|Issue 1.07 | Monday, Nov. 24, 2008 | Forward to your friends!|
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NOV. 24, 2008 -- Charleston boasts cornucopias of fine wines and foods that span the palates and pocketbooks of discerning Charlestonians and refined visitors to our trend-setting city. But traveling - whether because of wanderlust or for plain ol' business - offers a chance to sample some libations that are a little out of the ordinary. Here are a few personal favorites. Sample at your own peril.
Chateau de Mareuil sur Ay, Brut, Champagne Montebello: Champagne Montebello is an excellent choice to celebrate things that go wrong. This esteemed wine was the house bubbly on RMS Titanic, as well as the fermented juice of choice for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. It is a lively, fruity Champagne with medium body and full flavor at an excellent price.
Unicum: Although not strictly a wine, Unicum is aged in oak casks and is widely proclaimed by discriminating connoisseurs as an exquisite accompaniment to continental cuisine when drunk as an apéritif or digestif. Conjured according to an ancient formula of more than 40 herbs and secret ingredients (likely eye of newt and scale of dragon) in a boiling cauldron in a dark Carpathian cave, its name is derived from the proclamation of Kaiser Joseph II "Das ist ein Unikum!" ("This is unique!") Regarded as the national drink of Hungary, Unicum is available through select spirits distributors throughout the United States, often rebranded as Zwack.
Castillo del Morro: Difficulty in legally obtaining Castillo del Morro, a most appealing Cuban red wine, is an unintended consequence of our country's stale policy toward our island neighbors just 90 miles off our coast. With unrelenting fortitude, such as the greeting this wine may present to a first-time investigator, the castle whose name it bears has protected the Port of Habana for well over four centuries. With an emotional connection that rivals my respect for its unrelenting taste, I am particularly fond of this brash red wine because it reminds me of the historic day in 2003 when the American flag once again flew over the fortress as a welcoming gesture when the Maybank commercial barge Helen III entered Habana Harbor. This marked the first time that a U.S.-flagged vessel had called in Cuba in more than 42 years - driving a wedge in the barricade that 10 American presidents have sustained between our peoples.
Saroa: Another of my Cuban favorites is Saroa. I must confess that this is a very personal choice; others allege that Saroa is absolutely an acquired taste. I find it wholly agreeable, particularly in generous measure and in the company of good friends, both of which are rarely far from hand in Habana. If Keystone and PBR stir fond memories of your college career, Saroa is a no-brainer when your assemblage is long on conviviality but short on capital. I judge it delectably underwhelming, though my mother would consider it a nice cooking wine.
Madeira: This wine is not uncommon in the Holy City, although not as popular now as it was for a dozen generations of Charlestonians. Indeed, it has arguably been the unofficial wine of Charleston for hundreds of years. Madeira is a fortified (spiked) Portuguese wine, popular with seamen who called at the island which lends it its name as they sailed to the New World. Months at sea could not assure a cool, let alone stable environment for stowage of this libation. Consequently, to prevent spoilage, neutral grape spirits were added, but that had a transformative effect on the flavor of the wine as it, in essence, cooked during the journey. Today, the process for making Madeira actually involves heating it to 140 degrees and exposing it to oxidization. It is therefore quite resilient in Charleston's summer climate and can remain robust long after opening. This makes Madeira well-suited as an occasional apéritif or special dessert wine.
Jack Maybank Jr. is president of Maybank Industries, LLC.
NOV. 24, 2008 -- Headlines that the Charleston Symphony Orchestra is in financial trouble (again) should come as no surprise. Despite good intentions of a lot of people for the last decade, the symphony has yet to get its financial act together.
Last-minute pleas for community support to save the symphony seem as predictable as Thanksgiving. For five of the last six years, the organization has operated in a deficit.
Last year, the clarion call was to get business support to keep the symphony operating. The business community responded with generous donations. This year with the national economic situation dire, business support predictably dropped. So the call has gone out for a half-million dollars from anybody to keep the organization afloat.
While money to continue is critical, what really needs to happen with the Symphony is a critical self-examination by our community that answers two important questions:
Charleston's leaders need to answer the second question now because as Albert Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
So if the CSO gets past its current $500,000 problem, our community can't afford to let it do the same things it has always done. It is time for transformational structural change. The symphony needs to take a look at what's been going on persistently that causes it to get into financial messes year after year.
The elephant in the room that no one seems to want to discuss is the symphony's size. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra currently has 46 full-time musicians on a budget of about $2.7 million. Greenville's symphony has an annual budget of about $2.3 million, but only has about a dozen full-time musicians.
Can Charleston continue to support such a large base orchestra? Perhaps it has become time to, umm, face the music that the CSO is a regional symphony and, as such, can't keep employing a large full-time orchestra. Instead, it may make more economic sense to follow the Greenville model to have a smaller professional core of musicians who are augmented by extra professionals for big performances.
Also if the symphony is smaller, it may be able to prune a lot of smaller performances that drain resources. A few larger productions may be more viable economically than lots of small ones.
More than anything, the CSO seems to need a vibrant strategic plan that allows it to exist realistically in the Charleston marketplace. If it doesn't get its act together financially, businesses and individual patrons will stop supporting it. (Some already have.)
be a real shame. Charleston, one of the great cities of the world, needs
to have a great symphony. But Charleston is not New York or Atlanta. Its
symphony has to exist in a way that makes sense economically here. Now
is the time to reorganize and plan for an exciting future.
Andy Brack is publisher of CharlestonCurrents.com. You can reach him by email at: email@example.com.
To the editor:
I was thrilled to see an article by Meredith Nelson It's nice to see the photos of her and of editor Ann Thrash in the literacy article. I look forward to passing on info regarding CharlestonCurrents.com. I had the opportunity to meet Meredith Nelson through a Team in Training Program (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and will inform members about CharlestonCurrents.com.
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The city of North Charleston and its Cultural Arts Department have issued a call for volunteer musicians to form a new community band. Instrumental and vocal musicians in the Lowcountry who are looking for a chance to train, perform, share their talents and network with other musicians are invited to contact the city.
for the band to perform a variety of types of music, and smaller ensembles
might be formed as well, a city press release states.
Patriots Point is offering parade lovers "the best seat in the house" for the 29th annual Holiday Parade of Boats in Charleston Harbor on Dec. 6. Those seats are on the deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.
Family-oriented events are planned for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and include food, games, face painting and a Polar Express along the pier. There will also be a cash bar for the grownups. Santa will stop by for photos and visits with the kids. The staff at Patriots Point promises that the Jolly Old Elf's arrival on the flight deck will be most unusual.
The cost is $15 per person (adult or child). Buy tickets online or in person at the Patriots Point Ship Store.
The Parade of Boats runs from approximately 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the harbor. Lighted boats decorated for the holiday season parade through Charleston Harbor, followed by a fireworks display. The parade begins on the Mount Pleasant side of the harbor; viewing from the peninsula begins at about 6:30 p.m. Fireworks blast off at approximately 6:45 p.m.
Food + Wine Festival recruiting volunteers
The fourth annual BB&T Charleston Food + Wine Festival is in search of volunteers to help staff the event, planned for March 5-8 at various sites around Charleston.
Helpers are needed for a variety of jobs, including setting up events, working with vendors, pouring wine at tastings, helping festival patrons with tickets, serving as liaisons for the media or VIPs, etc. Volunteers receive an embroidered festival apron, access to the Volunteer On-Site Lounge with complimentary lunch, and a chance to meet and interact with experts in the culinary and wine industries.
Apply online by going to http://www.charlestonfoodandwine.com and clicking on "About the Festival/Volunteer." If you have questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 727-9998, ext. 4.
Trident Literacy awarded grant from Bank of America
The Trident Literacy Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to further its mission of improving literacy in the tri-county area.
"This grant will help fund instruction in basic academic skills and workplace issues," said Eileen Chepenik, the organization's executive director. "From math, reading and writing to problem solving, team work and career development, Trident Literacy's 2,500 students will benefit from Bank of America's generosity."
Trident Literacy Association collaborates with the Trident Workforce Investment Board One-Stop Career Center in preparing students for the WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate Program, an important credential in promoting career development and skill attainment that can help improve an individual's chances of finding meaningful employment. Trident Literacy also helps prepare students for the GED exam and teaches English as a Second Language.
The association serves approximately 2,500 adult students each year in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, with the help of more than 250 volunteers. More info: http://www.tridentlit.org.
HAVE A REVIEW? If you have a review of a book, movie, restaurant or local arts endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to editor Ann Thrash. Make sure to include your name and full contact information.
Cornbread has been the most common daily bread in South Carolina since its founding. Sarah Rutledge included thirty-four variations in The Carolina Housewife in 1847. By then, the traditional hoe cake, or johnny cake, or pone - a simple hearth bread of cornmeal and water - had evolved into many elaborate forms. Recipes traveled up and down the eastern seaboard and along the trading routes inland.
Corn from Virginia -- a white dent corn, which dries well in the field -- was preferred. Robert Beverley described the wealthy Virginia planters preferring corn pone to wheat bread as early as 1705. In Savannah, Georgia, just across the river from South Carolina, a letter from 1738 describes the "large, broad, and white" Virginia corn, which would not grow well in the lowcountry.
Corn, like rice, was much less expensive than wheat, and both grains filled breads of all sorts. But cornbread - whether made with cooked grits, coarse meal or fine corn flour - has maintained its popularity, from the Piedmont to the coast, throughout South Carolina's history, whereas virtually all of the rice breads have disappeared from Carolina tables.
Recipes for simple hearth cakes made with ground cereals appear in all cultures where grains are grown. English settlers in the colonies replaced oats with rice or corn. Mary Randolph published two recipes in The Virginia House-Wife in 1824, both certainly from the Carolina lowcountry: boiled rice was used in one; "homony" - what Charlestonians call cooked corn grits - "boiled and mixed with rice flour" was used in the other.
Just over twenty years later, all of Sarah Rutledge's recipes would point to modern forms, with milk or buttermilk, eggs, and leavening added to this classic quick bread that is served alongside pilaus and gumbos, and with salads and greens; only two of them contained sugar.
-- Excerpted entry by John Martin Taylor. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)
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CharlestonCurrents.com next will observe the Thanksgiving holiday and will not publish Thursday. Check back with us on Monday, Dec. 1, for our next issue.
Five Charleston people and events that were "firsts" for America or the world:
First historical zoning ordinance -- Charleston City Council passed the Planning and Zoning Ordinance, which established the "Old and Historic District," in 1931. It was the first ordinance providing for neighborhood preservation in the United States.
First professional female artist -- Henrietta Dering Johnston (1670-1729) arrived in Charles Town in 1707. She was not only the first professional female artist in the Colonies, but also was the first artist in the colonies to work primarily with pastels.
First business publication -- July 30, 1774. The earliest known edition of the "South-Carolina Price-Current" listed the prices for 168 things bought and sold in Charles Town.
Oldest municipal Chamber of Commerce in continuous operation -- On Dec. 9, 1773, the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce was organized at a Broad Street tavern called Swallow's. It was America's first Chamber of Commerce. It operates today as the name of Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.
First ice to be commercially transported -- In 1799, ice arrived in Charleston on a ship from New York.
Sources: City of Charleston Tour Guide Study Book; S.C. Information Superhighway.
"Within the South itself, no other form of cultural expression, not even music, is as distinctively characteristic of the region as the spreading of a feast of native food and drink before a gathering of kin and friends."
Thanksgiving: Nov. 27. Reminder 1: Don't eat too much. Reminder 2: After you're done eating too much, walk around the block. You'll feel better.
"Doctor Atomic" Simulcast: 12:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Charleston County Library Main Branch, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston. Free. Simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera, "Doctor Atomic" is John Adams' contemporary masterpiece exploring the story behind the creation of the atomic bomb and how it changed the course of history. Auditorium will be open 90 minutes before the simulcast to secure seats. More info: http://www.ccpl.org.
Faith Hope and Charity: Through Nov. 29, Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St., Charleston. PURE Theatre production of the play by Odon Von Horvath. Set in the socially and economically oppressed South during the Great Depression, the play tells the story of a young woman's struggle to survive. Tickets: $30. Call 723-4444 or click link for more info: http://www.puretheatre.org.
CALENDAR: ONGOING AND SOON
Holiday Festival of Lights: Through Jan. 4, James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive, James Island. Millions of sparkling lights and hundreds of imaginative displays line a 3-mile drive through the park. Also includes marshmallow-roasting and activities for kids, gift shop and walking trail through Winter Wonderland. More info: http://www.holidayfestivaloflights.com. Also see more here.
(NEW) Vienna Boys' Choir: 8 p.m. Dec. 4, Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St., Charleston. Sponsored by the Charleston Concert Association. Holiday-themed performance by the world-famous choir whose traditions date back more than 500 years. Tickets $60-$15. Purchase at the Gaillard, through Ticketmaster at 554-6060, or at www.ticketmaster.com. More info: email@example.com or 571-7755.
(NEW) 'A Christmas Carol': Dec. 4-21, College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, 44 George St., Charleston. Charleston Stage production of Charles Dickens' classic novel of the season. Tickets: $41-$10. To see showtimes and buy tickets, click here.
in the Swamp: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6, Cypress Gardens, 3030
Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner. Kids can greet Santa as he arrives
in the swamp by flat-bottom boat. Holiday festivities include musical
performances, a jump castle and free take-home crafts activities for kids.
Handmade gift items will be available from local vendors, and a special
"Santa Shop" for kids will feature gifts for less than $5. More
info: 553-0515 or http://www.cypressgardens.info.
29th Annual Parade of Boats: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Charleston Harbor. Lighted boats decorated for the holiday season parade through Charleston Harbor, followed by a fireworks display. View the procession along the waterfront or decorate your own boat and join the fun. Parade begins on the Mount Pleasant side of the harbor; viewing from the peninsula begins at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at approximately 6:45 p.m. More info: 724-7305.
CSO Gospel Christmas: 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. Charleston Symphony Orchestra musicians and the CSO Gospel Choir sing songs of the season under the direction of guest conductor Vincent Danner. Soloist: Jennifer Bynum. Tickets: $30. To purchase, click here.
(NEW) Fort Johnson Anniversary: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Charleston County Library Main Branch Auditorium, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston. The Charleston Archive and the Mayor's Walled City Task Force sponsor a free, illustrated talk by Dr. Nic Butler, manager of the archive and the historian for the task force, to mark the 300th anniversary of the building of the fort. Archaeologist Carl Steen will discuss his recent investigations at the site. More info: 805-6968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing Up Gifted: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 13, Rooms 117 and 118, School of Education, Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston Alumni Center, 86 Wentworth St. Educational session for parents of gifted children; speakers include local and state experts and advocates for programs for exceptional children. Reservations: Stacey Lindbergh, 437-1751 or email@example.com.
In this section, we offer a list of good reads that you might want to consider reading:
Manageable health goals
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