We Need to Talk About euphoria: 2017 Update

To see my previous article on euphoria, click here.

It’s time to write an update article as euphoria’s 2016 IRS Form 990 was released on the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website.  The percentage of monies given to their specified charities is the lowest it’s been since 2013.  Total expenses were $189,575 and of that, $34,088 was used for program expenses.  This is more overall money than last year, but it represents a smaller percentage of overall expenses used.  euphoria’s 2016 expenses were around $30,000 more than 2015’s, but only $4,000 more was donated to charities.  Their fundraising costs were a staggering $396,378 in 2016.

This year’s euphoria is more expensive than ever and VIP ticket packages that reach into the thousands of dollars are being marketed as a good deal as if normal people can afford them.  Once again, euphoria is dividing the Greenville community into the haves and have nots on who can attend.  There aren’t heavily publicized, or any events that I can tell, to have the overall Greenville community take part in the “festival” like other large events that take place downtown. I put festival in quotations as a festival implies that it’s more open and welcoming to all people.  They also give less money to charity than the other festivals do.  Both Artisphere and Fall for Greenville both destroy the amount of money given and the percentage of expenses given to programs.  Yes, they’re larger festivals but maybe that’s because they try to include all of, and focus on, Greenville and not just the top 1 or 2 percent and more out of towners than local residents.

The Best of the Upstate 2017: How You Should Vote for Food & Drink Part 1

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Every year, The Greenville News sponsors a Best of the Upstate popularity contest that allows the community to nominate and vote on what they deem to be the “Best of the Upstate.”  Everything from “Best Fried Chicken” to, for some reason, “Best Church” are up for debate.  Unfortunately, what normally happens is that the true best choice doesn’t win and it goes to something that, while the masses like it, is closer to truly mediocre.  This is especially true in the Food and Drink category.  In most democratic processes, I am of the mind that there is no truly wrong choice and that arguments can be made for all eligible nominees.  However, dear reader, in this case, that is not true.  There are right and wrong answers here.  Most of this voting is flawed from the start as many of the candidates shouldn’t even be nominated for one reason or the other.  But since this is a popularity contest and not an actual best of, the general public wins out.  When voting, I have a few ground rules right off the top:

  • Unless absolutely, positively, only very necessary DO NOT VOTE FOR  NATIONAL OR LARGE CHAINS
  • If I have no real opinion or I cannot make a case in my mind that one of the nominees is the best of that category, I don’t vote.

So how should you vote this year to truly let the “Best” available win?  I’m about to tell you who to vote for in Food and Drink and why. Continue reading

Foundational Foods: The Lüke Burger at Lüke New Orleans

At some point, we all outgrow McDonald’s.  The burger that comes with a Happy Meal is often the first foray in to burgerdom.  Sure, there might be a home cooked burger in there somewhere, but McDonald’s is usually that gateway drug.  This is not a knock on McDonald’s.  They put out a product that adults still crave, hopefully in moderation, to take them back to their childhood, to something that reminds them of lunches with grandma or after a tee ball game win.

Eventually everyone grows up and their taste changes.  They get burgers from other non-fast food establishments, like an Applebee’s or Chili’s, but have not yet crossed over into that realm of top tier burgers nor, if outside a big city or California, have they tasted In n Out or Shake Shack.  All of this to say, the burger is a constant in the life of most people.  It’s a classic and to have a great burger is a simple pleasure.  When a burger is bad, it can be completely deflating.  When a burger is great, it can be a milestone moment.  Even vegetarians and vegans are eating burgers that tastes (supposedly)_and bleeds like meat.  And for me, the perfect burger that came at the perfect time is the Lüke Burger.

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First Impressions: Farmhouse Tacos

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As previously mentioned, tacos have seemingly seeped into every corner of Greenville. While the city limits are the epicenter of their growth, this hasn’t stopped the tendrils from reaching into the surrounding cities and starting to wrap around them like a tortilla around filling.  This has even extended to the once sleepy town of Travelers Rest.  TR used to be nothing but Sunrift Adventures, TR Oriental, and the Waffle House. Now, thanks to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it’s a bustling small town with lots of great ways to spend an afternoon or evening with food, drinks, and more.  Now, another place is added to that list: Farmhouse Tacos.  Do they have what it takes to make their mark on an already crowded taco landscape?

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First Impressions – Johnny F’s Chicago Style

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While the Upstate isn’t lacking in cuisine from other countries, there is a lack of places that serve food from other parts of our own country.  There’s plenty of places that do Mexican, Chinese, Colombian, Thai, Indian and almost any other ethnic food type that you can think of.  But how many places in Greenville serve strictly foods and styles that come from say, California or Washington state?  There’s no where that specializes in Texas style barbecue which, as Lewis Barbecue in Charleston proves, is a hit in mustard and vinegar based sauce country.  Or what about Chicago?  With their hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian beef how can there not be somewhere to fulfill that craving?  This is where Johnny F’s Chicago Style steps in. Continue reading

Foundational Foods: Trattoria dal Billy

In this series, I will write about the places, dishes, and experiences that have shaped my world view on food, both good and bad.  

When you step out from the train in Manarola for the first time, you notice the sea and the high cliffs.  Each Cinque Terre city has its own personality and Manarola’s is dictated by the landscape.  Walking through the tunnel into town, you notice the houses.  Multicolored, built on hills, old, worn by the salt and the air; they perch on the cliffs, making you wonder if they really are all that stable.  Walk a little further into town and not only are you greeted by an incredible view out onto the sea, but the sounds and smells of a bustling Italian coast town.  But for all of the things that are easily accessed by the senses, the best spot to take in the true essence of Manarola requires a more knowledge based approach.

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First Impressions – Willy Taco – Feed & Seed

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As previously stated, the Greenville area is experiencing something of a Taco Boom.  It’s becoming harder to find a niche within this food type.  As the recent closing of both Local Taco locations in Greenville shows us, if you don’t innovate or have good quality food and service that’s consistent over the long term, you’ll become another taco casualty.

Willy Taco, started in Spartanburg, SC in 2014, became enough of a local favorite that the owners decided to open their second location in Greenville.  Housed in what had been a feed and seed  store since 1934 at the intersection of East Washington Street and Laurens Road, Willy Taco invested somewhere in the seven figures to restore, modernize, and “Willy-fy” the mainstay building to turn it into a taco, tortas, and tequila palace.  Is this another taco flash in the pan or does Willy Taco – Feed & Seed have a chance to outstay the old tenants of its venerable building? Continue reading