Friday, April 29, 2011

Music Scene: Steven Fiore at Eye Level Art

My dear friend Sabrina invited me and the boyfriend to come watch her boyfriend play some music at Eye Level Art last night.

Let me just say: WOW.


Steven Fiore is a local musician who has instantly become one of my favorite Charleston artists. The rustic charm of Eye Level Art was the perfect setting for Fiore's energetic, folksy music. It's romantic, exciting, fresh, and best of all, originial.

My parent's generation was spoiled with the music of their day; Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and others all had hits coming out one right after the other. They didn't have to wait for the single track to drop that carried the weight of the album - the entire albums were all made of hits. In today's music world there is so much technology that tries to "enhance" the singer's voice and music that it ends up falling flat. Fiore's talent needs no such enhancements. Unless, of course, you add the voice of another talented artist, Hayley Shaw, whose vocal harmonies are almost like another instrument in Fiore's band.

So if you're in the mood for some local flavor and good music, keep an eye out for when Steven Fiore is playing next. He'll rock your socks off.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bottles n Brushes

I am a horrible artist.

In elementary school I almost got a C in Art class. Yes, elementary school. Isn't art supposed to be objective?

Fast forward 20 or so years, add a bottle of wine, and presto! I am an artist.

At least, that's how the folks at Bottles n Brushes make you feel after you leave an evening with them.

My mom came into town for some much needed mother-daughter bonding time. Our normal routine when she visits is sun-bathing at the beach (when it's warm enough), shopping, dinner, and lounging while watching tv and movies. My idea of a perfect weekend.

But my perfect weekend became even more perfect when we kicked it up a notch and added a twist to our plans and tried our hands at painting at Bottles n Brushes. Neither of us are very artistic, yet we entered the class without the slightest bit of trepidation. We took our seats after I ordered a glass of wine, but the girls behind the counter gave me a bottle instead. I didn't mind as I had some catching up to do (mom doesn't drink, so I drank least, alone in our group. The rest of the class was already two sheets to the wind by the time we picked up our paintbrushes, dabbed them in paint, and smoothed them across the canvas).

Letting my creative "juices" flow through me, I was pleasantly surprised with how my painting turned out after helpful hints from the evening's artist. It's amazing how we all painted the same thing, yet every painting looked completely different:

My painting.

Mom's whimsical interpretation.

If you're in the mood for a girls night out, an evening to challenge your creative-side, and some wine to soothe your mind and soul, Bottles n Brushes is the place to be.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Il Cortile Del Re

After a week long of travel for work, I wanted to welcome my boyfriend home with a nice evening out at a restaurant we've always wanted to try: Il Cortile Del Re. This Italian eatery offers rustic charm in the heart of Downtown Charleston. One draw to this King Street ristorante is its precedent: Pane e Vino on Warren Street. Pane e Vino has been one of our favorites for date night, and since the owner formerly owned Il Cortile del Re, we knew we'd have to give it a go.

We were shocked that we were able to get a table at 8 o'clock on a Friday night. The place was packed with locals and visitors alike, most likely fueling their bodies for the impending Cooper River Bridge Run on Saturday morning. Luckily, we were able to secure a table right by the kitchen. Normally I would have been a bit perturbed by the rushing back-and-forth of the waiters, but I was too excited to be trying a new restaurant with my newly returned BF.

As we surveyed the menus we asked the waiter what he thought of their house red. He said he would be wasting our time and his if he brought it out for us to try, but we pressed for it anyway. I took a sip and immediately wanted to spit it out; it tasted like someone had filled the bottle with Skittles candy it was so sweet. We returned the wine and upgraded to a nice bottle of Chianti instead.

Matt was in the mood for a nice steak (ok, Italian probably was not the best place to go), but his Filetto di Manzo al Gorgonzola (beef tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and haricot verts) was juicy and tender to his liking. The gorgonzola sauce was a nice surprise to top off the beef.

I ordered the Penne al Tre Sapori (penne pasta with sauteed asparagus, pancetta and wild mushrooms in a light cream sauce.) What I loved about this dish was the portion; most pasta dishes these days seem to be never ending bowls, but this was the perfect amount. It left me feeling satiated, not full, and not needing more. The sauce truly was light and not too heavy, and each bite with the freshly grated parmesan was heaven in my mouth.

All in all we were very pleased with the experience. The atmosphere, food, and service are three reasons why we will be coming back.