Charleston

Champagne with Friends

By David McNamara

By David McNamara

Sat barefoot in jeans and a loose shirt in the corner of Mt Pleasant’s Dog and Duck, local musician Thomas Champagne could easily trick you into thinking you were somewhere else. His unique acoustic style and unusual syncopation fuses a myriad of genres, from his country and Cajun roots to reggae and Caribbean influences.

At times there is a pendulous sense Champagne’s innovative renditions of familiar songs will trip and fall. But while you’re not sure where you’re being led, there’s bearing and assurance the journey is somewhere positive and fun.

“The number one thing I want to convey is a positive message, but it’s the ability to catch people off guard I think that is the biggest present I can give to any audience – because that’s how you amaze somebody.”

Champagne achieves this with ease so when he segues into an original song it’s often overlooked because his sets flow seamlessly together. However, this didn’t come naturally to Champagne when he first arrived in Charleston from Austin, Texas. It was a challenge he says he had to grow into and work hard at developing.

“The biggest difference coming to Charleston is it’s primarily a tourist capital. While the thriving tourist scene here is awesome for the economy it can take over a musician’s directive by having to play more cover songs than one would normally like, or have to do.”

Champagne says he embraced the twist to what he was used to because he found ways to present cover songs in his own style. Being patient with this change has seen him over the past summer receive a great deal of encouragement and positive feedback.

The result is a breezy and soulful marriage of sunburnt earth, salt and the sea which could have you convinced you were in some surf shack on the Californian coast. However, this is just one side to the constantly evolving and innovative artist, which began to emerge when Champagne relocated from Austin to Charleston.

“I’ve always been Champagne with Friends and I’ve had over 100 different friends on stage. But when I left Austin I stepped away from having a band back me up and I now play all these solo shows, which I wasn’t doing before. It definitely made me stronger as a musician and as a person by having to say, ‘Hey guys, I love you – I miss you, but I got to go and step into this by myself.’ And I think here in Charleston is the first time Thomas Champagne came out – with friends as my audience.”

Born and raised in Beaumont, Texas from strong Louisiana ancestry, Champagne is proud of his heritage.  He also appreciates the truth and irony that comes with journeying into the unfamiliar, admitting with a chuckle that he became more of a Texan by leaving Texas. Champagnes sees the move to Charleston as another chapter, both as a solo artist and his recent full-time commitment to his profession.

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Two weeks prior to the Dog and Duck I first saw Champagne with Friends by accident when I entered the Blind Tiger on Broad Street on a Friday night to catch up with my own friends.  With two local musicians in support they belted out an infectious breed of classic rock tunes, and made the old floorboards at the Blind Tiger pay the price as everyone got caught in the rhythm and groove.

For me it evoked the great Aussie legacy of pub rock offered any weekend night in a beachside bar on the Indian Ocean in Perth, or a St Kilda pub in Melbourne. Continuing this prominent theme of evolution is the rotation of local musicians Champagne uses at every show.

“When you see Champagne with Friends it’s always different players so while you may have seen the show before it’ll be different every time.”

Champagne cites the generosity of Charleston’s music community as being invaluable in helping him gather new musicians to play with when he first arrived.

“The openness of the musical community here is awesome first of all. It’s nowhere near as competitive as it is in Austin, Texas which has advantages and disadvantages. Competition is a primary way to motivate an artist and make them grow, but it can also hurt you in the end.”

Not that Thomas Champagne is leaving Charleston anytime soon, but as someone not prone to taking time off he’s looking forward to opening up a new chapter in his artistic journey. After recording his last album with producer and former Hootie and the Blowfish guitarist, Mark Bryan, Champagne is due to head back to Austin to record another album at the end of the year. He then plans to tour the ski resorts in the Rockies before heading home to Charleston.

Categories: Charleston, Charleston Daily, Music, Thomas Champagne | Leave a comment

Research-Based Health Tips for the Season – Dr. Jay

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As the seasons change, so do our diet and exercise routines. The weather may feel like a barrier to exercise and our food choices may be enriched with holiday indulgences. It is not uncommon to gain a few pounds during the colder months. The Charleston Daily asks Dr. Jay, how can Charlestonians maintain those svelte summer physiques? Here are her suggestions, with research to back them up.

1. Start the day with a goal for being healthy. There is evidence that when individuals think about exercise, it helps them meet their goals [1]. Whether it is visualizing yourself at the top of the Cooper River Bridge or playing fetch with your dog at James Island County Park, take one of the 24 hours in your day and make it about you.

2. Park a little out of the way. This is not hard at all if you are going somewhere downtown. Having dinner at the Macintosh, you may have to park by the Warehouse. In your neighborhood, try parking on the other side of the grocery store parking lot. This built in space forces you to walk, thus improving cardiovascular health [2].

3. Be romantic and share dinner. Food sharing is a great way to cut calories and to foster relationships. This active area of research [3] can be utilized by best friends, lovers or spouses – anyone you don’t mind getting cozy with. Go to your favorite casual restaurant, sit on the same side of the table and split a dish. Table manners be darned. This may not be appreciated at Peninsula or Charleston Place (actually it may-service is exceptional at both restaurants). I recently shared a great bowl of pho this way (caveat- my dining companion and I now have the same cold).

4. Pack your lunch. I know it can be hard to resist the loaded baked potato bar at the ART cafeteria, but last night’s leftovers or a homemade salad would be better for you. A recent article proved that a healthy packed lunch can decrease a marker of liver inflammation [4]. Have a sweet coworker with home-baked banana bread? Just savor the taste of one bite. Don’t worry, someone brought a batch of holiday cookies in from Sugar for your third afternoon snack.

5. Eat real. Many of my friends and patients tell me that it’s okay to have two scoops of ice cream or sugar-free holiday goodies. The fact is, the sugar-free treats are loaded with non-digestible sugar alcohols. The sugar alcohols can make IBS flare [5] and there you are in the waiting room, waiting for an appointment with moi (and sorry, I’m running late.) If you are not diabetic, consider having some real ice cream or pie but opt for the kids-size portion.

References:

  1. Lebon F, Collet C, Guillot A. Benefits of motor imagery training on muscle strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):1680-7.
  2. Murtagh EM, Murphy MH, Boone-Heinonen J. Walking: the first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention. Curr Opin Cardiol. 2010 Sep;25(5):490-6
  3. Neely E, Walton M, Stephens C. Young people’s food practices and social relationships. A thematic synthesis. Appetite. 2014 Nov;82:50-60
  4. Iwamoto M, Yagi K, Yazumi K, Komine A, Shirouchi B, Sato M. Eating a healthy lunch improves serum alanine aminotransferase activity. Lipids Health Dis. 2013 Sep 14;12:134.
  5. Halmos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2014 Jan;146(1):67-75
Categories: Charleston, Eating, exercise, Healthy, Winter | Leave a comment

Charleston Donuts offers decadent treats

By Loretta Jophlin

By Loretta Jophlin

I squealed with delight when I discovered Charleston Donuts by accident. I was on my way to an office supply store in the Wando Crossing Shopping Center and while I didn’t plan to eat donuts that day, I embraced the opportunity. Nestled in a corner of the strip mall, this family-owned donut shop is easy to overlook. I was greeted by an incredible aroma and several enthusiastic employees who explained the protocol. Pick a donut, pick a glaze or frosting and choose your toppings. The decorators will then create your custom donut while you watch.

I debated within my head. Should I choose cream cheese frosting with bacon? Chocolate frosting with coconut and almonds? Vanilla frosting with mini M&Ms?  I settled on strawberry frosting, sprinkled with Fruity Pebbles and pistachios. Before I could even pay for it, it was ready. It took incredible restraint to take the photos for this article and not dive right in. It was… the best donut I have ever had. The outside was crispy and the inside was cakey but still fluffy. And it was served piping hot. The gooey berry frosting and crunchy toppings were perfectly complimentary.

I had only planned on having one donut but found myself back at the register ordering another one. They took my old standby, chocolate frosting with rainbow sprinkles, to a new level. The chocolate frosting was dark and rich. What a decadent treat. This time I also ordered a cup of coffee and it was very good.

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They have other donut choices beside the white cake type such as a seasonal apple cider donut. They also accept suggestions for novel donut toppings. Anyone up for cinnamon toast crunch? For breakfast or a sweet snack this is a great local option. Need dessert for the potluck dinner party? This would be perfect. Need to apologize to someone? Donuts trump flowers every time. Birthday celebration? Arrive with a dozen custom donuts and be the life of the party.

 

Charleston Donut is open daily from 6:30am to 2:30pm and can be found online at http://www.charlestondonuts.com.

Categories: Charleston, Charleston Daily, Donuts, Food review, Mount Pleasant | Leave a comment

Retired Mensch: Tale of Two Restaurants – Rutlege Cab Company and 82 Queen

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Now tell me, does a turkey sandwich befit a restaurant week menu choice? Of course not, but that’s what the Mensch ordered from the Rutledge Cab Company’s regular menu last week. If I were a poet I would have written a sonnet, an ode, or a haiku to that turkey sandwich.
Instead, I sent an email to general manager Dan Tolbert praising their turkey sandwich.
Who knew that toasted white bread could be so good? Thick cut, crispy brown outside, chewy inside. This wasn’t Wonder Bread. It was Pane De Vita bakery white according to Dan. And the turkey was just like the leftovers on black Friday, REAL turkey, not that deli-roll pretender. They roast it in house. Even the tomato was to die for. I think it was grown in a secret garden on John’s Island and not from Limehouse Produce as Dan offered.
The best part of this lunch was that the Mensch got two meals on one check! And even one day later, the toast of the other half of my sandwich had almost held its own against the spread and the tomato. I could have done without the sprouts and the subsequent gas, but that’s not their fault. Who cares what the restaurant week specials were, the everyday menu was tops.

With the unlimited budget at CharlestonDaily.net, restaurant week continued with dinner at 82 Queen which, after Magnolias, was a letdown. First off, the Mensch had to pay for parking, $3, at the city garage across the street.
Again we were a few minutes early and were offered seating immediately. We followed a hostess up the iron stairs to a small room to our left. Unlike the linen-clothed table of Magnolias, there were place mats. Our server Sienna cleared the extra settings and presented menus and beverage lists. Another great selection of cocktails and wine. An old-fashion, or is it old-fashioned?, and a cosmopolitan please.
The three course menu for $30 had some great choices. There were six appetizers, seven entrees and two desserts. For an extra $10 a crab cake would be added to any entree.
Sienna recommended the she-crab soup and the crab cake. Unlike Magnolias, this room was not crowded and the ambiance left something to be desired. Mrs. Mensch opted for the she-crab soup and how could I refuse fried green tomatoes?

I had hardly sipped my cocktail when our appetizers appeared. Mrs. Mensch oohed over the soup. The fried green tomatoes were tasty but not like they had been freshly prepared. The bed of cheddar grits were smooth, creamy and laced with bacon. Even Mrs. Mensch, a died-in-the-wool grits-hater, agreed with me and proceeded to glom some grits off my plate.
(“Grits were” or “grits was” which is correct? Either way it won’t affect the taste.) Before the plates disappeared our bottle of Rodney Strong chardonnay was uncorked. A fine selection.
Entrees appeared and Mrs Mensch had to send back the land portion of her land and sea. The steak was a little too rare for her. The scallop was sweet, a little cool and the outside sear was lacking in definition. The recommended crab cake was Maryland perfect.

I know, I know, chardonnay with steak just doesn’t sound right. However there was a scallop and a crab cake on her plate and I had the cod. Three out of four tilted the odds for white wine. Speaking of cod, it was Atlantic and baked so that the muscles peeled off like so many nickels. There were other mussels on the plate. I embarrassed myself by asking what PEI meant for the mussels. Ah, Prince Edward Island. Who knew? Actually, I did know, but the gray matter could not conjure up the definition.
I was on my fourth mussel when the wayward steak returned cooked to her liking. Now she had two plates of entrees side by side, scallop and crab cake on one and steak on the other.

Neither of us could see the value in adding chocolate to cheesecake and we both chose the lemon cello spongecake with lemon frosting and shaved white chocolate. A great dessert.
My disappointment was in the pacing. It was as if the kitchen knew what we would order, yes, yes, restaurant week menu, prepared it ahead of time and warmed it up to serve. We sat down a little before 6:30 and 7:31 was time stamped on my check. If I had hadn’t lingered to chat with the hostess or explore the other dining areas, I would have been home in time for Final Jeopardy and only paid $2 to park.

82 Queen Charleston Restaurant Week Menu

Categories: 82 Queen, Charleston, Restaurant Week, Retired Mensch, Rutledge Cab Company | Leave a comment

A Culinary Vacation with Caribbean Soul Food – Georgean’s Caribbean Soul

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By Tyler Sexton

There are some great eating and drinking experiences hidden on the side streets that criss-cross between Meeting St. and E. Bay St., but there is one that you might actually have to hunt down.  I found it by mistake one day trying to circumnavigate a traffic delay.  I cut down Line street, and I noticed two tables on the sidewalk and small sign fastened to the fence in front of what looked like any other house.  The sign said Georgean’s Caribbean Soul, so I made a quick mental note to come back sometime. Well, I finally checked it out, and I was astounded.

It’s hard to think of a restaurant that epitomizes the expression neighborhood restaurant better than Georgean’s Caribbean Soul.  This quaint kitchen is nestled right in the middle of two houses on Line St., just across from a church.  Oh yeah.  Did I mention that they will deliver Sunday supper right to your church parking lot?

I arrived a few minutes before they opened, but the co-owner Deborah welcomed me in early, commenting, “If you know I’m here, just knock and I’ll let you on in and take care of you.”  Deborah is the co-owner with Chef Tim Jackson, who named the restaurant after his grandmother.  Opening in January this year, the two work together to bring authentic Caribbean cuisine to the Charleston food scene.

When I asked Tim how they wound up in this location, he replied, “There weren’t many restaurants in this neighborhood.  There was a Church’s Chicken a few blocks down, but most other restaurants are too far away.  We wanted to offer something closer to the surrounding neighborhoods.”  What better way to do that than to open up shop right in the middle of the neighborhood?

Aside from the two small picnic tables outside, Georgean’s is strictly take out.  When you step inside the door, the only thing separating you from the kitchen is the front counter and a few feet of space to move around in.  A small and fairly simple menu on the counter offers their various food options.  This means you have a front row seat to watch your meal cooked from scratch.  They don’t par-cook or reheat anything here.  Everything is made to order from the freshest local ingredients available.  This does mean that there will be a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it.

The flagship menu options are definitely the jerk or curried chicken.  I opted to go with the jerk chicken with cauliflower mash and macaroni and cheese.  It may not have looked like much, walking to my car with the styrofoam to-go box and sweet tea, but don’t be fooled.  Let me tell you, that trip back to school felt like the longest five minute drive ever.  The sweet and savory aroma quickly filled my car, and I found myself contemplating digging in on the drive back, but I waited… and waited… and nearly ran from my car to the break room and jumped into this Caribbean dream.

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I’m usually not one for skin-on chicken, but it didn’t slow me down one bit.  In fact, I wish I had slowed down.  Before I knew it, I was looking at an empty plate, gasping for air and wondering what the hell had just happened.  I basically inhaled my lunch in a blur of spices and flavors that made up what was one of the top five best meals I’ve ever eaten.  The jerk chicken had a delicately crisp skin and an oh-so-tender center that was bursting with flavors.  These flavors come from the wet jerk seasoning that the sliced chicken breast is sautéed in.  Notes of ginger, clove, nutmeg, allspice, and brown sugar shine though in every savory bite.  The farm raised, preservative free chicken was sliced and served over a bed of creamy cauliflower mash.  After I finished the chicken, the cauliflower worked perfectly for mopping up the juices left behind.  The macaroni and cheese was what my inner child has been searching for all these years; each creamy bite was oozing with a delicious blend of three different cheeses.  My only regret is that I didn’t order more.

For such a great meal, I would not have thought twice about paying upward of twenty dollars, but the chicken and two sides came up to just under ten dollars.  This is a great deal for the caliber of food you’re paying for.  Georgean’s has successfully cooked its way to a very fond place in my heart.

Georgean’s Caribbean Soul

8-D Line Street

Charleston, SC 29403

Hours:

Monday – Thursday:  11:30 AM – 8:00 PM

Friday – Saturday:  11:30 AM – 10:00 PM

Sunday: Closed

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Categories: Caribbean, Charleston, Charleston Daily, Food review, Soul, Tyler Sexton | 1 Comment

You’ll Find Morning Sunshine at the Sunflower Cafe

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Charleston has a rich culture of breakfast and competition is fierce among the well-known establishments as is evidenced by long waits and rising prices. Luckily, there are still a few hidden gems that have quality food and reasonable prices, like The Sunflower Cafe. This quaint diner in West Ashley is a step back into the family kitchen and offers a relaxing dining experience.  As you walk in, you are greeted by a busy but friendly staff and decor of sunflowers and patriotism.  The walls are covered with stories of local patrons. Overall, the ambiance is cozy.

We know you yearn for an omelet or waffles, but we highly recommend starting with the beignets.  At $3.95, they are a steal for three large puffs of golden brown dough, generously dusted with powered sugar, served with a side of maple syrup for dunking. That first hot bite is heaven and will make you understand why so many feel they are the best in Charleston

The breakfast and lunch menus are well categorized and concise.  For breakfast, the choices include benedicts, pancakes, eggs and omelets.  Make sure, if they are not included with your selection, to sample the potatoes – sautéed with just the right amount of spice and onions. They are mouth watering.  The grits are also an outstanding side – they are rich and creamy.

The spicy sausage, peppers and onions benedict is savory and explodes with flavor.  The portion is generous and will satisfy the most ample appetites. The fresh crab and fried green tomatoes benedict is a unique creation that will not disappoint.

Sweet pecan waffles are a great choice for the waffle lover with a sweet tooth.  They are the right mix of sticky and doughy and oh so yummy.

If your appetite favors an omelet, we suggest you lean your selection toward the sauteed spinach, over sun-dried tomatoes and feta or the crab, brie and artichokes omelet.  Both have a shower of mixed flavors and the portions are enough to cover you for two meals.

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The setting is very casual and the staff is friendly and unimposing.  If you bring a large group and want to relax, you will feel right at home.

Located about 20 minutes outside of downtown Charleston at 2366 Ashley River Road in West Ashley, the Sunflower Cafe is one breakfast and lunch experience you should add to your dining list. Come early as they are only open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM with a break from 11:00 to 11:30 to transition from breakfast to lunch and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  They are closed on Monday.

Sunflower Cafe Menu

Categories: Charleston, chseats, Food | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Fantasy World of Charleston’s Nathan Durfee – Artist and Dreamer

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In 2009, Sarah Harbin was enjoying an Art Walk with friends and like many, a Charleston Art Walk is not complete without a stop down the historic corridor to East Bay Street to Robert Lange Studios. Known for its uncompromising excellence in identifying talent that is without limit and exploding in creative flow, Robert Lange Studios has become the model for art, not just in Charleston, but throughout the country. Their culture of acceptance in the art community has brought in admirers from all walks of life including Kevin Costner. As Sarah soaked in the diverse range of exhibits, she was taken by one particular piece that was hanging in the single use restroom. Robert Lange Studios has a practice of highlighting an artist in the restroom area. As she absorbed the detail, she knew the artwork was already “mine in my heart.” She purchased it and today it is still a very meaningful part of her home.

That artist was Nathan Durfee. Today, Sarah’s painting has very defined meaning and that young artist, whose work she purchased, was awarded the Best Visual Artist Award four consecutive years from 2010 through 2013 by Charleston City Paper. This has been a long journey for the creative mind of Nathan Durfee. This isn’t a rags to riches story. This is a creative talent in the art community that has a wonderful story to share. Through his images and colors, Nathan creates a visual world that has taken flight and mesmerized children and adults throughout the Charleston community.

When I met Nathan at Kudu Coffee downtown, he was working diligently on a new piece for his father. one that would compliment a birthday gift of a new bike. I wanted to break the ice quickly and dig into the personality of this artist.

“What inspires you Nathan?”

He replied, “eavesdropping, other artists and brilliant people talking.”

Quite a profound list uttered without hesitation. This opened the door to a very candid few hours with this middle child who studied illustration in Savannah, GA. His playful, giddy laugh showed his childish innocence and proves very important in his works which combine adult subject matter and elegant landscapes. This careful tapestry of beautiful tragedy incorporates the bittersweet imperfections of life with elegance and sensitivity.

Many find that moment when inspiration hits and they can pinpoint that exact time when they just knew. For Nathan, he never had that moment. He summarized his career as “scattering a bread crumb trail” until he found his destiny. Now featured in Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans, Nathan’s work has found a niche in the Southeast. His style and approach is one of spontaneity. Many approach art with the idea of meticulously preparation, thinking though each brush stroke mentally for hours paint is lain on canvas. Not Nathan. He takes an idea and begins. It is refreshing to see him go from mind to creation so quickly and grow the idea with each minute and hour of passing time.

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Like many creative types, ego does play into the personality type and is critical to pushing oneself to seek out their inner greatness. Nathan felt this early in this career, even when he was struggling to find an audience, Over time, he has developed a resistance because having too much of an ego could not help him become a better artist. Nathan also, on occasion will listen to patrons talk about his work and gain insight into how others perceive his style, characters and image depictions. It is part of his continuous learning curve.

Nathan, who shows tremendous maturity at this early stage in his career has been greatly influenced by Joe Sorren, Illustrator Phil Hale and Illustrator Dave Mckean . If you look closely and compare the colors and styles, you can see how the influence has rubbed off on Nathan.

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Over the course of our discussion, we talked about memorable commissioned works, great customer experiences and future plans. On December 5, 2014, Nathan and Robert Lange Studios will be unveiling an eagerly awaited new collection.

“Nathan, if you are in front of a young student, whose life ambition is to become an artist, what advice would you give?”

  • Don’t get discouraged
  • Don’t get cocky
  • Stay in between

This is exlimpary advice from an artist whose style is already influencing other.  For now, we see many years of amazing work ahead that will gain further exposure and further accolades for this Charleston talent.

Nathan Durfee Official Website

Categories: Artist, Charleston, Charleston Daily, Nathan Durfee, Robert Lange Studios | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Charlie’s Grocery Offers a Memorable Falafel for Charleston

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Downtown Charleston is home to several corner stores but few have the rich history that Charlie’s Grocery  does. Opened in 1996 by Charlie Dabit, the Jasper Street grocery store has kept nearby residents and college students in stock with the essentials and more. Anyone who has ever experienced Charlie’s knows there is an impressive deli within. Beyond the Boar’s Head and large selection of homemade salads and jumbo pickles, there is one of Charleston’s most delicious treats, falafel. While falafel can be found at a few restaurants downtown and beyond, Charlie’s is arguably the best. The Charleston Daily (CD) sat down with Abe, Charlie’s eldest son who is now at the helm of day to day operations. We talked history, falafel and the future.

CD: Tell me about Charlie’s.

Abe: Charlie’s is our family’s store. We have been in business going on 18 years in April. The Jasper Street store was opened in April of 1996 and we recently opened a second store at the corner of Spring and Rutledge.

CD: Looks like you are running the Jasper Street store now. Where is Mr. Charlie?

Abe: My father is still around. Every morning he is at our Spring Street location. He’s very much a part of the business still. He has given a lot of the responsibility to me and my brother though.

CD: Enough small talk. Tell me about the falafel.

Abe:
(laughing) What do you want to know?

CD: What makes it so great? Whose recipe is it?

Abe: It’s just really fresh. The falafel is my mother’s family’s recipe and it hasn’t changed. It’s really simple. There is a basic ratio of chickpeas, onions, cilantro, and spices but there is no real measuring. It’s based on taste.

CD: So it’s a secret…. Would you ever considering opening a restaurant?

Abe: Yeah, especially with Middle Eastern food including falafel. Charleston kind of lacks in that area, but we have a few places around like Tabbuli and Manny’s. We have definitely considered opening a restaurant.

CD: What is the strangest thing a customer has requested?

Abe: That’s a toughie… Actually, pig’s feet! We used to carry them in jars. We had to talk my father into dropping them. People would request them, and there you are, reaching in, grabbing a pig’s foot, stuffing it in a bag and sending them on their merry way. Disgusting.

CD: What is the biggest challenge Charlie’s has experienced?

Abe: Finding trustworthy, good help. My father is very old fashioned. It’s very difficult to walk away and allow someone else to do this job.

CD:
What does Charlie’s mean to your family?

Abe: Charlie’s is ours and we take care of it like it is a child. It’s everything to us.

On that note, I dove into the falafel pita Abe had carefully prepared for me. The pita was generously stuffed with flattened orbs of fried falafel and refreshing cubes of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. The falafel were crispy on the outside and tender inside. Where so many falafel are dense, these were light and bouncy. The optional hot sauce was no joke, even for me. The creamy hummus was a welcome option and it gave the sandwich a layer of depth that made it a satisfying meal. This falafel, like the many others I have enjoyed from Charlie’s, was perfection.

Charlie’s original corner store and deli is located at 1 Jasper Street. Charlie’s second location is open at Spring and Rutledge. Their hours are Monday – Saturday 9am-8pm and Sunday 10am -6pm. Falafel and other sandwiches can be ordered ahead from the Jasper Street location by calling: (843) 853-0351

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Categories: Charleston, Charleston Daily, chseats, Food, Food review | Leave a comment

Meet 22 Year Old Georgia Schrubbe – Writer, Dancer and Charleston Shining Star

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When you listen to Georgia Schrubbe talk, it’s easy to forget that she’s only twenty-two. From her upbringing in Alabama to her travels through Cuba, she has a wonderful story to share and this is only the beginning. Meeting Georgia is it’s own reward—with a permanent smile on her face, she’s easy to talk to about all of her passions and projects.

A graduate of the College of Charleston with a Degree in Communications, Georgia like so many others, fell in love with her alma mater’s city.  She attributes her self-described nerdy personality to her passion for reading and writing.  She always brought a book with her wherever she went as a child and even had a reading “intervention” in third grade.

“I had to go to the principle’s office in third grade because I kept reading the first three Harry Potter books (the only ones that were out at the time), over and over again,” she laughs.  All the reading and a few years of professional freelance writing inspired this young talent to author her first published collection, There is a Live Wire in The Shower and Other Concerns About Life in Cuba

With a focus on success without limits, Georgia sat down and put together her ebook. The short collection of blogs/essays is a compilation of her stories documenting seven months spent in Cuba over the course of two years.

Georgia drew inspiration from women traveling the globe finding meaning in through their personal experiences and interactions.

“Everyone has a story and everyone experiences that story. We just tell our stories differently.” she said with her patented warmth and smile.

Cuba holds a very special place in her heart due to falling in love with the culture (and a Cuban citizen).  She is considering writing a full-length novel about Havana and admits she is not sure whether to write it as a non-fiction book or the cheesiest romance novel ever. Either way, it’s easy to see she is attracted to the romanticism in Cuban, and to some extent, Charleston culture.

Though she is vocal about writing and traveling, she’s carved out a space for herself in Charleston’s dance scene.

When tapped about her first impressions of dance, Georgia retorted with, “The first time I saw a ballet performance, I literally peed on myself,” she says. “It was some community production in my hometown in Alabama, and I was so enthralled that I couldn’t be bothered to get up to go to the bathroom.”

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Shortly after that nearly fatally embarrassing episode, she enrolled in ballet and studied with an intense fervor for the next decade, dancing in a local pre-professional company and spending summers studying in San Francisco, New York, and around the Southeast. When she began at the College of Charleston in 2009, she performed with the Charleston Dance Project, Charleston Ballet Theatre and for the College of Charleston’s Dance Department
Shortly after beginning school for Charleston, she discovered her newest love – Salsa dancing. She was immediately enchanted (but fortunately, managed not to wet herself over it).

“I’m a ballerina gone wild,” she says. “I started to go out to Salsa nights, take classes, go to congresses and then it snowballed and I suddenly found myself in other cities, states, and countries, for Salsa.”

That’s when I realized how quick on her feet she was – like a bird. This conversation was a dance to her – an engaging interplay of words and interactions on the dance floor of Santi’s Mexican Restaurant. It would seem that she communicates through everything that she does; from her voice to her body, all in tune.

She recently performed in Robbi Kenney’s “Strings and Salsa.” at the Charleston Music Hall.  The show, a tapestry of intertwined performance arts, combined in an event unlike any other performed in Charleston.  The blend of dance, Latin jazz and string instruments created a flow of energy the resonated throughout the theater.  By the end of the evening, much like the theatrics of Dirty Dancing, the audience leaped from their seats and took over the walkways and stage to become active participants in the production.

“I’ve never been in a show like that where the ‘fourth wall’ was broken so well,” says Georgia, “It was magical.”
What always stood out for me is Georgia’s commitment to the community, not just as a performer.  She is always volunteering or working for local festivals and events.  When asked why she is so involved, her response was simple, “I’m crafty and resourceful. I find things that I want to do and I think outside the box to find opportunities to accomplish those goals.”
She has worked the box office for Piccolo Spoleto, is the current marketing director for Shrimp and Grits Charleston, and volunteered at the 2014 Charleston Wine + Food festival.

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“Sometimes there is a trade off, but volunteering time helps you feel part of something which make the experience mean more to you.”
When asked what’s next for her career, a flow of exciting ideas rolled off her tongue.   She is currently developing a new fitness concept, a slew of quirky book ideas (“The Magic of Yoga”—a book of Harry Potter-themed yoga meditations for teens), and plans to launch a Salsa dance wear line this fall for women.  The goal of the dance wear line is to focus on helping women with confidence and body appearance issues.  She found when teaching Zumba Fitness that women were more concerned with how they looked than just having fun with the practice.
“I want women to be proud of what their body can do rather than how you look doing it.”

My interaction with Georgia led me to think that perhaps love, too, is beyond the boundaries of nations, social status, etc. How do the rules of how one is supposed to act get in the way of what you really want to do?

“I’ve always lived by the thought that the worst anyone can ever do is say ‘No,’” she says, “And you’d be surprised by how often people say yes.”

Georgia Schrubbe with be performing at the next installment of  “Strings and Salsa” on November 21 at The Charleston Music Hall.

Follow Georgia’s adventures through her writing at www.georgiaschrubbe.com or go to Charleston Havana Nights at Voodoo on Sunday nights and say hello.  You will mostly likely get a smile and a hug.

Compassion is the innate ability to draw from your creativity and passion and touch the lives of others. It is a centuries old philosophy followed by a few individuals that are blessed with the ability to see beyond black and white and make that ultimate connection that defines greatness.  Sometimes you meet someone that exemplifies the truth actions of compassion.  Meet Georgia and you will understand.

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Categories: Charleston, Cuba, dance, Georgia Schrubbe, marketing, salsa, writing | 1 Comment

Cancer Patients are finding the Love and Support they need – Hope Lodge Charleston

20140730_172409When Glen Orwell was told he had 6 weeks to live, his world fell apart. His one final goal became fighting the cancer that was quickly spreading through his body. Diagnosed with extensive stage small cell lung cancer, Glen knew there was no cure. He just wanted more time. Fighting the type of battle he wanted took resources he didn’t have. Uninsured and 3 hours away from the nearest cancer center, he found it difficult to pay the bills and travel back and forth between home and the hospital where he was having daily radiation treatments. One of his providers suggested he ask the Hope Lodge for help.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is one of 31 Lodges in the United States that offers temporary housing to cancer patients who are undergoing therapy away from home. In 1970, it was founded by Margot Freudenberg, a leader in the Charleston medical community and Ambassador with the Eisenhower People to People Program. It was the first Hope Lodge to be established and it set a precedent for other lodges that were later founded across the United States. It provides a second home to those who live 40 miles or more away from their treatment location. The Hope Lodge is a nonprofit organization sponsored by the American Cancer  Society. The donations of individuals keep the lodges operational.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is a campus of four houses on Calhoun Street offering private rooms outfitted with twin beds, linens, cable TV and private restrooms. There is a community kitchen and most every night, volunteers from the community cook and provide meals to the tenants. They also host activities such as bingo nights and book clubs. Tenants can find respite on the porches or enjoy the healing garden as well.

image (3)The Hope Lodge requires that a caregiver also stay with the patient. Glen was joined by his daughter Tina, and they stayed for two weeks during his most intense round of therapy. “When we didn’t have enough money to buy peanut butter sandwiches, having a warm meal every night was wonderful” Tina explained.

The facility also has a library with donated books and computers with resources about various cancers and treatment options. Tina spent much of her down time in the library.  “We found it really empowering to have the resources of the Hope Lodge. We were able to read about his cancer and understand the disease course and prognosis.”

With the help of the Hope Lodge, Glen was able to undergo intensive radiation and chemotherapy that would have otherwise been unavailable to him. He lived for 7 month after his diagnosis, far beyond his estimated 6 weeks. “I truly believe that he had this time and a better quality of life because of the Hope Lodge. Just to know that others care and are willing to help those in need made every day better” said Tina.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is located at 267-273 Calhoun Street and serves the community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information about donating or volunteer opportunities, please contact Kelly Williams at Kelly.williams@cancer.org or visit their website.

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