Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Summerville's Final Third Thursday Topped Off A Successful Year With One Farewell Party

Shopping crowds at Piazza
I had a busy day. The afternoon past by quickly. It was now the hour of five. The final Third Thursday of 2012 was beginning. I drove past Hutchinson Square with one more appointment to fulfill. From appearances, the evening started out with a decent size crowd milling around the streets of downtown Summerville, but rain was in the forecast and it didn't fail to materialize.

By the time I arrived back in Summerville, the raindrops were lightly descending at a steady rate. I would soon regrettably discover the 100% Moreno wool, argyle sweater I was wearing didn't take to rain very well, which became more apparent as the evening progressed. I made a quick stop at Downtown Crossing on Short Central. Sarah was serving up punch and snacks. "We had to abandon our table outside because of the rain," Jewel informed me. Many of the businesses had parties planned and were offering huge discounts.
Sarah serving a young customer

Jewel and a friend
Bill and friends

With the anticipated rain, the Summers were prepared for such an eventuality. Bill erected a canopy over a portion of the front courtyard outside of the shop's entrance to keep their patrons dry while sharing a draft beer supplied by Madra Rua. Providing refreshments for the shopping crowd had been a long time Third Thursday tradition for Aura Lee's, along with Chelsea providing the musical entertainment. This particular night would be bittersweet. It would sadly be the last Third Thursday for Aura Lee's Jewelry, Handbags and Accessories. The little shop with a huge following would be opening its doors for the last time. The ensuing rain cancelled the music but did very little in dampening the enthusiasm of friends stopping by to share in the celebration of a successful venture and others taking advantage of the 50% off sale. I drank a beer and shared a few laughs under the canopy. The festive, blue sign will be missed in the coming year.
Accent on Wine

By now, festivities were winding down and most of the remaining crowd had retreated to the indoors-O'lacy's Pub, Montreux, and Accent on Wine the benefactors. The Fezziwig Party was beginning at Art and Soul. I stopped in to get some quick pictures and catch some of the storytelling of Tim Lowry.

I ventured back out into the rain with one more stop to go. My cranberry, argyle sweater now smelled like a wet puppy. I headed over to Coastal Coffee Roasters in my truck to close out the evening. It was a good choice. Danny Trump, owner of Amazing Cheesecakes, treated me to a candy cane-mint cheesecake, which I took home and ate while watching the holiday reruns on AMC and FX.
Coastal Coffee Roasters open mic night
The final Third Thursday of 2012 was in the books. It was a satisfying conclusion to a successful year for the locally owned businesses of Summerville, and thanks to Summerville DREAM, the Third Thursday event had played an integral part. 2013 will welcome two new businesses to Summerville-Carolina Cottage Consignments opening in January and Homegrown Brew House in February. It has been a privilege meeting many of the local business owners through the course of the year and I look forward to our continued collaboration to make Summerville a great community to live in and to visit. Hope the end of 2012 leaves you and yours happy and prosperous while looking eagerly to next year and continued growth.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

There Is Plenty Going On At Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville-You Are Invited To Check It Out For Yourself

The red roaster
Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville is passionately dedicated to the idea of "transforming the best organically grown beans into the most amazing, freshly roasted coffee." To quote the owners, "We want our name to be synonymous with the best cup of coffee that you have ever tasted." But alas, I am not a coffee drinker. So, what is it that keeps bringing me back to the "red roaster" at 108 East 3rd North Street?
While offering the best when it comes to roasted coffee, there is much more brewing within the walls of this Summerville hot spot, but it is not something that can be put into a cup or a container and it permeates the atmosphere as distinctly as the freshly roasted beans that spill out from the oven chamber of its red Dietrich coffee roaster. You sense it when you first enter. You feel it as you mingle with the crowd. You see it while you sit at the hand-decorated tables. You hear it in the conversations of its most loyal patrons.

Coastal Coffee Roasters enthusiastically brews up a large batch of community, actively devoting time and efforts to fostering its well-being and its growth. It does this by graciously opening its doors to other aspiring local entrepreneurs, affording them the opportunity and the space to promote their own products and services to CCR's loyal and growing customer base. The meals, snacks, appetizers and desserts are all prepared fresh in its own kitchen by local cooks and pastry chefs. To take the edge off a busy day or simply to kick-back and relax, local craft beers, such as Holy City, are available on tap and a full rack of hand-picked wines await your pleasure.

Wine rack
Molly Durnin
But, like everything in life there is a need for being balanced-all work and no play is not good for business. CCR's love for coffee is only rivaled by its love for music and fostering talent in the community is one of its strategies. Its coffeehouse has become a gathering place for aspiring local musicians and songwriters. Its open mic night on Thursdays has become a popular collaborative jam session where anyone who has the will and desire can uncase their acoustic guitars and sing a few songs from their repertoire. In addition, Friday night is owned by the Summerville band Busker with Dave Keller on lead guitar accompanied by a collection of his talented friends, and Saturday night tops off the entertainment schedule for the week, often reserved for visiting musicians and locally popular singers.

Like its owners, Coastal Coffee Roasters from the start has never been a body at rest. It is constantly in motion, continually developing. It has always been a work in progress. I have been a keen observer of the many metamorphic changes the coffeehouse has undergone since its early days to where it is today. Recently, its interior block walls have even become the medium on which aspiring young artists have been given the opportunity to work their creative talents. Despite the progression, two things have remained constant and I consider them trademarks-the hammock above the kitchen and the basketball net on the wall. Many times I have wanted to pick up a basketball and play a friendly game of hoops. I have always said, "Hanging out at Coastal Coffee Roasters is like hanging out in a  dear friend's garage to share good times."
Wall mural in progress
Brad and Jackie
Finally, I could easily site all these things as the reasons that keep bringing me back to the home of the "red roaster", but that would not be entirely true. What keeps bringing me back time and time again is Brad and Jackie Mallett. They serve up as many hand shakes and hugs as they do cups of coffee. Coastal Coffee Roasters is a family, owned and run, and I am happy to be a part of the family.
Check out this weeks schedule and entertainment. Molly Durnin Friday, 7-10 pm.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Countries Top Mixologists Dazzle-The Methods To Their Madness

Today's top mixologists are masterful in the molecular methodologies they implement to expand their repertoires of delightful cocktails. The visually striking Nitrotini at Grill 225 is Charleston's only cocktail super-chilled to -320 degrees Fahrenheit with liquid nitrogen. Pucker your lips around the Nitro Mallow-a blend of vanilla vodka with equal parts hazelnut liqueur and butterscotch liqueur, topped off with a tall pour of Baily’s. The martini glass is rimmed with graham cracker crumbs, decorated with chocolate syrup and garnished with freeze-dried marshmallows. Lastly, 2 ounces of liquid nitrogen are carefully infused and, "Please do not stick your tongue to the glass."

Equally sophisticated are the mechanical methodologies the countries top mixologists are incorporating to infuse the ingredients of their growing repertoires. Hand shakers and muddlers are giving way to antique paint-can shakers, coffee siphon brewers, cold-drip coffee makers, red hot pokers, and centrifuges. Move over blender, make room for these crossovers from paint stores and coffee shops.

The first time I saw the siphon brewer in action, an apparatus that looks like a chemistry experiment, was at Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville, so I know how it works. The Aviary, a Chicago state-of-the-art cocktail lounge, uses the double-chamber siphon pot to create one of their famous cocktails right at the customer's table. Gin is poured into the bottom chamber and Rooibos tea, grapefruit, lemon zest, crushed almonds, herbs, and spices are put in the upper chamber. Heat is applied to the gin until a vacuum is created and it gets pulled into the upper chamber where it mixes with the drinks more delicate ingredients. The heat is removed and the mixture seeps back down into the bottom chamber. Voila, the Rooibos Cocktail is ready to sip and savor. Reminds me of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, famous here in Charleston, only because of the use of tea in the drink. Trivia: Rooibos tea is produced from a bush of the same name found in the mountains and valleys of the Cedarberg region of South Africa near Cape Town. It is also known as red tea.

Citizen R+D in Phoenix incorporates two of the aforementioned mechanical methodologies. Established in 2011, Citizen R+D has some engaging policies. Reservations will only be taken on one condition; you must order one of the group-size cold-drip margaritas, which must be pre-ordered because they take three hours to make. On arrival, you must first read the house rules and if you agree to adhere to them, you call the posted phone number and then wait to be escorted up the staircase to the bar. Once you are in, a loud, vigorous shaking noise from the bar inquisitively draws your attention to an old-fashioned paint-can shaker. It is used to create their ice-cold rum-based Paint Can Punch. The second oddity you will see is a tall, glass contraption that resembles a three tiered hour glass. It is a cold-drip coffee brewer doubling as the three hour margarita maker. Description not needed, just picture tequila dripping over kaffir limes and other flavorings. There are drinks made with cotton candy and drinks made with fire. They cost $12 to $18. The bar is a definite must-see.

Booker and Dax is located at Momofuku in New York City. Like Grill 225, this popular bar uses liquid nitrogen in its drinks, but the goal is not the show. It is used primarily to make drinks more delicious and serve them more efficiently. Its version of Gin and Juice is not your typical pour the necessary ingredients into a glass over ice and serve. The freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is combined with clarifying agents used in the wine industry and given a fast ride in a centrifuge to produce a pale liquid, which is then mixed with gin, sugar, and crushed ice. It is put in liter bottles and carbonated. When a customer orders the Gin and Juice, the bartender takes a champagne flute and swirls a splash of liquid nitrogen into it, the glass is cooled to subzero temperatures, and after the vapor boils off the bottled, carbonated cocktail is poured into the glass. The Fire-Breathing Dragon is another signature drink of the bar, a concoction of centrifuge-clarified orange juice, tea, and rum superheated by a high-temperature industrial heating rod called a red hot poker reminiscent of an old practice from the 1700's using a loggerhead that over time fell out of fashion, but now made new by today's technology. There is well-founded science behind the madness. If you would like to see a video demonstration click drink video.

I have not seen any of these methodologies being employed at lounges and bars in Charleston other than the liquid nitrogen. That been said, who knows what Charleston's top mixologists are conjuring up to mystify and satisfy Charleston's sophisticated nightlife patrons. None-the-less, the city has a versatile collection of lounges and bars to kick up one's heels and modestly get one's swerve on.

The Squeeze, to name one, is also nicknamed "Charleston’s Tightest Bar." If you stand directly across the street from the Squeeze, never in you wildest imaginations would you visualize an old Charleston home having stood on this block of East Bay Street, but in fact the lounge was originally a front porch. It has the longest bar top in town, boasts having the friendliest bartenders, and serves up Charleston's finest cocktails. Drink prices range from $6-$9 on average.

Stay for an extended weekend at the Pavilion Hotel and enjoy this package deal now through March 31, 2013. Or choose from one of these package deals offered at the Vendue Inn. The Squeeze is a short walk from both hotels.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Coastal Coffee Roasters Shared Samples of The Most Expensive Coffee In The World-The Place For Great Coffee And Entertainment

As you read this article, it is quite possible you may be sipping on a cup coffee, one of the most consumed beverages anywhere. Across the world, within the forests of Southeast Asia, lives a grayish, shaggy haired animal whose face reminds you of a raccoon but bears a nickname containing the word cat. Apparently this 19-inch long creature savors the sap of the palm flower, which when fermented becomes toddy, a sweet liquor. Similar to the way maple syrup is collected back in my home state of Ohio, buckets are attached to the palm trees to collect its sap. This opportunistic, masked bandit is often seen freely profiting from this harvesting practice. Therefore, because of this it is sometimes called a toddy cat.

This toddy cat is a member of the viverridae family of mammals and for most of the daytime hours stays hidden in the top of coconut trees. Thus, its fitting common name is the palm civet. Its chosen cuisine makes it invaluable to its ecosystem. It feeds on berries and pulpy fruits. Then disperses the digested seeds throughout the tropical forest in its droppings, assisting in the germination and regrowth of the forest trees.

Now, what is the connection between the fact you may be drinking coffee and the Asian palm civet. The palm civet also feeds on coffee berries for their fleshy pulp. The coffee berries pass through its digestive tract where it goes through a few chemical processes involving enzymes and amino acids. Then, the beans are defecated with their shape still intact and collected by humans for cleaning and roasting. It is highly unlikely you are drinking coffee made from these intestinally manipulated coffee beans. This highly naturalized coffee is called Kopi Luwak and costs about $100 dollars a cup. I first heard of this coffee while watching the movie "The Bucket List." Jack Nicholson's character, a wealthy entrepreneur, drank the coffee on a regular basis totally unaware it was made from cat scoop poop. Morgan Freeman, a knowledgeable stranger that became his friend, derived immense pleasure in telling him the truth about his cherished coffee.

Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville treated friends and patrons with the opportunity to taste this unusual coffee Saturday, December 1st. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there as a first hand observer and taster because I am still recovering from my car accident, but I was filled in by a friend on the details and judging by the humorous comments left on Coastal Coffee Roasters Facebook page, everyone enjoyed the experience. Dave Keller, otherwise known as Busker, was on hand for the fun. Dave is somewhat of a fixture at CCR.

Dave Keller and friends perform their musical magic on Friday nights at 7:30 pm. Dave's life story is an interesting one. When asked where the name Busker came from, Dave happily relates the story behind the name. He said, "While traveling around Salisbury, England, I saw a sign that said 'no busking.' I asked what that meant. The person informed me it meant no street performing. So, I came up with the name Busker from that word." Dave also fluently speaks German. He lived in Germany as a young boy. Ask him about his birthday. His answer will surprise you. Dave plays a mean acoustic guitar, the bass, and the saxophone. Busker is no stranger to Summerville, they are a local favorite. The Journal Scene named them Readers' Choice in 2011. Rick Olson is Dave's partner. Come and rock out with the gang.

Shopping Local December 7 is an event to keep in mind. It begins at 5:00 pm. Azalea Olive Oil Company and a professional gift basket designer will be on hand to give you hands-on assistance in basket creation. Bring a basket with you to create a gift for the hard-to-buy-for client, friend and family member. A unique one stop shopping opportunity to buy local food items will be on display. For a complete list of offerings go to Coastal Coffee Roasters. Music will follow the event at 7:30 pm.

There is always something going on at CCR. Come join the fun. Kevin Church performs Thursday 7-9 pm. Jeff Trimble is the featured performer on Saturday.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Summerville's Third Thursday in November-A Night Of Reading, Acting, Music, And A Party

A Very Little Bookstore
It got dark earlier on this Third Thursday.  The time change that took place at the beginning of the month was responsible. Lately the weather had been on the cool side of the thermometer and this night was not going to be an exception. One of my planned stops tonight was to be at a wonderful bookstore for children called A Very Little Bookstore. I wanted to get a schedule of their book readings.

I had soup and a sandwich at the Eclectic Chef to start the evening. The crowd on Short Central was sparse, not the usual center of activity and entertainment. The customary craft stands and product displays were missing. Most of the attendees were seeking the comfort of the warmer businesses where the traditional wine and snacks accented the friendly conversation.
I  chose to take on the outside elements, after all I am originally a Northerner, and took a stroll along Short Central. I saw a young gentleman set up at an open door of one of the businesses with a music stand and acoustic guitar in hand. I have seen many of the local musicians but his was a new face to me. I took the opportunity to introduce myself. His name is Andrew Scholz, a local high school student. I asked him if he knew Chelsea Summers, a favorite singer/songwriter from Summerville of mine, and he did. Andrew also writes songs and covers a wide range of genre including Country, Southern rock, Charleston and alternative. He was looking to build up his fan base and strum up some new gigs. I suggested he make a visit to Coastal Coffee Roasters on a Thursday and take advantage of Brad's open mike night. You can contact Andrew Scholz at Andrew Scholz Music. Leave him a message.

The Very Merry Players of Art and Soul were in full costume and on the streets. Dickens' Christmas Carol was the subject matter. It was also the night "The Fezziwig Ball" was scheduled. I just could not resist taking a picture of the poor lads and lassies while they were wandering the streets hoping to find some charitable individuals willing to give of their time and join the group for a Christmas Carol Walk hosted by Dickens himself, played by Tim Lowry. The tour stopped at various locations throughout the downtown district while Tim provided the narration of the beloved story. December 20th, they will do it all again. Get your tickets now.

Tim Lowry, Storyteller, travels around South Carolina to various schools teaching and performing the craft he learned as a young man in southeastern Kentucky. He studied drama in high school and has a degree in theater. His home is Summerville, SC. When not traveling he often performs stories of the historic South Carolina Lowcountry: Colonial Tavern Tales, Gullah Folk Tales, and Civil War Ghost Stories. You can learn more about Tim Lowry at Storyteller Tim Lowry.

It seemed the theme of this Third Thursday was the acting arts. The lights at the James F. Dean Theater were burning brightly. A dress rehearsal for their next show called "The Flowertown Players Old-Timey Radio Christmas Comedy Show Extravaganza" was underway. It is a play written by local resident David Hatch. It is about an old theater built in 1897 that has fallen on hard times and closed down. A group wants to revitalize it by putting on a show at the theater to raise money. That is where the fun begins and the laughs . Buy a ticket to find out the rest.

Despite the sun's early departure and despite the cooler weather, the local residents braved the elements and supported their local businesses, after all that is what Summerville DREAM hopes to achieve through the monthly Third Thursday event. You will even see the Summerville DREAM team out and about working hard to make it a success. I know that for a fact, I bumped into a team member outside of Accent on Wine hosting a table and greeting everyone with a big Summerville smile. Shortly thereafter, I raised a glass of spirits in her honor as she waved to me outside the window where I was sitting.