Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Euphoric Food, Wine and Music in Greenville, South Carolina

Euphoria's Sunday Supper at Wyche Pavilion 

The fall wine & food festival season is ramping up and we get a little euphoric this time of year. And it doesn't get much better than Euphoria in hot Greenville, South Carolina. Running September 18-21, Euphoria is jam-packed with all you can eat, sip and listen to in this four-day celebration.

Kicking off the weekend on Thursday is a choice between the Songwriter's Recipe, featuring an intimate "behind the music" event with legendary songwriters Tom Nichols, rivers Rutherford and Bob DiPiero as they talk about the music making process and sing some of their favorites and Swine and Dine, a soil-to-city whole-hog roast with craft beers, craft spirits, tasty wines, and plenty of music to wash it all down with.

Friday features food, wine and music VIP Experiences for VIP ticket holders and then Euphoria kicks into high gear with the Taste of the South under the stars in downtown Greenville. Groove along the soothing currents of the Reedy River with live music and dine on Southern dishes created by some of the Upstate's finest chefs and restaurants. There will be plenty of amazing wines and beers to pair with the evening's festivities.

Saturday brings together a full-day of wine, beer and food with the Tasting Showcase along Main Street. Here you will have a chance to sip, sample, taste and learn with acclaimed chefs, local culinary stars, master sommeliers and talented musicians at the grand wine tasting, craft beer garden, gourmet food and spirits sampling, wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. When the sun goes down, choose from either the Traffic Jam, a full-on food truck rodeo, or one of several guest chef wine dinners at some of Greenville's finest restaurants. Finish out the evening with the infamous Lambs + Clams after-party and enjoy tasty late night bites of Border Springs Farm Lamb and Rappahannock Oysters.

Recover from Saturday's festitivies at the Sunday Jazz Brunch when chefs from nearly 20 local restaurants put their best foot forward at a full-on New Orleans-style brunch. And you can put your best foot forward with big band music from the South Carolina Jazz Orchestra and the cool trumpet sounds of Mark Rapp and the requisite Sunday morning Bloody Mary's and bubbly.

The weekend winds down Sunday night with a spectacular farm-to-table experience at Sunday Supper. Guests will have an opportunity to bread bread with the elite line-up of the weekend's local and guest chefs, artisan cocktails, and soothing dinner music under the stars at the Wyche Pavilion. We can't think of a better way to close out this amazing taste of Euphoria!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bluegrass Great Pens Theme Song for Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival

Rhonda Vincent performing at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival where she will be singing Bluegrass Island in 2014. 

The Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival has something to brag about this year. Bluegrass queen, Rhonda Vincent, has written a theme song for the 3rd annual event and it serves as a tribute to the entities that have helped garner national recognition for the OBX Bluegrass Festival, including the Island venue and the spectacular fireworks show.

A bluegrass singer-songwriter, and performer at the festival, Vincent said she envisioned the sights, sounds and feelings the setting brings to bluegrass music and takes the listener on a musical journey through the event. She'll be performing the tribute, entitled Bluegrass Island, live during the festival, scheduled for September 25-28 on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Other performers during the four-day event include bluegrass standouts, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, The Lonesome River Bank, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Balsam Range, Russelll Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Blue Highway, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Dailey & Vincent, and more. In addition to the live performances, there are jam sessions held in the parking lot and host hotel, The Elizabethan Inn, dancing, band competitions and lots of other activities.

BoomGrass fireworks show at the Outer Banks Bluegrass
Festival will include the new song by Rhonda Vincent,
Bluegrass Island, at the 2014 event.  
Photo Credit:  Coastland Times Newspaper, Manteo, NC
And then there is the piece de resistance with BoomGrass, a spectacular fireworks show held during the festival from barges anchored behind the stage over the water and choreographed to bluegrass music. It is said that it is the largest fireworks show in the state of North Carolina.

A four day pass is $110 and a daily pass is $40. VIP and Weekend Backstage Passes are also available. All tickets can be purchased at www.bluegrassisland.com. Come celebrate the music of America at the OBX Bluegrass Festival and be one of the first people to see Rhonda Vincent perform her ode to the festival, Bluegrass Island.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Asheville, North Carolina's Chefs Challenge Running through August

Cheers to the Asheville Scene Chefs Challenge at Pack's Tavern, Asheville, North Carolina

The Asheville Scene Chefs Challenge has begun and things will continue to heat up until the final battle during the Asheville Wine & Food Festival August 21-23. Area chefs are pitted against one another in an Iron Chef-style competition that will culminate with the crowning of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival 2014 Best Chef at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, August 23. And the coolest part is that you get to help decide who will make it to the final battle. Each chef will prepare three courses and they will be voted on by the dining audience each night, as well as a panel of professional chefs, food writers, and culinary experts. The competition kicked off July 1 and will continue every Tuesday evening through August 12 at Pack's Tavern Century Room in downtown Asheville. You can check out the brackets and purchase tickets here.

And that's just the appetizer! The Asheville Wine & Food Festival is loaded with other tasty culinary events to enjoy before the Best Chef is crowned. On Thursday, enjoy all things spirits at Elixir, a night devoted to cocktails and mixology. Enjoy meeting the distillers, cheering on local bartenders in a mixology competition, sample the latest and greatest concoctions, and dance the night away with live entertainment and hors d'ourves. The location of Elixir is secret (a throwback to prohibition) and you'll find out 48 hours before the event. Make it even more special by purchasing the Elixir and Lazoom bus combo and be taken on a fun and quirky round-trip to the secret location, along with a side-splitting guided tour of some of Asheville's favorite neighborhoods and landmarks after the event.

If chocolate, cakes, tarts and pastries are more your thing, then you might prefer Sweet on August 22 for an evening of delectable and delights. Hosted at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, the evening will feature local bakers, chocolatiers and patissiers sampling their sweets and confections. There will also be wines, sparkling champagnes, beers and spirits to wash it all down with. And the vendors will stay open late so you can browse amongst the crafts, jewelry and furnishings of Grove Arcade shops.

The weekend will culminate on Saturday with the Grand Tasting at the U.S. Cellular Center. Featuring wine distributors and winemakers, area brewers, regional distillers, restaurateurs and chefs, farmers and artisan food producers, the afternoon will be filled with tasty sampling, cooking demonstrations, winemaking competitions and the Asheville Scene Chefs Challenge finale.

Check out the Asheville Wine & Food Festival website for more information and tickets and plan to get your foodie on in July and August in Asheville!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrate Bastille Day with the Carolinas only French Master Chef

Who better to host a premier Bastille Day celebration than the only French Master Chef in the Carolinas, Chef Nico Romo of Fish restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. Born in Lyon, France, Chef Romo is a classically trained chef and is the youngest ever to be awarded the coveted title Master Chef of France. He's part of an elite assembly of only 52 recipients nationwide who are regarded as the most highly skilled in techniques and traditions of the French culinary art.

And Chef Romo will put all his skills on display at the sixth-annual Bastille day event at Fish restaurant on Monday, July 14. There are two dining options for the evening, depending on how you'd like to celebrate:

Vive la Revolution, Vive la Celebration!
French fare, French-inspired cocktails and champagne specials, live music, pentanque, costume and cake eating contests, pommes frites guillotine and much more. The festivities will run from 4:30-10pm in the Fish Bar & Second Floor of the restaurant.

Dine like Royalty, Party with the People
Savor a four-course menu of traditional French dishes with an optional wine paring served in the dining room in two acts amid the evening's entertainment program. The Princes dinner will be from 6:30-9pm with an intermission and costs $40 for the dinner and $50 with the French wine pairings.

Entertainment for all will include a Storm the Bastille march from Marion Square and a performance of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, can-can peformances and a French costume contest, a cake eating contest and a French national anthem finale. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 843-722-3474.

Vive la France!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Charleston, South Carolina Receives Top Accolades from Travel & Leisure

Aerial view of the peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina

For the second consecutive year, Charleston, South Carolina is the No. 1 City in the U.S. and Canada according to Travel + Leisure's 2014 World's Best Awards. And if that weren't enough, Charleston was also ranked No. 2 City in the WORLD in the annual reader's poll.

Each year, Travel + Leisure readers vote on their favorite hotels, cities, islands, spas, cruise lines, airlines, tour outfitters, and car rental agencies. The results are featured in the annual August issue of the magazine, as well as online. And those weren't the only top honors that were bestowed upon Charleston this year. The city also claimed four of the top five Top Small City Hotels in the Continental U.S. (fewer than 100 rooms):
1. Planters Inn
2. French Quarter Inn
4. Wentworth Mansion
5. Market Pavilion Hotel. 

Other accolades included:
Top Hotels Overall (worldwide):
26. Planters Inn
54. French Quarter Inn
85. Wentworth Mansion

Top Islands iun the Continenetal U.S. and Canada:
5. Kiawah Island

Top Resorts in the Continental U.S.:
29. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Check out the complete results of the 2014 World's Best Awards at www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest or in the August issue of the magazine, on newsstands July 18.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Butterflies Land in Southeastern North Carolina

Exotic butterflies abound at the Butterfly Bungalow at The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, North Carolina

A new exhibit landed at The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher this spring with the arrival of the new Butterfly Bungalow. Located in what was an empty, grassy area adjacent to the main parking lot, the 1,800 square foot greenhouse-like Butterfly Bungalow and gardens took flight this past spring in Kure Beach, south of Wilmington, North Carolina.

With hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world, visitors have a chance to see them flitting about freely, dancing around tropical plants, and occasionally, landing on their heads, arms and noses. The Butterfly Bungalow and Gardens starts at a pupa house where visitors view the chrysalis stage of the insects' life cycle, when they transform from caterpillar to butterfly. A path then winds through an ocean-friendly native-butterfly garden on to the entrance to the Bungalow. Species once inside vary but some of the more unique butterflies to spot include the vibrant blue morphos, native to Latin America and the emerald swallowtails or red lacewings, both found in Asia.

The Butterfly Bungalow is a temporary exhibit through October 2014. It has a separate admission of $3 from the regular Aquarium admission. But that's a small price to pay for the sheer delight kids (and kids at heart) will have dancing around with these beautiful creatures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sweet Happenings at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina

Take a chair lift to Sugar Mountain's 5,300' summit all summer long

Think the mountains of North Carolina are simply for skiing? Then think again. The folks at Sugar Mountain have put together a sweet schedule of events for summer and fall that will more than tide you over until ski season.

4th of July Celebration - July 4
Soak in nature's beauty and get lost in American patriotism as you watch the area's 4th of July fireworks while you relax in a lift chair on your way to Sugar Mountain's 5,300 foot summit. Purchase your all your cold weather gear during the 4th of July Winter Sale when everything in the shop is on sale all weekend.

BBQ Boot Camp - July 18-19
The North Carolina Barbecue Society will host BBQ Boot Camp with certified BBQ judge classes and their will be destination events attended by barbecue and food enthusiasts from all over the world.

SugarBrew - August 2
Sample an array of craft, import and domestic beers, wines & spirits at this year's 3rd Annual SugarBew Festival. Take a ski-lift ride to the 5,300 peak, listen to live music and dine on a selection of American summer specialties.

Oktoberfest - October 11-12
A weekend jam packed with eclectic range of beer and brat activities, the 24th Annual Oktoberfest features Bavarian music by the Harbourtown Fest band, Bavarian bratwurst and lots of other German and American food & beverages, a children's fun center, hay rides, a craft fair, lift rides, winter sports shop sales, and much more.

Hiking & Biking - May 1-October 19
From dawn until dusk, enjoy hiking & biking on the Sugar Mountain trail system that winds its way throughout the Village of Sugar Mountain for free. Trail maps are available at the base of Sugar Mountain. Check out what you could be doing (and increase your heart rate) by watching the summit to base in five minutes video.

Golf & Tennis - all summer long
If golf and tennis are all you need to keep you happy this summer, the Village of Sugar Mountain operates six fast dry clay tennis courts and an 18-hole executive golf course.

See you on the slopes this summer (and fall) at Sugar Mountain!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oskar Blues Brings Biking to Western North Carolina

Biking in Western North Carolina with Oskar Blues

Oskar Blues Brewery is obviously known for its beer. But now it's making its mark in the biking world.

Founded as a brewpub in 1997, Oskar Blues Brewery launched the craft beer-in-a-can juggernaut in 2002 using a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. Experiencing explosive growth for the next ten years, they opened an additional brewery in Brevard, North Carolina in 2012 and now distribute their trailblazing craft brews to 35 states. And now they are looking to expand their reach to new markets as they use their 145-acre farm as an epic bike and beer-fueled destination that will be a haven for mountain bikers, a place to grow hops, and a music and event venue.

The Oskar Blues REEB Ranch will be home to The Bike Farm, a bike guiding and concierge service that will offer world-class biking at their bike park and on the trails of neighboring Dupont State Forest. The ranch will feature ride-in, ride-out access to the miles of Dupont's single track, pump track sessions, dirt jump progression lines, downhill shuttle runs, guided cross-country epics, and post ride beers alongside the swimming hole. They'll even have lodging on-site in a 1940s cabin at the base of two 43-foot waterfalls, an apartment on the top floor of a barn, and tent camping.

You might ask what does a brewery know about biking? Well....plenty! Cycling has always been a huge part of Oskar Blues' culture and was part of the reason why they chose Western North Carolina for their second brewery. They even have their own line of bikes called REEB Cycles (hence the name of the REEB Ranch) and will have plenty of demo mountain bikes and dirt jump rigs available at the ranch.

The Bike Farm at Oskar Blues REEB Ranch will open later this year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Beaufort, South Carolina Makes Small Towns We Love List

The Rhett House Inn, Beaufort, South Carolina
One of our favorite southern towns has been named to Southern Living's "Small Towns We Love" list in the July issue of Southern Living magazine. Featuring five small towns that evoke the best in Southern charm and tradition, Southern Living selected Beaufort for it's history, architecture and Lowcountry cuisine. Highlighting the Beaufort River, the historic district's architecture, the people, and the seafood, Southern Living wrote a love letter to the charming town. And we couldn't agree more.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Heed the Call of the Water in Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington and the Beaches make for a perfect summer getaway

The calming river waters and fun-filled beaches of Wilmington, North Carolina are beckoning this summer with their Heed the Call of the Water Sweepstakes going on now through the end of the month. From the scenic Riverwalk along the Cape Fear River lined with shops and cafes, to the family-friendly entertainment along the Atlantic oceanfront boardwalks and piers, Wilmington and the beaches features history, shopping, walking and trolley tours, surfing, amusement rides, parks, gardens, aquariums, fireworks, Civil War forts, and great dining. One lucky person will win the Heed the Call of the Waters sweepstakes which includes:

  • Three nights accommodations at the Courtyard by Marriott Wilmington
  • Four tickets aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA
  • Four tickets to historic Airlie Gardens
  • Four passes for an Eco History Tour with Wilmington Water Tours
  • Four passes for a horse-drawn carriage tour with Springbrook Farms
  • Season One box set of the locally-filmed production "Under the Dome"
  • $100 gift certificate to the Front Street Brewery
  • $100 gift certificate to The George on Riverwalk
  • $100 gift certificate to Bluewater Waterfront Grill
  • $500 VISA gift card to help get you to Wilmington
The only thing holding you back from the call of the waters is that you've got to enter by June 30th.