Thursday, October 30, 2014

Southern Season Expands and Partners for the Holidays

Southern Season is a foodie playground featuring cheeses, coffees and teas, baked goods, flowers, wine and beer, home decor, prepared foods, gourmet ingredients, and so much more.

One of our favorite foodie store has got a lot going on for the holidays. Southern Season, the Chapel Hill-based gourmet emporium, with additional locations in Charleston and Richmond, has partnered with North Carolina-based chef extraordinaire (and television host) Vivian Howard on a group of specialty gift collections that will be available in store and online for the holidays.

Chef/owner of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC and host of the Peabody Award-winning show, A Chef's Life, Vivian Howard has catapulted southeastern North Carolina dining and southern ingredients into the stratosphere and has become a household name. After working under some of New York's cutting edge chefs and restaurants, Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, returned to her North Carolina roots in 2005 to open Chef & the Farmer and raise her family in the down-home environment where she was raised. Since then, she and Knight have opened Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kinston and embarked on A Chef's Life, a PBS series launched in 2013, with one Peabody Award and a James Beard Media Award finalist nomination under its belt.

Vivian Howard for Southern Season will debut in stores with a group of specialty gifts collections filled with items that reflect her commitment and love of Southern ingredients and modern Southern cooking. The collections will be exclusive to Southern Season and delivered in a handcrafted wood crate. Some examples of the collections include "Kinston Inspiration" (filled with signature items from her hometown), "Ben's Birthday Gift" (pictured left and an assortment of some of her husband's favorite breakfast items), and "Childhood Memories" (filled with a sampling of some of her favorite snacks when she was growing up).

In addition to these unique holiday gift collections, Southern Season has also created a Vivian Howard Shop in each location featuring her favorite artisan products, gadgets, kitchen staples and more. And in early 2015, Southern Season plans to unveil a line of Vivian Howard for Southern Season products, based on some of her favorite recipes.

And that's not all that's going on with this fast-growing (and tasty) company. They have also announced two holiday pop-up stores that will be open during the holidays. A Taste of Southern Season will open in Charlotte at The Village at SouthPark on November 1 through January 5 and will feature gourmet gifts, including the Vivian Howard for Southern Season gift crates, entertaining essentials, holiday treats, and many Southern Season favorites such as cheese straws, nuts, barbecue sauces, cookies, chocolates, cocktail mixers, and more. In late 2016, Southern Season plans to open a 50,000 square foot store in Charlotte with its complete line of specialty and gourmet foods, as well as their cooking school and Weathervane Restaurant and Patio.

They will also open A Taste of Southern Season in Cameron Village in Raleigh November 8 through January 15 and will feature a carefully selected sample of Southern Season's vast assortment of local, regional, hard-to-find, and international goodies, as well as gourmet gift collections from Vivian Howard for Southern Season and other gift delicacies. There is no mention of a permanent Southern Season on the horizon in Raleigh but it certainly wouldn't surprise us.

So no matter where you are in the Carolinas, there's a Southern Season for all your holiday entertaining and gift giving needs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Southern Cuisine Topic at Meredith College Event

John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and author of The Truck Food Cookbook

Who better to discuss the state of southern cuisine and how the influx of immigration has impacted it than John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and some of his southern foodie friends. Meredith College and the Master of Science in Nutrition department will be hosting John T. Edge & Friends Monday, November 3 at 7p.m. on their campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

An ardent enthusiast of all southern culinary things, columnist for Garden & Gun, Oxford American, and Southern Living, cookbook author, and winner of the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation, John T. Edge will kick off the evening with a short film, entitled Cortes Fino. Made by Vittles for the Southern Foodways Alliance Greenhouse Project, the film  focuses on Cliff's Meat Market in Carrboro and how southern traditions and immigration complement and coexist.

Edge will be joined by a panel of local celebrity chefs and farmers who will offer up their expertise and experience on the subject of southern cuisine. The panelists include: Chef Ricky Moore of Salt Box Seafood Joint in Durham; Chef Ashley Christensen of Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken + Honey, Chuck's, Fox Liquor Bar, and Joule Coffee, all in Raleigh: Chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill; Chef Scott Crawford of Standard Foods and Nash Tavern in Raleigh; and local farmers and entrepreneurs' Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb of Coon Rock Farm, Bella Bean Organics, Heirloom Provisions, and Piedmont Restaurant.

The event is open to the public but tickets must be reserved in advance.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Travelers Are Having a Love Affair in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston's architecture along the Battery is one of the many things to love about Conde Nast Traveler's #1 city.

Charleston has done it again! For the fourth year, the readers of Conde Nast Traveler have voted Charleston the No. 1 U.S. City. Offering up fascinating history, stunning architecture, delectable dining, and some of the best Southern hospitality in the nation, Charleston was also ranked #2 in the World by Conde Nast Traveler 2014 Readers' Choice Awards.

Originally hitting the top ten list at #6 in 1993, Charleston rose to the top ranking in 2011 and has hung on to it for four years running. To celebrate the occassion, the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau released, "A Love Letter to Charleston", a 3-minute original video that showcases the reasons that Charleston is a top-ranked destination worldwide.

In addition tot he No. 1 City ranking, Kiawah Island ranked No. 1 Island in the United States and the No. 2 Island in the world, according to readers. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort ranked No. 17 among Top 25 Resorts in the U.S. And Wentworth Mansion ranked No. 25 in the Top 25 Hotels in the U.S.

Check out the video and find out why travelers are having a love affair with Charleston!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Win a Trip to the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Thinking about a fall or winter getaway to the beach? North Carolina's Crystal Coast is surrounded by crystal clear waters and bordered by sparkling beaches. For the land lubbers, there is plenty of swashbuckling pirate history, lighthouses, and ghostly treasures. If nature is more your thing, exotic wild ponies roam the shore and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores beckons. And if you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, the Crystal Coast features some of the magical sights of his novels and movies. And don't forget about the fresh seafood and creative cuisine.

Sound like the perfect getaway? Then register for the Crystal Coast Sweepstakes and escape to the coast this fall. Here's what's included:

* Three night stay in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in historic Beaufort.
* Two-night stay in the DoubleTree by Hilton on Atlantic Beach, including breakfast for two.
* 18-holes of golf with two carts for four at The Country Club of the Crystal Coast.
* $200 gift certificate to Bistro by the Sea in Morehead City.
* $60 gift certificate to Captain Bill's Waterfront Restaurant in Morehead City
* Family four-pack of admission passes to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
* Four tickets for a Double-Decker Bus Tour, Historic House Tour and Old Burying Ground Tour
   in Historic Beaufort.
* "A Ride to Remember" Nicholas Sparks culinary bike tour for four, including lunch.
* $500 VISA gift card to help you get there.

But you've got to hurry. The sweepstakes ends Friday, October 31st. Boo!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cary Bakery Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Piedmont Sourdough

Piedmont Sourdough at La Farm Bakery, Cary, North Carolina

Obviously there are bakeries in every town throughout the Carolinas. But one bakery brings the centuries-old baking traditions and techniques of a true French boulangerie to life in Cary, North Carolina. La Farm Bakery is celebrating their 15th anniversary this month and Master Baker Lionel Vatinet and his wife Missy are commemorating the occasion with a new bread that pays homage to their community.

For years now, Vatinet has worked closely with the wheat grower at Carter Farms, and the Asheville mill, Carolina Ground, to replace all of the whole wheat and rye flours used at La Farm Bakery with these locally grown and cold-stone milled, organic, heirloom flours. And their new Piedmont Sourdough pays homage to them. Using a 3-day fermentation, the whole wheat batard is earthy and nutty in flavor, with a smooth crumb and crisp crust, making for a rich and nutritious artisan bread. They even stencil a wheat stalk on the crust to denote their use of North Carolina wheat.

La Farm Bakery will launch their new Piedmont Sourdough at the North Carolina State Fair, from October 16-26. Available at the La Farm Bakery Bread Truck located outside the "Agriculture Today" tent, Vatinet will serve a Piedmont Pimento Cheese and a Piedmont BLT on this bread, as well as offering other new items and longtime favorites, including their signature 5-lb. "La Farm" boule.

Lionel and Missy Vatinet opened La Farm Bakery in 1999 after Lionel arrived in the U.S. from his native France where he trained in a centuries-old artisans' guild. After scouring the world for the best bread bakers, he chose North Carolina for his own bakery. Today, they handcraft 1000 loaves daily in 15 different varieties, and an additional 20 seasonal breads yearly. He's also turned his passion for teaching and sharing the art and science of bread baking into a cookbook, A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker. 

If this has you salivating, be sure to stop by the Bread Truck at the NC State Fair or visit them at their Cary location.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall into Hotel Deals in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The newly renovated Crown Reef Resort along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach (photo courtesy of Crown Reef Resort)

Didn't get your fill of the beach this summer? Never fear! Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is offering up some amazing hotel deals on a bunch of beachfront hotels that will make a fall getaway no sweat. And speaking of no sweat, fall is a great time to head to Myrtle Beach with average highs in the mid-70s, less crowds, and all of the attractions are still open. Sounds like a grand time to hit the Grand Strand. Here are some of the top deals we found for the fall:

1.   Beach Colony Resort: Book a suite and receive breakfast for two for 60 cents a day.
2.   Beach Cove Resort: 60% off your third night in an Oceanfront Executive Suite.
3.   Captain's Quarters Resort: Oceanfont Suites from just $60 a night, which includes a $60 food and         beverage credit for stays of two nights or longer.
4.   Caravelle Resort: Enjoy breakfast for two for just 60 cents per day in Oceanfront or Ocean View
5.   Carolina Winds Resort: Book select fall dates from just $45 a night into November.
6.   Crown Reef Resort: Stay two nights or longer in Oceanfront Queen Efficiencies and receive a $20
      game card and $40 in food and beverage credit.
7.   Forest Dunes Resort: Rooms for just $39/night on select dates.
8.   Hotel Blue Resort: Stay in an Oceanfront Efficiency for $60 per night and receive a $20 food and
      beverage credit per night.
9.   Landmark Resort: Stay two nights or longer and receive $60 in food and beverage credit.
10. Ocean Creek Resort: Rates starting at $60 per night on select units, including breakfast for two.
11. Palace Resort: Stay 3 nights in an angle Oceanfront one- bedroom condo and receive $60 off your
      third night, plus free breakfast for two daily.
12. Palms Resort: One bedroom suites from just $49 per night.
13. Sea Watch Resort: 60% off the third night in Oceanfront one-bedroom doubles.
14. South Wind on the Ocean: Two-bedroom oceanfront condos from just $125 per night.

Check out this link to see all the deals in Myrtle Beach.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get a Glimpse into Beaufort, South Carolina's Historic District

Explore the historic architecture of Beaufort, South Carolina during the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens

Once a year, historic Beaufort, South Carolina gives visitors a glimpse into its past and present during the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens. Explore private homes, gardens, and plantations in Beaufort's National Historic District and take a walk through three centuries of architecture and history.

Running October 24-26, the festival offers up three distinct tours:

The Walking Tour features seven houses including the William Flickling House and the John & Flora Trask House on Bay Street, as well as six private homes, and the Verdier House. The Walking Tour is available Friday, October 24 at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

The Ramble Around Beaufort Tour offers a different selection of houses including the George Moss Stoney House, the McKee-Smalls House and the newly restored McGrath Scheper House. In addition to five downtown properties, this tour includes the house and grounds of Chelsea Plantation, on the outskirts of Beaufort, and the Maritime Center of the Port Royal Sound Foundation. The Ramble Around Beaufort Tour is available on Saturday, October 25 at 10am, 11am, noon, and 1pm.

The Kitchen & Cuisine Tour takes place in historic downtown Beaufort and Lady's Island. The two-hour tour is available on Sunday, October 26 at 11:30am and 12:30pm.

The self-guided tours are the primary fundraiser for the Historic Beaufort Foundation and tickets are available at

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Explore the Quirky Side of Asheville

LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours feature a purple open-air bus and a unique (and hysterical) way to tour Asheville

Bus tours are a great way to see a city. But a comedy tour can turn a history lesson into an hysterical lesson. And that's what the owners of LaZoom Comedy Tours in Asheville, North Carolina are doing with their unique bus tours.

Offering up a wild, raucous ride that showcases the charm of the mountain town of Asheville, LaZoom Comedy Tours create a hilarious one-of-a-kind tour through the city's downtown, beautiful neighborhoods, and creative arts district on their signature purple open-air bus. The daily tours feature entertaining tour guides that combine a unique mix of Asheville history, cultural tales, crazy comedy, and zany surprises that create a 'wild and crazy' way to learn something about the city.

LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours' Gary Ghoulish
LaZoom also offers evening tours that explore the city's strange and sordid past on their Haunted Comedy Bus Tours. Guides Helena Handbasket and Ghoulish Gary share local tales of scandals, deceit, murder, and ghosts served up with a bit of bawdy humor. In November and December, special Holiday Tours feature Augusta Wind on a seasonal spin through the city, with appearances by off-the-wall characters and destinations.

LaZoom tours run daily through December and you must be 13 or older to ride. Haunted tours depart nightly through Halloween weekend and on select evenings through December and you must be 17 or older to ride. Holiday tours begin November 14 and run through December and you must be 13 years or older to ride. All tours range from $19-$24 per person.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hilton Head's Sea Pines Resort Unveils Sea Pines Beach Club

Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
One of the true crown jewels of American golf, The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is home to the legendary Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage. The resort features an unparalleled collection of golf courses designed y Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, as well as world-class amenities, meeting facilities and luxurious accommodations.

Sea Pines Resort has also just completed the highly anticipated world-class Sea Pines Beach Club. The two-story, 25,000-square-foot facility offers up an array of family-friendly amenities including dining, retail and special event space with an idyllic seaside atmosphere and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The new Sea Pines Beach Club at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island
On the first floor, Sea Pines Beach Club features the new casual beachside restaurant, Coast, with a wrap-around oceanfront bar and seasonal entertainment. The second floor offers up Ocean Lounge, an upscale bar serving specialty cocktails, including a signature collections of premium rums and tequila, as well as small plates and desserts. The area also includes event space with large floor-to-ceiling windows and a spacious outdoor deck with terraces and covered verandas. New retail space includes the Surf Shop featuring beach supplies, children's toys and retail apparel, as well as Surfside Market for on-the-go dining.

Sea Pines Resort has also begun construction on a new 26,000-square-foot Harbour Town Golf Links Clubhouse. Slated for completion in the spring of 2015, the new facility will be located on the site of the existing clubhouse and will honor the RBC Heritage with a gallery showcasing the tournament history and display exhibits of past champions.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall into the Outdoors in Jackson County, North Carolina

Western North Carolina has it all! Hiking, biking, golfing, watersports, horseback riding, stunning scenery and so much more. And it's easier than ever this fall to explore the outdoors of the towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire with the new Jackson County hiking map. Released this fall, the map includes directions to 19 waterfalls, nine hiking trails, three multiple-use trails for riding and biking, five semi-private or public golf courses, three whitewater rafting and water sports outfitters, three horseback riding locations and eight recreational rental service locations. Whew....we're exhausted just thinking about the outdoors possibilities!

The new hiking map showcases some of the best outdoor tourism attractions, activities and scenic views that Western North Carolina has to offer. Some of the more popular destinations include Richland Balsam along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is the highest point in the area with an elevation of over 6,400 feet, the 2.5 mile round-trip hike up to Waterrock Knob with breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, and Whiteside Mountain which features the highest vertical drop of 750 feet in the Eastern U.S. Another stunning option are the waterfalls of Cashiers Sliding Rock, Silver Run Falls, and Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern United States.

You can access the map online (access waterfalls or biking/hiking/golf/watersports) or pick up a copy at the Dillsboro Visitor Center or the Jackson County Visitor Center. The map is also available at many area retail shops, restaurants, and accommodations, as well as the Smoky Mountain Host Visitor Center, Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel, any state visitor center or town chamber office.

Fall into the outdoors this fall and enjoy the lofty peaks, rushing water, stunning scenery, and timeless charm of Western North Carolina's Jackson County.