Home Authors Posts by Brooke Porter Katz

Brooke Porter Katz


Light It Up

1. Durham, North Carolina

In Durham, North Carolina, the Hanukkah Festival kicks off December 11. Go for the themed games—Pin the Candle on the Menorah, Ultimate Jewish Tic-Tac-Toe, and more—and stay for the Jewish food. Latkes and hummus abound. levinjcc.org

2. Charleston, South Carolina

Did you know Charleston is home to the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the United States? (The Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, founded in 1749.) Learn more about the city’s rich Jewish history through a special one- or two-night package at the Belmond Charleston Place hotel. It includes a guided tour of significant Jewish sites around town and a chocolate gelt at turndown. belmond.com

3. Decatur, Georgia

Head to Decatur, Georgia, December 10 for an outdoor, kid-friendly Hanukkah party, complete with latkes, entertainment by kid-friendly musician Mr. Michael and the lighting of a ten-foot menorah. chabadintown.org

4. Hallandale Beach, Florida

Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida—home to a horse-race track, casino, shopping center, and more—gets into the Hanukkah spirit with the Chanukah Festival on December 27, organized by Chabad of South Broward. Tens of thousands of people come out for the celebration, which includes the lighting of the state’s largest menorah, an eighteen-foot steel stunner. chanukahfestival.com

5. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Ice on the Landing—an outdoor rink on the Chattanooga, Tennessee, waterfront—is the festive backdrop for Chanukah on Ice, hosted by the Chabad Jewish Center of Chattanooga. Check out the menorah-lighting ceremony before lacing up your skates and hitting the ice. jewishchatt.com 

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

Israeli-born chef Alon Shaya celebrates Hanukkah at his namesake New Orleans restaurant with a special family-style dinner, available  for $75 per person. Expect crispy potato latkes with Bulgarian feta spread, veal brisket schnitzel, and for dessert, a new take on sufganiyot (traditional doughnuts) with candied Satsuma oranges and black tahini gelato. shayarestaurant.com

7. Orlando, Florida

Orlando gets into the Hanukkah spirit with an annual car parade presented by Chabad of South Orlando. Sixty autos cruise around town with colorful menorahs strapped to their roofs and holiday songs playing. jewishorlando.com

8. Birmingham, Alabama

A six-foot spinning dreidel, a Krispy Kreme–themed “Hot Sufganiyot Now” sign, a larger-than-life menorah—it’s all part of the outdoor extravaganza at the “Chanukah House,” a privately owned Birmingham residence. Check it out on your own or during the Wacky Tacky Christmas Lights Tour presented by Fresh Air Family, which takes place December 11, 13, and 14. freshairfamily.org

Ring It In

Break out the Champagne! Welcome the New Year at these toast-worthy Southern celebrations.

EVE–Universal CityWalk’s New Year’s Celebration, Orlando

This popular entertainment district pulls out all the stops on December 31. Expect multiple party zones (each with its own signature drink and entertainment), Orlando’s biggest outdoor dance floor, access to nightlife venues such as the Groove and Red Coconut Club, and, come midnight, Champagne and fireworks. universalorlando.com

Bash on Broadway, Nashville

Now in its ninth year, this annual event on famed Lower Broadway is a music-lover’s fantasy—this year’s headliner is Keith Urban. At midnight, don’t forget to look up: In addition to fireworks, there’s a 115-foot-tall music note “drop” accompanied by the firing of confetti cannons. visitmusiccity.com/newyearseve 

NYE Blast at the Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina

This historic property lets guests experience a cosmopolitan celebration without the Big Apple crowds. Guests who book the New Year’s Eve New York Style package will attend a nightclub-esque dinner and show, complete with a Billy Joel tribute band. Then it’s on to the Grand Ballroom for a Times Square–themed party, featuring a live performance from Oh No Stereo, a silent DJ, and a ball drop. omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park

Yorktown Countdown, Charleston

Every other day of the year, the historic USS Yorktown is packed with sightseers and scout troops. But December 31, the decommissioned World War II aircraft carrier plays host to a massive dance party, featuring bands and DJs playing everything from funk and rock to Top 40 hits. Guests help themselves to an open bar and light snacks. yorktowncountdown.com


This article was originally published in November 2015. Dates have been updated to reflect 2017-18 holiday events.

My Charleston: Darius Rucker

Grammy Award–winning singer and former Hootie and the Blowfish front man Darius Rucker was born and raised in Charleston, and lives there with his family. His third solo country album, True Believers, was released last year.

“I always say we don’t have the number of restaurants that New York has, but the quality rivals it. At FIG, there’s this gnocchi Bolognese, which is the single greatest Italian dish I’ve had. It is absolutely amazing. I tell everyone who comes to town and can’t get a reservation to go sit at the bar just to order it. The seafood is the thing to get at Red Drum. It’s the one place where I get something different every time. For something sweet, there’s Kaminsky’s. They supply desserts to restaurants all over Charles-ton. I love their coconut cake—it’s literally to die for.

I love going to the Windjammer on Isle of Palms to have a beer and listen to a band; they book a lot of national acts. The bar has been there since we were playing clubs back in the early 90s. The great thing about Charleston is you can walk into any of these little restaurants and there is someone playing guitar.

The beaches here are beautiful, and they’re not crowded—even in the main season, you can always find a spot. I love going with my kids to Isle of Palms, Sulli-van’s Island, and Folly Beach. You can do a day trip and just sit on the beach all day, playing and swimming.

I go down to the Battery all the time to walk around with the kids. I took a tour once with Tommy Dew and was blown away. He gets really deep into history and what happened around there. And I love trips to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired.

What I love most about Charleston are the people. Locals always go out of their way to help tourists and others. It has the nicest people in the world, and that’s a fact.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Culture

Nigel Redden is general director of Charleston’s Spoleto Festival and director of Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

“In the performing arts world, Russian violinist Yuriy Bekker recently became the acting artistic director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. The symphony has had some ups and downs and is now on the up—and Yuriy is part of the reason. He’s rethought what a symphony orchestra should be. People often think it’s about having seventy people on stage at one time, but he’s divided it into smaller ensembles that cater to smaller audiences. And his taste in music is broad, which I think reflects Charleston. And the Pure Theatre is a company to think about. Founded in 2003, they do interesting, non-mainstream work in a small space on Upper King.

As far as venues go, I’m looking forward to Gaillard Center, a new performance and event space set to open in spring of 2015. Designed by neoclassical architect David M. Schwarz, it’s going to reflect what Charleston has become, which is a beautiful and sophisticated city.

Last, they’re totally rethinking the Gibbes Art Museum, which is undergoing a complete renovation and is set to reopen in spring of 2016. The first floor will be free to the public, with a new cafe, courtyard, and classroom space. The whole second level, which will showcase the permanent collection, is being redesigned, with better flow and room for more works to be on display. And the third floor will have the special and traveling exhibitions.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Hotels

Kinsey Gidick is a writer and editor at Charleston City Paper, where she handles the Cuisine and Arts sections.

“You can’t overlook the landmark of Charleston Place. After twenty-eight years, it still manages to be Charleston’s most elegant option. There’s a rooftop spa and pool, which continually upgrade and reinvent their services; don’t miss the Moroccan oil massage.

On the corner of Meeting and Market, the Relais & Châteaux Planters Inn remains relevant due to its unflinching commitment to service. That dedication can be seen from the teddy bears that greet you in the rooms to the helpful concierge. And a meal at the on-site Peninsula Grill is much more than the famed coconut cake—trust me.

It could be easy to overlook the HarbourView Inn, tucked down on Vendue, but it’s one of my favorites. The location right on Waterfront Park is fantastic, and this place gets extra points for having spacious rooms, a more-than-helpful front desk staff, and jelly beans in the lobby.

The latest in luxury accommodations to hit the city, Zero George is possibly the most stylish and romantic inn I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly quiet—a surprising retreat in the Ansonborough neighborhood. The tucked-away courtyard encourages sunset happy hours, while the rooms have classic high ceilings.

And all eyes are on the forty-one-room Spectator Hotel, which is scheduled to open in spring of 2015. The boutique property—just one block from the Historic Charleston City Market—aims to be a social gathering place, with a bar serving classic cocktails. But Charleston has a lot of spots known for their cocktail programs, so Spectator will need to up the ante.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Shopping

Ayoka Lucas is founder of Charleston Fashion Week, style director at Charleston Magazine, and a freelance fashion stylist and consultant.

“In the Antique District, the lowest part of King Street, Berlin’s is one of Charleston’s longest-operating stores, open since 1883 and still owned by the Berlin family. The men’s store offers custom suits and designer labels.

Dixie Dunbar is one of the most unique jewelry stores in town. All pieces are handmade by designer Soteria Kontis and feature intricate details like freshwater pearls, metal, leather, silk, and semiprecious stones. This is where you go for a statement piece.

Moving a few blocks north on King, Worthwhile always has an out-of-this-world window display. Thanks to regular buying trips in France, you can expect a variety of Parisian finds and other trinkets from abroad. At Croghan’s Jewel Box, which has been in business for more than 100 years, you’ll find high-end pieces and estate jewelry, plus opulent dining sets and a solid collection of men’s watches. For fashions from Alexander Wang, Carven, and the like, there’s Hampden. They also have an accessories and shoe store next door. Another longtime local favorite is Copper Penny, an upscale women’s boutique.

Upper King has been gaining speed over the last few years. Jamie Lin Snider—the owner and designer at JLINSNIDER—is the darling of Upper King, welcoming customers into a universe of vintage Gucci, YSL, and Dior. It’s not uncommon to walk into a happening party in the back courtyard, complete with a graffiti wall and a DJ. I love her collection of African dashikis.

Located in a cozy space, Ellington (843-722-7999) is filled with exclusive designers such as Planet, Babette, Emmelle, and Matti Mamane. You’ll find unique textures and silhouettes mixed in with basic wardrobe essentials and bold accessories.

Just off Upper King in Cannonborough, Indigo & Cotton is a stellar menswear store—the go-to shop for hipsters and prepsters alike. In addition to great brands like The Hill-Side, Imogene & Willie, and Engineered Garments, I love the variety of accessories, from ties to socks. Nearby, Mac & Murphy, set in a charismatic century-old refurbished storefront, carries a wonderful variety of stationery and accessories. There is wall-to-wall charm, with paper goods from top lines such as Kate Spade, Jack and Lulu, and Rifle Paper Co.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Dining

Charleston natives and brothers Matt and Ted Lee are the authors of three cookbooks, most recently The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.

“Dave’s Carry Out (843-577-7943) is a classic that’s totally worth it. It’s charming and does the fried fish and traditional Low Country thing. They also do amazing seafood platters. There are just a couple of tables, so it’s mostly take-out. Bowens Island Restaurant is another classic. The oyster roast is one of its great distinctive features; it’s one of the only places you can experience that kind of roast without being invited to a person’s house. The place to lunch downtown is Slightly North of Broad—better known as SNOB—which opened in the late 1980s and has a dedicated local clientele. Frank Lee has been one of the most consistent, true Low Country chefs; the shrimp and gritsis ironclad.

As for what’s new, we’re in a mode where people from the beverage industry are opening restaurants. Leon’s is a brand-new oyster hall from Brooks Reitz, the former bar manager at FIG and manager of The Ordinary. Patrick and Fanny Panella, who own the high-end wine bar Bin 152, recently opened Chez Nous (843-579-3060) in a romantic old Charleston alley. They tricked it out beautifully, and the food is not your stuffy French cuisine. The daily-changing menu also focuses on Italian- and Spanish-influenced dishes. And Edmund’s Oast is the brainchild of the two bearded dudes who run the craft-brew retailer Beer Exchange. Their pickled shrimp toast is the defining dish and sends the message that this is a freethinking kitchen. It’ll be interesting to see what Chef Andy Henderson does in the future. And this fall, they’re expanding with an outdoor bar and a covered dining area called The Bower.

The Palace Hotel (843-501-7994) is carving out a whole new neighborhood on the east side for fine food. Chef Blake Joyal, the former butcher at FIG, is stepping up hot dogs with toppings like wasabi nori, kimchi, and red-curry mango. A few blocks away, Butcher and Bee feels like a food lab, with a lot of collaborative special dinner events and pop-ups. It’s open from 11:00 to 3:00 two times a day, so it’s a lunch place that does late nights for people in the food and beverage world. We usually get a midday sandwich and kick-ass salad with ingredients like pomegranate seeds and other ingredients you don’t normally see here.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: History

Kitty Robinson is the executive director of the Historic Charleston Foundation.

“I like to think of Charleston as America’s most historic city. The most prominent house museum is the grand, Federal-style Nathaniel Russell House, which is set on one of the largest lots in the historic district. Known for its free-flying curving staircase, it’s furnished with period pieces dating back to 1808. And the garden there is my favorite in town; we keep it planted year-round.

Each spring we have the month-long Festival of Houses and Gardens, when the public is invited to go inside the private residences and gardens that are hidden behind the brickwork. Tickets go on sale November 1.

About twenty-five minutes from downtown, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens has extensive gardens, with some parts dating back more than 300 years. There are many varieties of camellias and azaleas, flowers that were first planted when Charleston was founded as a port city.

We’re bringing history into the digital age at the Aiken-Rhett House. The former governor’s mansion has been called an urban plantation, with a main house and properties in the back where enslaved Africans would have lived. We are creating a 3-D rendering of how the drawing room would have appeared in the 1800s—complete with paint finishes, wallpaper, furniture, and curtains—which will be displayed on a touch-screen computer.”



What’s Classic and What’s Coming: Nightlife

Timmons Pettigrew is the author of Charleston Beer and founder of CHSBeer.org.

“Charleston’s nightlife scene has undergone a shift in recent years, with the emphasis moving from dive-y bars to more high-end cocktail joints. But there are still some traditional spots that do it well. In Charleston Place Hotel, Thoroughbred Club is old school in all the right ways. It’s the ideal spot for a pre-dinner drink—with or without a jacket—before eating at Charleston Grill. For something off-the-beaten-path of downtown, there’s Gene’s Haufbrau (843-225-4363), the oldest continually operating bar in town. Head here for board games and beer. If you prefer inventive cocktails, the speakeasy-inspired Gin Joint recently opened on East Bay Street. The ‘Bartender’s Choice’ section on the menu lets you order by adjectives like fizzy and spicy, which they’ll use to mix up something special. And local bartenders love The Belmont on Upper King. Men in ties pour classic cocktails and extensive spirits while an Afrobeat soundtrack plays and black-and-white movies are projected on the wall. Order a whiskey and the housemade pop-tart.”

What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Architecture

John Hildreth is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Office.

“King Street itself is this great slice of the city. The nineteenth-century Miles Brewton House on 27 King Street is spectacular, and the architecture is so well-preserved. It’s privately owned, but it’s great to ponder from outside the incredible wrought-iron fence. The moldings on the cornices are intricately hand-carved with Georgian details.

Farther up King, across the street from the Charleston Library Society, is this easy-to-miss path that meanders into the graveyard of the Gothic Revival–style Unitarian Church. The interior has these slender floor-to-ceiling columns that fan out into intricately designed plaster arches, which intersect across the ceiling. The churchyard itself is this wild and romantic little garden that totally takes you into another place.

Another sliver of architectural history is Philip Simmons Museum House; some of the Gullah tour groups stop there. Simmons, who passed away a few years ago, was a Smithsonian fellow who designed wrought-iron fences and gates. It’s a great spot that shows why Charleston looks the way it does.

A few blocks from there is the historic Cigar Factory. After standing vacant for many years, it’s now being completely redeveloped with retail, office, and event space. It’s probably the biggest private commercial rehab in the city’s history. When it opens [this fall], it’s going to be a great addition.

And this is going to seem funny, but the Ravenel Bridge, which opened in 2005, is an important development. It has a dramatic, modern design, but I love that there’s pedestrian and bicycle access, which has spectacular views of the harbor and the peninsula. There are people on that bridge at all hours.”

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