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Filtering by Tag: Shopping

First World Problems

Suzanne Pollak

Image courtesy of  Black Tap Coffee

Image courtesy of Black Tap Coffee

Has it happened to you too? We bet it has. Starts out innocently enough just meeting a friend for a cup of coffee at that chic new coffee shop and then later swinging in by yourself for a quick pick me up midmorning and without you even noticing, and sooner than even seems possible, you are addicted. Your Mr. Coffee and Brunn drip machine sit on your countertop forlorn and completely confused as to what they did wrong to cause you to abandon them. First it was Starbucks but now it's Couture coffee made with a Hario pour over for which we all line up obediently and happily pay up to five dollars for the privilege of a cup of this valuable black gold.

Are we insane? No, we are not! We just can no longer be satisfied with dark dishwater or bitter home brew. Some of our friends have capitulated and bought expensive coffee machines and diligently recreate these masterpieces in their own homes. The Deans don't fool themselves. Part of what we like is the ritual of communing with people and meeting up with friends. And let's face it, it wouldn't really do for the Deans to become bar flies, so consider us coffee shop flies. 

The Deans List:

(Our favorite coffee shops in Charleston)


If Mr. Coffee weeps too loudly for you to ignore at least be sure your coffee is the caliber of La Colombe, Stump Town, or Blue Bottle. 

The Bedrock of Entertaining

Suzanne Pollak

Dinner parties are the bedrock of entertaining.  There is no better way to get to know someone than by having them over and cooking for them. A thousand nights in restaurants will never create the same amount of intimacy.  By allowing someone into your house, you are showing them your sense of style, letting them see the books you like to read, the food you like to cook: in short, who you really are.  A little bit of luxury goes a long way at home. An Old Fashioned, a few oysters in a pan roast and a spoonful of chocolate mousse set the mood for an evening to remember.  And you created it all yourself!

 The Dean’s Cheat Sheet

7 is the perfect dinner party number. One conversation shared by the whole group and enjoyed with maximum conviviality.  

Candlelight only, please. The less you can see the better everyone looks.  It is by far the most flattering of all the lights.  

Use your whole house i.e. drinks in one room, dinner at the table and coffee and cordials while lounging sofa side in your living room or den or even outside if the weather permits.

You only need one go-to menu.  It’s the Dean’s job to pair you with the right one.

Keep to a schedule.  If the cocktail hour is actually 2 hours, then someone may have a breakdown - and a drunken one, too - on the living  room floor.

Outsourcing some of the meal is brilliant.  It relieves stress and may make the party happen as opposed to being just a fantasy. No one turns down a bowl of Haagen Dazs or a dessert from from the local bakery and very few guests mind bringing a single cheese with a column of crackers.

Here are a few of our favorite local spots for outsourcing fabulous courses.

Christophe'sgreat for those last minute sweets needed for any party.

Goat. Sheep. Cow. - the perfect place to shop for specialty cheeses, wines and meats to bring as a hostess gift or to supply as an appetizer.

The Wine Shop of Charleston - the place to buy super size bottles of wine to woo even the most jaded palate

The Beer Exchange - for the speciality beers which is a must have in every hipster's frig.  

Our Daily Fix

Suzanne Pollak

We are almost afraid to post this because we may never see our favorite sandwich again.  On one of Charleston’s most charming streets, Church, and below Broad no less (outside private kitchens, the only food below Broad) sits a dainty little shop called Goat. Sheep. Cow.  Inside they sell a fragrant dizzying spectacle of cheeses from every corner of the globe and cured meats to match, as well as a comprehensive selection of affordable wines.  But that’s not all!  We are going to let you in on the secret.

             Owners, Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer

             Owners, Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer

They ALSO sell a daily sandwich! The store uses Charleston’s best bread (from EVO bakery) down to the millimeter of the right depth for a sandwich.  The bread is highlighted but is not the whole story. You don’t end up with a mouthful of bread unable to taste anything else, which is lucky, because ‘anything else’ changes daily but is always delicious.  They pluck from right out of the case thinly sliced cured meats, aromatic cheeses and layer with fresh or pickled vegetables or fruit preserves.

                                                                                                                  Image courtesy of Goat.Sheep.Cow

                                                                                                                  Image courtesy of Goat.Sheep.Cow

Part of the thrill is wondering if you are even going to get the sandwich because it sells out the minute the store opens at 11 a.m.  By the time you realize that nothing but a Goat. Sheep. Cow. sandwich will do, they very well might be sold out. Lucky for the Deans that we are always hungry for lunch by eleven.

Since this sandwich comes wrapped in sleek white butcher paper you don’t know what the sandwich will be until you disrobe it.  High drama Academy style!

What we take away from these lunch experiences is that a little surprise can add a lot to a home cooked daily dinner. Stop asking your unresponsive family members what they want for dinner and go out on some tangent you have been thinking you want to explore.

If you don't live in Charleston don't despair. The owners of Goat. Sheep. Cow. have given us the fundamentals of their mini masterpieces. 

Sandwich Combinations:

  • Proscuitto Cotto, Triple Cream Brie, Fig Jam with Orange, Butter Lettuce or Arugula.
  • Italian Sweet and Dry Salame, Fresh Bufala Mozzarella, Roasted Marinated Tomatoes, Arugula, and either Pesto or Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Speck, Raclette, Plum Jam, Olive Oil, and Arugula.
  • Proscuitto Cotto, Big John's Cajun Cheddar, Lusty Monk Whole Grain Mustard, Vermont Creamery Butter, and Cucumber Slices.
  • Finocchiona, Marinated Feta (aka Crack Cheese), Marinated Roasted Tomatoes, and Arugula.
  • Lonza, Promontory Cheddar, Dijon Mustard, Mayo, Roasted Peppers and Arugula. 
  • Proscuitto Cotto, Pt. Reyes Tomma, Bacon Jam, Roasted Marinated Tomatoes, and Avocado Slices.

Hoping for the Best is Not a Plan

Lee Manigault

Since we have several PhD's in Food and its Many Uses and Feeding the Family Nightly , we are the perfect experts to lead you through the Grocery Store.  

If you go to the supermarket at 10:30 a.m. you hit the yoga Pilates crowd.  If you go at 3:30 p.m., you slam into after school mom's.  And between 5:30 - 6:00 p.m., you encounter the onslaught of Afterworkers. The Deans like to go at 8:00 in the morning.  We are fresh and plucky and like to get this chore done early.  A small caveat: sometimes deliveries are running late and the selection is from yesterday, not today.  This means a last minute menu change and dinner becomes Bottles, Cans, Boxes and Jars.  

Make sure most of your shopping is done around the perimeter of the store.  Why? Because this is where the vegetables, meats, dairies and wines are located.  These are the items that need to be front and center and filling your grocery cart.  We see too many carts brimming with sodas, boxed snacks, cartons of crackers and cookies and per-prepared frozen dinners.  The Deans cannot stand seeing this much waste in terms of calories as well as money.

Number one rule is to not go shopping with an empty stomach.  You will buy way too much and regret most of your choices.  Rule number two; have a plan about what you want to eat tonight, tomorrow night and what's for breakfast and lunch if you're going to be at home.  Rule number three; in order to be the best prepared, most organized as well as to not waste valuable money - have a written list.  The more you have going on in the rest of your life, the more important the list becomes.  The Deans have both spent time tracking down exotic spices only to return home with one million bags of groceries but not the center piece of the meal.  We know we didn't invent the list, but it's so important that it bares repeating.  Often, we bring the magazine or book we are cooking from with us instead of transcribing so there is no room for error.  

If we see something particularly good-looking or a wonderful sale item, and we are not sure how to use it, we Google the item right in the store to come up with ideas.

If you are a creative person, cooking can be one of the most fun outlets.  Taking a huge array of  non-homogenous items that, alone don't amount to much, and creating one tasty meal, is quite an accomplishment.