Friday, September 23, 2011

Scrumptious Summerville 2011 Kitchen Tour

Who doesn't like a win-win situation? Opportunity for the benevolent support of countless charities is readily available in the Lowcountry and many of these opportunities become highly anticipated annual entertainment events, circled on social calendars a year in advance. On Sunday October 2nd, 2011 the ninth-annual Scrumptious Summerville Kitchen Tour will take place in the Shepard Place neighborhood located in Historic Summerville, South Carolina. The annual fete benefits the Dorchester Children's Center a child advocacy program serving abused children in Dorchester and Berkeley Counties.

The Scrumptious Summerville Kitchen Tour has developed a reputation for being a grand event, affording the patrons access to some of Summerville's finest homes, cottages and gardens and food prepared by many of the Lowcountry's finest chefs and restaurants. Talented musicians perform in the gardens at each venue and area florists provide breathtaking floral centerpieces and decorations for the enjoyment of guests.

This years event will feature a new twist, a sort of departure from the tradition of being hosted in historic homes and cottages of the picturesque village located a mere twenty-three miles from Charleston. Instead, this year twenty home owners of the Shepard Place Community are graciously opening their homes for the fundraiser. Shepard Place, named for Dr. Charles Shepard the founder of the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville. Tea from the Pinehurst Tea Plantation was world renowned, winning first place at the 1904 World's Fair. Shepard Place is a new development but features some very unique and beautiful showcase homes, tastefully decorated with personal touches and fine furnishings.

The kitchen tour hours are from 1pm-5pm and patrons can mingle and roam at their leisure as the host homes are all located on two contiguous streets within the enclave. Some of the restaurants participating in the kitchen tour are : The Boathouse, Woodland's Inn, Oscars and Queen Anne's Revenge.

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking the link. If you love fine food, great music and are looking for some home decor ideas, don't miss the Scrumptious Summerville Kitchen Tour 2011 From The Land of Palm Trees.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Well Would You Look At That Version 9.21.11

For me, a bit of the felicity that comes from blogging is checking in on my "blogroll" daily to see what the various bloggers in my network are up to. I am inspired and in awe of the talents and creativity of each one of them. Last month I decided to introduce a couple of regular blog features, one of which provides some of the highlights from my daily blogroll. It is fun for me to look back through the blogs posted over the past couple of weeks although it is sometimes a formidable task to choose the ones to be featured because they are all so fun and informative.

I am hopeful that the product of my "toil" is that the followers of From The Land of Palm Trees will become acquainted with some of the blogs that I enjoy. Just by simply clicking on the highlighted link, you will be transported to the blog being referenced. I would also like to remind you that most of us who blog enjoy having followers. After all, a blog without readers is hardly worth the effort, so remember if you visit a blog which you enjoy; it is easy to share the link to that blog with your friends, either by email or sharing on Facebook or other social media via the buttons at the end of the post.

One of the gems that I have for you today is from a blog that is as much a part of my daily routine as my toothbrush, my blogging friend Joan at Charleston Daily Photo. Joan is a professional in every since of the word and her daily photo exposes take you to places that define the fiber of life in the Lowcountry. Like her bird heaven pictured below, Enjoy!

If you are hungry for a burger or pizza in The Land of Palm Trees, no problem, another transplant from up there has your casual weekend dining plans covered, at North Meets South.

And another great blog that I just happened across is Townsend Tales. Suzie a Charleston Transplant from sunny California takes you on some incredible journeys (I could spend all day on her blog). When she is not celebrating a wedding anniversary in one of the most romantic cities in the world, she is touring bourbon distilleries in Kentucky.

Are you planning a trip to the Holy City in the near future? If not, you should be. At any rate, plan your visit in conjunction with the 2nd Sunday of the month and you can enjoy the southern culture of Charleston, just like a local with the 2nd Sunday on King Street celebration. King Street is a classic locale, great shopping, fabulous food and great libations and when you do it 2nd Sunday style you can throw together a street fair atmosphere with live music and epic fun. Check out this link, and plan accordingly.

Well, that should be enough for this month's Well Would You Look at That version of From The Land of Palm Trees. Hope you enjoyed your trip through a measure of my blogosphere. Once again, please be sure and visit the featured blogs and spend some time exploring, it's like a great magazine for FREE. Wherever you may be today I hope that you have a great day, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday 7 On A Monday Night

So, I have another seven night work week behind me, and another seven days off in front of me, every other Monday night is really, really cool in my world. Speaking of really cool, the weather this weekend was really cool. I know, I know we will have some hot days over the next month or two, but for the most part, the "eight months of awesomeness" are here in The Lowcountry.

One of the local blogs I visit on occasion is Patricks Place and in the blog yesterday Patrick posed the question, what are 7 things you are looking forward to doing now that cooler weather is arriving here in The Land of Palm Trees? So, I thought I would play along.

(1) Cool crisp sunshine and blue sky days spent on the
back patio with a fire in the outdoor fireplace

(2) Bike rides on the beach

(3) Oyster Roasts

(4) Chilli and corn bread

(5) Reading a book by the sea

(6) Sweater vests on the golf course

(7) Christmas Shopping on King Street

So, what do you look forward to in the coming days, weeks and months before we roll around to another, Summertime...And the livin' is EEEEZZZZZZYYY?

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Hero!

In my former life prior to moving to The Land of Palm Trees and adopting "easy livin'" as my mantra I did a ton of volunteering for a variety of civic causes. During my tenure as the area United Way Campaign Chair I was being introduced to some local Rotarians and the person doing the introductions provided me with what I considered the ultimate compliment when he said, "if there is anything positive happening within the community, this man is usually involved with it in some way." Whether it was deserved or not, I was very flattered with the introduction and I have carried that statement with me and since then I have met several people who are representative of those comments. You know them as well, there are people who just can't help but work and give of themselves to make the world a better place to live. We admire that type of person and we appreciate them for their efforts. My oldest son, J.D., by virtue of his service and leadership to his school and fraternity at The University of South Carolina exemplifies these qualities. Whether he is distributing bibles throughout the Greek System, thereby witnessing his faith to his fraternity and sorority brothers and sisters, or by being nominated for the USC Hero Award for his actions to assist some fellow students who were in a dangerous situation late one night on a downtown Columbia street. To know J.D. is to understand and admire his maturity, character and intelligence.

This past week, J.D. called me to tell me about his latest act of philanthropy and to ask me to assist him by getting the word out to my blog followers and friends. J.D. is currently coordinating a joint effort featuring the Brothers of Sigma Chi and the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority to organize and raise money to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes. They have established a $5,000.00 fund-raising goal. The walk will take place in Columbia on October 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM. As many as 3 million Americans may have Type 1 Diabetes a disease most commonly diagnosed in childhood that strikes suddenly, lasts a lifetime with the constant threat of deadly complications. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's mission is constant: to find a cure for diabetes and it's complications through the support of research.

Please consider making a donation to J.D.'s efforts to help the JDRF. Click on this link for his personal fundraising page and the details on how you can help. Thank you in advance for considering my plea. And thanks to my hero, my son, J.D. for making a difference in the world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Restaurant Week Experience: Social Wine Bar and Grill 225

I have ranted and raved ad nauseum in From The Land of Palm Trees regarding the joys of living in a place where world class dining is literally available to us at any time the mood strikes and the extra cash allows. The Lowcountry and in particular Charleston provides ample opportunities for fine dining and twice a year, the availability of fine dining at much reduced rates presents itself in the form of Charleston Restaurant Week. We got together with our friends Jeff and Lisa, also transplants from West Virginia, and decided a couple of weeks ago to give Grill 225 in The Market Pavillion Hotel a try. We had never dined there before, but we always comment to each other about the doorman decked out in uniform and top hat stationed on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and grill entrance. We also frequently steal a peak through the side windows into the beautiful dining room that is streetside in the heart of Historic Charleston.

Saturday was an absolutely perfect day in The Land of Palm Trees, so after a casual day spent at home with morning coffee on the lower front piazza and a nice walk around the neighborhood followed by a day of college football on television, Michelle and I got "cleaned up" and headed downtown to meet our friends at Social Wine Bar for happy hour. I got a kick out of the hostess at Social, when I called ahead to check on availability for our party of four I asked if they could accomodate us with seating for happy hour and not dinner. To which she replied, "well we can accomodate you but we are not having happy hour this evening," to which I replied, "well you may not be having happy hour, but we are..." She laughed, of course she was referring to the lack of happy hour specials. Turns out, Social was the perfect spot to get things started for our grand evening out. After a round of Allagash White beers for Jeff and I, a glass of Chilean Chardonnay for Michelle and a bit of Sangria for Lisa, it was out the door and down East Bay Street to Grill 225.

It was Saturday night in our WONDERFUL city by the sea which we now call home and bachelorette parties were abundant. The ladies on our arms, bachelorette days behind them, were most impressed with Cinderellas Carriage, as it pulled up in front of Grill 225. Jeff and I, not so pleased as we realized that we missed the opportunity to provide a perfect arrival for our princesses. Oh well, maybe next time.

Once seated at Grill 225, our white linen clad servers began taking care of us with impeccable attention to detail. The menus at Grill 225 are very, very tall, reminding me somewhat of the HUGE workbooks we used to use when I was in the first grade, yes, that tall. I apologize for not taking any pictures of our meal at Grill 225, instead I will provide you with a photo from their website. The scene was just to elegant and sophisticated to go about snapping pictures. The Grill 225 aspires to be one of the great steakhouses in America, and based upon my USDA Prime wet-aged rib eye steak, they are certainly in the neighborhood of great American steakhouses.

We finished our grand evening with a leisurely stroll around town, admiring the view down Church Street toward St Michaels. And wouldn't you know it Michelle found a new treasure, the newly opened Tervis Tumbler shop on the corner at 179 Church Street. Of course, Jeff found a friend down the street and stopped to say hello, and what had promised to be a great day for us in From The Land of Palm Trees came to an end. Everytime that we spend an evening downtown in Historic Charleston surrounded by tourists and visitors traveling here from around the world, I am reminded how lucky I am that I have a pioneer spirit that allowed me to have the courage to become a resident, and not just a visitor to the Holy City. I hope you are having a great day, wherever your pioneer spirit has lead you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet Southern Living!

Summertime, and the livin' is eeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzyyyyy!!! Well, I sort of wear that tagline out from June through September, but it is a classic line from a classic American Opera and it provides a great mental image of just barely gettin' through all the Summertime heat and humidity in Charleston with the help of the beach, pool, cool beverages and well, easy livin'. But when Mid-September comes along I am not singing so much about easy livin' as I look forward to what I like to call the eight months of AWESOMENESS from October through May. This is the time when local celebrity and Live 5 News weatherman Bill Walsh frequently refers to the major feature controlling our local weather as "the Dome of Delight" and delightful it is.

Whatever you want to call it, I call it time for sitting on the front porch enjoying high temps in the upper 70's through Thanksgiving Day. And nothing can beat Christmas shopping downtown under the palm trees on King Street then coming home to relax with a glass of wine on the back patio, a fire in the fireplace while enjoying a beautiful sunset. Speaking of the holidays, it is not uncommon to spend New Years Day in the back yard with a rack or two of ribs in the smoker cooking slowly towards perfection. And how could you not look forward to a neighborhood block party and oyster roast in late January. That's how we do fall and winter here in the Lowcountry.

Yet another great reason to love Autumn livin' in the The Land of Palm Trees is the opportunity to do a second planting of the vegetable garden. I bought a couple of early yield bush tomato plants, some cukes, zuchinni squash and some head lettuce to plant in the garden this week. Fresh tomato and cucumber salads are fabulous in the fall. Tomorrow I plan on digging in some new herbs to replace the aging ones in the kitchen garden that thanks to the heat and humidity of August are a bit past their prime. The back yard flowers are in full late summer bloom as well. They seem to be fond of the "dome of delight" too.

Of course, another great weather weekend is on the threshold here in From The Land of Palm Trees and with a wedding anniversary night out planned for Grill 225 on Saturday evening I will be loving every minute of it, blessed better than I deserve. I hope that you have a great weekend as well, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't Miss Out On Charleston Restaurant Week

The waiting is over, today is the start of a classic Charleston social event that many of us have been excitedly anticipating for weeks,
Charleston Restaurant Week sponsored by the Charleston Restaurant Association. Actually it's a misnomer to call it "restaurant week" because it lasts for eleven days, September 7-18, 2011. But no matter what you call it, make sure you call for reservations, EARLY.

Charleston is world-famous for fine dining and creative cuisine and CRW gives you the opportunity to dine at world-class restaurants enjoying a feast prepared by a renowned chef. The nearly 100 participating restaurants are offering prix fixe menus where the diner pays one price, $20, $30 or $40 dollars for a three-course meal. Visit the website for a complete list of the three pricing categories and participating restaurants. So many great restaurants, so little time. Enjoy! Michelle and I are going out Saturday Night with our friends Lisa and Jeff and we are looking forward to dinner at Grill 225. Where do you plan to dine during CRW? Leave me a comment, they motivate me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another Serving of Almost Heaven In The Lowcountry

Click on colored links

You have got to be kidding me, right? My beloved pepperoni rolls made right here in Charleston? Not Charleston, WV but the other Charleston? You can't be serious, what? And soon available at farmer's markets, grocery and convenience stores? The ultimate grab and go, an authentic West Virginia style pepperoni roll, you can't be serious. YEP! I am serious.

I introduced the readers of this blog to Hot Dog Sauce and Pepperoni Buns back in January as part of my plea for cultural diversity in The Lowcountry. You may remember, the pepperoni roll/bun is the delectable crusty, yet soft and pillowy roll stuffed with spicy pepperoni and other tasty goodies like cheese and peppers. They have their roots in my hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia and they are as common around West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio as, well boiled nut stands and barbecue joints in Charleston.

And now, thanks to a couple of fellow West Virginia University Alums turned Lowcountry Transplants, Jessica and Andrew, Mountain Mama's Pepperoni Rolls are now ready to burst onto the cullinary scene of my favorite foodie city, Charleston, South Carolina. If there ever was a story made for this blog, it would be Jessica and Andrew's story. In a world economy where college graduates are finishing their degrees and being greeted with letters stating "thanks but no thanks" this couple took to the road "chasing the great weather of the Lowcountry" and "traded the beautiful mountains of WV for the coastal waters" of Charleston, found day jobs and began a quest for their dream in their new life From The Land of Palm Trees. Their business plan simple, find a co-op bakery where they could produce their hand-made pepperoni rolls, spend the major part of their start-up cash on a good graphic design for their packaging and enjoy life where "the livin' is EEEEEEZZZZZZZYYYYYYY!" Their you have it, a classic start-up business from a couple of real life pioneers.

After meeting the Trumbulls last week on their way back to the "mother land" to spend a Mountaineer Football weekend in Morgantown, I put their product to the test. Michelle and I hosted the Bethany United Methodist Church Youth Senior and Junior High youth this past Sunday by providing the meal; Mountain Mama's rolls, chips and salsa finished off with chocolate chip cookies. What better way to "test the waters" and conduct an experiment in culinary cultural diversity than using fifty or so teenagers and a handful of adult counselors and parents. It didn't take long for a couple of parents to migrate back to the kitchen and say, "you have got to tell us how you make these pizza rolls." OK, so we have some work to do, first of all, they ARE NOT PIZZA ROLLS!!! And besides, you don't have to know how to make them, you just need to know that Mountain Mama's will do the baking and you just have to pony-up at the cash register. Capish? (that's understand in Italian)

At any rate, from the pictures you can tell that the test went well, and their were satisfied smiles abound. And yesterday evening I enjoyed my own version of the pepperoni roll supper with a cold Corona and of course some Oliverio's Peppers. Good luck to Mountain Mama's and keep your eyes open in The Lowcountry they are sure to be a sensation soon, watchout Tony the P-nut Man, here comes Andrew the Pepperoni Roll Dude to a sporting event near you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy 49th, Finally!

For several years of my childhood I believed that Labor Day was a National Holiday in honor of me and my mother. I was born on September 2nd, Labor Day in 1962, and for some reason in classic childhood innocent fashion, I believed that since my mother was in labor for my delivery that they called my birthday, Labor Day. Well, at least my birthday is always close to the unofficial official end of Summer weekend that is usually packed with fun and frivolity.

This year was a very odd, if not surreal birthday experience for me. My birthday this year fell on a Friday, usually not a bad thing for birthday boys, unless of course you have to work. Compounding my dilemna was the fact that my son had a varsity high-school football game Friday evening in Kingstree, way to far for me to catch part of the game before going to work at the hospital. So after arriving home from work Friday morning to an empty house, except for my black lab Sammie, I proceeded to spend most of the day in bed only to wake up to a quiet and empty house since my wife traveled to Kingstree directly from her job. Then things really took a turn for the worse, my cell phone rings and displays my wifes cell number, initially thinking she is calling to tell me that my son just made an interception or returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Instead I hear her say, "Doug, Noah got hurt. He is on the bench with an ice bag taped to his knee." Wow! Happy Birthday Doug. So, off I went to work, after having spent the first birthday in 49 years of life without spending one minute of the 24-hour period with anybody who shares my last name and the knowledge that my youngest son is hurt in a football game on my birthday with me two-hours away.

As it turned out, Noah was evaluated this morning at the Roper-St. Francis Sports Injury Clinic and got some decent news. Not a blown out knee, but a severe sprain of the MCL. Even though he will be out of the action for a couple of weeks, at least he won't have surgery to repair a torn MCL or ACL. And wouldn't you know, that awesome home cooked birthday meal was even better today than it would have been yesterday, one of my favorites Filet Mignon Stroganoff, fresh peas and a tossed salad, not to forget the home-baked Salt Risen Bread shipped to me by my sister in West Virginia.

Look at what the wife and sons got me for my birthday, now I can proudly display that Mountaineer Pride on the golf courses of the Lowcountry.

And look at me, celebrating 49 with a wish, finally....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The View From The Top Of The Palm Trees V.9.1.11

It is well known that "the livin' is eeeeeezzzzzzyyyy" in The Land of Palm Trees but don't think for a minute that life in Charleston is all lounging on the beach and bermuda grass greens surrounded by white sand bunkers. Yes we have our day jobs, or in my case our night jobs. But we also have alot of entertainment options to fill up the social calendar. That is why life in The Lowcountry is such a blast. Options man, we have options! My family has lived here for four years now and we have not begun to scratch the surface in light of restaraunts visited not to mention theatres, art galleries, museums and music hot spots. That is one reason why this particular regular post is so enjoyable for me because twice a month I get to research entertainment options to include in the post. By doing so it not only provides visitors to the blog a glimpse of what is happening in The Land of Palm Trees but it also insures that I am on top of upcoming events. Some of what I see from my perch at the top of the old palm tree today...

click on colored words for links

Pet Lovers
With beaches, dog parks and numerous walking routes in and around Historic Charleston that are perfect for walking Fido Charleston is a great dog-town. The Summer season at Charleston County Parks and Recreations water parks is coming to an end and on September 11, 2011 at Whirlin' Waters Park in North Charleston it is your chance to celebrate the Dog Days of Summer with man's best friend. Check out this fun video from last years Dog Day Afternoon.

Theatre Lovers
Nothing beats getting all dressed up "like a million dollar trouper" and putting on the ritz by hitting the town for a great show in one of Charleston's historic theatres. Charleston Stage kicks of their 34th Season with Chicago, the Tony Award winning jazz classic at my favorite theatre, The Dock Street Theatre. Another theatre option for September is The Village Playhouse who will be presenting the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the writer. The Village is an intimate venue that puts you right into the scene as the professional actors do their thing.

Charleston is so rich in history and culture, the city itself is a living museum. The acclaimed (click on this colored link) Charleston Museum Mile is comprised of six museums, five nationally significant historic homes, four scenic parks and a revolutionary war powder magazine all in a 1-mile stretch of Meeting Street. During the upcoming Museum Mile Weekend, you can visit each 13 different sites for just $25.00. This is a tremendous value and gives you the perfect excuse to plan a weekend visit to the Holy City.

Charleston is a Mecca for the live music lover with multiple venues providing all types of musical entertainment, from jazz to blues, hard rock to bluegrass and everything in between.
Check out the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center for a complete listing of upcoming events. Some notables include the Lowcountry Jazz Festival, The US Army Spirit of America and Glorious Gershwin to name a few.
The most intriguing music headline currently in terms of music entertainment is the press release by the Zac Brown Band about a major 3-day festival of food and music to be held at The Joe, Joseph Riley Stadium, on the banks of the Ashley River. The festival sounds like a blast, the only problem? The folks at the stadium say that it hasn't been scheduled. So it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next couple of weeks. From The Land of Palm Trees will keep you posted.

And finally, twice a year the Charleston Restaraunt Association schedules Charleston Restaraunt Week. This huge event is widely popular with the locals and provides the perfect opportunity to dine at most of Charleston's most excellent dining spots for literally pennies on the dollar. More on the Charleston Restaraunt Week coming up later this week, but for now click on the colored link and make your plans.