Here is your access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories; they are too good not to share! Listen and join the conversation.
Ep. 83: George & Lisa Bowen, Burbage's Grocery
As Americans, we talk a lot about Mom and Pop stores -- how we love them, how we need to “save” them -- but if you press many of us, me included, we can probably tell you the best place to park at Costco. Well, it’s time to meet Mom and Pop. Four years ago, George and Lisa Bowen purchased Burbage’s Grocery, located at the corner of Broad and Savage Streets, in one of those Charleston, SC neighborhoods that make tourists look at each other and say, “we should live here.” George and Lisa don’t need “saving.” They’re taking responsibility for the evolution of the iconic Charleston corner store. When I walked in the door on the day of this interview, Lisa and one of her daughters were clad in aprons and hairnets, sitting at the only table up front, tasting some wines I’d see on a restaurant menu. Southern food isn’t just about farms and fancy restaurants -- it’s about grocery stores too, a place that I’ll bet most of us frequent more than the other two. Burgbage’s is some kind of special, with housemade pimento cheese, chipwiches, my favorite brand of paper towel (they got that Bounty select-a-size) and local beer in the chill case. But who makes it all run is George and Lisa, who are mindful of everything from paying their employees’ parking tickets to how you like your hot dog. And sure, we talk a lot about hot dogs here, but then again, I love a good hot dog.
Ep. 84: Lance Winters, St. George Spirits
In the culinary world, many of the people making things, and many of the people consuming things, are chasing memory. It could be granny’s Sunday lunch or a specific time or a specific experience or place, but it’s always a chase, because food and beverage can’t replicate memory, nothing can, it can only be a doorway to an edge of something familiar you can’t name. That’s what amaro is for me, those bottles of bitter Italian liqueurs that once sat dusty at the back of a bar and are now one of the hottest categories in spirits. At its best, amaro is weird in a wonderful way and reminds me of old dusty bookshops and overgrown gardens behind abandoned houses, deep corners and quiet places and faded photographs -- the feeling of things I use to come across when I researched folklore and ghost stories. Somehow this spirit triggers that for me, like an open switch, and Bruto Americano by St. George Spirits is one of my favorites. Lance Winters is the Master Distiller of St. George and the man who created Bruto, and his inspiration was light years away from my experience, but still, like an artist and a patron, we met in the middle and had a great discussion during BevCon. If this is all a little too lofty and esoteric, then take heart: I misuse the Italian plural of the spirit category immediately after Lance compliments me about it, we are chatting in a hotel room while his wife Ellie perches on the bed and listens in, and we share an amaro in a coffee cup. It’s a fancy but no so fancy discussion about inspiration, creation, and appreciation.
Ep. 85: Jessica Grossman, Patrick Properties Hospitality Group
You know, it was simple: I missed cake. When I was little it was always somebody’s birthday at school and some mom was always bringing in cake. Then in my 20s I started going to a lot of weddings, and well, I was all about the cake. But these days, not many restaurants serve cake, although I love restaurant fruit trifles and granitas and of course creme brulee (though, heads up chefs, none of that needs to be in those tiny mason jars). So I gave myself a cake intervention and called up my friend Jessica Grossman to chat perfect sponges and buttercream frosting and lemon curd fillings. Charleston, SC is the third most popular wedding destination in the country, and Jessica makes hundreds of wedding cakes a year for Patrick Properties here in Charleston. She started her career as the baker at Jestine’s Kitchen for a decade, and has upped her game by literally stacking the deck, or in this case, layers of perfectly baked cake. Her confections are as delicious as they are beautiful, especially with a backdrop of the company’s signature properties, the Lowdnes Grove Plantation and William Aiken House, and because the latter is located right on King Street, sometimes when I’m out for the evening on a weekend, I’ll get a glimpse of one of Jessica’s cakes through the gates, sitting like a queen in the courtyard as beautifully attired guests party under string lights around it. It’s magic. Let’s all take a cake break and learn how to achieve a little of that magic.