From a garden party to a jail cell 

Fondue-ing Life

On Thursday night, we put on our garden party best for the Spoleto SCENE party. Upon entering, we were shown where the bar was, but no one really needed directions since that’s where everyone was congregating.

We decided to follow the pack and grabbed a drink while taking in the scene. The sprawling yellow Spoleto letters had been taken out of storage for the event — and if you had driven by that morning, many of them had been knocked over by the wind. That lack of stability didn’t really comfort us, so we steered clear of the 10-foot-tall letters to make sure we wouldn’t end up like squashed ants at the fancy garden party soiree.

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Spoleto SCENE party, Food Porn Party, Charleston Dog Show, and Jail Break

By Melissa Tunstall

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As Lee Barbour played solo, party-goers grabbed nibbles of charcuterie and talked amongst themselves. That’s the thing with the SCENE crew, they can be cliquey. But during this membership drive-like party, they were friendlier than they have been in year’s past. We’re not saying they wanted our money, but …

As the evening wore on, the mosquitoes came out. Garden parties always seem like a great idea, but the damn bugs had people doing the hokey-pokey while people sprayed communal bottles of bug spray toward a circle of appendages. After putting our left foot in and shaking it all about, we decided it was better to just leave before becoming one massive bite.

On Friday, High Wire Distilling Co. hosted the second evening of the second annual Charleston Food Film Fest, more specifically the Food Porn Party where we were told we could join the VIP party. Feeling special, we couldn’t wait to see what that entailed. But then we realized that everyone was part of the VIP party — and they had already run out of their specialty cocktails. Damn, not so VIP after all.

The idea of the evening was pretty simple. Watch a short food film and then sample tastes as the showing wrapped up, which was fine. The one exception may have been Fondue. We had no desire to eat melted cheese after it had been so sensually shown.

But the evening quickly moved from the sexy to the sentimental. Going into the event we thought we’d be more likely to cry about the quality food. Instead, we were moved to tears from one of the films. In Crazy: A Story About Cake and Other Things, a family from Summerville shows that food is more than just sustenance, it’s also about connections. The family lost their mother to cancer, but not before she froze her “crazy cakes” (crazy since non-traditional ingredients, like vinegar, are used to make them) for her family to enjoy after she died — including on her son’s wedding night. We shed a few tears, but the gal next to us full on sobbed. It was emotional stuff.

After that heartrending tale, we were ready for something lighter. Thankfully, it was time to give out the awards for best feature, best short, etc. Some took it very seriously (we’re looking at you John Markus for The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait). But you know who didn’t — Fondue’s Larry Caldwell a.k.a. Charles Grantham. Dressed as his Larry Caldwell character in short shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, Grantham reminded us that we shouldn’t be listening to the people who say fon-don’t in life; we should be listening to the people who say fon-do.

After the final showing, guests were told to try some more food, like the turtle burger, which was just a burger wrapped in bacon with hot dogs sticking out to make the arms, legs, and head. Normally, we say no to anything with hot dogs, but we took Grantham’s advice and fon-did. The novelty food didn’t taste horrible, but we wouldn’t try it again. Having had our fill, we waddled home.

Saturday, the Charleston Dog Show was calling our name. But we have a confession. We couldn’t tell you which dog won what event. We were too busy oohing and ahh-ing at all the mutts — and the two cats we saw on leashes.

Dogs pranced around the ring with their owners as judges took a very long time to decide who won. We were more interested in watching the ones that misbehaved, like the Jack Russell that escaped or the retriever-looking dog that had enough of being a show pony and ran out of the rink, dragging a small child behind him. We followed suit and left too.

Later that day, we wandered up to the Old City Jail for Jail Break. The arts event had what you would expect it to — visual arts, dancers, poetry readings, and some comedy. They all played off the theme of optical illusions. One installation had festival-goers peer into prisms hanging from the ceiling, only to have hundreds of eyes stare back at them. There was also an homage to Big with a fortune teller in a booth, which was nestled close to a doorway, just out of eyesight as you crossed the threshold. Being spoken to in what one presumes to be an empty prison is not our idea of fun.

We made it to one of the comedy shows. Evan Berke was back from NYC to host the laughter lineup, and Hunter Gardner and artist Nathan Durfee had stepped up to fill in for some missing comedians. It was a typical Charleston comedy show until someone turned off the lights in the cell during Durfee’s set. The lights were quickly turned back on, but for an instant we thought we were going to be part of a murder mystery.

Outside, the Dead 27s had just finished their set, and New Galaxy had taken over with their soulful covers. We soon bid the jail adieu and called it a night.


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