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NASFT: Announces Outstanding Specialty Retailers of 2012. April, 2012
April, 2012
New York, N.Y. (April 24, 2012) – The Outstanding Retailers of 2012 were announced today by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFT). The awards recognize excellence in customer service, product sourcing, merchandising, quality assurance and a passion for presenting top-quality food.

The five outstanding retailers are: Caviar & Bananas, Charleston, S.C.; City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain, Mass., Eli's Manhattan, New York City; Mollie Stone's Markets, Mill Valley, Calif., and Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, Chicago.

The winners range from a neighborhood storefront and café to a 20,000-square-foot gourmet emporium to a nine-store natural and specialty supermarket chain. They were selected by a national panel of specialty food experts including previous honorees, manufacturers, distributors and editors of Specialty Food Magazine.

"This year's winners share a true commitment to providing premium service, well-edited choices of the latest new products, and a deep connection to their communities that are hallmarks of the specialty food industry," says NASFT President Ann Daw.

The awards will be presented on June 18, 2012, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., in a red-carpet ceremony hosted by Jose Andres, the noted chef and culinary innovator. Winners are featured in the May/June issue of NASFT's Specialty Food Magazine (available online May 1).

Nominations for the Outstanding Specialty Retailer Awards were made by members of the NASFT. The NASFT is a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, entrepreneurs and importers. Retailers with the most nominations were asked to present detailed information about their companies, including menus, newsletters, training manuals, customer comments, promotional materials, press coverage and photographs to assist the judges in their deliberations.

Honorable mentions went to seven retailers. They are: Court Street Grocers, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Gateway Market, Des Moines, Iowa; Farm Basket, Lynchburg, Va.; Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge, Mass.; Parker and Otis, Durham, N.C.; Toucan Market, Las Cruces, N.M.; and Wagshal's, Washington, D.C.

About the winners:

Caviar & Bananas
Opened in 2008 by husband-and-wife team Kris and Margaret Furniss, this gourmet market and café features a sushi bar, prepared foods all made on site and a wide-ranging product mix from, indeed, caviar to bananas. Located in downtown Charleston, S.C., the store takes its aesthetic cues from New York City's top specialty food markets.

City Feed and Supply
This natural foods grocery, cafe and deli, with two locations, is far more than a purveyor of quality natural foods. Owners Kristine Cortese and David Warner are deeply involved in their Massachusetts community, and source local and regional products from small farms and artisan producers. The couple had no retailing experience when they decided to open a specialty food store in 2000.

Eli's Manhattan
Opened in 1998 by noted merchant Eli Zabar with inspiration from the food halls of Europe, Eli's Manhattan has become a neighborhood institution on the exclusive Upper East Side. With 20,000 square feet of space, the store is packed with baked goods made on site, prepared foods, fresh fish, aged meat and cheeses and a changing array of the latest specialty foods.

Mollie Stone's Markets
College pals Dave Bennet and Mike Stone opened their first store in 1986 to bring natural foods to a larger market in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Since then, they've expanded to nine locations with more than 30,000 products in the largest units. The retailer is known for its in-store demonstrations and lively social media program to connect with customers.

Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
With three locations in Chicago, this retailer is known for its carefully edited selection of artisanal foods, including more than 150 cheeses, as well as its Artisan Producer Festival at Chicago's French Market. Owners Greg O'Neill and Ken Miller opened the first location in 2004, taking inspiration from years of traveling and living abroad and finding a scarcity of market-driven shopping at home.

About the NASFT
The NASFT is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It is a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 to foster commerce and interest in the specialty food industry. Today there are more than 2,900 members in the U.S. and abroad. The NASFT's website for consumers, foodspring.com, provides an insider's look at specialty foods and the companies, food entrepreneurs and artisans behind them. For more information on the NASFT and its Fancy Food Shows, go to specialtyfood.com.

NASFT MEDIA CONTACTS:
Ron Tanner, VP Communications & Education; 646-878-0115, rtanner@nasft.org
Louise Kramer, Communications Director; 646-878-0130, lkramer@nasft.org
THE NEW YORK TIMES: Charleston's (Now) Great Hall. SEPTEMBER, 2011
September, 2011
The New York Times

ON the June morning when the Great Hall at the Charleston City Market, in Charleston, S.C., reopened to the public after an 18-month renovation, spotting the locals amid the vacationing throngs was easy. While the outnumbered Charlestonians tended to favor muted office attire over the kaleidoscopic cruisewear of some tourists, what truly set them apart as they entered the overhauled, 204-year-old structure was their amazed expressions.

"Really, this is transforming it from a tourist-only destination," remarked Alton Brown, a real estate broker whose office is a few blocks from the market. "The key to downtown is being able to have a place to walk to like this."

For decades, the Charleston City Market (188 Meeting Street; 843-937-0920; thecharlestoncitymarket.com) had been saddled with a tourist-trap reputation, best known as a dank, dilapidated location for hawking cheap trinkets. Now its Great Hall — one of four adjacent structures that comprise the market, and the recipient of its last and most dramatic face-lift — is retrofitted with both air-conditioning and ceiling fans, a skylight running the length of its blocklong roof, a pair of dining spots (a barbecue "cue-osk" stands opposite Caviar & Bananas, a new food counter), and 20 "microboutiques" — locally owned retail spaces of 300 to 400 square feet each that share an open floor plan.

"It really is a wow factor compared to what it used to be," said Kris Furniss, observing the steady stream of patrons at Caviar & Bananas (843-577-7757; caviarandbananas.com), which he owns with his wife, Margaret. "It was serpentine, and you felt like you were in a maze. I only came down here when I had to."

"The primary goal was to bring Charlestonians back," said Hank Holliday, who headed up a team of local developers that took over the market's lease in 2008. The group devoted an entire year to visiting public markets worldwide, including ones in San Francisco, Havana and Lyon, France. "We studied the nuances of a successful public market," Mr. Holliday said, "and more importantly, the elements that tied successful public markets to local communities."

Anchoring the Great Hall at its western end is its newly acquired flagship tenant, Historic Charleston Foundation (843-723-1623; historiccharleston.org). Like Caviar & Bananas and a handful of other Great Hall vendors, its market shop functions as a condensed outpost of a separate Charleston location. In addition to browsing the array of Charleston-themed memorabilia and historical publications and reproductions, visitors can purchase tickets to tour the foundation's two house museums, each less than a mile away.

Another such shop is the Chuma Gullah Gallery (843-722-1702; gallerychuma.com), which has dedicated its microboutique to the best-selling Gullah artists from its primary gallery space a few blocks away. "For many years in our main gallery, all the tourists would run in asking where the market was," said Chuma Nwokike, the owner, whose voice had already grown hoarse a few hours after the market opened.

For other purveyors, it's the open layout of the new market that is the biggest improvement. Gita's Gourmet (843-722-8207) has been selling its jellies, teas and benne wafers in the Great Hall since 1974. "They used to have bars on the windows, and we were used to having an enclosed shop," said Bill Ussery, an owner. "Now it's more visible, more inviting. I think people will want to come in now — although they actually don't have to come into the shop, they can just see."
THE POST & COURIER: Readers' favorite sandwiches... JUNE, 2011
June, 2011
The Post & Courier

The Duck Confit

Ingredients: Duck leg and thigh are cured 24 hours with salt, pepper, garlic and thyme, cooked "low and slow" in their own juices, then shredded. The meat is topped with aged gouda, black pepper mayo, fig preserves and pickled red onion on sourdough bread.

About: The savory-sweet Duck Confit is one of the shop's most popular sandwiches. "People who understand food get the Duck Confit." says executive chef Todd Mazurek. The wow factor? Black pepper mayo, he says.

Sample reader comment: "This sandwich is like crack. Try it once and you're hooked for life."

Price: $9
WOMAN'S DAY MAGAZINE: A Woman's day in... Charleston. NOVEMBER, 2010
November, 2010
Woman's Day Magazine

Locals consider it a must-stop for delicious prepared food to go. "Since it's down the street from the College of Charleston, where I teach, I can pop in and pick up sandwiches for a picnic with my kids at the Cistern Yard, on campus," says Eliza. "The cafe is terrific too. Sit inside or grab a table outdoors."
CHARLESTON MAGAZINE: Feeling Fried? NOVEMBER, 2010
November, 2010
Charleston Magazine

Deep-fried turkey flew the Southern coop back in the '90s, landing on Thanksgiving tables across the United States. "People love this cooking method because it creates juicy meat with a wonderfully thick, crispy skin. Plus, a turkey can fry in as few as 45 minutes, and the process requires minimal clean-up," says Caviar & Bananas executive chef Todd Mazurek.

The Johnson & Wales University grad, who's worked in the kitchens of Fat Hen, Wild Olive, COAST, and other local restaurants, fries a bird for his own celebration every year. "I always start by soaking it in a citrus and herb brine for two days to make the meat really moist," he says. "But I experiment with a different rub each time."

A peanut butter recipe has worked well in the past, but this year, he found that homemade hazelnut butter tastes even better. "Hazelnuts are milder and sweeter, bringing out more of the turkey's flavors and providing a nice complement to the peanut oil that I fry it in," he explains.

And the butter is a cinch to make. "Toast the nuts by coating them in two tablespoons of hazelnut oil, tossing them until evenly coated, then baking them on a sheet pan at 300°F for 12 minutes," instructs Mazurek. Make sure the turkey is dry inside and out before you apply the rub—this will help it stick to the skin, creating a holiday bird you'll be truly thankful for.

While deep-frying is an easy way to cook a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, safety precautions are vital. Chef Todd Mazurek shares a few pointers:

For beginners, poultry-frying kits make things simple by packing all the necessary equipment, including a burner (which connects to a propane gas tank), a stand, and a large stockpot.

Do not stuff turkeys for deep-frying—rubs and marinade injections work best.

"Always fry outside on dirt, grass, or concrete that you don't mind getting a couple grease stains on," says Mazurek.

Make sure you use the correct amount of oil. "Do a test run by putting the turkey in the pot and pouring water on top until the bird is completely covered," instructs Mazurek. "Remove the turkey and use a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Then dump water, dry the pot, and fill the oil to this point."

Thoroughly dry both the bird and the pot inside and out. "This will help prevent spattering. Remember that water and oil do not mix," Mazurek says.

Before putting the turkey into the hot oil, remove trussing and pop-up timers from the meat and any excess fat from around the neck. Clip the wing tips up to the first joint and cut off the tail.

Heat the oil to 375°F. "When you add the turkey to the pot, the oil will cool down really quickly but will then come back up to 325°F within several minutes," says Mazurek. Cook the bird at 325°F for three minutes per pound of meat, monitoring the fryer closely.
BON APETIT MAGAZINE: Charleston, SC Travel Guide. NOVEMBER, 2010
November, 2010
Bon Apetit Magazine

Founded by a former Dean & DeLuca general manager and his wife, this two-year-old full-service gourmet market sells restaurant-quality prepared foods like local mahi-mahi and watermelon ceviche, and black truffle mac and cheese—and it has the best charcuterie board in town.
SLASH FOOD: Ask a Shopkeeper. JULY, 2010
July, 2010
Slash Food

Kris Furniss can pinpoint the exact moment he metamorphosed from Morgan Stanley money man to aspiring food world impresario. It was the week of 9/11. The Long Island bred boy had always loved food -- he confesses to reading Gourmet when he should have had his nose in the Wall Street Journal -- and was already looking for a career change. Furniss had worked in the Towers, and when they fell, he acted. Three days after the attack, he enrolled in culinary school. Today, Furniss owns and operates one of the Low Country's premier food retail boutiques with his wife Margaret in her native Charleston.

Read more about Kris Furniss and his South Carolina culinary creation after the jump.

"Corporate America just wasn't for me, so I enrolled in the French Culinary Institute where I learned, among other things, that working in a hot kitchen with no sunlight twelve hours a day wasn't for me either. I wasn't really sure where I was headed career-wise, but I knew I loved food and wanted to be involved with it in some way. I became the GM at Sushi Samba, stayed for four years, and learned a lot about the business of food. I jumped over to Dean and Deluca, where I ran their Madison Avenue store. That's really where the idea for Caviar & Bananas started to take shape.

I met Margaret in New York, and when she took me to Charleston for the first time, it was love at first sight. We got married there, settled down and did our homework. We knew we wanted to work for ourselves, keep regular hours and have plenty of time for family. We also knew that we didn't want to run a common mom-and-pop grocery. We did lots of research and came up with a concept that we believed would both fit our needs and, more importantly, work.

Charleston is a city of foodies. There's an emerging restaurant scene. There are two top-tier culinary schools. Many of the people here have sophisticated palettes. And there are others that don't necessarily have the background but are willing to try. We want to cater to them too, but in a comfortable, non-intimidating way. That's what the name 'Caviar & Bananas' really symbolizes: the marriage of the exotic and the familiar, the coexistence of the adventurous and the mundane.

People here like local products, so we lean towards those. Right now, I'm really into something we carry called Callie's Charleston Biscuits. I also love Sweeteeth; their founder is a self-taught chocolatier, and I think he's going to be a huge star. We get great products from this area, but we also source from all over the world. We want the best no matter where it comes from. In this regard, I'm particularly proud of our coffee and tea bar. The coffee is roasted specially for us by a master roaster at Counter Culture Coffee, and our tea selection is prepared by the master tea sommelier at Tavalon Teas. Plus, we have all the best packaged teas and coffees from around the world.

People always ask me what it's like to have my wife as a business partner. Honestly, it's not for everyone, but it works for us. I can't do it without her; I look at it as 'two heads are better than one'. Besides, our store is 3,200 square feet. Sometimes we go all day without seeing each other. We're happy. We're in the place we want to be, doing what we want to do. It's a passion and dream for both of us being fulfilled.

Charlie Magazine: Caviar Dreams. September, 2009
September, 2009
Charlie Magazine

You know him from Charleston's coolest gourmet market and cafe. He's the one running from station to station, slicing off a hunk of cheese, putting in an order for a duck confit and aged gouda sandwich, nodding to the land/sky/sea/earth items behind the prepared foods counter and sliding behind the register to ring you up. One look and you know something about Caviar & Bananas' Kris Furniss: he always likes to be on the move.

It's been an underlying motivation throughout his career. And eight years ago, it was what saved his life.

He was 25 years old and a fast-rising star in the financial world in New York - one which included the glamorous perks of being wined and dined, flown around in a private jet and rubbing elbows with the city's elite. But Furniss realized that it wasn't the money, but the hustle and bustle he loved, the busyness of the business. Two months into his new job as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, he knew the financial industry wasn't for him. He enrolled in culinary school and was happy to see that combining the fast pace of the kitchen with his love for cooking was just right. He was giving his notice on Friday.

Friday never came at the office of Morgan Stanley, though.

It was the 74th floor of the World Trade Center that was hit that Tuesday morning. Furniss' office was on the 73rd.

Early that morning at the office, Furniss had gone to the 44th floor to get some coffee for himself and coworkers. A loud explosion swayed his building and preceded a distinctive smell. Thinking it may have been an oil furnace that gave out, he thought nothing of it.

Mere curiosity led him to the window, where he saw what he described as a ticker tape parade – except papers were on fire and then a body flew by. With elevators shutting down and still thinking some sort of accident had happened, Furniss made his way to the stairwell. He wanted to check it out.

He was moving casually downstairs and wondering why his cell phone wasn't working. Closer to the bottom, he became more alarmed when firefighters were racing upwards and past him. He was barely out of the revolving doors when he looked up to see the second plane fly into his building.

Furniss remembers the rest of his day spent escaping from the scene in chaos and shock. He watched his building fall, the white cloud of an unknown nature forcefully overtaking him. He had to blindly crawl, eerie sounds of horror around him, to the Staten Island ferry, on which he saw the other tower fall to the ground. He cried, he lost it, he managed to finally walk in the door at 9:30 that night, where he emotionally reunited with his parents.

It's a day he will always remember. It's filled with smells and sounds he will never forget. But in the eight years since, Furniss has been on the move again. It saved his life then and has only created a new one now – one that's meant happiness.

Combining his financial expertise with his culinary and restaurant management experience that he collected post 9/11 in New York, he found his niche. With wife and co-owner Margaret, he relocated to Charleston and opened hot spot Caviar & Bananas downtown a year and a half ago.

More of a mover than talker, he only has two pieces of advice. First, he says, don't hassle airport security. Let them do their job. Secondly, he says, always do what makes you happy. He advises not chasing "the golden ticket" like he did for the money and glamour.

"If you're going to wake up every single day of your life and get out of bed and go to work, you gotta do what you really love to do. It shouldn't be about the money. If you do what you love, and you do it well, the money will come. I don't care what industry you're in."

We're glad you're here, Kris. In more ways than one.
HOBNOB CHARLESTON: Excellence in Dining Award. August, 2009
August, 2009
HobNob Charleston

Caviar and Bananas is being honored with Hobnobcharleston’s first Excellence in Dining Award. One of only six that will be awarded in the next 12 months. Along with the launch of Hobnobcharleston’s new Dining Page, Hobnobcharleston also created this special award to highlight local restaurant owners that have reached a superb level of service, atmosphere, entertainment venue , and food quality. The Hobnob review board looks at all aspects of the dining experience.

Caviar and Bananas stood out among others because of the unique dining concept from the menu variety to the many weekly food events held in the restaurant. When asked about how Caviar and Bananas went from idea to success owner, Margret Furniss, will say because of their dedication to bringing the best of fine cuisine to all ages and creating everything from “extraordinary to the ordinary”. She jokes “ they have chicken fingers to caviar, and everything in between.” Caviar and Bananas has made it easy to feel at home and part of the family. When customers come in they will typically find Kris Furniss in the front. He is always smiling and interacting with the customers. And if one really wants to get involved cooking classes and wine tastings are regular events.

The atmosphere in Caviar and Bananas is upscale industrial with an inviting warm tone. Hobnobharleston found the beautiful colors of the displayed gourmet foods, desserts, candies , and specialty packaged goodies delightfully set against the neutral, yet bright open space . On any given day you can find a group of friends sharing a bottle of wine over a tray of artisanal cheeses. Or college students popping in for a quick cup of coffee and a snack between classes. What makes Caviar and Bananas more than just a restaurant ,and again very excellent, is the wide variety of specialty food products. Caviar and Bananas offers personal shopping and a concierge service on these items.This is a free service where the customer and a Caviar and Bananas specialist can explore and discuss products to find the one that best suit the taste and needs that are sought. Even better is the free delivery to downtown residence and a minimal delivery fee for all of the greater Charleston area.

A restaurant can have great customer service, fine dining ambiance, unique items and events, but excellence is only accomplished if these elements are combined with cuisine that delights the senses . Hobnobcharleston chose Caviar and Bananas for the “Excellence in Dining Award” because this was achieved and achieved beautifully. Chef Jason Ulak creates unusually delightful combinations that make the mouth water. Some of Hobnobcharleston’s favorites were the grilled scallops rolled in ham hock collard greens made into a ravioli and served over truffle corn sauce. The Maryland crab cake paired with watermelon and tomato salad sprinkled with local feta cheese and a vanilla vinaigrette is a perfect lunch plate. And for the protein lovers the quinoa salad which combines dried cranberries, local feta, cucumbers, and cabernet vinaigrette is fantastic.The locals favor the street vendor style corn on the cob and black truffle mac and cheese, which admittedly are delicious.

Hobnobcharleston encourages a trip to this amazing little eatery right downtown on 51 George Street. Ask for a couple of samples before making your choice and then sit back relax and enjoy.

The Post and Courier: C&B transforms itself for Project Runway. August, 2009
August 27, 2009
Karen Briggs | Charleston City Paper

Last Thursday, Caviar & Bananas teamed with Charleston Magazine to throw one of the most fashionable events of the summer.

The Project Runway Sixth Season Premiere Party was held to watch two Charleston Fashion Week designers compete in the Lifetime series.

The event also served as a benefit, giving a portion of proceeds to Lowcountry AIDS Services.

The daytime market and cafe transformed itself for the evening. Culinary displays were removed in favor of transparent, Louis Ghost Armchair-inspired seating and plush white couches.

The absence of product revealed a modern, concrete space, highlighted with crisp white lighting. The ambiance changed from a cozy eatery to a sophisticated urban lounge.

Svelte servers clad in black delivered cocktails to the crowd while Spaced Invaders spun their trademark mix of funky, fun music. The red carpet was rolled out along the side of the building, offering guests a private entrance separate from the day-to-day entryway.

"The great thing about tonight is that almost everything here was donated," said Chain Breaking Public Relations founder Jonah Jeter. "The seating, cable service and projection equipment, drinks and raffle prizes. ... Almost everything was given to us. We wanted to make sure that this event could give as much money as possible to Lowcountry AIDS services."

Guests to the sold-out event mingled with a veritable who's who of the local fashion world.

In attendance was Style Swap founder Jess James and 2008 Emerging Designer Amanda Deleon.

During the cocktail hour, guests sipped Firefly cocktails and snacked on hor d'oeuvres. "Even the popcorn is stylish!" quipped Spaced Invaders' Alex Rosen, in regard to the truffle oil, parmesan and chive creation.

Brave new designers flocked to a Charleston Fashion Week 2010 Emerging Designer booth.

Young creatives received first-hand information about what it takes to enter and win this year's competition.

Raffle tickets were purchased in hopes of winning some seriously impressive gifts. The "stylish prizes" (as they were called) included gifts such as a 50-minute massage at The Charleston Place, a private makeup party by Saks and Trish McEvoy and a $200 gift certificate from Halls.

Promptly at 10 p.m., everyone settled into their seats as the large projection screen lit up.

The crowd roared with delight at the first sight of Charleston's Carol Hannah Whitfield and Gordana Gehlhausen.

Scenes from Charleston Fashion Week were splashed across the screen when detailing the designers work.

At the end of the program, the buzzing crowd left, once again excited for the local spring fashion shows.

Charleston City Paper: Carol Hannah and Gordana do Charleston Proud. August, 2010
August 23, 2009
Cara Kelly | Charleston City Paper

Charleston fashion fanatics had reason to celebrate Thursday night, with two beloved local designers making their debuts on national TV with the premiere of the sixth season of Project Runway. The monumental event of course called for a stylish celebration, and Charleston magazine’s fashion editor, Ayoka Lucas, along with the Caviar & Bananas team were happy to step in and provide a party worthy of the hype.

Margaret and Kris Furniss, owners of the gourmet market and café, rolled out the red carpet for guests, who arrived early for a cocktail and hor d’oeuvres hour before the screening. While sipping Korbel Champagne and Little Black Dress Chardonnay, the impeccably dressed crowd included Wilmington-based style girl Jess James (host of the upcoming Style Swap, pictured left) and 2009 emerging designers Amanda DeLeon (pictured right) and Emily Bargeron. Feeling like favorites from our Alma Mater were selected in the first round of the draft, everyone knows the implications of the upcoming episodes — which have nothing to do with the inevitable cat fights and melodrama of a reality TV show. Fans know that it's not only a big break for Gordana Gehlhausen and Carol Hannah Whitfield, but also Charleston’s fashion scene as a whole.

Ayoka (who was sporting an ensemble created by Gordana) summed it up well before announcing the winners of the raffle, telling the crowd that the show has consistently contacted her for potential applicants and reiterating the city’s new title as the fashion capital of the South (confirmed by a recent article in AccessAtlanta). As the show began, the devoted crowd couldn’t help cheering every time the two Charlestonians stepped in front of the camera. The women produced beautiful dresses for the red carpet challenge, appeasing the judges and securing their positions in next week’s competition. Based on their performance on the first episode, we’ll be able to root for our girls for several weeks to come.

The Post and Courier. Sushi, Hip-Hop and Little Chefs. August, 2009
August 13, 2009
Karen Briggs | The Post and Courier

Caviar & Bananas is stepping up their culinary presence in Charleston. The gourmet market and cafe is not only a fantastic place for a bite, but a resource for education as well.

Last Thursday, I found myself at Sushi 101, a delightful class where attendees learned the history of sushi and the mechanics of making a good roll.

The gathering was kept intentionally small so guests would feel comfortable participating. Tables were set up with fried dumplings and seaweed salad to snack on.

The crowd was diverse. A sprightly English woman and her daughter dined with me while a family with children sat next to us.

Chef Karen Stabler was a fantastic host. She patiently taught us how to prepare the rice, season ingredients and wear oil covered gloves to prevent a sticky mess. We learned that nori used to be gathered from sea rocks and that salt-packed fish is the ancestor of modern day sushi.

I loved gathering insider secrets on Asian markets and the best knife-cutting techniques.

At the end, kids and adults all took turns making spicy tuna, shrimp tempura and crab-filled rolls while sharing with newly made friends.

Hip-hop images

When I heard that Florida-based photographer Bob Croslin was showing at the Charleston Center for Photography, I jumped at the chance to experience some fresh, new energy.

Although Charleston is filled with creative talent, our size sometimes lends itself to repetition.

Croslin is a nationally known commercial and editorial photographer specializing in produced, lit portraiture. Last Friday's show focused on his work with hip-hop personalities.

DJ Natty Heavy wooed the crowd with old and new hip-hop while a slide show of Croslin's work splashed across a large projection screen. Home Team set up shop outside cooking fresh barbecue for attendees.

Guests were invited to have portraits taken to be shown on the center's Web page.

The KunFewZion Crew, a hip-hop dance group, dominated the floor, wowing the crowd with insanely choreographed moves. While the work was fantastic, most of the crowd had dispersed by 8 p.m.

Unfortunately, some didn't stay as long because alcohol wasn't served. Regardless, it was a treat to see new, very different work from a talented artist.

Big chef, little chef

Last Thursday, Louie's Kids hosted "Big Chef, Little Chef," a benefit for Fit Club at The Civic Design Center. Five Fit Club kids were paired with local chefs from restaurants such as Cypress, Oak Steakhouse and The Charleston Grill.

"Little chefs" learned healthy recipes from their "big chefs" that were cooked together on the day of the fundraiser.

All food used to create the customized dishes was donated by participating restaurants.

Guests got the chance to meet the "big" and "little" chefs, taste the dishes and vote on their favorite creation. Louie's Kids founder Louis Yuhasz was in attendance, lending support and inspiration to the event.

At the end of the evening, 125 votes were garnered electing Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress and 13-year-old Tre Vaughn Davis as the winners. Their award-winning dish was a squash soup with roasted figs and crispy ham. Both Tre Vaughn and Deihl took home customized aprons and some serious bragging rights.

Almost $6,000 was raised for the foundation.

The Post and Courier: Local Designers Showcased at Event. August, 2009
August 13, 2009
Samantha Test | The Post and Courier

The most fashionable event since Charleston Fashion Week will be downtown at Caviar & Bananas next Thursday.

Only 75 people will be able to enjoy a red carpet event in the gourmet eatery-turned-chic-lounge for the Project Runway Premiere Party.

"With the recent announcement that there will be two Charleston Fashion Week designers on the upcoming sixth season of Project Runway, we decided that it would be great to have a location for everyone to watch and cheer on the designers together," said event host Ayoka Lucas, style editor for Charleston Magazine.

Attendees will have the chance to win prizes and giveaways, mingle to the tunes of the Spaced Invaders, enjoy a complimentary cocktail hour and be served gourmet hors d'oeuvres from servers dressed from local boutiques.

"It's important to show support for the Charleston design community," said Caviar & Bananas partner, Margaret Furniss. "But you know, it's just going to be a fun night and a good chance to hang out with your peers, have some fun drinks, have some fun hors d'oeuvres and fun to see the show."

The two local designers featured on this season's Project Runway are Gordana Gehlhausen and Carol Hannah Whitfield.

"Gordana is an amazing person! She has a huge heart and passion for what she does as a designer," said Lucas.

"The stories she tells about being from a country that was war-torn and her achievements giving hope to other girls from her home town seeing the fashion industry through her!" she said. "I love the whole of thought of this. She brings something completely different and authentic to the table."

"I love that Carol Hannah has a timid spirit but is so very bold with her design aesthetic! She blows my mind with her lines and silhouettes."

This event will donate a portion of the proceeds to Lowcountry Aids Services.

"With the amount of people living with HIV/AIDS, it is so important that we embrace this plight as a community. But we can be super stylish and fab while doing it," said Lucas.

"I partner with them every year (over the past three years or so) for Shopping with Friends, so I have a relationship with them already. I never like to do events unless someone can benefit at the same time. That should always be the basis for an event, in my opinion."

Attendees to this exclusive premiere party also will be privy to learning about the Emerging Design Competition for Charleston Fashion Week.

"I hope they will have an opportunity not only to enjoy the show but also experience a very chic glam evening that benefits a cause. I love the idea of fashion giving back. It's so glamorous to give," said Lucas. "I hope everyone leaves feeling proud that Charleston is once again on the national fashion radar!"

The Digitel: Project Runway Premier Party at Caviar & Bananas. August, 2009
August 5, 2009
Amanda Click | The Digitel

For the season premier of the television show Project Runway, the red carpet will be kicked out and Caviar & Bananas will be transformed into an upscale lounge on the eve of August 20th.

Why all the pomp for a TV show? Two of Charleston’s designers star as contestants. Here is what a press release had to say about the evening of food and fashion:

The event, which will benefit Lowcountry Aids Services, will kick off with a red carpet entry followed by a complimentary cocktail hour. Guests will have a chance to mingle to the tunes of Spaced Invaders and a chance to win stylish prizes and giveaways. Ayoka Lucas, Style Editor for Charleston Magazine will host the event making special announcements and providing inside information about the Emerging Design Competition. At 10pm guests will take their seats and watch the premiere of Project Runway featuring two of Charleston’s own designers: Gordana Gehlhausen and Carol Hannah Whitfield.

Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are for sale exclusively online for $20.

Charleston Magazine: The Review: Caviar & Bananas. June, 2009
June, 2009

At Caviar & Bananas, you’re the maestro, whether of a picnic for two or a party for 12.

Located a stone’s throw from the College of Charleston, this sparkling George Street gourmet market and café is run by creative husband-and-wife team Kris and Margaret Furniss and provides endless possibilities for an impromptu lunch or casual dinner, takeaway hors d’oeuvres, or breakfast on the run.

Chef Jason Ulak helps to orchestrate the creation and production of the colorful daily array, including made-to-order and prepared foods, ranging from soup to Nutella. Flooded with natural light and good cheer, the space easily accommodates casual seating amidst well-ordered displays of sandwiches, salads, soups, entrées, and desserts, while several tables in the courtyard provide comfortable outdoor dining.

Cruising the expansive food displays is half the enjoyment of a visit to Caviar & Bananas, but as always, the proof is in the pudding. Tried and true selections include build-your-own salads and sandwiches. Personal favorites are the Boston Bibb salad with applewood-smoked bacon and pimiento ranch dressing and the duck confit sandwich made with aged Gouda and fig preserves. The memorable chopstick salad blends green tea-smoked chicken with peanut dressing and wonton crisps. Grilled wild salmon and luxurious black truffle mac’ and cheese have also made many a fine meal. For a quick beginning, one of the well-chosen boutique wines is an excellent partner for house-made edamame hummus, pimiento cheese, kalamata olives, or a selection of artisanal cheeses with a freshly baked baguette.

The house-made sushi is wildly popular, as are the delicious Tavalon teas, prepared by a master tea sommelier and steeped to order, and Counter Culture coffees, roasted and packaged specifically for the proprietors by a master roaster. For a special kick, try the Taro Tornado tea with tapioca bubbles.

A recent celebration brought the opportunity for a spontaneous dinner at home and thus a chance to fill our basket with new choices, beginning with a colorful salad sampler. Divinely refreshing quinoa, dried cranberries, and Split Creek Farm feta tossed in cabernet vinaigrette; tender farrow made with Mepkin Abbey oyster mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, and truffled Champagne vinaigrette tossed with arugula; and roasted beet and goat cheese salads comprised this glorious trio. Succulent organic Springer Mountain chicken marinated in buttermilk, fried in blue-corn batter, and finished with an ancho chili drizzle paired well with sides of roasted asparagus with preserved lemon and white bean salad seasoned with pancetta and mint, as did the eggplant parmigiana with delicate layers of breaded eggplant, three cheeses, and a rich tomato sauce.

Desserts, a crowning glory, include a variety of daily offerings both made in house and assembled from the city’s finest bakers, including irresistible three-chocolate Ulak brownies created by chef Ulak’s father, cookies and cupcakes from Charleston Cookie Company and Ashley Bakery, and other treats from bakeshops such as Sugar and Sublime Pies and Cakes. In addition to the Ulak brownie, we couldn’t pass up Aunt Sassy’s Pistachio Surprise cake from Baked—a light pistachio-infused cake with vanilla-honey buttercream icing. The surprise for me: that I was able to resist devouring every last bite on the spot and save some for later.

On the way out of this jam-packed emporium, I easily assembled a gift basket that included a complete pasta dinner for two. There’s no doubt that we’ll be making frequent return trips, whether to pick up on-the-go treats, indulge in beer by the glass or bottle (check on pending Sunday options) while surfing the Wi-Fi connection, or join friends for one of the Thursday evening wine tastings.

The Post and Courier: Gourmet Market has Tastes for Charleston Foodies. June, 2009
June, 2009

Upon walking into Caviar & Bananas, a gourmet market and cafe on George Street in downtown Charleston, you can immediately tell that owners Kris and Margaret Furniss know a lot about food and are passionate enough to share their expertise.
Kris, a native of New York, met his wife, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., after Margaret graduated from the College of Charleston and came to New York City to establish a career in marketing. The two immediately discovered a mutual love for all things culinary and decided to move to Charleston to start their business in 2007.

"Charleston is such a city of foodies," Kris said. "We were both surprised that there wasn't already a gourmet market and cafe around here, so it made sense to start one." They opened Caviar & Bananas in May 2008, less than a year after moving to Charleston, and the result is a place to get a convenient gourmet meal or to do your own shopping. Margaret and Kris are on site most every day, but they say they rarely see each other.

"I handle more of the business side of things," Margaret said. "Marketing our brand, managing, banking and things like that."

"I do daily operations," Kris said. "I oversee the floor and keep up with our inventory."

"It's important to become part of the community and to really know what people want," Kris said.

"Generally, we work with enough vendors that we can track things down for people when they ask for them," Margaret added.

Caviar & Bananas, though gourmet, is not lacking in familiar favorites. "If you want chicken fingers, we have them," Kris said. "A lot of our purchasing includes a large range of items, from the extraordinary to the ordinary. We want the best in every category. We also try to promote a lot of local products."

The couple share the philosophy that by actually being at their business daily and working together with their employees, they create a stronger, more team-oriented atmosphere.

"We truly believe in hiring people who want to work with us, not for us," Kris explained. "We want people who are passionate about the trade and about learning something."

Caviar & Bananas hosts wine and beer tastings on Thursdays and caters events and other functions. The place stays busy, and Kris and Margaret said they feel fortunate to share their culinary flair with the community of Charleston.

"It's been awesome to build something like this together," Margaret said.

Kris agreed: "Turning a dream into a reality, for me, has just been incredibly rewarding."

Gourmet Magazine: Lowcountry Rising. May, 2009
May, 2009

"...up by the college of charleston, near the 18th-century campus on george street and not far from marion square, which is home to the burgeoning saturday farmer's market, a bellwether of epicurean interest has opened up in the form of caviar & bananas. a bit like a mini dean & deluca, its a cafe and specialty foods shop that sells everything from sea salts and soft cheese to prepared tings such as ossobuco..."

This Yuppie Life: Say Cheese, America. April, 2009
April, 2009

"...I signed up for The Ultimate Cheese and Wine Pairing ($40 a ticket), taught by Mike Black, sous chef at Caviar & Bananas – a gourmet market and cafe in downtown Charleston. Since we were sipping American wines, he focused on pairing the wines with American cheese. A novel idea. Now, when I think of American cheese, I think Pierce Point and Lambchopper. Mmmm …..."

This Yuppie Life www.thisyuppielife.com
Charleston Mercury: Pleasures of the Sidewalk Café. October, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Peg Moore

The sidewalk café, long associated with the good life in Paris, is an amenity now enjoyed by many cities across Europe and America. Only a few years ago, this urban pleasure was actually illegal in Charleston.

Sidewalk cafés are such a pleasure that urban planners use them as a tool for reviving cities. Planner Jan Gehl, for instance, credits some 200 sidewalk cafés as playing a major role in rescuing the dying city of Melbourne, Australia. Enlivened sidewalks invite shoppers, provide a sense of safety and make a city more pedestrian friendly. The typical sidewalk café in Paris is an important community meeting place and a hospitable amenity, providing pedestrians a place to rest, have a bite to eat or a glass of wine and people watch.

The most recent addition to Charleston’s public life can be found at the new market/restaurant Caviar and Bananas on George Street, which has acquired a brisk local following. The outside chairs offer front row seats to the urban theatre of life. The foot traffic is active because of the Sottile Theatre, a number of restaurants and other nearby businesses — Caviar and Bananas is a welcoming sight to those who want a whole meal or just a cup of coffee (which is their own blend and delicious). Inside is a tempting array of prepared foods to go and staples that range from the ordinary to the exotic.

If you long for Parisien atmosphere, head for 39 Rue de Jean. The food is, of course, seriously French. Owners Hank Hofford and Mike Bennett see the restaurant as celebrating Charleston’s French Huguenot heritage. Chef Jason Murphy, who has classical French training, has added an outrageously delicious pissaladiere (an onion tart) to the menu. The beef tartare is one of the best in the city and comes topped off with a teeny quail egg. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. on, which means you can drop in mid afternoon for coffee and a dessert.

Sidewalk Furnishings Can Add to the Pleasure

A crucial aspect of the ambience at 39 Rue de Jean are the furnishings on the outside terrace — they transport you straight to Paris with the same comfortable and attractive bamboo chairs and small round tables. A common mistake in this country is the use of overly large tables on the sidewalk, sized for a serious meal in a more formal setting. Two can lunch quite nicely with a round table 19 inches in diameter. Parisien cafés also have round stools (see them in the photo of Café de Flore) that can be easily moved around so that many people can gather around a small table and enjoy a snack or a cool drink. Sociability is the idea of the sidewalk café. Small round tables promote intimate conversation, are more relaxed than large square tables.

Just south of 39 Rue de Jean is Coast, another pleasant sidewalk option — not a café but a place to enjoy a public space with some pedestrian traffic and delicious seafood with a French touch. Chef David Pell worked for Christian Constant, a multi-star chef who used to head the Crillon kitchen in Paris and now oversees four restaurants on the left bank. Like Chef Jason Murphy, who oversees Coast as well as 39 Rue de Jean, Chef Dell is a big supporter of local seafood. You can be sure the shrimp are safe to eat. (Imported, pond-raised shrimp, often from polluted foreign ponds, are still all too common even here in Charleston.)

Chef Murphy has created a delicious dish of braised grouper served over truffled grits that exemplifies the way Charleston’s early French Huguenot settlers might have used local ingredients and revved them up with their beloved truffles.

Another feature that endears us to Coast is the wine list, which is priced for those who drink wine daily and not just on special occasions, and certain servers who will alert you to a bargain rather than pushing the pricier wines. One of the most interesting current bargains is a white wine from Argentina — Torrontes, Sur, ’07. Our server Jeremy recommended it highly, and we were pleased to see it priced reasonably at $28 a bottle.

French Savvy at Basil

Basil flanks its tables on the sidewalk by a row of planters, providing a leafy enclosure between you and the traffic, just the way they do in Paris. Basil is weather-wise as well — awnings give protection from the rain and sun. Even in August heat, there’s shade, and a westerly breeze makes lunching there a pleasure. Very pleasant ambience for savoring such delicious Thai rice noodle dishes such as Pad See-eu and Pad Thai or Basil rolls or their signature fried duck. Sidewalk tables are difficult to snag in the evening. Down the street, Chai’s, also owned by Henry and Chai Eang, has the informal charm of a sidewalk café, but the sidewalk panorama is blocked by plantings and a fence. It is, however, a great place for an al fresco meal of small Thai plates.

Cafés on Calhoun and East Bay Streets

Starbucks at the corner of King and Calhoun could take a few tips from Basil and 39 Rue de Jean. Starbucks has the best sidewalk café location in the whole city (and it promises to get better as the blighted blocks around Marion Square are restored), but the street furnishings are bleak and boring. We noticed in Paris that cafés with traditional bamboo chairs and small marble tables filled up quickly, while those with clunky hard-edged furnishings did not. The café at Starbucks would benefit greatly by the addition of planters to give some attractive visual separation from the traffic.

A few blocks west on Calhoun Street, another Starbucks could also be vastly improved by planter boxes and comfortable chairs.

On Calhoun Street, east of Marion Square, Kennedy’s Market puts tables on the sidewalk when the weather permits. There you can savor some excellent Illy coffee, a variety of pastries and sandwiches.

A welcome sight for pedestrians on East Bay are the sidewalk tables at Pearlz. The furnishings are not great, but this is a good place to relax with a glass of champagne and oysters (bargain prices at happy hour, 5-7p.m.)

Marion Square’s Saturday Morning Magnetism

Actually the best public space in Charleston for people watching and community socializing is not a café at all but the Saturday market on Marion Square. Regulars know to arrive by 7:30 a.m. to grab one of the coveted tables — clearly Charleston residents are starved for more such community-minded public spaces.

The brief social pleasure in Marion Square could be extended all week. One of the most popular urban spaces in New York is Bryant Park behind the public library on Fifth Avenue. When we lived in New York, this space was used only by local drug dealers. Today it is has some 3000 small moveable chairs occupied by families, local businessmen, residents and visitors. There are food stands and an old-fashioned carousel.

King Street Needs Sidewalk Cafés

The sidewalks on King Street are so narrow, it is even difficult to shop with a friend and a shopping bag. However, these sidewalks need not preclude al fresco cafés. In Paris on narrow streets of the left bank, teeny café tables are set up in the street itself with palm trees in planters to separate people from motor traffic.

Some savvy locals tried to introduce this Parisian civility to Charleston, setting up a table in a parking spot on King Street. They dined on pizza from a local restaurant, showing how simply a sidewalk café amenity could be added here. “Outdoor dining is not only good for business, but it significantly enhances the City’s civic life,” says developer Vince Graham, who believes Charleston should make it possible for teeny cafés to be inserted along King Street.

Josh Martin, former Director of Planning, Preservation and Economic Innovation for Charleston, also praises sidewalk cafés as important community gathering places — “They add another dimension to the public realm.” Josh enjoys lunching on the sidewalk terrace of 39 Rue de Jean.

That terrace is a great place to settle mid afternoon for a classic French dessert. There is a yummy crème brulee, of course, but the best dessert is the Vacherin — layers of vanilla bean ice cream, raspberry sorbet and meringue, topped with whipped cream and toasted almonds. Be warned — it can be addictive.We regret the disappearance of the Opera Torte, a thoroughly decadent combination of almond cake, coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache with chocolate sauce, from their menu and have been promised that it may return as a special. Meanwhile, there is that Vacherin. Worth every calorie. Bon appétit!

Charleston City Paper. August, 2008
August 6, 2008

Charleston's newest gourmet grocery, nestled on George Street across from the Sottile Theatre, dishes out plenty of ready-made treats that put a creative, gourmet spin on classic dishes — think black truffle mac 'n' cheese and Mediterranean tuna salad with capers and roasted peppers. Their street vendor-style corn brings the zesty flavor of a Mexican roadside stand to the table. The corn cob is boiled in sweet vanilla coconut milk, then spread with a colorful chipotle mayonnaise and squirted with lime. It's then sprinkled with Cotija cheese, a sharp, aged Mexican variety. The cobs are placed fully dressed back into their husks, awaiting purchase at the prepared-foods counter. Upon ordering, they're popped in the microwave for a few seconds, making for a tasty snack — the crunchy, buttery taste of classic corn on the cob, with a kick both spicy and creamy.
News 2: Small Business Looks to Local Bank. September, 2008
News 2
September 29, 2008

Opening any small business can be a risk, but it’s becoming tougher to do with the country’s turbulent economy.

“We took a chance, rolled the dice and here we are.”

Kris and Margaret Furniss opened the specialty shop Caviar and Bananas in downtown Charleston four months ago. They remortgaged their home in New York City to fund half of the business and hoped a larger commercial bank would loan them the second half, but they didn’t find any support.

“Because we were a first time business owners it was hard to find that financial backing. So we went a local bank in town, South Carolina Bank and Trust and they really believed in our idea,” Kris told News Two.

“If you start a business, it may not be a bad time to do it, but it will have to be a self-funding business,” said economic advisor Paul Meeks.

He says loans will be even harder to come by for small business owners after the failure of so many financial institutions and that local banks may be a better option.

“The smaller banks may not be publicly traded and they also have a vested interest in their reputation in the community,” he continued.

The only downside, they may not have as much money to throw behind your business as larger banks. However, these owners say they’re receiving the service and support they need to be successful.

“You are able to meet with the decision makers who are the ones deciding those things rather than at a bigger bank where you’re going in to talk to a guy who has to go talk to his boss’s, boss’s boss about it,” Margaret explained.

They admit it’s a financial roller coaster, but the risk is worth pursuing their dream.

Meeks also added that lenders are going to be very weary about who the loan money to, even if you have good credit. He says if you are approved, you’ll probably have an extremely high interest rate.

Charleston Mercury: Gourmet on the Run. July, 2008
Peg Moore - Charleston Mercury
July 15, 2008

There was a time when mediocre fast food or frozen dinners were the only options if you were too pressed for time to cook a fabulous meal. No more. The food revolution changed all that.

If you lived in New York in 1977, you will remember the excitement generated by a new food store in SoHo — the appetizing industrial chic decor of white tile, stainless steel and wire shelves with foods displayed as lovingly as the jewels at Tiffany’s. There was arugula, mesclun, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms that were not white and tasteless, Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil — ingredients we take for granted now were fresh and exciting in 1977. Prepared foods were delicious, a far cry from fast food fare. That new store, Dean and DeLuca, the first importer of Balsamic vinegar to America, has become well known with a catalog business and international branch stores. “The idea was that if you didn’t know what a sun-dried tomato was, well, here it was, in a pasta salad,” said owner Joel Dean.

Dean and DeLuca and its clones have changed the whole perception of take-out prepared food in America. As Elizabeth David noted in An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, “In France no shame is attached to buying ready-prepared food because most of it is of high quality. The housewives and small restaurateurs who rely upon the professional skill of charcutiers and patissiers for a part of their supplies see to it that the pates and sausages, fruit flans, terrines…maintain high standards of freshness and excellence.” New York embraced this practical French tradition offered by Dean and DeLuca.

Dean and DeLuca Savvy on George Street

In New York Mimi Sheraton, the acclaimed restaurant critic, spread the word in the New York Times when Dean and DeLuca opened. Here in Charleston, downtown still has a small-town ambience, and local buzz spread the news about Charleston’s new treasure before the newspapers could report it.

Caviar and Bananas had been open about five minutes, and foodies were talking — “You must go,” said my friend Amy. When I walked in the shop, there was John Doyle having breakfast, and Martine and Frederick Dulles were picking up dinner.

The café/market on George Street is owned by Kris Furniss, who studied at the French Culinary Institute and was general manager of a New York Dean and DeLuca, and his wife Margaret, a College of Charleston graduate. There is a dazzling array of food to eat in the café or take home. Be warned — it is all so appetizing, you will want to take home more than you can eat. The airy steel shelves (just like the ones in that 1977 Dean and DeLuca) hold such treasures as Il Mulino tomato sauce. (Il Mulino is a New York restaurant, highly rated in Zagat). There are a variety of dried pastas to go with the sauce and a selection of fresh artisanal pastas from Brian Bertolini. The sauce combines deliciously with Bertolini’s lemon-y Split Creek goat cheese ravioli. That plus a salad, which can be customized, and you have dinner.

“Our goal is to become a one-stop market,” says Kris. That means you can find the ordinary, such as peanut butter, potato chips, breakfast cereal — and bananas — along with exotic spices, truffle salt, avocado oil, olive oils, teas and restaurant-quality prepared foods for a fraction of the price you’d pay in a restaurant. Don’t miss the charcuterie and cheese area, which features imports as well as local artisanal products.

Chef Jason Ulak, who has cooked at SNOB and The Boathouse, is the talent behind the prepared food, which caters to all tastes. The barbecue chicken is encrusted with pretzels and onions; the mac and cheese includes real truffles. Other tasty dishes include green tea smoked duck eggrolls, a chopstick salad of noodles, sushi, green tea smoked chicken with a peanut dressing and wonton crisps, an Israeli couscous salad. The baked truffle potatoes are addictive, as is that chopstick salad. Some dishes are so popular — such as the barbecued chicken, the Kobe meat loaf, and the street vendor corn on the cob — they are likely to be available daily. However, to keep things interesting for an increasing number of regulars, new dishes are constantly added.

“We have become a meeting place,” says Margaret, noting that a number of nearby business people come often for lunch. One regular is Mike Lata, chef/owner of FIG — “He likes the duck confit sandwich.”

John Doyle says, “I eat there every day. It has turned my neighborhood into a Greenwich Village, with my studio, my home, and the restaurant all within a few hundred yards of each other. The people at Caviar and Bananas are like family. I always see people I know, like Linwood Grady, whose clothing store is around the corner. The food is healthy and tasty, and the atmosphere is so chic I take dates there. It is easier to get a table for dinner, as so many people take dinner home.”

Do try the special blend of organic coffee. The coffee bar with assorted pastries (a delicious bran muffin) is popular for breakfast and mid afternoon snacks. Outside tables provide that all-too-rare in-Charleston Parisian pleasure of being able to people watch as you relax with a coffee or a meal. There is inside seating for forty people.

The focus is on service. Sandwiches and salads can be personalized. So can gift baskets. Or dinner — tell them your tastes and they will suggest a menu. There is free Wi-Fi connection, and you can have a house account.

One of the nicest features about Caviar and Bananas is that they will deliver meals to your door. One recent stormy night, we feasted upon SoHo salads and barbecue chicken.

Baby Back Ribs,

Hard to Find Cheeses,

Artisanal Pasta

Ted’s Butcherblock is also an important source for pulling together a meal or a cocktail do. It is much more than a quality meat market with a great selection of wines. The cheese selection is one of the best in town and there are assorted fruit spreads for pulling together a really remarkable cheese tray. The cheeses are all labeled, and owner Ted Dombrowski is happy to provide samples if you can’t decide which.

Most of the prepared foods have been vacuum packed, which means you can keep them for several days before eating. Dombrowski will give you directions for heating such dishes as lamb in lamb jus, baby back ribs, smoked chicken (very tasty with the house-made apple chutney), ziti and meat balls, chicken marsala, duck leg in orange sauce. There are pates, artisanal pastas, house-made Bolognese sauce, fancy sandwiches. “I looked to Europe as a model, where foods are fresher and better than in a supermarket,” says Dombrowski.

An easy tasty lunch can be pulled together at Mr. Burbage’s, which has a loyal local following for excellent sandwiches, salads, delicious soups and what many consider the best barbecue in town.

For the cocktail hour, O’Hara and Flynn carries an addictive salami, cornichons, imported cheeses from Europe (a particularly excellent Taleggio). Fast and French always has good French cheeses and an incredible truffle pate.

The best selection of artisanal pastas by Brian Bertolini can be found in the Saturday market in Marion Square — yummy lasagna, raviolis, a saffron papardelle. Rococo Bakery carries a tasty tomato pie and quiche for an easy lunch, interesting breads and pastries.

Local Artisanal

When Dean and DeLuca opened in 1977, most of the artisanal products showcased were from abroad. Increasingly artisans in this country are producing quality foods, especially cheeses, to rival the imports. The manager of the cheese department in Caviar and Bananas will be featuring many of these. Watch for Split Creek goat cheese, which is produced in Anderson, and cheeses from Alabama, Georgia and the Hudson Valley.

Charleston is increasingly being called the culinary star of the South. In much of America during the 1970s, a culinary lifestyle was born, which involved cooking with new ingredients, chic kitchen ware and affordable excellence in prepared foods to pick up and take home. This phenomenon is documented in The United States of Arugula by David Kamp. What is happening in Charleston, however, is more of a renaissance. Charleston’s tradition of fine dining has only recently moved into the public realm with an amazing concentration of talented restaurant chefs reviving the culinary excellence of the 18th and 19th-century kitchens of wealthy Charleston merchants and planters.

And now there are excellent sources for foodies–on-the-run to pick up fabulous foods, already prepared, to feast upon at home. Bon Appetit!

Charleston City Paper: Pairing The Ordinary And Extraordinary. June, 2008
Alison Sher - Charleston City Paper
June 2008

Gourmet grocery Caviar and Bananas opened a few weeks back on the eve of Spoleto and has been packing them in ever since. The shop is located on 51 George St., on the edge of the College of Charleston campus and across the street from the Sottile Theater. A big refrigerated case along the back of the sleek space features prepared meals and side items like black truffle mac 'n' cheese and edamame hummus. The sandwich counter has tasty creations like duck confit on sourdough and charcuterie on a baguette. Salads, like the decadent lobster Cobb salad, are tossed to order, and fresh sushi is rolled at the counter. Almost all of the prepared dishes at Caviar and Bananas are made in-house by Chef Jason Ulak, who made a name for himself at SNOB and The Boathouse. In the middle of the shop, shelves are stocked with a variety of unique, high-end snacks and condiments and a hand-selected wine portfolio. They even validate parking for the first 30 minutes. But features like these don't come cheap; you can expect to pay a whopping $9 for that yummy lobster salad.

The Post & Courier: Caviar & Bananas to offer tasty treats for every palate. May, 2008
Abi Nicholas - Post & Courier
May 12, 2008

It's as cosmopolitan as caviar and as accessible as bananas.

Perhaps that's why husband and wife team Kris and Margaret Furniss named their new gourmet market and cafe in downtown Charleston — drumroll, please — Caviar & Bananas.

With a projected opening date of May 19, this Dean & Deluca-esque market runs the gamut with its selections, offering lobster medallions and black truffle macaroni and cheese alongside chicken salad and a sandwich bar.

Sourced locally and from around the globe, other offerings include a gourmet coffee and tea bar; sushi; a salad bar; charcuterie and artisan cheeses; various prepared foods; bread, pastries and baked goods; and imported and domestic wines, beers and sakes by the bottle or glass.

Services include personal shopping, delivery and pick-up; catering and events; personal accounts and validated parking for the first 30 minutes in the connecting garage.

Located at 51 George St., at the new student housing and retail space development on the College of Charleston campus, Caviar & Bananas is a 3,300-square-foot space with an upscale corner-store feel (think Bull Street Gourmet) that Margaret Furniss, a College of Charleston alumna, says will appeal to college students and locals.

"It's higher end but also accessible for everyone," she said.

College students can pop in for a quick coffee between classes or a six-pack of beer before the weekend. Residents can attend wine tastings and cooking demonstrations. "We're going to be very involved with the community," she said.

And they're starting with Spoleto Festival USA.

Caviar & Bananas is a sponsor of the Jazz Under the Stars event and will be hosting two wine tastings, one on May 24 and one on May 31, led by Italian wine makers and featuring several of the official wines of Spoleto Festival.

Charleston City Paper
Josh Eboch
March 26 2008

Caviar & Bananas, a cross between a café, corner store, and coffee bar, will open on George Street in May. Part of a growing trend of gourmet groceries, Caviar & Bananas' goal is to expand on a concept already made familiar by shops such as the Bull Street Gourmet. Caviar owners Kris and Margaret Furniss want to go a step further and bring a "big-city feel" to the Charleston market. Think Dean & Deluca, for those familiar with the New York mecca for all things gourmet. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this experiment is its location. Rather than hide away underneath Charleston Place or in some similarly exclusive venue, Caviar has chosen to open its doors on campus at the College of Charleston. Part of the recently completed student housing and retail space development near the Cistern, Caviar & Bananas is betting that college kids will appreciate having some quality food and caffeine close to where they live and work. For those of us who fondly remember the cracked asphalt and parking tickets that once stretched between George and Liberty streets next to the old St. Philip garage, it appears we can look forward to enjoying tasty new memories (if we can afford them) at the Caviar & Bananas shop.

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