Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Best Use of Old Suitcases: Charleston Bass Case

Charleston Bass Case

Charleston Bass Case is a brand-new company that combines the charm of vintage suitcases with the convenience of a boombox to produce some awfully adorable portable hi-fi amplifiers. Someone was clever enough to build these from floor-standing speakers and suitcases that have stood the test of time. Equipped with 3.3 mm auxiliary cords, they’re compatible with iPhones, iPads, iPods, and make for a super stylish accessory for a day out on the beach, backyard, or wherever you wanna make a little noise.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Bottomless Mimosa: Hello My Name is BBQ

Hello My Name is BBQ

Staff Pick

That's right. The best way to get reeeeal brunched in Charleston is at the Hello My Name is BBQ World Headquarters (HMNIBBQWHQ) on Meeting Street. As if Saturday staples like the meatloaf biscuit with sriracha mayo, barbecue breakfast plate, and that glorious bowl of shrimp and grits weren't reason enough to visit, ├╝ber-cool husband-and-wife owners Ryner and Cody Burg had to go and throw in $10 bottomless mimosas to really seal the funnest brunch-in-town deal. Every Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., you can sip on an everflowing glass of the good stuff while live music backdrops your brunch experience. Go on an empty stomach though, 'cause you can't order that mimosa unless you're using it to wash down some of the best grub around, too.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Frozen Pizza: D'Allesandro's Pizza

D'Allesandro's Pizza

Staff Pick

One secret that needs yellin' from the rooftops is this: D'Allesandro's, home of some of the most wondrous pizza around, has broken into the frozen pizza market. Hell yes they have. Stock up on these gems at a number of local spots including Bi-Lo, Burbage's, Southern Season, Bert's Market, Bull Street Gourmet, and, of course, at D'Al's itself. With favorites like Get Gnarly and Chicken Ranch in the mix, the freezer aisle has never been dreamier.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Pop-Up Dinners: Elliotborough Mini Bar

Elliotborough Mini Bar

Staff Pick

Elliotborough Mini Bar may be small but the sweet wee neighborhood establishment has a lot of big ideas. Too tiny to churn out big meals on the reg, owner Anna Faenza has instead enlisted a weekly barrage of local chefs and notable cooks to wow guests with several courses for a fixed price. On any given Tuesday, you can expect the likes of the Ciao Hounds and Chef Alex Lira (The Lot), alongside cookbook author Mark Andrew Gravel (Kill the Recipe) or Gullah Geechee chef BJ Dennis whipping up menus that are extraordinarily different from one week to the next. Menus and guest chefs are announced weekly on Facebook, and diners are encouraged to bring cash since food and bar bills are always separate.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Marquee Signs: Early Bird Diner

Early Bird Diner

Staff Pick

If you've ever found yourself humming a Britney Spears tune but substituting the lyrics with, say, “Hit Me Gravy One More Time,” you've probably driven past Early Bird Diner. The staff at the West Ashley institution, famous for its chicken and waffles, loves to have a little fun with the Highway 17 marquee, and we are laughin' it up right along with 'em. Other favorites include “Lord I Was Born a Scramblin' Man.” “Over a Buhjillion Served,” and “Come on Gravy Light My Fire.” Rumor has it that the gravy puns are on a hiatus but surely there are plenty of eggcellent others to keep us entertained in the meantime.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Fashion Blog: Charleston Shop Curator

Charleston Shop Curator

Staff Pick

Charleston has seen its share of photo blogs and lifestyle-in-general blogs, but no one was filling the niche for a truly well-executed site all about local fashions until Charleston Shop Curator launched just before Charleston Fashion Week last year. Blogger Andrea Serrano does all the writing and most of the modeling, but the spotlight is on Charleston wares. From area shops to designers, the local focus shines bright and is complemented by beautiful photography and makeup artistry. The site is celebrating its one-year anniversary at the moment so viewers can fully expect Serrano to keep cranking it up a notch or ten in the near future.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Use of Wood Shavings: Black Swamp

Black Swamp

Staff Pick

Talk about killin’ two birds with one stone? Listen to this one. Katie Thompson began making Black Swamp jewelry as a spinoff of her husband’s woodshop business, Joseph Thompson Woodworks. The latter produces furniture, and before the dust even settles from a newly fashioned chair or table, Katie’s already digging through the wood shavings that remain. From this, she creates exquisite bracelets, necklaces, and earrings that appear incredibly delicate but are surprisingly durable. Recycling at its prettiest.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Use of an Ironing Board: Mechanical River

Mechanical River

Staff Pick

Mechanical River is what Charleston musician Joel Hamilton calls his one-man band that utilizes concepts all his own. Onstage, Hamilton centers himself within a setup that includes a kick drum with a tambourine shoe hi-hat, a sampler, a homemade cigar-box guitar, a microphoned baseball helmet, Christmas lights, and, quite notably, a Casio keyboard atop an old ironing board. It doesn’t make for a concisely packed tour van but when you pair it all with Hamilton’s entrancing voice and superbly crafted songs, what it does make is one uniquely magical act to both see as well as hear.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Best Chalk Artist: Tim Edgar

Staff Pick

Muralists are getting some well-deserved buzz in Charleston right now, but what about the unsung heroes of chalk art? Local (chalk) artist Tim Edgar is not only a wiz at beatific lettering, but he also illustrates pictures that are inconceivably drawn using chalk. Those retro cars and mopeds on the chalkboard at Al di La? That there is just one example of what Edgar can do. Go there or to Early Bird Diner now to see his handiwork on display and prepare to be amazed.

Best of Charleston 2014, Charleston City Paper 

Friday, 21 March 2014

CFW's team of handlers rustle 200 models — and occasionally rolling tumbleweaves

March 19 2014 Issue of Charleston City Paper 

Model Wranglin'

Joe Quinn is  five-year CFW veteran
Joe Quinn is five-year CFW veteran
Ever been backstage for a fashion show? It's for neither the weak nor the slow. Split-second decision-making skills, a sense of humor, and the ability to work standing up and smiling for grossly long periods of time are prerequisites for anyone who wants to survive back there. Restless nights? Comes with the territory. Sweet delirium? Occupational hazard.
So how does the whole show come together so smoothly? Magic? Hell no. It's the handlers, y'all.
Charleston Fashion Week wouldn't happen without the people who do it all behind the scenes, from meticulously selecting models to auditioning hair and makeup artists. Handlers are the magicians who are at it for months, long before tents are ever raised or the fashions are even decided. They're there to ensure the models are ready to roll.
Take Emma Maybury, a College of Charleston senior and the CFW hair and makeup team backstage coordinator. She's worked with the show for four years running, the last two directly under the leadership of Ashley Brook Perryman, the hair and makeup creative director. Maybury's responsible for getting more than 100 models through hair and makeup on time, every night.
"Ashley has a schedule that she formulates each year for timing the hair and makeup, and it's my job to make sure that we stay on time and have models completed," Maybury says. "I think what most people don't realize is that this job is far more administrative than glamorous or fashion-related. You must know how to create spreadsheets, communicate, and work well under pressure."
Perryman also has Lauren Boyce by her side as the assistant to the hair and makeup director. Boyce is joining CFW for the third year in a row. A stylist at Madewell on King Street, Boyce works closely with everyone from the CFW hair and makeup stylists to the designers to make sure the designers' visions are realized on the catwalk.
"Everybody really steps in to educate each other and really makes each other feel confident about the look that they're doing. So in trainings, we really work hard to build their confidence in their skills so if someone's having cold feet doing a really graphic avant-garde look and someone is better at demonstrating that, they step in to help," she says. "Everyone learns from each other."
During the show, Boyce is backstage with Maybury double-checking that the models' looks are fully developed before they're unleashed onto the runway. When there's a quick change, her role is crucial.
"A quick change is when say a model in the first show is also in the third show, and so she has to be into a new wardrobe and look in 10 minutes," Boyce says. "There are definitely times when there's back-to-back walks, and we have a model for two minutes and we make it happen."
Model coordinator Joe Quinn helps with the quick changes, too. He makes sure those models are immediately undressed, taken to hair and makeup, and redressed in time before the next show begins. A five-year CFW veteran, Quinn's role actually begins in September when he auditions 700 models. Those are narrowed down to the 200 from which the designers will choose their weapons.
"On top of coordinating rehearsals and casting, we work with designers on their selection process," Quinn says. "We have an online model book, so they can log in and see the models, measurements, and pictures, and they put together their selections. Then we go through that and make sure there are no overlaps per night and all that good stuff — so there's about a thousand moving parts just for models. Two hundred models walking in 49 runway shows over the course of four nights, plus a bridal show, so yes, a lot of moving parts."
Originally, Quinn was hired as a two-day intern, but a couple of days was enough to get him hooked on the CFW chaos, and that internship lasted a year and a half before he was named the model coordinator. This year's show is particularly special — it will be his last, since the CofC senior plans to leave Charleston come May graduation. But he's got plenty of backstage moments to take with him.
"One year, one of the designers — a heel broke or something or the model's shoe was too big — so the model was nervous about walking down the runway and that turned into one of my assistants running up to me and saying, 'I need a tampon,'" Quinn says. "This was a guy also, so I'm like, 'Why do you need tampons?' and apparently the designer wanted to put tampons in the shoe. When you think you've heard the most random thing backstage, there's always something more random and more quotable that happens."
A sense of humor comes in handy when the tiredness sets in. "Two years ago we were using so much fake hair and weave, and it was super windy that day, and the doors to the tent wouldn't stay closed," Boyce says, "so we had this massive pile of weave that round itself up in a ball so it was the joke of the week — our tumbleweave. It was literally rolling through the tent past all the models, and we were chasing fake hair everywhere."
For these handlers, it's the moments that leave them smiling that they'll remember. The lack of sleep, stress, and physical demands all disappear when they can watch their hard work unfold right in front of them.
"The most gratifying part of each night is seeing the models all lined up, completely dressed, and in their hair and makeup," Maybury says. "Seeing the designers stare at their models just moments before their show starts has actually made me teary-eyed before, because you can just completely see every aspect of their vision — hair, makeup, models, music, everything — that they explained during creative meetings all come together into a beautiful piece of art."

Far and away: A panel of Charleston foodies speak out about their favorite ethnic food spots in Charleston

For Winter 2014 Dish by Charleston City Paper
by Kelly Rae Smith

The ethnic food scene in Charleston ain’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. Remember when Thai food came to King Street and exploded nearly a decade ago?  It seems that local palates were starving for something that went beyond the Mason-Dixon, past all borders, and into far-flung destinations our senses longed to experience.

Since then, plenty of places have successfully arrived, and some have come and gone. With the onset of the foodie trend, interest is spiked high and the local ethnic restaurant to-do list is growing at a pace more swift than ever before. To help us filter through the hype, City Paper talked to eight top Charleston foodies for their insights. Our panel comprises local photographer Paul E. Cheney Jr., ‘Wich Doctor owners Jeff Butler and Krista Hines, Wine Distributor and taco truck fanatic Harry Root, Chef John Ondo of Lana Restaurant, and City Paper writers Eric Doksa, Jeff Allen, and Angela Hanyak.

According these guys, Charleston may just get there yet. But you gotta be willing to get in your car and check some of these places out because they may not be right in front of your face. “I am completely bored with at least 70% of the restaurants in downtown Charleston right now,” Cheney says. “If you live outside of Charleston or the South, [new ethnic restaurants] are exciting as all get out, but I live downtown and find myself driving to North Charleston or Goose Creek at least one to two times a week.  I find a $3.95 taco incorrectly made by a gringo to be an insult to the taco. With a 12-minute drive from downtown, I can eat $1.50 tacos with twice the flavor.”

So where should you drive to next? It appears that the on and off the peninsula favorites are as follows:

Phuong Vietnamese Restaurant
5634 Rivers Ave, North Charleston 29406
Phuong must be doing it right because nearly everyone mentioned this hidden gem. “One trick I recommend is the VietnaMexican meal deal,”  Cheney says. “Go to Phuong on River's Avenue. I eat there one-to-two times a week. It is the number-one pho in the city hands down. I spent five hours in their kitchen. Clean, and they care. After Phuong, take a right on Remount and go to Tapatia Bakery.  Get a slice of Tres Leches and eat it in the parking lot. Spicy soup > Cool Cake.”

Ethiopian Taste5060 Dorchester Rd, North Charleston 29418
Charleston’s first Ethiopian restaurant arrived in December and is already one of the most Instagrammed spots of late. What’s good? “Everything,” Chef Butler says. “We sat a a four top and had to scoot to the end to make room. They bring out huge platters so we had almost every vegetarian thing, all the meats, samosas, everything but desert. Everything tasted great.”

P.S. Rumor has it the coffee is also a wonder not to be missed.

Kanpai Japanese Restaurant
1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd B9, Mt Pleasant 29464
Sean Park took over the space in Mt Pleasant about two years ago and has been a favorite among local foodies ever since. From the welcoming, personable chef to the heavenly pork buns, there’s plenty of reason to give Kanpai the edge. “I'm obsessed with Sean Park's food,” Doksa says. “He's Korean, so he's got some great Korean dishes on the menu, but he's also an amazing sushi chef. Though there are a few on the menu, he's not focused on all the Americanized sushi rolls with cream cheese and a ton of sauce. His best dishes are kept simple and he brings in quality ingredients. When I want sushi, I go see Sean.”

Raul's Maya del Sol
1012 E. Montague Ave, North Charleston 29405
This North Charleston Mexican joint recently moved to a spot with only a window and outdoor seating but that hasn’t stopped fans from flocking to the new locale for popular plates like rosemary pancakes (for brunch) and Doksa’s favorite dish in town, the carne en su jugo. “Raul Sanchez makes my favorite taco,” Doksa reports. “A traditional beef tongue taco (taco de lengua) and his carne en su jugo,  which is basically a Mexican beef stew, is ridiculously good.”  

Bollywood Cafe
6150 Rivers Ave, North Charleston 29406
Javad Khan, formerly of Bombay fame, moved just up the road last year to open Bollywood, a place that has quickly risen to foodie fame for everything from the iced tea to a surprisingly good buffet. “Indian food is probably the one food I could eat for sport,” Chef Ondo admits. “I love Bollywood. I think they’re really good. Their tandoori chicken is fantastic.”

Pollo Tropical  Charcoal Grill
5335 Dorchester Rd, North Charleston 29418
People are shouting out loud about this Mexican-cum-Caribbean spot with a good selection of Colombian dishes plus a Peruvian chicken that you’re bound to keep on craving. Butler and Hines recommend the empanadas made with cornflower. “Perfect,” Butler says. “Absolutely perfect.”

La Nortena Taqueria
6275 Rivers Ave North Charleston, 29406
(843) 225-7055
Another North Chuck destination, this Rivers Avenue restaurant serves the stuff you won’t see in your average run-of-the-mill Mexican establishment.  Things like fresh ceviche, house-made sauces, and cold horchatas set this place apart.  Chef Ondo’s favorite? The beef cheek tacos.

Ko Cha Korean
3515 Mary Ader Ave, West Ashley 29414
Located quite unassumingly inside an Exxon gas station, this West Ashley restaurant is apparently the real deal. Previously called Rice B, the new owners are dishing out super authentic plates of gochujang, seafood pancakes, fried dumplings, and kim-chee. Don’t be fooled by the less-than-exciting exterior. Cheney says the food is so good it’s “almost tear worthy.”

Riso Noodle House1890 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, West Ashley 29407
This locally owned Chinese restaurant is known for its homemade wontons and a secret menu containing the likes of beef tongue and oxtail soup, but it also serves up other great Asian dishes like curries and Pad Thai. “I was just turned onto this place a few weeks ago,” Doksa says, “and I'm really digging it. They've got a little bit of everything, but the main focus is authentic Chinese: think honeycomb tripe and soybean pork feet.”

Maya Food Truck
Ladson Flea Market
Flea markets and food trucks really do go hand in hand. Look for this guy next time you’re in Ladson hunting down deal. “It's standard fare as far as food trucks go,” Allen says, “but they usually have the good stuff like fried intestines and the salsa verde they serve in big jugs on the fold up tables is serious stuff.  That truck is also surrounded by ethnic grocers selling all kinds of strange vegetables, as well as the usually flea market craziness, which amplifies the experience.”

Taqueria Espres Taco Truck
2700 Ashley Phosphate Rd, North Charleston 29418
Harry Root frequents a taco truck across from the BP on Ashley Phosphate. A lot: “I ordered the pork burrito the first four years I went there,” he says, “probably averaged three times a week.  I never got sick of it.  Even though I know it's not the best thing in the world for me, it's fresh and genuine and bright.   I was always intrigued by the lengua and cabeza, but was always a little scared. I've always noticed how diverse the crowd it there: lots of Mexicans, folks from the airbase, a few guys in ties, etc.  I started to pay attention to what the Mexicans ordered.  One day the three guys in line in front of me ordered 18 cabeza tacos between them.  My reticence to eat the cabeza must have had something to do with being scared it wasn't fresh.  When I realized how much they served, I knew it must be fresh so I followed suite.  That really changed the way I eat there.  Now I have a standard cabeza taco side car. “

Mama Kim’s
349 King St, Charleston 29401
For Korean food downtown, drop into Mama Kim’s relatively-new King Street location, but don’t go blindly.  “Mama Kim's is in front of everyone's face, but most folks order incorrectly, “Cheney says. “Get the Mama Kim's Dinner for Two. Eat with Chopsticks, drink a huge beer and laugh. It is awesome.”

1302 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston 29405
If the sticky sweet waitstaff and expertly-mixed margaritas aren’t enough to get you to Santi’s, then try Chef Ondo’s favorite ethnic dish in town: the calado de res. “It’s the National Sunday beef stew. It’s so good. It’s big chunks of red meat that have been slow-cooked and braised, and it has chayote squash, some corn, huge chunks of zucchini, some jalapenos, cilantro, and onions mixed in a vegetable broth. And tortillas. Delicious.”

Xiao Bao Biscuit
224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston 29401
This uber buzzed-about Asia-meets-The-South restaurant came up several times in our research and is known for its rustic charm, yummy cocktails, and well-executed dishes like Okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake) and the Mapo Dofou (a spicey tofu dish).
City Paper food writer Angela Hanyak is one of their many fans. “I love for serving uncompromising food with a strong regional focus.”

460 King St, Charleston 29403
Here’s a scoop you never knew: Basil makes great pho, according to Cheney. “It is off menu,” he says, “and it is awesome. Not so much of a traditional Vietnamese approach, but just a damn good bowl of soup. It was a staff meal, and we saw the staff eating it so I inquired and was surprised to find it was available off menu to anyone who asked.”

Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen
218 President St, Charleston 29403
Downtown but off the beaten track, Lee Lee’s opened in January this year to piles of praise for dishes like the honey garlic ribs and Szechuan dumplings. “I ate at Lee Lee's Hot Kitchen last week and really enjoyed it,” Hanyak said. “Their menu expands beyond the bounded expectations of what Chinese food is, and that's great. I ordered the salt and pepper chicken, and it was a completely new experience to me.”

So what is Charleston is still missing?
The consensus all around speaks to the apparent presence of fusion everywhere we look. Yet taking a specific food from an international region and really owning it is a thing some would like to see a lot of more of.

Take Jeff Butler and Krista Hines of the ‘Wich Doctor on Folly Beach for instance. Butler, who by the way influenced his would-be wife and vegetarian, Hines, to eat meat on their first date, thinks that something simple would fill the gap nicely.  “Just a ramen, just a tempora shop—something run by people who specialized in one thing and just crushed it—that would be amazing. We have an excellent food scene. It’s southern, it’s local. But if we had a good ethnic scene with places cooking specialites using the real ingredients, that would be just what Charleston needs.”

What else is lacking? “We could use a good German restaurant,” Chef Ondo asserts. “German breakfast is my fucking nirvana. It’s my Death Row meal. If I were to die tomorrow, I’d want a German breakfast. It’s really good rye bread, cheese and sliced meats, cold cut salami, yoghurt and granola, back to the bread, more cheese, more sliced meat, pickled fish. It’s all stuff to smear on bread and get your day started.”

Hanyak sees another absence: “I have a Panamanian friend who is outraged that there isn't any good Puerto Rican food in town, and I think she's on to something. We're seeing a huge surge in taco places, but no one's really exploring the subtle nuances of Latin American food. Peruvian keeps threatening to become a national trend, and you still have to go to Miami to get good Cuban. I think the Lowcountry would welcome some variety.”

But Charleston is getting there, and hopefully, dear readers, your to-do list is now full. Don’t sit on it though: get out there and experience tastes you never knew you loved. Don’t let the other-worldly food scene fade away just as it is blooming. After all, and as Cheney so wisely said, “You don't know what is going to blow your mind until you try it.”

Late film crew member Sarah Jones of S.C. honored at Oscars

Slates for Sarah

Posted by Kelly Rae Smith on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 7:45 AM in the Charleston City Paper 

    The Oscars honored one of South Carolina’s own on Sunday night after a moving social media storm sought to formally recognize College of Charleston graduate and 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones, who was killed on February 20 when a train swept through the set of the film Midnight Rider in Savannah. Jones, who also worked on The Vampire Diaries and interned in Charleston on the set of Army Wives, has come to represent the unsung heroes of those working behind the scenes on films and television shows.

    A petition on the Care2 site gathered over 60,000 signatures leading up to the March 3 Oscars broadcast in hopes of including the Columbia, S.C. native on the “In Memoriam” segment of the show. Although the formal name submission process ended long before, that didn’t stop her far-reaching network of friends and colleagues from urging the Academy via phone, email, and Twitter to to pay respect — not to overshadow the many others in the industry who have died, but to highlight and mourn the loss of someone who died in the name of entertainment.

    The Academy listened, and at the end of the memorial segment, Jones’ name and photograph briefly flashed on the screen, a move that was largely unexpected but widely appreciated by the many people touched by her loss. Black ribbons were also seen on the lapels of supporters who caught wind of the #ribbonforSarah Twitter campaign launched on the Thursday preceding the show.

    Slates for Sarah,” a Facebook memorial page designed to honor Jones with photographs of slates bearing her name or picture, was set up by an Atlanta friend and colleague shortly after the tragedy. Since its creation, it has received over 65,000 likes and countless posts from productions including Saturday Night LiveHow I Met Your MotherDoctor Who, andDownton Abbey as an entire industry of film and television writers, art departments, actors, and directors alike not only grieve for the loss of one of their own but also support increased safety for crew members everywhere. It too gained momentum on Twitter with hashtags like #slatesforsarah, #weareallsarahjones, and #safetyforsarah.

    “#slatesforsarah is important because it's a reminder of how tragic the neglect of on-set safety can become,” says Paul Markovich, a friend and colleague of Jones from Army Wives. “It shows how far the shock-waves can travel when the wrong decisions are made. It's the worse-case scenario and it's almost unbelievable that it actually happened. On a personal level, it's gratifying knowing that her memory will be preserved so strongly. It's good to know that her life was so rich to have affected so many people, and to have so many people care about her.”

    Jones and the crew filming the Gregg Allman biopic on that tragic day arrived to work feeling safe. Because obvious safety measures must be considered when filming on train tracks, the staff assumed all was well when clearly their lives were at risk. How did this clearance fall through the cracks, and how could it have been avoided?

    “There are many safety notices that get sent out on call-sheets when there are potentially unsafe conditions, warning the crew about any hazards they should watch out for,” Markovich says. “When we were shooting in an old building this one time, they brought in structural engineers to evaluate what the building could support, which resulted in some floors being blocked off, and they recommended face masks because of mold content and dust. Had the crew on Midnight Rider been doing things properly, they would've blocked all access to the rails and all crew members would've been informed in advance that they were hazardous.”

    In addition to Jones’ death, seven others were injured when a freight train collided with the workers and sent set debris airborne. Midnight Rider production has been completely shut down, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently looking for more answers.