Happy 350th Birthday – Celebrate Charleston!

The grand dame city of Charleston kicked off their tricentennia with a 300-gun salute followed by a parade and a ball, the festivities continued for more than a month. Eight days of the activities were named for each of the Lords Proprietors, the individuals who were granted a royal charter to found Charles Towne.

Now, in 2020, for Charleston’s semiseptcentennial — that’s half of a 700th anniversary, or septcentennial — the celebration will last all year. 

Charming Charleston is the oldest and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, known for its large role in the American slave trade. Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England. Known for historic charm, few cities outshine Charleston, one of the South’s most appealing destinations!

Luxurious Lodging – may we recommend one of our favorite Belmond properties: Charleston Place. Where Southern charm meets timeless elegance. Sitting on the city’s iconic King Street, Belmond Charleston Place is a timeless gem in this historic South Carolina town. Boasting more than 400 spacious accommodations, it is the largest Belmond property in the world and, with a renowned restaurant, stylish Southern charm and live music seven nights a week.

Charleston Place

Celebration Activities: Gardeners and historic architectural tours will be featured events. Garden and historic home tours as group reserved events run from March 11 – through April 18, 2020. A collection of stimulating events, including cuisine, gardens, architecture and musical performances round out a full calendar. Plan a few days to savor fine food, history, gardens and architecture.

A month of celebrations includes several more exclusive events, the Architectural Splendor Tour of Showcase Houses hosts smaller groups to visit magnificent architectural treasures and their incredible decorative arts and furnishings collections will be interpreted by leading local experts during this once-in-a-lifetime tour. Guests will gather in small, intimate groups to visit four select properties south of Broad Street in the Old and Historic District. Tickets: $150 per person.  Advance purchase is required. Limited availability. Date: March 19, 2020.

Charleston Gardens

Garden Splendor Tours: Passionate gardeners and horticulture devotees will savor four spectacular gardens in the historic district. Enthusiasts will gather in small, intimate groups to learn the trials, tribulations and triumphs of designing and maintaining a selection of Charleston’s most celebrated gardens. Tickets: $150 per person. Advance purchase is required.  Limited availability, dates March 26, 10:00 am – 12:00 or April 1, 2020. Time: 2- 4:00 pm.

The city boasts a vibrant contemporary art scene well worth exploring, a very walkable city tour begins at the core of the city — south of Route 17 highway – it’s compact, safe and walkable. Start your exploration with a morning on foot in the handsomest part of town, the cherished South of Broad neighborhood. Take a step back into history and explore the beautiful antebellum neighborhood, the district dates back to 1721 and features rare historic homes amongst cobblestone streets. One of the true gems of the South, this neighborhood is a beloved part of downtown Charleston. It boasts traditional southern architecture and homes that look straight out of an American storybook. Guided walking tours can be arranged. Suggested reading: Pat Conroy novel, “South of Broad”.

Charleston Gardens

Unique Shopping: Charleston remains remarkably independent from the outside world; it may be a small city, enjoy a vigorous assortment of unique shops, particularly as you move north and away from the most touristy bits of the historic center. 

Lively libations and the dining scene has become a foodie mecca. Husk and its petite bar across the alley are two of the best things about the city’s restaurant scene.  Husk, transforms the essence of Southern food. Executive Chef and Lowcountry native, Travis Grimes, reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefines what it means to cook and eat in the South. And right across the alley, in a beautifully renovated old brick building, is where you’ll find the Bar at Husk. Squeeze your way in – and peruse the creative cocktail menu, filled with excellent southern classics, including the Sazerac. 

Add golfing to your itinerary by a visit to Kiwah Island, one of the country’s top golf resorts, featuring five championship courses in privileged oceanfront locations, all centered around one of the East Coast’s most luxurious resort hotels, The Sanctuary. 

Back to the Birthday! Gardens are open during the month of March and April on specific dates if you are interested in a self-guided tour of some of Charleston’s most splendid gardens. These walking tours are arranged so guests may stroll leisurely through approximately seven private gardens.

Gullah Spirituals Concert Spiritually Yours ensemble

Guides are stationed at each location to provide information about garden design, plant material and history. Colorful blooms are found in many of Charleston’s spring gardens, while others display elegant, limited palettes of green and white. Scale and proportion are deftly used to complement each house, whether it boasts a small courtyard space or a series of garden “rooms.” In addition to frequently favored plants, such as azaleas, camellias, climbing roses and tea olives, look for masonry walls, wrought iron gates, parterres edged with boxwood, water features, statues and garden rooms with slight but changing elevations as you stroll through a selection of sophisticated Charleston gardens. Each Glorious Gardens tour includes a wine reception in the garden of the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, 51 Meeting Street, from 4-5 pm. Tours $55.00.

Charleston Gardens

Combine the garden tours with special educational programs: March 16, Flavors of the Lowcountry: Reviving Gullah-Geechee Cuisine. Charleston-native Chef BJ Dennis serves Lowcountry history and culture through his food. West African slaves brought foodstuffs that have since become staples of the Southern diet, and they plied the local waters for seafood. As an ambassador of Gullah-Geechee cuisine, Chef Dennis is studying, reviving and sharing their foodways, the basis for much of “Southern cooking.”

Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture Series:This is an event in the Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture Series. The luncheon lecture series will take place in an informal setting at the historic Captain James Missroon House, c. 1808. Join us atop Charleston’s High Battery and enjoy a commanding view of Charleston Harbor and the antebellum mansions along East Battery. Participants will enjoy a casual light lunch of salads and sandwiches.

Experience the music that defines Charleston’s history–gospel, Gershwin, Civil War songs, jazz, and light classics —coming to life in historic Circular Congregational Church in live 75-minute concerts. Gullah Spirituals Concert: Clap your hands and stomp your feet during an exhilarating performance of Gullah spirituals and the music of the Sea Islands. The ancestors of the Gullah people brought a rich heritage of African cultural traditions to this country, and the Spiritually Yours ensemble will share that extraordinary musical inheritance with you. The Circular Congregational Church, c. 1892, provides a splendid setting. March 19, 5:30 pm.

March 18, Fabric, Fashion and Freedom: Clothing and Its Production in Colonial Charleston ~or~ What to Wear to a Revolution. Clothing is one of the most intimate expressions of a culture. This program lends a peek at what women did, thought, experienced, and wore during the period of our nation’s birth. Historian Jean Hutchinson will share her extensive research into the roles that women of the Carolina Lowcountry played prior to and during the American Revolution through their words and fashions. Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture Series: This is an event in the Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture Series. The luncheon lecture series will take place in an informal setting at the historic Captain James Missroon House, c. 1808. Join us atop Charleston’s High Battery and enjoy a commanding view of Charleston Harbor and the antebellum mansions along East Battery. Participants will enjoy a casual light lunch of salads and sandwiches.

Enjoy the selected listings of the events, find the full schedule at http://www.historiccharleston.org/blog/events/category/festival-houses-gardens/

Plan a few days to enjoy the architecture, glorious gardens and fine cuisine!

Executive Chef Jérôme Banctel La Reserve – Travel Tales

To Begin..always Bubbly…

Oh my, sometimes I make requests never assuming they will respond, Oui!  As I have mentioned, I love meeting chefs when I travel and despite sending a lengthy list of interesting questions – the very talented and gracious Chef Jérôme Banctel, agreed to an interview. Esteemed Two Michelin Star Chef of Le Gabriel in the five star La Reserve Hotel,  visited our table after I had sipped bubbly, tasted fine wines and indulged in his decadent ‘two course lunch’, which actually turned out to be five or six courses, with all the gifts from the chef..

Chef Jérôme Banctel, Le Gabriel La Reserve Hotel, Paris

What I didn’t know is that he doesn’t speak English…a brief giddy video is enclosed – however, he was sweet and kind enough to answer many more of my questions…One interesting comparison to my recent chef interview at Amanera – both chefs look to Tokyo for interesting and challenging cuisines to emulate. Chef Jérôme Banctel adapts a subtle touch of Japan in a few of his dishes.

What is your idea of comfort food? Food served around a fireplace, especially winter chestnuts, which remind him of his grandmother.

Scallops with Carrot Puffs in Carrot Foam

He was raised in Brittany and trained alongside the greatest chefs in the business, notably, mentor, Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton; he has also worked in the kitchens of the finest culinary establishments in France and elsewhere, such as Le Crillon and L’Ambroisie.

At the young age of 16, he decided he wanted to become a chef when he met chef Michel Kerever at Le Duc d’Enghien where he began his career as a ‘commis’ chef. As a commis chef you’re the first rung of the ladder to becoming a great chef. In most kitchens you’ll do food preparation work and basic cooking under the supervision of a chef de partie or section chef, rotating through sections such as sauce, vegetables, fish and butchery roughly every six months.

Dessert

Mushroom Meringue – crab wasabi with green apple.

Happy at Lunch! Le Gabriel at La Reserve Paris…

He changes the menu every 2- 3 weeks, which is a significant challenge for a kitchen team.

Merci, Chef for the scrumptious lunch. And merci,to Nathanial Most, my enthusiastic dining companion and essential translator!

Chef Jerome Banctel La Reserve