Saturday, August 31, 2013

A "Teacher's Lounge" cocktail
Located in a rustically renovated brick building next to Husk restaurant, The Bar at Husk is a bar experience that stands firmly on its own.  Specializing in bourbons and "classic cocktails", and offering an array of craft beers and fine wines, the Bar at Husk is a fun place to grab a bite in the evening, or a cocktail as a prelude to your dinner next door.
The narrow first floor features a long bar staffed by knowledgable mixologists who not only create modern and vintage cocktails, but also prepare their own flavored tonic waters.  The second floor lounge is roomier and very comfortable, with assorted tables, chairs, upholstered ottomans and banquettes.
     We were a large party, so a pretty varied assortment of drinks were consumed.  This blog's author does not drink spirits, so enjoyed the refreshing artisan tonic water with a slice of lime.  The very efficient wait staff also brought chilled carafes of water to the table, to be shared by all.  Moving on to the other libations, the Whisky Sours were reported to be delicious, the Teacher's Lounge quite fruity and the Copperhead had a bite like its namesake (and an orange peel garnish shaped like a snake, just for fun!).
     The Bakers Bourbon was sipped and enjoyed, but  the favorite drink of the evening was the Dragoon's Punch.  This authentic drink from the Charleston Preservation Society was a delicious mix of brandies, rum, black tea and raw sugar.
     Topping the list of craft beers sampled was the BottleTree Beer Company's Blonde Ale.  Brewed in Greenville, SC, it was light but flavorful and icy cold.
     As we were not only thirsty, but hungry, we ordered a cheese board to share and cheeseburgers all around.  The cheese board offerings were of all types and textures (the blue cheese was especially good), accompanied by house-made fig jam, bread and a few apple slices.  We really enjoyed this, but asked for and received a bit more bread, as we were a large group and quickly ran out of vehicles for the cheese.
     The Husk Cheeseburger, a double burger on a light, seeded bun, had a distinct smokey flavor which we all  noticed and enjoyed quite a bit.  Served with a bottle of their own tangy ketchup, each burger was layered with melted American cheddar cheese, slivered onions, pickles and a mild and creamy "mystery" sauce.  Don't ask for any changes to it, though....per the chef, there are No Modifications!  That was fine with us, as it really was a perfect burger.
     Great food, fine spirits and a really fun atmosphere will bring us back again to the Bar at Husk.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Coffee- manna for those who have to fight their way awake each day.
I am searching for the friendliest cup of coffee on the peninsula.  Christophe on Society St. has the best cup of French Press coffee, Wild Flour's coffee is smooth, but are they friendly…..????   Hmmm….  Kudu coffee is beautifully presented, as well as tasty and I have noticed that they are kind to those who are down on their luck- 4 stars for sure.   Kitchen 208 has great coffee, a lovely new facility and a very friendly staff- they are in first place so far.

Christophe…..2 stars
Wild Flour1 star                      5 stars = Best
Kudu….4 stars
Kitchen 208..4 1/2  stars

My next stop is Black Tap coffee on Beaufain.  Looking for a real smile, folks, along with a really good cup of coffee. 
 Please send me your nominations for friendliest cup of coffee on the peninsula and I will "take one for the team" by relaxing there with a great cup of Joe….and, I hope, a smile.
Yours with caffeine,
The Charleston E. Diner

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bernard Hellreich Ingram and Irena Ingram

Unfinished Symphony by Bernard Hellreich Ingram

This is a story of Holocaust survivor, Bernard Hellreich Ingram, and his wife  Irena, "Kichka" and friend Marian Golebiowski.  They risked their lives to save his.
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
Walter Winchell

     Author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi said "Survivors of traumatic events are divided into two well-defined groups: those who repress their past en bloc, and those whose memory of the offense persists, as though carved in stone, prevailing over all previous or subsequent experiences.  Now, not by choice but by nature, I belong to the second group."  Mr. Ingram also belongs to the second group, telling his story with pain and honesty.
Bernard Hellreich, who added the last name Ingram upon arrival in Australia after WWII, was a recently graduated Jewish medical student in Poland when the Russians and then the Germans invaded his country.  With the help of his Christian girlfriend, soon to be wife, nicknamed "Kichka",  and many friends, he was able to assume the identity of a Catholic Pole, hiding in plain sight by masquerading as a Christian, enabling him to survive WWII.  He avoided the fate of millions of Jews who did not survive the Holocaust,  living to tell the tale.  After his escape from a concentration camp ("euphemistically called Arbeits Lager- work camp"), he was able to hide in plain sight, with the help of Irena and a few courageous friends.
     Bernard's father, a WWI veteran, correctly predicted the outcome off WWII for himself, saying "I survived a tough World War One, but I don't think I have a chance this time."  He didn't.
     Bernard tells his own storyt in a matter-of-fact manner of bewilderment and amazement; amazement at how he survived the war at all and bewilderment at the many strokes of luck and acts of kindness that spared his life, while so many others like him died.  At the hands of the Germans and their enthusiastic partners, the Ukranians, massacres on a huge scale (5,000 jews at a time in some cases) were perpetrated upon the Polish Jews.  Anti-Semitism was already present, taking only a bit of stoking to prod the coals into flames.
Having read books by Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel and been lucky enough to hear Mr. Wiesel speak at the College of Charleston, I continue to be impressed by the peace and kindness exhibited by these survivors of the Holocaust.  They make you want to reach out, touch their hands and say thank you for sharing their very painful experiences.  The Germans and their WWII allies did not break the spirit of those they tormented and killed.  Love, strength and determination remain in the hearts of the survivors, passed on to all who listen to their stories.  We must not forget.
Why go to Social Wine Bar's happy hour if you are a non-drinker?  Why, the food, of course!  Social's happy hour menu offers 5 appetizer options at $4.00 each, Monday through Friday, from 4pm to 7pm.  (There are also drink specials, for those of you who choose to partake in a bit of the grape.)
On a recent Monday night, my family and I celebrated my youngest child's 21st birthday at Social, trying all of the options on the happy hour food menu.  My favorite by far were the Jasmine Rice Balls.  These moist, flavorful orbs of compressed jasmine rice are deep fried and served three to a plate on a zesty coconut curry cream sauce.  Each mouthful is tender and crunchy at the same time, and, when dipped in the curry sauce, finishes with a slight zing.
Our next choice, the Russet Potato Chips, was served with a blue cheese fondue sauce/dip.  The chips arrive at the table warm, with the blue cheese fondue sauce poured over and around them.  They were huge, crispy, nicely salted and the perfect foil for the creamy blue cheese.  Hmmm...maybe these were my favorite.
We then ordered two Margherita Pizzas for the table.   Redolent with basil, these thin crust pizzas are topped with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella- simple yet perfect.  Each pizza serves three people, as there were five of us and we had one piece remaining (which had nothing to do with the fact that we had already ordered and eaten two orders of the rice balls and russet chips..).
The Crispy Shrimp Spring Rolls were next, served two to a plate.  They were indeed crispy, yet the wrapping's layers were still light and not too flakey.  Full of shrimp pieces, they were served with a ginger sesame emulsion for dipping.  We ended the meal with an order of Bruschetta, again quite flavorful, topped with tomatoes, arugula on the side.  It was a nice combination of tart and peppery flavors.
Located at 188 East Bay St., downtown Charleston, Social has a large and active bar area, a raised dining area with tables and upholstered benches along the walls, and a loft-style second floor where the tables overlook the active scene below.   Artwork of local artists adorn the walls, the lighting is subdued yet modern and the wait staff is efficient and attentive.  Parking is available in two nearby city parking garages.  Social sets the bar high for local happy hour haunts and is well worth the trip downtown.

Friday, August 2, 2013

While exploring upper King St. recently, I discovered a new restaurant,  just south of Market St., at 208 King St.  With a lovely outdoor patio (dog friendly) and two cheerful interior seating areas, Kitchen 208 is now open, offering breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch.   Kitchen 208 offers a good variety of tasty and healthy menu selections, for both breakfast and lunch.  
We stopped by for breakfast, taking advantage of their $8.00 complete breakfast to celebrate eight weeks in business.(a $10.00 lunch special will be offered on their ten week anniv.- check their website, for details and more menu selections)
We chose Plantation Waffles and the Charleston breakfast, both of which came with a robust cup of coffee, served in Kitchen 208 mugs.  Refills are available at the coffee bar, self serve, but the meal itself is delivered to your table by a friendly and helpful wait staff.  
The waffles were light and crispy, Belgian-style, topped with a mixed berry compote, syrup on the side, and 3 slices of delicious applewood smoked bacon.   The portions were generous ( three waffles) but the food was so good that we managed to finish all but a few bites.
The Charleston breakfast offers two eggs, cooked to order, a biscuit (light on the inside, not too dry, with a delicate crunch on the outside), applewood smoked bacon and home fried potatoes, grilled with onions, green and red peppers and cracked pepper.  Again, a generous portion, flavorful and perfectly prepared.  
Next time I will also try the steel cut oat muesli (hope it's European style!) served with dried fruits and honey or the vanilla bean yogurt with benne seed granola, which looked fabulous.
Stop by soon to enjoy great food, friendly service and our lovely Charleston mornings on the shaded patio.  Kitchen 208 is a delightful addition to lower King.
Visit to keep up on menus, and happenings at the restaurant.
Click here to follow them on Facebook.

Gin Phillips fans will be delighted by her first foray into young teen fiction.  The Hidden Summer is a magical story of a 13 year old girl's summer of escape and the beginnings of her emotional maturity.  Set in an abandoned putt putt golf course, Ms. Phillips creates a world that you can immediately picture and place yourself in.  Her characters are real and so well developed that you miss them when you finish the book (which is what I love about all of Gin Phillips books).
The main characters are Lydia and Nell, best friends who each have their own issues at home.  How they deal with their dysfunctional mother/daughter relationships is told creatively and with heart, making this a compelling coming-of-age story that old and young readers alike will love.