Monday, September 29, 2014

JUST BACK FROM...SOUTH CAROLINA, USA


 


A bridge over the Reedy River in Greenville, Upcountry South Carolina.  The entire downtown of the city has been revitalized and there are several bridges and parks near the river making for delightful strolls, jogging or biking.  It is easily accessible from Greenville's Main Street.


A wonderful discovery in Greenville was Bacon Brothers a highly noted restaurant which also produces amazing hot sauces including one made from the scorching hot scorpion chili.  Left, executive chef Anthony Gray (with a Carolina reaper, the hottest pepper in the world in his mouth) and right, the bottled hot sauces.  


 Attendees at one of several events at Euphoria a food and music festival in Greenville, South Carolina celebrating its ninth year.
 

Ken Vedriski executive chef, owner and sommelier of Trattoria Lucca in downtown Charleston, South Carolina prepares dishes for a Euphoria event. 


Soby's New South Cuisine of Greenville presents a deviled egg dish.

 

Poppington's Gourmet Popcorn
co-owner Rose Augustyn serves delicious flavoured popcorn, we loved the white cheddar which was richly flavoured, the Greenville Mix and the spicy Louisiana Cajan Flare.


 Falls Park on the Reedy formerly the site of the city's textile mills, is centered on this waterfall in the centre of Greenville, South Carolina.  Also check out the Liberty Bridge, a modernist treat.


We dined at The Lazy Goat in Greenville- a delightful tapas menu with everything from truffle pomme frites to fried goats cheese drizzled with honey to crispy brussel sprouts with manchego and sherry glace, olives and marcona olives to Morrocan lamb with cucumber yogurt.


Songwriter’s Recipe: Songs and Stories with legendary songwriters (left to right Bob DiPiero, Rivers Rutherford and Tim Nichols).  With heartfelt personal stories and passion in every performance, this was a highlight of our South Carolina sojourn.


 The Greenville Saturday market gives shoppers the chance to meet farmers face to face.  Everything from mushrooms (anyone heard of chaga?) to exotic hot peppers (including the Carolina reaper), plants and okra the size of your arm were on display. This stall (pictured) from Lanherne Farms piqued our interest not only because of the the vibrant array of colours but also because they garnered a long line-up.  Featuring chili peppers that range from mild offerings to innocuous-looking but mind-blowing scorchers, the farm grows the largest selection of peppers in South Carolina.

 

 South Carolina grows more peaches than Georgia (who knew?)!  We asked around everywhere to see if we could get a peach (this year's crop was apparently not great, and we were a few weeks too late we were told).  Lo and behold, the young gentleman (pictured above at Greenville's farmers market) offered us a ripe juicy peach from his stall, Bellews Market.


 A look at Wyche Pavillion, a gorgeous venue on the banks of the Reedy River in Greenville South Carolina, it was once a carriage house.  This place lights up at night, and is also home to dozens of weddings. 


 We were lucky enough to meet three of Charleston's brightest culinary talent. Left to right: Executive Chef Nico Romo (Fish restaurant); and Chef Nate Whiting and Chef JD Coleman (both of 492 soon to be opened in Charleston).
  

South Caronlina barbecue: Sunday Supper featuring Chef John Currence, Chef Anthony Gray and Chef Shaun Garcia.

 

A fun and informative way to see Greenville is by segway with Greenville Glides .  We stopped at Fluor Field just across from Shoeless Joe Jackson's home/ museum.


In Upcountry South Carolina, on the grounds of what was formerly a schoolhouse and the setting for a Disney movie we went ziplining with Wildwater. Our guides Heather and Nate were hilarious and encouraging as we flew through the air over water and forest.
 

Ah the peace and tranquility of stunning Chattooga Belle Farm in Upcountry South Carolina.


A former apple orchard located in Upcountry South Carolina, Chattooga Belle Farm is an agro tourism marvel with sweeping views of neighbouring North Carolina and Georgia. A popular wedding destination, the farm makes their own wines from the local muscadine grape and from various other fruits (try the apple and peach). The farm also grows exotic fruits including goji berries, arctic kiwi and paw paw. Owner Ed Land is often on hand to personally greet visitors and share stories.


The legendary Mr. Trantham, owner of Happy Cow creamery shows us the rich organic matter in the farm's soil.  A lovely man with an incredible story - morphing his dairy farm into a fertilizer-free pioneering dairy farm.  During one of the worst droughts in state history he mobilized farmers and coordinated cooperative efforts between farms across the country. Trantham is also the first recipient of USDA’s Madden Award, a national honor that recognizes those who prac­tice environmentally sound farming. Definitely come to meet the cows and see the farm (the milk goes from cow to bottle in only 48 feet) and speak with Mr. Trantham but do try the chocolate milk (thick and luscious) and ice cream.  If you're driving the on site shop even has a drive-thru window!

 

A look at the lush Caesers Head State park. There were several bird spotters with binoculars primed for counting the many hawks moving through the area. We spotted a peregrine falcon on our visit.

 

BMW Performance Driving school , a mecca for adrenaline junkies this was a heart pumping excursion that allowed us to test drive 5 BMW models, and ride the BMW X5 (Made in South Carolina) through an off road obstacle course- at one time driving down a rocky vertical incline on two wheels no less! This also includes a factory tour and BMW Zentrum (museum). 

 

A look at South Carolina Legislature building.  Inside, the beautiful building has marvelous architectural style and history.


Chef Howard Stephens of Oak Table restaurant in Columbia.  Chef Stephens has a  simple style, working with fresh and eclectic ingredients allowing natural flavors to come out in his plates. He infuses Asian flavours and other exotic ingredients in his cooking.

 

Chef Stephens of Oak Table in Columbia South Carolina prepared a delicious charcuterie board, including chicken liver pâté, pork rillettes, egg yolk and muscadine jelly.  We also feasted on an outstanding array of dishes including house made kimchi with boiled peanuts, pimento cheese, cripsy fried oysters, sriracha fries, and fried chicken.  Talented pastry chef Charley Scruggs brought out a trio of desserts including s'mores, roasted fig napoleon, and 'coffee and caramel'- finesse and skill written all over.


The Mills House Wyndham Grand , our base while in Charleston - a beautiful hotel with a typically southern style.

 

The Spanish moss hangs off of the branches of oak trees lining Boone Hall Plantation, founded in 1681.  We toured the house, slave quarters, and plantation grounds in the pouring rain. Nothing could dampen our spirits- this is a daydream of a destination.



 Taking a carriage ride in the rain.  Our carriage guide, Jenny made the experience truly enjoyable with anecdotes and history along the way.
 

One of the enormous mansions lining 'the Battery' district in Charleston.

 

Halls Chophouse in Charleston, a family owned and operated restaurant.  Pictured here, the bison and risotto.  We also tried the mac and cheese, collard greens, spinach, and sauteed mushrooms.

 

Our 2015 Mazda a6, a mid size sedan equipped with Skyactiv-G 2.6l engine took to the South Carolina roads beautifully.  We loved the directions given by our Australian Tom Tom gps navigation system that didn't fail us once, the blind spot monitoring system warning us of cars on either side of the vehicle, and keyless entry.  Our drive was easy as pie.


A look at the Angel Oak tree on Johns Island.  The beautiful tree is estimated to be at least 400 and as much as 1400-1500 years old. It stands 66.5 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet (1,600 m2). 

 

Another local legend, farmer Sidi Limehouse of Rosebank Farms on Johns Island with produce ranging from pumpkins, tomatoes, and corn to peaches and flowers.   

 

Driving up to Kiawah Island Golf Resort, we were instantly welcomed to The Sanctuary.  Walking into the lobby (pictured above), we were in awe of the spacious yet cozy interior, decorated with classic elegance.

 

A peaceful look at the marvelous Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

 

We rode our bikes for 2 hours with Julianna our guide for a nature tour around Kiawah Island Golf Resort- and were fortunate to see an alligator with her little ones.  Another day, we paddleboarded (against the tide and with high winds of course) with Marcie. The resort offers so many activities and excursions that it was hard to choose just a few.


Our last night at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, we had a truly delicious dining experience at The Atlantic Room.  Chef Jonathan Banta (right) is skillfully able to fuse bright flavours. The peach and burrata salad (above left) was sweet and savoury, while the mussels were imbued with a spicy kick of red chili.  Our lobster with fried potato, creamed corn, and lobster demi glace was a play on the sweetness of produce and the sweetness of the ocean while the crab rangoon with red curry, coconut milk, cilantro, and Carolina gold rice was a standout.


A look at the sand dunes and beach at  Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The resort is hosting a

Golf or Gourmet Escape” package from November 9, 2014 to February 27, 2015 (guests have their choice of accommodations (Sanctuary Hotel or luxury villa) plus either two rounds of golf, two dinners, or one of each).  This would be perfect for those wanting to escape the cold of Canada to the relative warmth of South Carolina. (Think nice golfing temperatures in January).  




Left: Kiawah beach. Right: (from left to right) Cooper, Matt and Jake.  All at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
One day, observing bright purple berries near a parking lot, we met Jake who popped out of his truck almost on cue to reveal to us that the name was the 'beauty berry' (he actually quoted the full latin name) - throughout our stay, we bumped into Jake, who always had a smile and good conversation.  We met Matt and his dog Cooper on our dolphin excursion - the avid birder kept us laughing the entire trip with his 'nature humor' and stories about his recent trip to Africa.  Matt was able to spot birds instantly including a bald eagle, and great blue heron (GBH as he calls it) as well as a small shark and of course the graceful dolphins.

During our stay at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, we were fortunate to meet the most warm and generous staff, oozing with Southern charm and grace.  Thank you all for a most memorable experience that we shall never forget.


Pondering a trip to the States? Already booked your flight? Cancel your plans to any other state in the union and go instead to  South Carolina. It is THE place you need to visit now. Yes there are mystical oak trees shrouded with Spanish moss, there is the postcard city of Charleston with an amazing food scene, the revitalized city of Greenville, there are beaches and mountains and forests beckoning visitors but the reason to visit is and we hope always will be because of the people.

Want more South Carolina? Look for a travel editorial in the upcoming Winter 2014/15 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.

***A friendly reminder, all photography on City Style and Living Magazine, Facebook Page, Twitter, website and Blog are copyright 2014 K&S Media. Please do not use elsewhere without the written consent of City Style and Living Magazine. Thank you kindly!



ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT K&S MEDIA 2014 

You may visit the NEW Fall 2014 digital edition of City Style and Living magazine (also available in print) at the following address (follow the three simple steps to access the full magazine, online) :

1) go to http://www.citystyleandliving.com 
2) click on the 'front cover' image, on the left hand side of your screen
3) to flip through the e-magazine, click on the bottom right hand corner
of the magazine, just as you would our print magazine!
Follow us on twitter @CityStyleMag

Monday, September 15, 2014

JUST BACK FROM...MIAMI AND THE FLORIDA KEYS


 

The Ritz Carlton South Beach located on sunny south beach felt remarkably tucked away and private.  Our Lanai Pool View room offered a partial ocean view, and at night we could hear the ocean waves washing ashore.

 

 A look at the lobby at The Ritz Carlton South Beach.  The hotel features collection of modern art throughout, and even offers tours during Art Basel.

 

A look at the azure ocean from the Ritz Carlton South Beach 10th floor Club level lounge.


 One of the hotspot restaurants in Miami, Meat Market focuses on a meat heavy menu- don't forget to order dessert.  This key lime cheesecake was zingy and bright.
 

 A look at famous South Beach- the beach was packed the day we visited, even at almost 40 degrees Celsius.


Fried oysters at Lure Fishbar.  This was a standout in Miami. We were treated by Executive Chef Iatrellis to a lavish coursed menu with everything from deviled eggs, soft shell crab, and Japanese rolls to baked fish and a creamy and refreshing sorbet (a must have dessert, one of the best desserts we have ever tasted). With an open sushi station where diners can see chefs preparing rolls, garnishes and all manner of seafood an old school bar and a spectacular dining room this restaurant located at South Beach Loews Miami Beach Hotel is a go-to if you love seafood.

 
  
A look at the Mandarin Oriental Miami on Brickell Key.

 

My deluxe bay view room, overlooking the calm blue waters of Biscayne Bay was a sight to behold both during the morning sunrise and when lit up at night.


One of the best meals in Miami was at Peruvian restaurant La Mar by Gaston Acurio.   The restaurant was packed to the brim on a Friday night and the friendly staff made the experience a truly memorable occasion.

 

We started with pisco sour cocktails, and even tried Peruvian wine to pair with our absolutely outstanding menu which included: Causa Cangrejo (whipped peruvian potatoes and ají), Paiche chorillana, Conchitas (pictured here: seared scallops with lomo saltado, garlic chips and shoestring sweet potato strings).  Don't even think about skipping dessert.  From the fortunato chocolate mousse with caramelized andean grains to the frozen lucuma popsicle dipped in warm dark chocolate, and the stunningly crisp sweet potato and pumpkin fritters drizzled with spiced honey, and the deconstructed pie de limon, La Mar hit it out of the ballpark with punches of flavour in every bite.



A look at one of the many colourful lifeguard stations on South Beach.


Hoards of red roses in a iron vase greet you walking past the front door of The Setai.  Dinner at The Restaurant with French chef Mathias Gervais at the helm was a journey to the Mediterranean.  The menu (personally chosen by the friendly Chef) included a rich and creamy tuna tartare bursting with red tobiko and capers , grilled octopus with piperade sauce, lamb tajine, and giant grilled prawns.  We finished with 'The Vacherin'- vanilla ice cream with berry sorbet, whipped cream meringue and raspberry coulis.

 

Exotic fruits from Fruit and Spice Park Miami, a 40 minute drive into Homestead. The 37-acre public facility is owned and operated by the Miami-Dade County Park and hosts over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts, and other commercially important plant specimens from around the world.


Fruit and Spice Park Miami showcases 150 varieties of mango, 75 varieties of bananas, 70 bamboo varieties, and numerous other exotic edibles.  The park also features a cafe.


Breakfast at the Viceroy Miami.  Located on Brickell Avenue, we had a simple breakfast before taking a morning stroll.


A look at the stunning Buick Regal that CSL's team drove during our trip, pictured here on a quiet street in Coconut Grove, one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Maimi.  The Regal drove like a luxury vehicle and was a pleasure to drive from Miami straight down to the keys.

 

One of the first stops along the way to Key West, Annes Beach on Lower Matecumbe Key.  The quiet 'flats' were so peaceful.  A few birds skit along the shallow water while dozens of tourists walked meters into the water with the water level only knee high.


In need of a little extra fuel, we stopped on Islamorada at The Beach Cafe at Morada Bay.  We tried the cheese stuffed yucca chips, calamari, and conch fritters, but the standout was the mussels in a wine sauce with garlic toast was delicious.  As the Manager chimed in 'I sometimes see people just bring the bowl to their mouths and drink the sauce, because it's that good'!

An aerial view of Sunset Key, (taken aboard Key West Biplanes) located a short boat trip from Key West.  Upon reaching the secluded key, our concierge showed us around the property; she arranged dinner and spa appointments and chatted with us throughout our stay.

Our 1500 sq ft three bedroom cottage, "leeward" became our home away from home.  Every morning we were greeted with a breakfast basket on the front porch with freshly baked pastries, fruit and fresh Florida orange juice (of course).  Upstairs our kitchen became a great hangout spot while outside on our two verandas, the Adirondack chairs were a great way to relax while watching the sun set in the evening, or to have breakfast in the morning.


Dinner at Latitudes restaurant at Sunset Key.  Alaskan king crab in a thai style broth was the special that night.  Every night, the restaurant was packed with guests who enjoyed the spectacular orange sunset while eating dinner.


A look at the adorable Key deer that we were fortunate enough to spot on Big Pine Key.  The tame deer (they have no predators), are used to people, and do not scamper off when you stop to see them up close.


A classic home in Key West - a mix of Caribbean/ shotgun/ American architecture.


Stuffed lobster with blue crab and mashed potatoes at Pier House Harbourview Cafe.


Each and every night the sunset was deeper and richer.


We were fortunate enough to take a ride way up in the air with Key West Biplanes, the only original Key West Biplane Ride operation since 1987 operated by Susan Cabanas (pictured here).  The fleet of planes includes the Conch Republic Air Force Waco and the Cabanas Aerobatics Pitts S2-C.  You can fly with Key West Biplane chief pilot Raymond Cabanas, a fifth generation Conch, second generation pilot, and Commanding General of the Conch Republic Air Force or one of their Colonels.


Decked out in aviator goggles and caps (think Amelia Earhart), we took off on a memorable flight with pilot Les, who gave us a unique perspective of Key West.  Our flight offered spectacular aerial views - from above, the water was various shades of turquoise, blue and cyan and you could see the outline of the enormous coral reef. Les also pointed out the landmarks throughout Key West.  This was one of the highlights of our trip and a great adrenaline rush.  If you've seen period films that celebrate the golden age of travel, or if you adore flying this is a fun way to see the island.  (If you're apprehensive because you don't like flying reconsider as we did not experience any bumps or turbulence and the scenery is spectacular). We opted for the 15 minute tour but longer tours are available.


If you are in Key West, you MUST dash to Pinchers Crab Shack.  The Phelan family owns and operates this restaurant (with several locations throughout south Florida).  They also own their own fishing company, The Island Crab Company- each morning local fishermen and crabbers  guide their boats out into the Gulf of Mexico to harvest the freshest seafood.  The result?  Lick your fingers good seafood- from the creamy New England Style Clam Chowder to the crisp soft shell crab, steamed sweet clams and Blue Crab Clusters sauteed in garlic, butter and spices.  Even better, the entire restaurant was decorated by Mr. Phelan-  the oil can light fixtures, hand perforated with local fish,  to the artwork on the walls (all with a cheeky seafood inspired theme), Pinchers is as authentic as you can get.


Cormorant birds can be seen on every dock.


A fifteen minute boat ride, lead us to the secluded Little Palm Island.  Our Island Elegance Suite/ Bungalow with thatched roof was spectacular- it felt like a treehouse on our own private island.  Every morning, we stood on our verandah with a view of the blue ocean and we loved the outdoor shower and the spa terre coconut-mango soap was pleasantly intoxicating.  At Spa Terre, we indulged in a relaxing deep tissue massage with masseuses Thekla and Ms. Fortuna.


A look at Little Palm island outdoor lounge (left) and outdoor dining on the beach (right). A must at breakfast is the stuffed guava french toast with almond mascarpone cream with a cappuccino.


The SLH, Santa Maria Suites (managed by Forbes Hamilton), was just a short walk to Duval St, and were elegant, refined and oh so luxurious.  Our stay here was sublime.CSL's two-bedroom pool-view luxury suite felt like our own private villa or condominium complete with a laundry room, living room, fully equipped modern kitchen (pictured here),  three 42-inch flat screen TVs, large closets and private patio in front of the pool.


The little touches and attention to detail here were fantastic- every late afternoon, chocolate popsicles, chocolates and muffins were delivered.  Poolside, smoothies, fresh fruit hummus and chips were available throughout the day while each night  Santa Maria suites offered a happy hour.  We can still hear the beautiful soft music played at night time in our heads.

Southernmost Point- arguably the furthest point south in the continental U.S.A and a stone's throw away from Cuba.



At Southernmost on the beach, we stayed in a comfortable 410 square feet partial ocean view balcony room.  The resort was packed full of families who crowded by the pool to beat the sweltering heat.  My massage was truly relaxing, and I enjoyed a cold beer on my balcony afterwards.


An array of colourful deck chairs at Southernmost on the Beach.

One of CSL's travel teams just returned from beautiful (and extremely hot: ie. above 36 degrees Celsius!) Miami and The Florida Keys- a bit of a girlfriend getaway focusing on rest, and relaxation.  Read more about why you need to visit Miami and The Florida Keys in the Winter 2014/15 issue of City Style and Living Magazine. 


***A friendly reminder, all photography on City Style and Living Magazine, Facebook Page, Twitter, website and Blog are copyright 2014 K&S Media. Please do not use elsewhere without the written consent of City Style and Living Magazine. Thank you kindly!


ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT K&S MEDIA 2014

You may visit the Fall 2014 digital edition of City Style and Living magazine (also available in print) at the following address (follow the three simple steps to access the full magazine, online) :

1) go to http://www.citystyleandliving.com 
2) click on the 'front cover' image, on the left hand side of your screen
3) to flip through the e-magazine, click on the bottom right hand corner
of the magazine, just as you would our print magazine!
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Follow us on twitter @CityStyleMag

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