Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery

A team of reporters and photographers attended the festivals’ opening ceremony, and we took some time to get to know some of the other attendees and ask what they were looking forward to most at this year’s festivals.

Click here to check out our photo gallery!

For more information, read The Post and Courier’s full story about the opening ceremony.

Slideshow photos by: Christina Riley and Eesha Patkar

Banners About Town

Spoleto Festival USA is ramping up their advertising this year with a selection of light pole banners throughout downtown.

Spoleto Festival Banners

The new Spoleto Festival USA banners. (Photo credit: Joseph DiDomizio)

 “We have expanded our downtown signage campaign this year and are very pleased with it,” said Paula Edwards, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Spoleto Festival USA. The city had previously purchased banners for an event in the spring, Edwards said, and after they purchased some additional hardware, allowed the festival to use them.

“We thought it was the perfect way to create Festival buzz and enhance our popular window display contest that local merchants participate in,” Edwards said. “Charleston is the perfect size city to do something like this in, in that something like Spoleto can completely consume downtown for a two-week time period. And we’re trying to do that visually as much as possible.”

If you spy a poster in a unique location, tweet your photos to @SpoletoChas!

If you’re interested in buying this year’s poster—the one featured on the street banners—you can find more information on the Spoleto Festival USA website.

Citizen Critics: Le Grand C

We love reviewing shows, but now it’s your turn. See what our citizen critic thought of Friday’s performance of Le Grand C by Compagnie XY.

Nancye Starnes

Nancye Starnes lives in Charleston and estimates that this is her 15th Spoleto Festival.  She was astounded by the “extreme athleticism” of the acrobats in Compagnie XY.
“I look forward to Spoleto all year long because of the opportunity to see incredible things like this.”

Shrimp and Grits Showdown: Round 1 HUSK

(Photo illustration by Nick DeSantis / Photos by Eesha Patkar)

As Georgia (Nic Bell) and New Orleans (Briana Prevost) natives, we know authentic Southern food. Naturally, coming to Charleston as Spoleto festival reporters meant finding the best food in the low country. Our mission started with one simple goal in mind: finding (and eating) the best bowl of shrimp and grits in the city. Our first stop in our bi-weekly Shrimp and Grits Showdown was Husk.

Voted as GQ’s best new restaurant of 2011, Husk has been awarded many accolades, both from locals and critics alike, but it does have a reputation for being a little inconsistent. Our immediate reaction to Husk was how gorgeous it was. Situated in an old antebellum house, complete with a two tier wraparound porch, the restaurant had a rustic feeling with dark wooden floors and butcher block topped tables. Even the dishes were rustic and earthen.

Nic’s picks: When our shrimp and grits arrived, I was a little confused by the contents of the bowl. Perched atop the grits were wonderfully plump and tender shrimp, but it was all bathed in a disturbing amount of a tomato sauce. Included in the dish was peppers, onions, peas, and smoked pork.

The grits were velvet smooth and satisfying, not as gritty as most grits I’ve had, but not too watery. The smoked peppers, onions, and peas were a pleasant surprise, but the tomato was heavy handed and overpowered the subtle taste and texture of the star ingredient, the grits.

I appreciated the smoky flavor of both the pork and the tomatoes, but the overwhelming amount of tomatoes, in my opinion, ruined a perfectly good dish.

B’s business: Husk’s shrimp and grits comes in a huge bowl fitting for its contents. Comprised not only of shrimp and grits, but also a bed of peas, chives and tomatoes with tomato gravy sat atop the white corn confection.

Although a bit gritty, the grits were cooked just long enough and with just enough butter to be enjoyed by itself. The peas added an extra unexpected mini burst of flavor when combined with the subtle taste of cheese, however, the overpowering taste of the tomato and its juices took away any chance this dish had at making it an enjoyable hodgepodge of southern flavor.

Too bad too, the best part about Husk’s shrimp and grits was the shrimp. Jumbo and plump, the shrimp reigned supreme as both meaty enough to make this dish edible as a main course, yet flavorful on its own merits.

Expect the unexpected:

Nic’s picks: The cornbread. Studded with bits of bacon and topped with sea salt, this was a delicious compliment to the creaminess of the grits.

The burger. It’s not a stretch to say that this was the best burger I’ve ever eaten. Soft, supple bun, perfectly melted cheese, briny pickles, and pungent mustard for a great burger make. Also serve with potato wedges and homemade ketchup (which was delicious, and also coming from a man that HATES ketchup).

B’s business: Another unexpected treat was the cornbread. Baked with bacon and basked in butter, this cornbread had more of a savory fill than sweet but was just as moist as should be. For any sweet toothers (like myself) a slather of Husk’s Portland butter on the cornbread will fix this problem. And as the sweet butter melts into the cornbread, so will the cornbread into your mouth.

Southern Eats: Butcher & Bee

A restaurant review by Nick DeSantis

Butcher & Bee doesn’t have the most inviting entrance. Set far back from the road on 654 King Street past a barbed-wire fence, the sandwich shop’s humble exterior would be easily missed by a passerby if it weren’t for the restaurant’s circular logo unassumingly painted right above the door.

Those that stroll through the entrance, however, are instantly greeted with a relaxed, stylishly hodgepodge atmosphere. With no two metal seats looking like they match, the décor seems as if it were cobbled together from a scrap heap of chairs, stools and large, wooden tables of assorted heights.

In fact, the space’s high-ceiling and weathered interior makes it seem as if a sandwich joint popped up within an old factory. There is not a single whiff of high-brow pretension about Butcher & Bee (right down to the rolls of paper towels provided in lieu of napkins), but make no mistake: the food is truly premium, gourmet quality.

Butcher & Bee’s focus on fresh, local ingredients is evident in their curated menu, which is carefully scrawled out daily on a wall-sized chalkboard. It offers a limited number of eight sandwiches for lunch, but the selection changes daily and definitely slants more towards the unique rather than the familiar.

The Chana Masala sandwich, for example, brings together spiced chick peas, coconut jam and tomato curry within two halves of a deliciously brittle ciabatta roll to create a dinner plate sized Indian inspired sandwich that packed a spicy kick even when a bulk of my bites proved to be a bit too bready.

The best bet on the menu at the time I visited (12:30 p.m. to be exact, before the lunch rush, but after four sandwiches had already sold out), was the Korean Shortrib. It was a messy endeavor, with juicy short ribs slathered in spicy slaw and crowned with a fried egg within a spongy, absorbent brioche roll.

The sticky hands and balls of paper towel required to down this thing will be forgiven once the explosive flavor of the first taste is experienced. It’s even worth its rather hefty $12 pricetag, which will sadly be responsible for relegating this selection as an occasional indulgence rather than a lunchtime standby.

A selection of quirky beverages (like a surprisingly good cucumber soda), and simple, flavorful side dishes like a tasty asparagus and garlic and a fresh kale slaw round out the abbreviated menu, earning Butcher & Bee all of the local raves and national accolades it has received from publications such as GQ, New York Magazine and Food & Wine since it opened only 2 years ago.

Tourists and locals with plump wallets looking to reward their midday hunger with a unique Charleston original will find their lunchtime salvation with Butcher & Bee.

One for the money, four for the show

With so much theatre at this year’s Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto festivals, it’s hard to choose. But since you have to, here are four recommendations from our Theatre Blog Editor, Josh Austin.

Oedipus
Based on the classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles, this Spoleto Festival USA production comes to us from the Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company. The show runs June 4-8 at Memminger Auditorium. For ticketing information, click here.

Bullet Catch
Writer and performer Rob Drummond, as his alter ego William Wonder, explores the history of the famous finale magic trick. This Spoleto Festival USA show runs June 5-9 at the Emmet Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston. For ticketing information, click here.

Clybourne Park
Piccolo Spoleto brings us this show, the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Set in Chicago in 2009, the show explores gentrification in Chicago in a modern-day take on Raisin in the Sun. The show runs May 24-26, 28 and 29 at PURE Theatre. For ticketing information, click here.

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson
This rock musical from the Village Repertory Company brands the seventh president as a guitar-playing leader of the American Frontier. This Piccolo Spoleto show runs May 30-June 2 and June 6-8 at the Woolfe Street Playhouse. For ticketing information, click here.

 

Spoleto Festival USA 2013

Spoleto Festival USA 2013 runs from May 24 to June 9 this year, and includes opera, theatre, physical theatre, jazz, dance, music, visual arts, artists talks and other special events.

Spoleto Festival USA 2013

Check out the event schedule or download the brochure for more detailed event information.

Click here for a list of festival venues and information about each, or check out this page for ticketing information.

To get Spoleto Festival USA updates on your Twitter feed, follow @SpoletoFestival.

For more information, visit the Spoleto Festival USA website.

Piccolo Spoleto 2013

This year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival runs from May 24 to June 8, and the lineup includes film and literary events, musical performances, dance, theatre, visual arts, special events, and a whole host of family-friendly and children’s events scattered across the beautiful city of Charleston.

Piccolo Spoleto 2013

Check out the event schedule or download the entire program for event details.

 Pick up a copy of The Post and Courier each day for two recommendations under “Piccolo Picks” and two more suggestions for family-friendly events.

To get Piccolo Spoleto updates on your Twitter feed, follow @Piccolo_Spoleto.

For more information about Piccolo Spoleto Festival, check out their website.

Following the Festivals on Twitter

If you’re planning to follow along with the Spoleto USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival on Twitter this year, be sure to check out our list of must-follow accounts so you get the most up-to-date festival news right in your Twitter feed.

Twitter Bird

For local coverage of the festival, follow the Post and Courier at @postandcourier, and its designated Spoleto account, @spoletochas.

A group of 15 arts journalism master’s students from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School are in town covering the festivals for the Post and Courier. Follow them here: Josh Austin, Nic Bell, Lucia Camargo, Paige Cooperstein, Greg CwikNick DeSantis, Melanie Deziel, Joseph DiDomizioXiaoran DingVinny Huang, Zach Marschall, Alyssa Nappa, Eesha PatkarBriana Prevost and Christina Riley.

You can also subscribe to this Twitter list containing all the arts journalists.

Festival announcements and information will come from the official accounts of Spoleto USA (@SpoletoFestival) and Piccolo Spoleto (@Piccolo_Spoleto).

If you’re looking for other information about the city while you’re in town, follow @CityCharleston@EventCharleston@ExploreCHS and @HistoricChas. To get the weather forecast for Charleston right on your Twitter feed, try CharlestonWeather at @chswx.

 Got another suggestion of a festival must-follow account?
Tweet your suggestions to @spoletochas!