Thursday, September 24, 2015

SUPing Folly Creek--Full Of Natural Beauty, Fascinating Wonders, And Teaming With Life

As the warm, morning sun rises above the Atlantic surf and washes over the sandy beachfront on the Edge of America, the ever impinging light unendingly confirms an already well established verifiable fact. The boundless Folly Beach landscape is a stunningly beautiful tangled blue web of saltwater creeks, rivers, and estuary marshes. It is this dazzling network of rising and ebbing saltwater that decidedly makes it a water sportsman’s wonderland of swimming, boating, fishing, surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

From the southern tip at Folly Beach Park to Lighthouse Inlet, Folly Beach has seven miles of beachfront ideal for sunning and swimming. The Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier is one of Folly's more prominent landmarks. Stretching 1,045 feet into the Atlantic surf, it has some of the best saltwater fishing in the area. The Washout has gained prominence as one of the more popular surfing spots along the East Coast. With 6.4 square miles of water, there is plenty of shoreline for the boater and kayaker to explore. However, for this article, I will be focusing on what Folly Beach has to offer the renting SUPer.

Although, you can rent paddleboards and transport them to wherever you want, there are two main entry points for paddleboard renting on Folly Beach--Folly Creek and Folly River. The choices and locations are Coastal Expeditions on Folly Road next to Crosby Fish and Shrimp, Charleston Outdoor Adventures next to Bowens Island Restaurant or Charleston SUP Safaris on Center Street at Flipper Finders.

After surveying the options, I chose Coastal Expeditions on Folly Creek. In my judgment, Folly Creek was the better access point. There was far less boat traffic and it was closer to more secluded areas of the surrounding estuary. Admittedly, the ultimate deciding factor that tipped my selection in favor of Coastal Expeditions came from a conversation I had with a couple who just came back from a paddleboarding excursion on Folly Creek. They mentioned seeing a partially sunken boat and that little bit of information peaked my interest.

I paid the $28 for 2 hours rental fee at a small office located in a wooden planked building and made final preparations for the paddle. It was a hot, humid afternoon, so I purchased a cold bottle of water at Crosby Fish and Shrimp, put my cell phone in the requested dry bag for safe keeping when not taking pictures and made the short walk to the pier. On the way, I passed a fisherman busy sorting through his catch of blue crab. Two large shrimp boats bearing the scars of their many years of service were moored at docks close to the fishing pier/boat dock where the guide awaited my arrival. It was high tide. The skies were partly cloudy blue. A challenging breeze was present. With dry bag and flip flops secured, I boarded the long board and shoved off into the warm waters of Folly Creek. It was going to be a great paddle.

My planned course would take me towards Bowens Island and the eclectic Bowen's Island Restaurant--a longtime favorite oyster stop for locals and a Hollywood icon—it was featured in the movie "Dear John." I wanted to take pictures of the restaurant from the water. I paddled past a huge estate with a large swimming platform before entering the more secluded stretch of Folly Creek where marsh grass and tall trees lined the shoreline leading to the restaurant. The brisk breeze at my back pushed me along at a pretty decent clip as I navigated and surfed the cresting waters. A mile into my paddle, I arrived at my desired destination and took numerous pictures of the old restaurant. I sat on my board with my feet and legs dangling in the water and soaked in the calming ambience and soothing sounds of my surroundings.

On the way back, I encountered the partially sunken boat—a ghostly relic from Hurricane Hugo. I curiously observed five great white heron foraging the edges of the marsh grass until they tired of my presence and spent a considerable amount of time being entertained by a group of six dolphins with young at their sides swim around my paddleboard. One dolphin afforded me the rare treat of seeing it totally breach the surface of the water. Sadly, my cell phone was packed away in the dry bag at the time. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the skies began to darken. It was time to leave the beautifully enriching scene.

In comparison to other paddleboard locations throughout the Charleston Lowcountry, I would consider Folly Creek a favorite, followed closely by Morgan Creek on the Isle of Palms. The Folly Beach estuary is a stunningly beautiful tangled blue web of saltwater creeks, rivers, and marshes full of natural beauty, fascinating wonders, and teaming with life.

Coastal Expeditions Folly Beach
2223 Folly Rd
(843) 406-0640

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Two Restaurant Names Inspired By Lowcountry Dogs--One In Charleston and One On Folly Beach

This is Jasper. Jasper enjoys barking at
other dogs and loves Cheez-its.
The movie called "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is about a man who is abandoned by his wife after the two of them hear the world is coming to an end in twenty-one days. I have not seen the movie as of today, so I cannot comment about what could have triggered the wife's sudden change of heart or whether the movie even gives you a hint. One may be left to speculate. To be confronted with such a dire outcome is a tragedy of enormous proportions, but even a greater calamity of epic magnitude when your closest, dearest friend forsakes you at such an ominous moment. Such a thing would not happen if that closest friend were a dog because a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

The profound loyalty of a canine friend is well documented, as is the attachment people have to their dogs. With this in mind, let's consider another scenario with unusual prospects. In a study by the American Animal Hospital Association, over half of the respondents stated if they were stranded on a desert island, they would prefer the company of their pet to a human companion. That is, more people would rather find themselves in a "Pooch Lagoon" situation than a "Blue Lagoon." In my opinion, I am thinking the majority of respondents were female and obviously animal owners. Men tend to be more superficial about who they would want to be stranded with and only a dog owner would answer in such a dogmatic fashion. Woof. Woof.

Following are more interesting information about people and dogs. Many believe (I'm not one of them because I do not accept the precepts of the Theory of Evolution) we owe our survival as the superior species to our dog companions or else the world would be ruled by Neanderthals. I'm guessing Neanderthals were not pet-friendly. On an average, at least 70 per cent of the people polled around the world always sign their dog's name on a greeting card along with the rest of the family names. When it comes to travel, more than 20 percent of vacationing dog owners take their pet with them in the car when they travel, even planning vacations around their pets. These owners take their dog on an average of five car trips per year.

In the U.S., 63 percent of all households own a pet. Thirty-nine percent of those households own at least one dog. So, there is no mistaking it, the relationship between people and dogs is as profound as the love Charlestonians have for shrimp and grits and as celebrated as the city's Spoleto Festival. It is an actuality further corroborated by the two area restaurants named after resident dogs--one in Downtown Charleston and one on Folly Beach.

Located on Queen Street, the Downtown restaurant is one of Charleston's finest places to dine. When I heard of its name, I thought it to be a rather unusual designation for a restaurant, but when I did some research into the matter, the name made perfect sense.

The story is both exceptional and endearing. It’s the American Dream at its best and its telling warms your heart and puts a smile on your face because Poogan was a scruffy, neighborhood dog and a bit of a wanderer who finally found his place in society and a permanent residence at the old Victorian house that was built in 1888 and in 1976, was turned into the restaurant bearing his name.

Poogan presided over the renovations to the old house and its interior and greeted the first happy customers. Like many Charlestonians, the porch was his favorite part of the house, thus the name Poogan's Porch.

Poogan is no longer here, but if he was and he could speak, he would tell you, "To succeed in life, never bite the hand that feeds you." As a tribute and an expression of their endearment, the owners had a stone monument of Poogan placed in the landscaping.

There's something appealing and fun about dining in a restaurant that once was a house. Poogan's Porch is all of that and boasts credentials that make it one of Charleston's oldest and most reputable culinary establishments. A 1500-bottle wine cellar was built in 2005, which has tripled since opening. Over its many successful years, numerous awards have been bestowed upon it. Always a popular favorite for Charleston's Restaurant Week--September 9-20, 2015.

A dinner for two will average around $75 without wine. Open 365 days a year, Poogan’s Porch serves a Lowcountry lunch from 11:30 am-2:30 pm, dinner from 5-9:30 pm, and weekend brunch from 9 am-2:30 pm. The restaurant closes for one dinner seating on Super Bowl Sunday--a family tradition. It is located at 72 Queen Street, just down the street from the Dock Street Theater. Menus and reviews.

The Lost Dog Cafe on Folly Beach got its peculiar name from the mischievous behavior of a dog named Hocus. Hocus had a naughty habit of just "taking off" when he felt like it. It was from these stints of disappearing that the dog's owners were inspired to conceive the fitting name they ended up choosing for their beach cafe. It is advertised as a gathering place where locals and tourists can meet and eat. With a laid back atmosphere and simple fare, the most unusual thing about the cafe is pooches are welcomed and its dog wall of fame.

Lost Dog Cafe features an all-day breakfast menu with burritos, bagel sandwiches, and good coffee. If you like it simple and easygoing, Lost Dog Cafe is located at 106 W. Huron Ave. It opens daily at 6:30 am. Out of the 814 reviews, 92 percent of the reviewers give it a high rating.

If you are looking for a place to stay on Folly Beach, a surprise feature of the Lost Dog Cafe is you can rent the loft above the restaurant starting at $150 a night. It has 750 square feet of living space and sleeps two. There is a galley kitchen and window seats. Despite being over a busy cafe, reviewers surprisingly note their peace and quiet was never disrupted by the lighthearted clamor from the dining area below.

As a dog lover and dog owner, Poogan's Porch and Lost Dog Cafe are two Lowcountry restaurants you will want to check out, if you haven't done so already. And finally, this enlightening parting thought: The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

19 Restaurant Facts For Charleston Restaurant Week Beginning September 9-20, 2015--Bon Appetit

Charleston Restaurant Week is the ideal opportunity to sample the culinary creations of the finest chefs in the Holy City at a reasonable cost and the perfect occasion to critique a new restaurant. From September 9-20, the City's downtown streets and alleys will be saturated with a bouquet of captivating aromas and ravenous restaurant patrons.

For your convenience, the Charleston Restaurant Association has provided a full list of participating restaurants, their menus, and their websites for you to peruse and be seduced. In some cases, a link is included to reserve a table. Survey the many choices, take your time, think it through, a reviewed decision usually is better than one reached at the last moment. But don't take too long. Before you know it, September 9th will be here and the table reservations are going fast. Once you make a decision, the universe will conspire to make it happen.

To assist you in making a final determination, following is a list of Charleston restaurants I have had the pleasure of dining at and written articles about. Click on the 'Read Review' links for the articles, which also include pictures of the restaurants. Happy hunting.

82 Queen 82 Queen St
Call for Reservations (843) 723-7591 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

39 Rue de Jean 39 John Street
Call for Reservations (843) 722-8881
Read Review

Eli's Table 129 Meeting St
Call for Reservations (843) 405-5115 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

Five Loaves Café(Summerville) 214 N Cedar St
Call for Reservations (843) 804-9410
Read Review

High Cotton 199 East Bay Street
Call for Reservations (843) 724-3815 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

Husk 76 Queen Street
Call for Reservations (843) 577-2500 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

Leaf 15 Beaufain Street
Call for Reservations (843) 793-2230 or Book Reservations Online
Read Article

Poogan's Porch72 Queen Street
Call for Reservations (843) 577-2337 or Book Reservations Online
Read Article

Sermets Downtown 276 King Street
Call for Reservations (843) 853-7775
Read Review

Slightly North of Broad 192 East Bay St
Call for Reservations (843) 723-3424 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

Stars Restaurant 495 King Street
Call for Reservations (843) 577-0100
Read Article

Charleston Harbor Fish House 32 Patriots Point Road
Call for Reservation (843) 284-7070 or Book Reservations Online
Read Review

Pages Okra Grill 302 Coleman Blvd
Call for Reservations (843) 881-3333
Read Review

RB's Seafood Restaurant 97 Church Street
Call for Reservations (843) 881-0466
Read Review

Red's Ice House 98 Church Street
Call for Reservations (843) 388-0003
Read Article

Boathouse at Breech Inlet 101 Palm Boulevard
Call for Reservations (843) 886-8000 Book Reservations Online
Read Review

And as you think about your choices for the upcoming Restaurant Week, listed below are 19 interesting facts about the restaurant industry and its more prominent establishments from Charleston and beyond for you to savor and digest.

1) Restaurant industry sales are expected to hit a record high of $709.2 billion in 2015.
2) The restaurant industry remains the nation's second-largest private sector employer with a workforce of 14 million.
3) In 2014, there were 8,535 eating and drinking places in South Carolina.
4) In 2015, South Carolina’s restaurants were projected to register $8 billion in sales.
5) In 2015, restaurants account for 213,100 jobs in South Carolina--11% of employment in the state.
6) Restaurants in South Carolina are projected to employ 252,800 people in 2016. (18.6% job growth--or 39,700 jobs over 2015).
7) Serving classic Charleston seafood since 1930, Henry's hands-down holds the record as the city's (and state's) longest running restaurant.
8) McCrady's, at Two Unity Alley, has been the home of famous Charleston eateries since the 18th century, when Edward McCrady opened the original tavern. George Washington dined in The Longroom during his Southern tour in 1791.

9) Serving up Southern comfort food since 1976 in an elegant restored Victorian house, Poogan's Porch has served locals and visitors with old fashioned hospitality and charm. The family owned restaurant boasts a 1500 bottle wine cellar.
10) The most expensive restaurant in Charleston, SC (and this is subjective) is Grill 225 at the Market Pavilion Hotel, also famous for Charleston's only cocktail infused with liquid nitrogen, the Nitrotini.
11) The most popular day to eat out in the U.S. is Saturday. Second is Friday and third is Sunday. Monday is the slowest day for restaurants.
12) Americans spend about $1.7 billion per day on restaurant food.
13) First restaurant chain in the U.S. was the Harvey Houses, which started in 1876 to serve railroad travelers.
14) According to the Guinness Book of World Records Botin Restaurant in Madrid, Spain is the world’s oldest operating restaurant, which has been in business since 1725.
15) The Oldest Restaurant in the United States is in Boston. The Union Oyster House has been serving up fresh oysters and more since 1826.

16) The most expensive restaurant in the world is the Aragawa in Tokyo, Japan at around $600 a person.
17) The most expensive restaurant in the U.S. is the Masa in New York City at a cost of $585 a person.

18) World's largest restaurant is in Syria. Bawabet Dimashq Restaurant, which translates to Damascus Gate Restaurant, has 6,014 seats and is located in Damascus, Syria.
19) The largest restaurant in the U.S. is Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan outfitted with a total of nine dining rooms with a combined capacity to accommodate more than 1,500 guests.

Charleston Restaurant Week is one of my favorite Charleston events. My choices are the Drawing Room at the Vendue and Michaels On The Alley. See you around town and Bon Appetit.