Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Former Queens College stars remember first women’s hoops game at MSG

Here is the edited article as it appears in the online edition of the Times Ledger

History was made on Feb. 22, 1975 when the Queens College women’s basketball was part of the first women’s hoops game at Madison Square Garden. The inaugural game against Immaculata may have been a 65-61 loss, but to coach Lucille Kyvallos, it was a win for women’s equality in sports.

History will repeat itself this Sunday when the two teams square off again at MSG as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first game. The game will start at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by the featured contest between St. John’s University and University of Connecticut at 1 p.m. Queens College is 7-2 overall and 4-0 in East Coast Conference play.

The Knights taking the court again at Madison Square Garden brings back fond memories to those who were there back in 1975. Donna Chait (Orender) remembers that day and the crowd of more than 12,000 like it was yesterday. She can still hear Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman” and the sense of importance surrounding the game.

“That game was truly a milestone event in women’s basketball as well as all of sports,” said Orender, the former president of the WNBA. “To play in the mecca of basketball, to break the gender barrier if you will, was remarkable. The excitement around the game is something I will never forget.”

Teammate Gail Marquis went on to make her mark as a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team that earned a silver medal. She also was a member of the first women’s professional basketball team, the New York Stars of the Women’s Basketball League, to call Madison Square Garden their home court and won a championship in 1980. Even with all she accomplished, playing on the Madison Square Garden floor with Queens College was the thrill of a lifetime.

“I was a teenager on the same court as some of my pro basketball favorites like Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe,” Marquis said. “And as I was warming up, I did think about being a woman in a man’s world and taking a small step forward to make it equal for all of us.”

Sharon Manning went from player to eventual Queens College head coach in 1982, and from 1999-2002, she served as the head women’s basketball coach at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is currently the athletic director of the College of New Jersey. She, Maryann Jecewiz, and a few of their other former teammates plan on attending the game at Madison Square Garden Sunday. There will certainly be plenty of reminiscing going on.

The year after the inaugural game, Queens College played against Delta at Madison Square Garden. Margaret Wade, coach of Delta, and Rob Franklin, head of collegiate basketball at MSG, presented an award in recognition to Kyvallos for bringing women’s college basketball to MSG and to national recognition.

“I remember my first interview for a coaching position,” Jecewiz said. “The athletic director said to me ‘You played for Lucille Kyvallos. This position is yours if you want it.’ That is what an influence Kyvallos had.”

Monday, December 29, 2014


It will be 40 years since women’s basketball was first introduced at Madison Square Garden as the commemorative event will occur on Jan.4th.   Head Coach Lucille Kyvallos lead the Queens College 1975 team to this historic day.  How did it all occur?

“In order to promote girls' and women's basketball  I brought the  AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship to Queens College and the New York metropolitan area in 1973,” Kyvallos said. I calculated that this event would serve as a model and learning experience for girls' high schools and women's college basketball programs that were emerging at the time in the area.”

Sixteen teams from all regions of the United States qualified for a spot in this National Championship. Teams from as far west as California and as far south as Texas traveled to compete in this Championship.”

The media response was astonishing due to the work of our SID, Ed Jawarski.  Radio, television and newsprint, interviewed coaches and players, and covered games reporting and narrating the results of the games and the exciting level of competitiveness and performances of players and teams.”

Spectators filled the Queens College gymnasium during the course of the tournament games and there was standing room only for the final championship game between Queens College and Immaculata College. It was an exciting championship game with IC beating QC and becoming the 1973 AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Champions.”

The following year in a regularly scheduled game Queens College beat the two-time National Champs, Immaculata College,  breaking their 2 1/2 year win streak. This monumental achievement was major news and quickly reached all corners of the country.”

Propelled by the excitement and interest in the 1973 AIAW National Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship and by the QC win over IC, MSG contacted me inviting Queens College to play in the famous arena and to select the opponent of their own choice.  I realized the national and historical significance of this opportunity to play in MSG, and, chose as
opponent Immaculata College.”

The day of the game QC and IC took the floor before close to 12,000 spectators. The lead changed hands continuously and the noise was deafening. At the end QC lost to IC by 5 points but the success of this game set the stage for several (I think 4) more years of women's collegiate basketball in MSG.”

The significance of this game in MSG, with the nation watching, was groundbreaking, historical in scope, and a tangible model for young girls and women to aspire. It paved the way, opened up new avenues for athletic programs and athletic development for girls and women to become skillful and disciplined in sport endeavors.”

And now 40 years later this event is celebrated as a groundbreaking occurrence in the history of women's collegiate basketball.”
Bet Naumovski, the present QC Women's Basketball coach will vie a game between QC and
Immaculata.  What is Kyvallos’ take on Bet?  “She is doing a great job and has lifted the standard of 
the program to a superior level of excellence.  Her current record of 7-2 and 4-0 in her conference is 
very impressive.  She did a great job last year and was selected coach of the year in her conference.”
The hype of QC’s team is the Rowland sisters, Madison and MacKenzie, who have been playing
basketball with each other since childhood.  They tend to score doubles-doubles in the games. 
Madison has gotten much kudos, although MacKenzie, the older one, doesn’t lag behind. 
Both are totally excited about being able to play at MSG.
Naumovski has been coaching basketball for about 17 years, four with this team.  “I am preparing just
like any other game,” said Bet. “The team is emotionally ready and not overexcited. I did have 
experience coaching a team at an arena in Toronto as well as having attended NY Liberty games. 
That’s about all in terms of large sports complexes.  Aside from exercising, there will be no practice 
time at MSG. We are all looking forward to this historic game and representing CUNY.”  

The game is part of the Maggie Dixon Classic and is a doubleheader with St. John's and UConn. Floor seats start at $20 and can be purchased by logging on to


Downton Abbey fans, get ready for season 5 of this addicting British Comedy-Drama on PBS.  I had the opportunity of attending an event in Manhattan.  I’ll let you hear about from my friend, Enid.

“So I admit it.....I adore Downton Abbey! I wish it aired more episodes and didn't have to wait so long between seasons.  I blame my friend, Doreen, for getting me hooked on it. When she and her husband, Jeff, were watching the first season, she kept raving about the show, but I was kind of resistant. After the season aired, Doreen ordered the DVD from PBS and loaned it to me. I decided to see why they were so enthralled with the show, so one day I loaded the disc into my laptop and ended up binge-watching the entire first season in one sitting. I was hooked! Been eagerly anticipating every season since, plus watching reruns whenever I can.”

Now my dear friend, Merle, who I've known over fifty years (!!!), patiently listened to my kudos for Downton Abbey. Being a journalist, she was able to obtain past seasons of DA through PBS, and guess what? Yup, she got hooked! So fast-forward a year, and Merle gets an invitation from PBS for a media event in NYC to preview the upcoming fifth season of Downton Abbey, and some of the cast will be on a panel onstage for Q&A. Turns out, she can bring a guest!”

Helllloooooo! Guess who got to attend as her guest?? I was so excited! We met up at the lobby of the theater where the event was being held, and there were life-sized cardboard cutouts of some of the major players (Lady Mary, Lady Edith, Carson), so we took some photos of us with them. 

We had some hors d'oeuvres and drinks and went to our seats. The orchestra level of the theatre was where the show's sponsors were seated, and the media people were on the first mezzanine. Great seats, by the way, except for the long steep staircase to climb up there.”

Anyway, the event began with two women from PBS talking about upcoming new PBS shows this season (a few looked interesting… may check them out), and then they showed the first episode of DA's new season, which begins Jan. 4th. After that, they introduced the moderator of the panel -- Jenna Bush Hager, and she introduced Alistair Bruce, the show's historical consultant, then the actors who portray Mrs. Hughes, Lady Edith, Lord Grantham, Thomas (booooo!), Mrs. Patmore, and then Gareth Neame, the producer.”

The actors look so amazingly different out of their DA personas! The moderator asked questions of each of the panelists and the audience was just eating it up! Alistair Bruce offered so much information about the attention to detail within the show's production, and the cast was personable and funny. Merle and I were snapping photos constantly. At the conclusion, we made it back down the long steep staircase and then were offered handouts of hundreds of individual DA teabags and coasters, plus cookies with the PBS logo and a tag for another upcoming show (a British baking show).”

While we were standing outside, who walks out but "Thomas", and then "Lord Grantham" (Hugh Bonneville), and then "Mrs. Patmore"! Merle starts talking to Hugh Bonneville about how she adores "Notting Hill", a movie from 1999 in which he appeared, and which she has seen 25 times. He looks at her and replies, "You poor sad woman!" Too funny! And then - duh!- neither Merle nor I had the brains to take out our cameras and snap photos of him standing right next to us!!!!! Stupid stupid stupid!! Anyway, it was an amazing night and I'll never forget it, with many thanks to my dear friend Merle.”

Following the season’s first episode, watch “The Manners of Downton Abbey”.   Starting, Jan.18th, a new Masterpiece mystery, “Grantchester” will follow Downton Abbey.  A preview was shown at the event and can be seen online.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Olive Garden opened a new location in Elmhurst, near the Queens Mall.  What once was a much needed parking lot now houses three restaurants.  Olive Garden is one of them.  I walk with a cane.
It is lunchtime and after a few hours of shopping decided to have what we thought would be a light lunch.  It turned into a “heavy meal”, as my friend Deveka said.  Entering from the parking lot I found myself in what looks like their lounge area.  It is also the entrance if you want something “to go”.  

The person behind the counter does not acknowledge my presence….like asking if I am looking to get a table.  There is someone at the bar….she says nothing.  I noticed that there were tables in this area and people were eating.  Looking further I saw someone in front of a podium and concluded that it must be the host.  I hobbled over waiting for Devaka to enter as she was still parking the car.   As Deveka approached I told the host that there would be two people.  She conferred with the person doing the seating.   “Follow me”, she said.  We walked passed one room into the next and noticed that there was an open table right there.  However, the “seater” continued up the aisle to a much further table.

“Can’t we have this table?” I asked.  She came back by telling me that she was seating me there so that I could be closer to the restroom since I was walking with a cane.   Where she was seating us was further from the restroom but I couldn’t help but come back with “Do you think that because I have a cane that I automatically need to pee?”

The reality was that none of these people gave a flying chick about my disability.  It was about who waits on what table.  In fact, when my waitperson came over I asked what her “territory” was and did not include the table in “Canarsie”. 

Deveka and I each ordered the “quick lunch” of the all-you-can eat soup, salad and breadsticks.  Salad comes out.  It consists of iceberg lettuce (the cheapest and least nutritious possible) along with plenty of sliced red onions, a pinch of red cabbage, two olives and two thin slices of tomato.   Wait for it….wait for it.

They only allow one slice of tomato and one olive per person unless you ask.   When we requested the second bowl of salad, we requested extra tomato and black olives (you know…that canned stuff).  This time there was a total of two slices of tomato for each and two olives for each.   Picture a group of people at a table with a bowl of salad.   Does that conversation have to turn to being diplomatic and making sure that no one gets more than their share?

It doesn’t end here.  Wait for it….wait for it.   I had ordered chicken soup with gnocci.  That seemed to be okay.   Deveka first order a different soup but also decided to have a second one of the c with g and I ordered a refill.  Both bowls arrived minus the gnocci.   Yes, there were apologies from the kitchen manager and the food manager.  I mean, how to you serve a simple soup without one of the main ingredients? Where is Gordon Ramsay when you need him?

Visit to the ladies room.   One stall had no toilet paper despite there being a dispenser that holds two.  No paper seat covers either.  Thank goodness I was able to get the “wipes” hanging down from the stall abutting. 

Back to the table to hear the person seated just across from me complaining about something.  I had to ask.  Her salad arrived with the core of the lettuce and brown.   The part that was supposed to be thrown away was dumped into the salad.

As for the food…it’s one above fast food. 

Here is the killer.  As we were leaving the restaurant via the same entrance we came into I notice that there was a restroom right there designated for handicapped people! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Jet Blue has been offering some low one way fares from JFK to Charleston, South Carolina.   I checked some dates to find it at $59 at one point and went for it.   This also gave me the opportunity to visit with my niece, Dawn who lives about a half hour away.   It was like a “take your niece to work week” as we spent four days romping around and especially my wanting to focus on the cuisine as well as a bit of history.

Day 1
Dawn met me at the airport where I took Charleston Green Taxi ( to Governor’s House Inn, located at 117 Broad Street.  The house is the former residence of Governor Edward Rutledge, the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence.  There were a few rooms located on the terrace level, which was down a few steps, on the side of the main house and having my own entrance and private porch. 

Having arrived at around 11 a.m. I was able to check in early.   We then walked to the nearest trolley stop as the city utilizes a free trolley system as one of the means of getting around both the historic district and an area on the west end.  

Vendue Inn at 19 Vendue Range, located near Waterfront Park, was the destination as lunch was scheduled at their restaurant, The Rooftop.  It had a great view

but with the day being rainy and cold, we sat inside and met with Bryan Hunter.  I wanted to get a decent sampling of the menu first choosing three appetizers (We all shared).  Holy City (as Charleston is known as) Heirloom Tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and baby lettuce was one of the appetizers. 

Ceviche of local seafood had wonton chips for scooping.  Braised Short Rib of Beef came along with heirloom tomatoes and a parmesan basket. 

I was also interested in their Cuban Sandwich, an item that I wouldn’t expect to be on the menu.  The waiter said that the roast pork was made with cumin, something that I cannot eat.  The chef offered to use chicken instead.  Now you have the chicken, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles.  We all thought that it was a great alternative.   I’m calling it the Cubicken! 

Had to have dessert. Chocolate Ganache Torte with berries and hazelnut cream was one.  We also sampled the Mason Jar Pies of chocolate cream, strawberry and rhubarb, and chocolate cream.  Of the four desserts, the Torte topped the taste buds. 

Since the hotel has an emphasis on art, we took a tour of the first floor flair.

On the way back to the trolley stop, we were passing a sort of “space”…rather than a store…where a woman was weaving baskets made from sweetgrass.  I read, “One of the oldest handcrafts of African origin in the United States is the hand-woven winnowing sieve, a shallow basket that was used during the Colonia Era to separate the rice seed from its chaff.

Made in Charleston from indigenous bulrush, a strong yet supple grass that thrives in the sandy soil of the coastal region, sweetgrass baskets are now among the nation’s most prized cultural souvenirs.”   I did not purchase anything as I have too many things I’ve collected over the years.   I later found many places where both men and women were weaving these baskets and all for sale.
In fact, we boarded the trolley and headed for the Charleston City Market.   Mostly to get out from the rain.  The market stretches for four city blocks from the architecturally-significant Market Hall, which faces Meeting Street, through a continuous series of one-story market sheds, the last of which terminates at East Bay Street.  There seemed to be more than 30 tables of baskets.  Variety of items all certified to be made in Charleston. 

Taxied back to the hotel to relax and have “tea” and some other tasty offerings before going to dinner at the Blind Tiger Pub at 30 Broad Street.  Since we were on Broad Street I didn’t realize how many long blocks it was and after doing all that walking around the market it was a bit of a schlep for me…but not for Dawn.  Oh, to be in my 30s again.  If it weren’t for the weather we would have eaten in their outdoor area in the back.  Great spot!!!  Pub-ish.  Wanting to take in the low country cuisine we had: fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, crab cake, and fresh tuna.  The tomatoes were topped with goat cheese, basil aioli, and cucumber roasted corn relish.  


End of the day and enjoyed that much needed night’s sleep.  I don’t know if they had mosquitos or what but between the room I was staying at and going to that outdoor area, I was bit all over my arms. 

Day 2

I could have had breakfast delivered but opted to go to the main house to take photos as well. Breakfast consisted of: white cranberry juice, eggs over easy, biscuit, bacon, diced potatoes, fresh fruit, and tea. 

Dawn arrived and now off to Palmetto Carriage Works for a tour.  A must to check out the Big Red Barn.  Very cold morning!  Was given blankets.  Thank goodness I was wearing a long sleeved corduroy shirt and my NY Giants heavy jacket with a hood!  Dawn required two blankets.   We loved the tour.  Great way to hear the history of the area and opportunity to view all these history homes and mansions.  There are other carriage tours but this particular company is well known for taking great care of their horses.

Lunchtime but not really hungry.  Dawn wanted me to try the pizza at this particular place just across the way from Palmetto Carriage Works.  Thin but not crispy crust like the way they make in Naples, Italy.

Taxi back to Governors House Inn, pick up luggage and go to my next overnight, Two Meeting Street Inn located at 2 Meeting Street and South Battery.  Who wouldn’t want to stay here?  Here is the history.  According to tradition, Waring Carrington, a successful Charleston SC jeweler, experienced love at first sight when he saw young Martha Williams in the late 1800s. The two were married in 1890 in a celebrated society event for which 2500 invitations were sent. Fittingly, the bride's father, wealthy merchant George Williams, bestowed an incredibly beautiful wedding gift on the newlyweds.

This gift, presented on a rose colored pillow, was a check for $75,000 to be used for the couple's new home at the corner of Meeting Street and South Battery, one of the most desirable locations in Charleston, SC. This gift would be generous even by today's standards in the depressed post-war South, the loving gesture was truly extraordinary. Little did George Williams know that his gift would one day become the honeymoon destination for future newlyweds seeking a romantic getaway at an exquisite Charleston bed and breakfast. In 1946, the mansion at 2 Meeting Street was purchased by Minnie Spell Carr, aunt (and great aunt) of the current owners, who established a guesthouse. The Spell family has been welcoming guests to its elegant Charleston home ever since. The guesthouse eventually became Two Meeting Street Inn, now known worldwide as a symbol of the city's grace, beauty and hospitality. Today the historic Charleston Bed and Breakfast is owned by Mrs. Carr's youngest nephew, Pete Spell, along with his wife and two daughters.”

I was fortunate to have a room on the first floor, The Music Room.  High canopy bed (stepstool along side), 12-foot ceiling, hardwood floors.  Lots of wonderful furniture in this inn as well as antique items to look at.  Living room area and dining room for breakfast. 

It was quite cold out and decided to hang around the inn. We did go out to view the White Point Gardens, referred to as the Battery. Many of the guns and mortars which were in service during the Civil War are still on the grounds.  Dawn pointed out Fort Sumter in the distance. A fifteen hundred feet seawall led to the Southern point of East Bay Street.  Our walk was a short one and took photos of the outside area of the inn as well as inside the premises. 

We relaxed until tea time where we indulged in tea and some tasty morsels as well.  It was someone’s 2st birthday and had a small celebration.  

We couldn’t figure out where to have dinner as I was most interested in trying out the she-crab soup.  Amen Street Restaurant.  I settled for a cup of what I thought was the best.  Aside from the taste, it was full of crab as if the lump crab was pulled apart.  Dawn was raving about a kale salad with shrimp while I chose a calamari “steak”.  Rather than rings or tentacles, it was the body coated, fried and made into strips.  It was accompanied by a combo of corn, bacon, tomato, and onions, topped with a lemon aioli. 

While there I met the Food and Beverage Manager of the Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central Terminal.  I will certainly follow up on this. 

Robert picked us up, dropped me off and took Dawn home.

Day 3
Breakfast consisted of quiche, grits with a topping of pimento cheese, and fresh fruit.  

Today we are off to the South Carolina Aquarium, located at the Charleston Harbor, 100 Aquarium Wharf.  Fish are great to look at.  They are colorful, calm, and seem to make funny faces.  This is not the type of aquarium if you want “shows” but it does have an abutting building for 4-D movies.  What is the 4th dimension?  Physical such as rain, wind, and vibration.   We didn’t experience that as I had other things planned for afterward.

Birds are great to look at.  An area called Mountain Forest had this wonderful bald eagle. 

Another area sat this darling bird that I forgot what it was. I was so busy talking to it and forgot to look at the sign.

The same area had an albino alligator standing on its feet.  It looked as if it were fake.  Stare at it long enough and you’d see the feet move a bit.  Sea turtles are a specialty at this aquarium, especially when it comes to rescuing them.

Hopped on the free trolley to Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, at 90 Hasell Street, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the US and founding Reform Jewish Congregation in the US. (1749) and having the present sanctuary built in 1840.  The original building, appearing more “church like” was destroyed in a fire with the present architect of the 1840 building being Greek Revival and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980.  Incidentally, the present head rabbi is Stephanie Alexander. 
Charleston is referred to as the “holy city” due to it being one of the few original colonies to tolerate the Protestant religion.  Carolina allowed Jews to practice their faith without restriction. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim was founded by Sephardic Jews (escaping from the Spanish Inquisition) from London while Brith Shalom Beth Israel being the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the South founded by Ashkenazi German and a Central European Jew, by the name of Sam Berlin, in the mid-19th century.

When first entering we went directly to the building housing the gift shop and museum to wait for a docent to give us a tour of the sanctuary.   Arriving early, I made it a point to visit the museum which follows the history of the congregation and its members.  There was certainly much to look at with art and history along the wall leading into the museum itself.  

The docent led the 30-minute tour into the sanctuary while sharing its unique history.  There is no cost for either the museum of tour and a free pocket guide is given as well.

Time to pick up luggage from Two Meeting Street and go on to the last overnight…The Francis Marion Hotel, located at 387 King Street.  It was named for General Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox” of the American Revolution.  The hotel opened in 1924 as the largest and grandest in the Carolinas.  I was given a quite up-to-date deluxe room on the eighth floor with great views of the city. 

Below is Marion Square, a park with much history and monuments including a holocaust memorial located on the corner of Calhoun and Meeting Street.  Three main design components define the memorial. The North side is a rectangular, sunken lawn framed by graded steps, a place of contemplation and a meeting ground for the annual Yom Ha Shoah (National Days of Remembrance) ceremonies. The West side facing Calhoun Street features a concrete and bronze inscription wall, that details the history of the Holocaust and lists names of survivors living in South Carolina. The center or heart of the memorial is a space defined by an impressive four sided iron screen measuring 25 feet wide, 60 feet long, and 17 feet high. The screen is intended to create a space that is sacred as well as “to signify the place apart occupied by those who perished”. Within the screen rests a 12 foot bronzed tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl.

I am also able to view the harbor but due to both the weather and time constraint, unable to take a Harbor Tour.  As for location, most of the historic building and public places are in walking distance with the free trolley only steps away.  The hotel offers a booklet, “Charleston Old and New and its Francis Marion Hotel”. 

I must interject that the staff at this hotel are most welcoming and helpful.  Although there is free wifi in the rooms, there are two computers in the lobby free of use.  Very smart of them to provide a bottle of hand sanitizer as well as having the station situated next to the desk of the concierge.

Dawn and I had the opportunity of doing a small tasting with the chef from the Swamp Fox Restaurant located at the Francis Marion Hotel.  Aside from experimenting with four drinks that they were looking to make choices about, their She-Crab Soup was the second one to try.  It was just as delicious, more “soupy” with a decent amount of lumped meat used more as the garnish.  
The highlight of this tasting was the Shrimp and Grits served in a martini glass.  Aside from the perfectly creamy cooked grits and fresh shrimp, the recipe called for cured ham, bell peppers, and onions garnished with sliced scallions and shredded pepper jack cheese.  A mascot stuffed toy of a fox made its way back to my suitcase. 

A third She-Crab Soup was devoured at Henry’s Bar and Restaurant, located on North Market just across the way from The Charleston City Market.  Their soup was kind of in between the two textures and equally delicious.  Hey, an hour or so passed and feeling a little weak.  Dawn, being “local” recommended this restaurant.  The atmosphere is a “local hangout” with excellent food.  Due to the weather, I was unable to enjoy eating at their famous Rooftop bar.   We were also there on a night that was without the live jazz.  At least the food was savory and tasty. 

We sampled Fried Green Tomatoes with pimento cheese, southern hot chicken with a sweet tea glaze, some very salty collard greens, and fried grits cake.  

Day 4

Forgot to charge the battery in the camera. Requesting a late checkout, I awoke early as Bulldog Tours was the only thing scheduled for the day with a 9:30 a.m. tour.  Bulldog Tours offers a walking culinary tour focusing on what is termed, “low country cuisine” beginning with Dixie Supply Bakery and CafĂ© for some good old  plain creamy grits, a bite size sweet potato corn bread, and sweet tea.  Sweet tea is not a simple iced tea with sugar.  Sugar is added to the brewing tea, chilled and then served as iced tea.  Personally, I would call it “pre-sweetened iced tea”. 

Continuing on to Charleston Cooks, a kitchen supply store, our guide, Fran Bennett, talked about Tomato Pie and Pimento Cheese.  Pimento cheese is one staple that is served on top of a dish or as a dip.  It is basically a combo of shredded cheddar, sometimes other cheeses and pimentos along with other ingredients to flavor or spice it up. 

Charleston Cooks introduced us to Benne (sesame) wafers.  Sesame seeds were brought from Africa in the 17th and 18th Century (along with peanuts, sweet potatoes, okra, black-eyed peas and collard greens).  The wafers are a combo of the toasted seeds, sugar, butter or margarine, and egg whites.  Just think…if we hadn’t gotten sesame seeds Joyva would not be making halvah. 

Market Street Sweets was preparing a batch of peanut brittle as we tasted it just as they cooled off.   We then had pralines, sugar coated pecans, and bear claws, their take on those chocolate “turtles”. 
Onto the Spice and Tea Exchange for mostly whiffs of a vast amount of products.  We did have a sample of whatever tea was being prepared, some dips, and a few green tea mints. 

Our next tasting was at A.W. Shucks, where we had blue crab dip, hush puppies with praline butter and fried green tomatoes.  Actually the restaurant is well known for their oysters of which there are some briny and delicious local ones.

Jim and Nicks was the final foodie. They are all about barbecue. We sampled some of their pulled pork, collard greens, and cole slaw. Finding the collard greens much too spicy for me, I requested a small glass of milk to ease the pain.

Taxi back to the hotel (although in walking distance if one was in shape to do so), pack the bags and off to the airport via Green Taxi.

I later found information on their CARTA transportation system where you can hop the NASH express shuttle to the airport for $3.  I am told that the trip takes about 30 minutes from the airport and stops at the Visitors Center, 375 Meeting Street, where the free trolley stops as well. Considering baggage, it pays to call Green Taxi for a $7 fare, if you’re staying in the downtown area.  The shuttle does not go directly to the airport on the way back.  It makes a stop in North Charleston where the Coliseum and Performing Arts Center is located as well as Tanger Outlets.  Service frequency is about an hour.