Photographer Ben Ham recently established a gallery at 416 King Street, near Blue Bicycle Books and across the street from Art Mecca of Charleston. I can’t tell you how beautiful and well presented is his work, or how fortunate we are to have his gallery in Charleston. Inspired by Ansel Adams, Ham works exclusively with a large format wooden field camera, masterfully capturing nature on black and white sheet film. His “eye” is magic, and his large scale photographs are nothing short of masterpieces. Don’t miss his grand opening January 17, which also happens to be the day of the next Upper King Design District Shop & Stroll.
According to my out of town sources, I outdid myself in the gift department this year with very Charleston gift collections. People either fondly remember visits to Charleston or are planning one in the near future. In either case Charleston-inspired gifts are, well, inspired. There’s an additional bonus because you end up keeping one of everything for yourself, and we have some really good stuff. Gift giving goes on year-round, so here’s inspiration.
Packages of roasted coffee beans (or ground to order) from Good Coffee of Charleston. For me they selected Indonesian Sumatra, Rainforest Alliance Antiqua and Ethiopian Yergacheffe; always trust the experts when experts are available. You may know that Good Coffee’s parent organization, also located in their Fulton Street building, is one of the largest importers of green coffee beans in the country, Balzac Brothers.
Bottles of Solerno Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 18 Year Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Lowcountry Olive Oil’s brand new Tasting Shop at the corner of Society and Meeting Streets. Again, I asked the expert to choose and Laurie Benjamin took good care of me. While she wrapped, I tasted. Over half their premium olive oils and vinegars are blended locally, earning them an SC Certified designation.
Savannah Bee Company has one of the most beautiful shops on King Street and also the most beautiful packaging. Their Charleston Honey is perfect and makes the basket look great. Sweet.
There’s a scene in the movie City of Angels where angel Nicholas Cage asks the little kid he’s escorting to heaven what she liked best about living. She replies “pajamas.” Cute, but my answer would be barbecue. Nick’s on King Street is my favorite, pulled chicken sandwich to be precise. Not an easy thing to put in a gift collection but their cheese biscuit mix and barbecue sauce is.
When you sniff Charleston Original Sauces Hot Sauce, you’ll understand why it’s a mouth-watering experience rather than an eye-watering one. It’s quite tasty, even for people who don’t care for hot sauces or make the Market Street Pepper Palace a weekly stop. Always in every gift basket.
Including the new King Street Cookies at 370 King makes a gift basket a little more perishable, but well worth the rush delivery. Open 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM daily and with over two dozen varieties of freshly baked cookies, it’s an easy choice. They have all the classics plus some unusual entries like spicy hot chocolate and salted caramel.
Christophe Artisan Chocolatier at 90 Society Street has supplied my loved ones with chocolate for every gift giving occasion since they opened. I love their ornamental, hand-painted chocolate balls for table favors.
Because Le Creuset headquarters in Charleston and I love their fine and colorful cookware, I consider them local. Into each gift box goes a kitchen accessory, serving dish or for the lucky ones a casserole or French oven.
Lucky us. Happy New Year!