A Love Letter from Mackenzie Foster

Mackenzie:

“Why would anyone want to leave this wonderful city?” is a question I hear frequently from visiting friends and family.  They are always in awe of the warm sunshine, the diverse restaurant scene, and the abundance of things to do. While I don’t have good answer to their question, I can say that I was one of the ones who left. After four years at the College of Charleston, studying for midterms, lying on the grass at Marion Square, countless hours at the beach, and playing Ultimate Frisbee outdoors all year round, I graduated, packed up, and moved to Chicago. Cold, snowy, eight-months-of-winter, Chicago. My five years in the Windy City were filled new experiences, lots of fun, and many lessons learned, but I do have to admit that moving back to Charleston was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Luckily, the Lowcountry welcomed me back with open arms. My departure and return enabled me to see the Lowcountry in a whole new “rose colored glasses” kind of light. While sitting down to write this post I made a list of all the things that I love about the Lowcountry and what makes it unique (it was a little extensive…). There were many topics that have already been mentioned on Lowcountry Love Letters (including some of my faves- the beauty of brunch, the growing craft brewery scene, and of course the beach) so I narrowed my list to three.

1) People

There is nothing comparable to the people you meet in the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” motto is spot on. Upon my return, I immediately appreciated the warm feeling of walking down the street and having complete strangers smile and say hello. While the rest of the country sometimes thinks this is strange, here Southern kindness reigns. I was very impressed by my neighbors who are always willing to lend a helping hand, my coworkers who understand that family comes first, and my friends who are always there when I need them. I get laughed at from my Chicago friends when I tell them I am baking a pie or a casserole to bring to a friend or that a friend is cooking me dinner, but this is just the way people in the Lowcountry treat each other.

Our annual Charleston family Easter took place yesterday, where of course, Mackenzie brought two grits dishes.

2) Pace

When I first moved to Chicago, I worked with a group of individuals from New York who were opening a Broadway musical in the Windy City. I was in the throws of learning the lifestyle differences between what I have always known and what I would need to quickly pick up. One instance stuck out in particular; while driving with a coworker, I was informed that my driving style could be described as “moseying” (he was a little terrified of the defensive drivers). While at the time I was extremely offended, I have now learned to appreciate the notion of “stopping to smell the roses”. Most of those that I have met upon my return to the Lowcountry have perfected the art of a work-life balance. They understand the beauty of sitting on the porch with a cold beverage, watching the world go by, or taking a long slow stroll down the beach while catching up with a friend.  In a city filled with such beauty, it seems as though the inhabitants ensure that they take in and appreciate all that the Lowcountry has to offer.

3) Culture
As someone who has a background in theatre and the arts, I understand the South is sometimes perceived as having limited options when it comes to the world of art. Luckily, Charleston does not follow suit. We have Spoleto Festival USA, (which is coming up quickly!) offering seventeen days of world-renowned artists who come in from all over the globe to present dance, theatre, opera, and music.  We have the French Quarter Art Walk happening four times a year, touring Broadway shows coming through the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (Phantom of the Opera going on now!), contemporary art centers like Redux and The Halsey Institute, Reggae Nights Summer concerts, improv at Theatre 99, dance projects like DanceFX, concerts at the Charleston Music Hall or the Music Farm and the list continues. There is always something new and fun to experience.

Bio (by Emily):
Mackenzie lives in Mt. Pleasant with her diva cat, Lucille. She spends her days running the world of set design and production for various projects that include Spoleto, President Obama's visit last year, Darius Rucker's surprise CMT concert on the Isle of Palms and more. Her evenings and weekends are filled with outdoor adventures, glorious first sips of champagne, and bad television with her best girlfriends.

An Ode to Lowcountry Brunch

Yesterday morning, as I was sitting at the Dunes studio watching all the lovely people walk down King Street, (really though, I want to run after at least half of you asking you where you bought that dress), my stomach started grumbling just thinking of all the places they might be heading to chow down for brunch. Kitchen 208, The Macintosh, HoM, Hall's Chophouse, Hominy Grill,  Prohibition- and those are just some of the spots within walking distance of here. So, I put on the Pandora brunch playlist and began to reminisce on the brunches past:

Prohibition
While I love a good brunch downtown, I'm not always in the mood to wait (read: hangry). My first experience at Prohibition's brunch was A+. We were seated immediately at an outdoor table with amazing ambiance, the server was on top of everything, and the food was delish. We tried the Huevos Rancheros, Duck Hash, and may have had a carafe or two of mimosas. You could practically spend the day here, refilling those carafes, catching up with friends, and keeping silly Monday off your brain.

Water's Edge
Did someone say buffet and bloody mary bar? If you're into watching dolphins frolic in Shem Creek while you're dining, then this is your spot. My favorite memory here was a warm day in December, sitting outside with my husband, while we took turns filling our plates up and discussing how lucky we felt to be living this life together. While most places open their doors around 11am, Water's Edge is open at 10am, ready to work on your fresh omelet, made to order.

My husband, Trevor, dolphin watching on Shem Creek.

My husband, Trevor, dolphin watching on Shem Creek.

 

Moe's Crosstown
Feeling a little rough from last night's fun? Well, I've got the perfect place to heal you- and don't worry about dressing up or bright lights- jeans and a t-shirt are accepted and it's as dark inside as it was when you got home last night. With pancake specials that change every week (I'll never forget you Cinnamon Toast Crunch special) and the Kitchen Sink that covers every item you would ever want for brunch as one menu item, Moe's will please everyone. Get there when the doors open and have your whole party ready to be seated. This place fills up fast.

The Granary
Yes, I believe I'll have the Duck & Waffles, please and thank you, sir. A new take on traditional brunch menus, where there's easy parking, reservations available, and a slew of options that will certainly make your mouth water. Upon one visit, my family ordered several plates, sharing everything from Pork Belly Biscuits & Gravy to Nutella Waffles. Bonus: My nephew was less than a year old at the time, and it was very kid friendly.

My adorable, toothless, nephew, Daemon, considering his brunch options.

My adorable, toothless, nephew, Daemon, considering his brunch options.

 

Triangle
Anyone who knows me has probably been reading this post up to this point and thought, "Where is Triangle?!" Saved the best for last, y'all. We were drawn in by the $1 mimosas and kept coming back for the cheese grits, speciality omelets, and the warmness of their staff to seat all 8...12... 20 of us. Over the past five years, I can't tell you how many times I've eaten here for brunch, but I can at least try to touch on how many memories I've shared at the Mt. Pleasant location with friends and family: My friend's kids have grown up here. We've celebrated birthdays and engagements. We've said hello to Darius. We've broken a few glasses (sorry, Melissa!). But, most of all we've had a place to go when we needed a space to laugh loudly and enjoy our Sundays as the family we've so fortunately formed through the years.

Hannah, Kristen, Hadley, Avery, Emily, Oren, Brooklyn, and Trevor enjoying Triangle before a Sunday trip to the beach.

Hannah, Kristen, Hadley, Avery, Emily, Oren, Brooklyn, and Trevor enjoying Triangle before a Sunday trip to the beach.

 

Did I even really know what brunch was before I moved here? Do other cities embrace brunch with such gumption? We're so fortunate to have all these amazing offerings and more to enjoy every Sunday. Brunch, I love you. See you next week.