Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The bar at Cypress 

     Hungry for the best $5.00 burger on the peninsula?  Head over to the second floor bar at Cypress on Monday nights.  An example of a very clever business idea, Cypress, located at 167 E. Bay St., took a typically quiet Charleston restaurant night and turned it into a standing room only event.
     Beginning at 5:30pm, $5.00 Burger Night at Cypress is a fun, lively and delicious way to start  the work week.  Tables are first come, first served.  (Reservations to this part of the Cypress experience are not accepted. )
     The second floor bar area is large, with seating options that range from typical bar stools and cocktail tables to white tablecloth seating for four and comfortable banquettes.  The tables fill up fast, so plan on arriving early, before 6:00 pm.  We arrived at 5:40 and were seated immediately but the line stretched down the stairs when we left at 7:00 pm.  (The space is handicapped accessible but taking the elevator does not mean that you can advance in the line!)
     And, oh my goodness, the burgers are so good.  Cypress serves their burgers hot and juicy with a delicious "mystery" sauce spread on the soft brioche bun.  There are four burger choices, all prepared at medium temperature.  My burger choice was a cheeseburger served with pickled onions.  The beef patty was flavorful and slightly crisp on the edges, just the way I like it.   I added steak fries for an extra $3.00 and they were crunchy and cut generously but not too wide.  My dining partner enjoyed the korean mustard and fried egg burger, with a side of deep fried macaroni and cheese.  I had never tried fried mac n cheese and, after begging a bite, was won over by the crunchy, breaded outside and the creamy inside.  I'll switch my fries for mac n cheese next time!
     Our bill for two burgers, two sides, a glass of Stellenbosch Cabernet for my dining partner and ginger ale for me was only $29.00, including tax. 
     The Cypress staff is always friendly, skilled and efficient, both upstairs and in the main dining room, but I give kudos to the hostess and our server who provided gracious service during a very busy night.  Both ladies remained cheerful while whisking guests from the long line to available tables and delivering burgers with surprising speed.  
     I will return to Cypress for Monday Night Burgers soon.  After all, I still have two more burger offerings to sample along with my very own order of fried mac n cheese.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

More Minute Reviews...

Lady Love to Read’ s Minute Book Reviews

Eric Larson's Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Fascinating, Well-written, Sad

Dinner Conversation:
We would discuss the policies that preceded WWI and the hindsight that illuminates how easily Lusitania's sinking could have been prevented.
Mr. Larson would provide a seven course meal, reminiscent of the meals served on the Lusitania.

Friday, April 10, 2015

     The 23rd Annual Spring Book & Author Luncheon was held today at the Charleston Marriott's Crystal Ballroom.  The guest speakers, authors all, were interesting, informative and entertaining.  Our only disappointment was that Ron Rash, author of Saints at the River and Serena, was absent due to an airport weather delay.  We hope to hear Mr. Rash speak at a future Post and Courier event as it is always nice to hear a speech by a Pen/Faulkner Award finalist.
     Produced by Master of Ceremonies Robie Scott, and benefitting local literacy causes, the luncheon featured three authors and co-host Dorothea Benton Frank, the prolific writer of Lowcountry novels and local gal extraordinaire.  We enjoyed her introduction of the day's speakers, as well as the treat of an exclusive reading from her newest book, All the Single Ladies, due to be released on June 9, 2015.
     Our first speaker was Lisa Green, author of On Your Case.....Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman's Life.  A lawyer, journalist, author and legal analyst for NBC and MSNBC, Ms. Green gave a witty and enlightening speech.
     Following Ms. Green was Rita Mae Brown, the NY Times bestselling author of both the Mrs. Murphy mysteries and the Sister Jane novel series.  Ms. Brown was an engaging and enthusiastic speaker, expressing her appreciation for newspapers, journalists and readers.  "Books are a roadmap of your inner life," was Ms. Brown's mantra and I think all readers would agree with that.
     Jim Defelice, co-author with Chris Kyle of the bestseller American Sniper and more than fifty other titles, regaled us with tales of learning to read in Catholic school, complete with nuns armed with rulers and "Look, look, look" from the Fun with Dick and Jane reading primers.  Mr. Defelice also stressed the importance of reading, although in a room of book club members and bibliophiles, he was certainly preaching to the choir.  With an easy delivery and an accent like Woody Allen, Mr. Defelice wrapped up the speaking pool nicely.
     The food served today was delicious, as usual, and the company at my table was friendly and interesting.  I look forward to the next Book & Author luncheon and hope to see a few of my tablemates there.

Friday, April 3, 2015

     Published more than fifty years after her death, Irene Némirovsky's Suite Francaise is a literary work of art.  
She skillfully crafted a conglomerate of finely wrought characters, characters that become more deeply engraved on the reader's heart with each page turned.  Suite Francaise is one of those stories whose ending leaves the reader bereft, missing each character like a lost friend.  When I read the last page, I wished that Lucile could remain my neighbor.  I wanted to sit by the fire and comfort Madeleine and to applaud the Michaud family's courage. And the loss of painfully naive Father Phillippe so filled me with horror that it shook my psyche like an earthquake.  Throughout the book, Némirovsky's astute description of the German occupying forces, their clueless rigidity, their delusional assumption that the conquered French people's welcome was completely benign, never ceased to amaze me.
      Némirovsky intended to continue her characters' stories through the anticipated end of World War II and beyond, but her death in 1942 while a prisoner at Auschwitz silenced her stories.  Hers was a great literary talent, a voice pointlessly lost to the brutality and hatred of war. 
     The manuscript for Suite Francais was discovered in Némirovsky's personal papers early in the twenty first century.  It was published in France in 2004, then translated into English and published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf in 2006. 
     This portrait of ordinary and extraordinary people, facing the loss and heartbreak of war, each in their own way, is a must read and a wonderful addition to my home library.