal Tinfoil, will be doing a residency on the deck at Charleston Pour house on Tuesdays all through November, and she hints at the possibility of some special guests along the way.

Lily Slay – Follow on Twitter

How Charlestonian Are You? Ultimate Charleston Daily Quiz

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How Charlestonian Are You – Ultimate Charleston Daily Quiz

Here is an opportunity to test the strength of your Charleston foundation. Are you truly a member of the finest community in the country or just passing through town? Take this 25 question quiz and see how Charlestonian you really are. Feel free to print the questionnaire and answer sheet and play along with family and friends.
Remember: No Cheating!!!! No internet, library, smartphones, phone a friend or ask a professor.

1. Name two Pat Conroy books, from memory.
2. Name five Charleston County Parks.
3. How many pets have you rescued?
4. What do the following acronyms stand for:

I.O.P. _____________
P.A.C. _____________
CofC _____________
S.N.O.B. ___________

5. Name all three of Charleston’s professional sports teams.
6. What year did Charleston stop using mini bottles?
7. What was the name of the major record store on the corner of King and Calhoun Street prior to it being Walgreens?
8. How many Cooper River Bridge Runs have you participated in?
(Can be run/walk/volunteer)
9. What was the date Hugo hit Charleston?
10. Who is the #1 seller of PBR in the US? Hint: It’s on the Peninsula
11. What current NY Yankees star was a College of Charleston graduate?
12. Where is Barn Jam held?
13. Do tourists bug you?
14. Which state do you hate people from most?

__ Ohio
__ New York
__ Michigan
__ Massachusetts
__ New Jersey
__ All of the Above

15. Clemson, Carolina, or some other team?
16. Do you own a boat, kayak, or jet ski?
17. Do you surf or S.U.P.?
18. Is your air conditioning off between May and October?
19. Do you like shrimp and grits?
20. For a weekend get-a-way, would you rather spend it…
__Walking around the historic streets of Savannah, Ga
__Tanning on the sands of Myrtle Beach
__Hiking in the mountains of Asheville, NC
21. Who is Charleston’s Best Friend?
a. a dog b. a truck
c. a train d. Savannah
22. Are you happy that Boeing came to Charleston?
__ Yes __ No __ Don’t Really Care
23. How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
24. Which Charleston native signed the Declaration of Independence?
25. Did you live in Charleston prior to Joe Riley being mayor?

How Charlestonian Are You? – Printable Quiz

How Charlestonian Are You Answer Sheet

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Bringing a Bit of France to the Low Country with Brasserie Gigi

By Robert J. Jenks
By Robert J. Jenks

When drawing up a list of places to eat in downtown Charleston, it is more than likely that a local’s list will differ greatly from that of an out-of-towner. Unfortunately, geography plays an integral role in determining which crowd will visit which establishments. Though there is a great deal of overlap, the Market certainly takes the cake when it comes to attracting the most out of town clientele, and because of that, locals tend to avoid the area at all costs.

One restaurant—with a unique interior reminiscent of a Parisian bistro, stands out amongst its Market Street competition to deliver delicious French food and top-notch customer service. Having only been open for just under a year and a half, Brasserie Gigi is on its way to the top of Charleston’s culinary charts. In fact, Brasserie Gigi is under the same ownership umbrella as some of the town’s long-time favorites, such as Hank’s Seafood and Peninsula Grill.

With a seasoned hospitality team behind the scenes making and implementing service standards and expert menu decisions, Brasserie Gigi sets the bar high in terms of guest satisfaction. To hear a little bit more about the great service and cuisine offered here, I sat down with the General Manager, Johanna Jenkins for an inside scoop:

Q: What are the top three things you aim for guests to take away from their dining experience at Brasserie Gigi?

A: As a manager, I don’t want my guests to ever want for anything. When they leave they should have had impeccable service and delicious food in a lovely and enjoyable atmosphere.

Q: With food culture being so prevalent in Charleston, how do you adjust your menus to remain competitive in the restaurant scene while still giving the public what they want?

A: At Brasserie Gigi we definitely face those challenges being French and on the Market. We have an extraordinarily diverse menu that will cater to almost everyone while keeping a little French flare in every dish.

Q: What changes would you like to see in Brasserie Gigi within the next year of operation?

A: For me Brasserie Gigi is top notch in all areas and because of that we have an amazing return clientele business. I just hope to reach more guests both local and visiting so we can pack the house every night.

Q: Tell me about a recent all-star experience with a guest.

A: I make a point to try and visit each table and make sure they are enjoying everything and learn a little about their visit. More times than not I hear that this is their favorite experience in Charleston. You can’t top that.

Q: What do you think sets Brasserie Gigi apart from Charleston’s other top restaurants?

A: The fact that behind closed doors Brasserie Gigi is steeped in hospitality history from the owner to the chef. It is truly a privilege to be a part of such an establishment and respected team.

As you can see the staff at Brasserie Gigi, from the owner to the front-of-house team, strive to create the best experience for their guests. In addition, the French bistro dining style is fairly unique to the area, making this establishment stand out amongst our local culture of grits and seared pork belly. Though the food is French, the hospitality and service speak with a loud voice to the Southern standard our great city is known for around the world.

Charleston Black Tie Affair Brings Charm and Elegance to Fine Dining

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Catherine Welborn is a three time cancer survivor whose strength; a foundation of personal vitality in a community that has defined itself on perseverance and hope is a remarkable example of what Charleston stands for. In November of 2009, Catherine and her husband started a small intimate community of diners. Each quarter, they would dress to the nine’s; gowns and tuxedos and spend an evening at Charleston’s finest restaurants. Some of the original members have since moved on due to health issues, but this small group of six has grown to a cap of twenty (20) couples and an annual holiday event called simply, A Black Tie Affair. Their web address is CharlestonBlackTieAffair.org.

The importance of community, comfort and friendship is a near and dear part of the mission of this group of dining enthusiasts. Couples are only welcome by invitation and must be in a solid loving relationship. Each February, May, August and November, if you look closely, you will see groups of adoring couples walking the streets or Charleston or laughing inside as you pass by our finest dining foundations.

Each evening begins with a champagne toast to celebrate life followed by three hours of banter, laughter and smiles leaving all of the pressures of life behind for just one night.

For Catherine, the concept of A Black Tie Affair was nothing more than an escape from the overwhelming hours she was dedicating to a political PAC. She needed a break and a moment to step away and take in the simple pleasures of one of the things Charleston does best: amazing culinary creations.

Mark Feldman, Elaine Cuthbertson, William Dion
Mark Feldman, Elaine Cuthbertson, William Dion

For many, this society of diners, joined for the same it was created; a temporary escape. This group consists of many prominent Charleston citizens including doctors, lawyers and politicians. From 7:00 PM until the last couple leaves, all that is put aside and the night is about connections and relaxation.

Each event is carefully designed so that all the members have an opportunity to learn about each other. When they arrive, the tables are donned with white table clothes and linen napkins and each couple randomly chooses a number. That will determine their seating arrangement. Thus, each event will situate them with new people to engage with. Once everyone is settled, a group toast is made and the night officially is underway.

Now six years running, Black Tie Affair is only getting stronger. Over the years, some members have been stricken with health issues that have forced them away, but when the time was needed, compassion stepped in. During one of Catherine’s treatment sessions, members would stop by and spend time with her and provide her with food and comfort. This group goes much deeper than four annual dinners and a holiday party. They understand the meaning of community, love and devotion. That may be the true underlying reason why the only rule of A Black Tie Affair is that you must be part of a couple.
Several months ago, I noticed that my core friends were slipping away. Life was moving in different directions and we were going months without spending time together. I insisted on a bi-monthly brunch rotating hosting homes to make sure we stuck together. A Black Tie Affair is a reminder to each of us that we need to stick together. Making connections can be difficult, but if you find a group of individuals that you can relate to, confide in and find tranquility with, it is a rare gift that should be embraced.

Mike Miller, Marie Miller, Mary Ann Taylor, Eddie Taylor
Mike Miller, Marie Miller, Mary Ann Taylor, Eddie Taylor

A Black Tie Affair is another reminder that Charleston has a rewarding culture of community, compassion and fun. With the backdrop of incredible fine dining, A Black Tie Affair and Charleston have found the perfect combination of community, comfort and friendship. As November approaches, another birthday for A Black Tie Affair rolls around; continuing their perfect combination of community, comfort, and friendship.

 

The Life of A Comic Book Writer in Charleston – Exclusive Interview with Hart Jeffers

By Jennifer Baker – Image courtesy of Run Riot Media

Hart Jeffers first got interested in comics when he’d be sent to his room by his parents. It just so happened that his room included his parents’ old comic book collections. He’d read them by the stack.

He is the author a new comic series set in Charleston. Titled “Sol,” the artistry is unparalleled. Drawn by Anthony Mingacci, who also works as a tattoo artist at Blu Gorilla Tattoo, the images draw you in and offer a kind of thrill ride for your eyes, page after page.

The story is set in the future where robots are meant to be programmed so that they maintain just enough (but not too much) personal agency. The perspectives shift and the main character, Jane, struggles with her having an unusual amount of self-awareness of having been programmed. The issues in science fiction are always philosophical, but in this case, the fantastic story does not shy from engaging with philosophical theories directly.

Hart studied philosophy at the College of Charleston. If comics were once considered “low brow,” that impression won’t be maintained by the many references to philosophical theories in SOL. This is a comic that even recommends academic books as a follow-up.

I ask Jeffers why he makes his work so philosophical.

HJ: I’ve always been in love with ideas and how ideas shape our world. My mom got me hooked on science fiction at an early age, reading the likes of Ursula K. Leguin was like an atom bomb going off in my brain. Later, when I discovered that there is a several millennia old discipline dedicated to this pursuit: that was it. When I write I either start with the story I want to write and find the philosopher that matches, OR I start with an aspect of philosophy that is interesting me at the moment and build a story out of that interest.

There’s a plan and then there’s execution. I couldn’t help but ask Jeffers how one plots out a story as complex as that in SOL.

Image courtesy of Run Riot Media
Image courtesy of Run Riot Media

HJ: “I have a template that I made a few years back of very small comic pages. I constantly go between those as a master plotting guide for the whole issue and the script. There is a list of all the things that have to happen in each issue. So I try to fit all of those plot items into those 32 mini pages. From there I flesh out each scene dialogue wise and draw the individual page layouts on little index cards.”
I asked Jeffers about comics in general. Why do they seem to be dominating pop culture today, for example, when they were once things you had to hide from your parents? He had an answer I didn’t expect (but perhaps should have, from someone so philosophical!)

HJ: I think the shift has been one of generational cultural norms. When I grew up, liking comics was pretty uncool, especially among the ladies. Over the past twenty years, due to the movies and the assimilation of nerd culture into the mainstream. I think that hostility has been replaced with acceptance. Harry Potter helped a lot, and so did comics and nerd culture being less reflexively hostile to women. Comics readership is now almost 50/50 along gender lines. When I was a kid that number was 90/10.

And finally, what it is about Charleston that makes it Jeffers’ home?

HJ: When I moved to Charleston it was the first time in my life that I had ever felt like I was a part of a community and that people that I didn’t necessarily know cared about me. How our amazing city responded to recent tragedies is emblematic of that fact.

The first issue of SOL can be purchased locally at Early Bird Diner and Captain’s Comics. For more on
SOL please visit SOL industries or Run Riot Facebook Media page.

Image courtesy of Run Riot Media
Image courtesy of Run Riot Media