Wine + Food, Rain or Shine…Let’s Dine!

So another blowout day of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival has gone down in the record books. From sun up to sun down and way beyond, the festival kept us moving all over town all day long.

The firsts:

chicken taco by Annita Lo and spicy shrimp taco by Ken Oringer

I had my very first pork rind (accidentally!) and ate more tacos than I ever imagined possible at the Taco Turf Wars yesterday at the beautiful Lowndes Grove Plantation.  Chef Anita Lo (annisa, NYC) served a chicken taco with pork rinds; Ford Fry (JCT Kitchen, Atlanta) served a pork belly taco that must have been amazing because the line was always so long, it’s the only one I didn’t get to try; Ken Oringer (La Verdad, Boston) served a spicy, saucy shrimp taco that was more sauce than shrimp.  Melissa Perello (Frances, San Francisco) served a crab crepe taco that I loved, pastry chef Michael Laiskonis (Le Bernardin, NYC) had two crazy desserts that were clearly a hit–have you ever had mango caviar?!– and Rene Ortiz (La Condensa, Austin, TX) killed it with a venison taco, pickled cucumbers and a creme sauce that was simply delicious.

The decor was gorgeous, simple and bright; flowers arrangements had easy grace in old coffee cans and vintage glasses.

Kim Bowling and Adam Lawrence of Cincinnati dined with us at Lowndes Grove.  Kim and Adam are husband and wife, both nurses, who have traveled to wine and food festivals all over the country.  This was their fourth or fifth visit to Charleston–they’ve lost count!–and they love it here.  They had plans for last night’s Perfectly Paired Dinner at McCrady’s and the Grand Tasting Tent today.

The Crab Crepe taco by Melissa Perello of Frances, in San Francisco

A new twist on a festival staple…

The day continued with the King Street favorite, Shop, Sip + Savor which took guests in and out of fine retailers along King Street.  This year’s event was a little different, with more variety of beverages (vodka and rum spiced up the previously all-wine event) and a great variety of hors d’oeuvres were served from Bull Street Gourmet and Leaf Cafe.  Was happy to see the folks from Childress Vineyards again; they have a meritage wine that is so underrated, most people miss out on a great wine by not being adventurous.  I met a couple who came down from Philadelphia just for the Festival, and are loving every second in Charleston.

The After Party at Cypress was a hot ticket.  People were pulling all the strings they could to get in.  The poor girls manning the guest list and the door had their work cut out for them.  Incredible drinks, food and people.   Star chefs everywhere.  It was a culinary geek reunion.  It was also a chance to gobble Cypress’s incredible oysters on the half shell topped with fresh tuna (I lost count after my sixth…) sliced lamb in steam buns…Chef Craig Deihl served hot dogs from his Artisan Meat Share program…they even cut up a whole pig.  And I got a Bacon Jam 2012 koozie!

I officially lost my voice last night, which provided much comical fodder for Social Restaurant + Wine Bar‘s manager Zach Smith.  Thanks for the memories, Zach.

This morning we had a Southern (media) breakfast at High Cotton where the Festival guest chefs, staff and media got to enjoy shrimp and grits, bloody mary’s and mimosas, and the best buttermilk biscuit I’ve had in a long time.  Vegetable omelets, smoked salmon on bagels, house made sausage patties, thick cut bacon with a perfect crisp…it was divine.  We ate breakfast with Chef Rene Ortiz and Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki of La Condesa in Austin TX the Taco Turf Wars and Culinary Village Grand Tasting Tents today, and the girls of Obviouslee Marketing.  Great conversation, great people.

I’m going home to find rain gear, and head out to Charleston Harbor Resort for the Pinot Envy Uncorked! at 3pm.  The event has been moved indoors, so look for festival staff and volunteers to lead the way.  Tonight’s game plan: Festival After Hours and the Lambs & Clams FIG after party.  Stand by, darlings.

Twitter fans, follow:

#chswff, @kinsey_gidick, @figrestaurant, @MikeLata, @jcf2expore, @FishCharleston, @angelpostell, @ChsWineandFood, and of course, me, @shuggins1229


Holy Wine + Food Batman! Plus a sweet little video to ‘Idol’ize

Last night’s Opening Night Party kicked off the 7th BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival.  It was more food than you could possibly eat, more to see than you could possibly see…in short, a stellar event in true “Wine + Food” style.

Everyone was in a great mood, from Festival executive director Angel Postell to the chefs and the volunteers.  People seemed to really be in the mood to celebrate and that goes a long way to making an event successful.

I can’t really comment on the move to the Aquarium since this was my first year to attend opening night party, but it was a super fun setting.  More events are being moved off site this year, to encourage and allow visitors to see more of Charleston.  While that can present a logistical challenge, it’s also a great way to really sell the city.  Good thinking, guys.

The Food (just some highlights):

Chef Nico Romo of Fish (thanks @FishCharleston for the photo)

Fish Restaurant (@FishCharleston) served up a crab-filled egg roll with a bean salad and some avocado mousse type thing.  De-lish.

Tristan‘s Chef Nate Whiting served a lobster and bone marrow tortellini with a foam that was absolutely divine.  So divine I ate the whole thing in one giant bite.

Trattoria Lucca served tuna topped with a pickled octopus concoction that was fresh and light as it was delicious.  Chef Ken Vedrinski was in the zone, turning out hundreds of plates for hungry guests.

While I missed whatever delicious dish that (my personal favorite) FIG Restaurant (@FIGrestaurant) was serving up, did get a minute to catch up with Chef Mike Lata and hear about his upcoming new venture.  In October, or September if all goes well, Lata is opening a new restaurant on upper King, another step in the revitalization/gentrification of Upper King.

Local wine distributor Grass Roots had a stellar pinot noir from Pietra Santa Winery in Cienega Valley, California that was my personal favorite of the evening.  You can bet I’ll be looking for that bottle locally.

The band was killing it.  Charlton Singleton, Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Mark Sterbank, Tommy Gill, and more gave a great performance.  Thankfully you could hear the music in most of the aquarium.

Okay, that’s about all the time I have for now…got to do actual work before heading out for Taco Turf Wars at the beautiful Lowndes Grove Plantation and Shop, Sip + Savor on King Street this afternoon!

and to send you off with a little love, check out this video from our very own Elise Testone, who is killing it on American Idol season 11.  Congrats to Elise, she’s made it into the Top 10!

It’s Finally Here! BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival begins today!


It’s finally here.  My favorite time of year, besides Spoleto…

The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival is kicking off tonight.  You can feel it in the air practically.  There are still some tickets available, but you better snap them up while you can.

Make sure you follow all of our shenanigans on Twitter (@chasartmag) and Facebook ( too.

Meanwhile, here are some pics to tantalize your taste buds.

image by Andrew Cebulka


image by Andrew Cebulka


image by Andrew Cebulka


image by Andrew Cebulka


image by Andrew Cebulka


image by Andrew Cebulka

Bring Your Canary: Peter Galle

In this, the newest installment of Bring Your Canary, we’re diving into the performing arts again.  BYC is a little trip into the minds of some of the most talented local artists who you know, or should know.  Peter Galle is just such a one.

Peter Galle of Threshold Rep

Galle is the marketing, social media and grants coordinator for Threshold Repertory Theatre, one of the city’s newest companies that is really making a name for itself in professional theatre.  He is also the lead in their current production of playwright Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant of Inishmore, playing through February 19th.

The young actor was born and raised in Charlotte, where his mother worked with several “equity” theatre companies before relocating to Charleston four years ago.   In 2007, Galle moved to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston, where he studied Philosophy & English.

After graduation, Galle spent several months traveling solo through Europe and India.

In The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Galle plays Padraic, the decidedly unhinged militant son of Donny.  Poor Donny has been put in charge of guarding Padraic’s precious cat, Wee Thomas, while he’s away planting bombs and torturing drug dealers.

When Padraic gets wind that Wee Thomas is doing ‘poorly,’ he returns to his hometown of Inishmore with a vengeance, and the bloodshed begins.

Joey and Donny ponder the state of Wee Thomas

The cast spent 135 hours preparing for this production, working with a dialect coach, meeting independently with the director, and in intensive rehearsals.  The accents were impressive.  About those dialects, Galle says:

Padraic didn't take the news well...

“I’m a very young actor, and I know that, but what I have found in my process is that after a certain amount of time…a really special thing happens for each character, and they start speaking from a place in my body…that’s when I know I’m becoming performance ready,” says Galle.

“Padraic speaks from the front of my lungs, and the back inside my body and down to my sacrum…a lot of that are is your primordial, physical…instinctual center, and I think we all have the ability to encompass every single human emotion…the beauty of acting like any art, it can allow us to access the most human emotions.  I know Padraic exists somewhere inside of me,” says Galle.

Galle’s portrayal of the madman Padraic is frighteningly good.  The manic, madman state literally shines through his eyes.  “[Padraic’s] got bite to him.  He’s obviously a very damaged person, because he wants to hurt all the time, and that comes from a place of pain,” he says.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore plays through Sunday at Threshold Rep‘s new home, 84 1/2 Society Street, between King and Meeting.  Performances: Thursday, Friday, Saturday (February 16 – 18) at 7:30 pm, Sunday (February 19) at 2:30 pm.  This is not for the little ones, but the babysitter will be well worth it.  Check out The Lieutenant of Inishmore this weekend.

words: Stacy Huggins

Robert Lange Studios – May 2012 Group Show – Open Call for Entries!!

As anyone that has ever been on an art walk knows, Robert Lange Studios is always the place to be, especially for artists.  RLS is a tight gallery of contemporary art by some of the region and nation’s most exciting up-and-coming artists, and now is your chance to get YOUR WORK on their walls.

fine art charleston

Happy Art Walkers at RLS - l to r: Justin Harris, Erin Perkins, Mackenzie Kay, Elizabeth McGough and Kyle Nichols

Their next group show, entitled Everything Changes, will open during the massive May French Quarter Gallery Association Art Walk, and they are accepting submissions through February 29th! 

Each artist accepted will make two paintings of the same size and subject depicted in two very different ways.  The show will featuring paintings only, no photography this time, sorry.

Send your submissions via email to, subject line ‘Group Show Submission’ with 6-8 images of your original, recent work.  It doesn’t need to fit the theme, just be emblematic of your work.  Make sure to tell who you are–put all your contact info and your website in there!  Tell ’em Art Mag sent you.

Good luck!

words: Stacy Huggins

Upcoming Charity Events: Wiggin’ Out for Abby + Runaround Sue Vintage’s Charity Fashion Show

Local charity Bucks for Bunks is hosting “Wiggin’ Out for Abby” on Saturday, February 18 at Midtown Bar and Grill, to support Abby Bunkley’s fight against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The event features entertainment from DJ R Dot, a live auction, and complimentary food and beverages.  Throw on your best wig and let your hair down!

Saturday, February 18, Upstairs at Midtown Bar & Grill, 559 King Street; Suggested donation $35 a person; 7 – 10 PM.

charleston charity events wigging out for abby bucks for bunks

If you love vintage fashion and supporting local charities, check out Runaround Sue Vintage’s charity fashion show at the Tin Roof on Sunday, February 19. The event marks the online boutique’s first anniversary, and will feature a variety of vintage clothing and styles from the 1950s on. Runaround Sue’s sweet vintage styles will be complemented by jewelry from Gypsy Lady Antiques and retro tunes from The V-Tones of Charleston, who will also provide the soundtrack for a rockin’ post-catwalk party.

Don’t forget: the early bird gets the goodies! The first 50 people through the door will receive goodie bags full of treats from local Charleston creatives. Word on the street has it that Social Wine Bar is even participating.

Tickets are $10 at the door, but larger donations are welcome! All proceeds will go to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Charleston.  

Doors open at 8 PM.  Fashion show begins at 9 PM sharp.  Check it out on Facebook.

words: Callie Smith

3rd Annual Rusty Cole Birthday Celebration/ Jef Jel Project Benefit

Next Sunday, The Pour House is hosting a very charitable birthday celebration. Starting at 4 PM, this well-known concert venue is throwing open its doors to the public with an oyster roast on the deck and music from Reckoning (full band), The Key of Q, Josh Phillips, James Justin Burke, Old You and Wadata. All proceeds are to be donated to the Jef Jel Project, a charity that focuses on meeting the needs of struggling Senegalese communities.

Over the years, the Jef Jel Project has provided the people of Ndangne, Senegal in western Africa, with financial and structural support for projects ranging from new toilets to a thriving chicken house that allows the residents of Ndangne to participate in the local trade markets. Through the Jef Jel Project’s efforts, the residents of Ndangne are able to create a stable, sustainable community that meets the basic needs of its people.

Sunday, February 19th, 4 PM until

$6 deck, $10 main stage

words: Callie Smith