Tag Archive: Greenville

Great Scots Parade in a Mini Convertible

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Great Scot! Parade in front of the Westin Poinsett Hotel

This Memorial Day weekend actually started Thursday morning, and it’s just barely getting started. So far I’ve been kayaking, gone to a midnight movie to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, attended a history lecture on old maps, looked for mythical meteors, visited an Irish pub, and had coffee and a great visit with old friends – and it’s only Saturday. The highlight so far, though, has been our participation in the Great Scot! Parade through downtown Greenville with the Upstate Minis.

A couple of weeks ago Jeff Goodman had posted on the Upstate Minis Facebook page about the group participating in the parade. I asked Laura if she were interested, and she jumped at the chance. So, Friday afternoon a little after 5:00 we lined up with ten other Minis on Townes Street. We would bring up the rear of the parade.

Great Scot Parade Minis-6 (more…)

Shinola and Java Fix

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Art, Antiques, Funk

I had been working around the house most of the day and needed to get out and about. I decided a cup of coffee was in order, but I didn’t just want Starbucks or Atlanta Bread Company, my usual haunts. Then I remembered Java Fix, a coffee shop in a tiny weird building on Wade Hampton Boulevard. That simple decision turned into an afternoon’s adventure.

I’m a sucker for weird angled buildings. These are usually built to take advantage of a limited footprint where roads intersect at a sharp angle. Often there will be an entrance at the narrow end, then the place widens out. There used to be a really cool building at the intersection of Poinsett and Highway 183, but it was torn down when the Pete Hollis Boulevard was build. That was a shame.

Located where Mohawk Drive veers off of Wade Hampton, Java Fix is in a tiny little angled building. I think it started as a car service place. For awhile it was a record store, and I remember stopping in to browse. It’s also been a hairstyle saloon and several other things before the Fix people took over.

Java Fix-009 (more…)

Bocca Pure Italian

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Bocca Pure Italian

I must have driven by it a thousand times – an old Pizza Hut with the distinctive architecture now converted into another restaurant.  However, this time it caught my eye.  Laura and I were on our way back from a paddling trip.  Later we would be back up this way for a play at Furman, and we needed a place for dinner.  The sign read “Lobster Stuff Shells” and my mind started pondering the meaning of “Lobster Stuff” and what that might entail.  From those musings we decided to give Bocca Pure Italian a try.  A grammatical error caught my attention and got our business.

Background

I really couldn’t find much substantial background online. The information on the restaurant’s website and Facebook page is rather sparse. Bocca has been here a number of years, but I don’t remember exactly when. Oddly enough, I don’t remember any of our friends or Furman colleagues mentioning the place as a dining destination. We had absolutely no point of reference.

Atmosphere

The folks at Bocca have done a fantastic job given the restrictions of old Pizza Hut architecture. The exterior has been redone in gold tones, and those same rich tones with wood accents grace the interior. The wall spaces between the unusually angled windows have been outfitted with shelving for the restaurant’s extensive wine collection. The dining area is relatively small, and the counter is in the same location as the old Pizza Hut cashier counter.

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However, the counter was radically different from PH days. I didn’t get a chance for a photo, but a split in the counter allowed access to a room with a larger collection of wine and what was apparently a small wine bar. I did spot a couple of patrons there during the course of the meal. The proprietors have added additional cooking and storage space to the original building. Apparently there is a studio kitchen which can be used for cooking demonstrations.

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As for clientele, it was definitely an older crowd, with ages averaging in the 60s. I guess the best description could be “relaxed affluence.” This was obviously not the spot for high schoolers and Furman kids to casually drop by for a pizza. Even so, as we dined, two young prom couples arrived.

When we arrived we were asked if we had reservations, which we didn’t. Apparently we got the last non-reservation table. We watched several others get turned away over the course of our meal. The place was packed the entire time.

Menu

Traditional Italian dishes dominate the menu. There are several antipasti selections, including Bruschetta, Ensalada Capresse, and some more unusual dishes such as Scallops au Gratin, Italian Rope Sausage, and Mussels Piccata. All of these are reasonably priced from $6-$9.

There are quite a few specialties with seafood, chicken, veal, beef and Italian sausage. These include Rigatoni, Shrimp Carbonara, Cheese Tortolini, etc. These run from $16 – $24.

In addition to these specialties there were several classic veal and chicken dishes priced at $18.50, and several specialty pizzas for $14.50.

One innovative menu item is the “Personalized Pasta” selections. You pick the type of past, the type of sauce to go on it, and the meat (if any.) Prices vary according to selection.

And if that weren’t enough, there are the daily chef specials, of which the Lobster “Stuffed” (corrected on the display board inside) Shells and a Surf and Turf.

As mentioned, there was an extensive wine selection. Prices overall were more expensive than a casual dinner out, but are in line with a nice Italian meal.

Food

The menu was almost overwhelming. We were on a time limit with the the theater date, so we made choices quicker than we might. We both selected dishes from the veal and chicken selections. Laura ordered Chicken alla Piccata and I ordered Chicken alla Capresse.

Since we ordered chicken dishes, we ordered glasses of Pinot Grigio to go along with the meals. These came out first, and were quite good. However, I should have ordered something else. The lighter Pinot didn’t hold up well to my heavier dish. More on that later.

Salads arrived first. These were simple beds of Romana with a slice of tomato, some onion, and dressed with vinagrette. They were quite good.

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It took a bit of time, but our dishes arrived. Laura’s dish had a light lemon piccata sauce with capers, garlic chunks, green beans, and angel hair pasta. She let me have a bite, and it was fantastic – light and flavorful.

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My dish was heavier, but no less delicious. My chicken was covered with sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella. It was accompanied with linguini covered with a light marinara sauce. Mine also had the ever-present chunks of garlic. Again, my Pinot Grigio was a bit light for the dish and I would have been better off with something red.

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In places such as Olive Garden they grill up a bunch of chicken breasts and toss on whatever sauce is needed to create the dish. Not here. Even though we both had two thin (but large) slices of chicken breasts, each was prepared specifically for the dish.

The flavors were marvelous, and both of us cleaned our plates. Unfortunately, we had saved neither time nor space for dessert.

Service

There were just a few problems, but none that greatly upset the course of the meal. First off, two waitresses arrived for duty about a quarter after six. Apparently one of these was assigned to us. Also, as “non-reservationists” we seemed to fall in the cracks. Other tables were told about specials and brought bread, but not us. I might have tried the “Lobster Stuff” otherwise.

We never really knew who was supposed to be serving our table, and none of the serving staff seemed very friendly. It was if we were intruders. My feeling was that from the point we were seated we were customers just like any other patron in the place. Laura made mention that we were “taking up one of their tables”, to which I replied, “Well, they seated us, and they had the choice NOT to do that,” so I didn’t worry about it.

In fairness, the place was busy with a couple of larger groups. There were several servers for the small place, but it seemed to lack…friendly efficiency, I guess. We got our food in time, and we eventually got our bread, but timing was always beyond the point where we were starting to wonder. I would hope that isn’t the case on a less busy night or when the staff shows up when it should.

Conclusions

The quality of the food was excellent. The dishes seemed to have an innovative flair, but with a basis in traditional Italian cuisine. It made me want to come back and try one of their specialties. Service was so-so, but I’m hoping that’s not par for the course. Bocca Italian is a bit pricy, but not out of line for a nice evening out with food quality this good.

This was quite a surprise, and it’s nice to know that food of this quality is so close to Furman. I’m sure we will be back.

Taylors Renaissance Revisited

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Red Chair 2

Last week I visited a new coffee shop in the old Southern Bleachery Mills in Taylors. This week I noticed that they were going to have live music Friday night, and that the artist studios I had seen on that last visit would be open for First Friday. After dinner in Greer, Laura and I decided to check it out.

At first she was quite skeptical. I took the back way, following Chick Springs Road from Greer into Taylors. It worked perfectly, but Laura had no clue where we were going. Her skepticism increased when I drove onto the old mill property. However, when she saw all the cars and activity, that skepticism diminished.

Due South Coffee was hopping. They had opened two of the large garage doors leading into their space, and we could hear the music all over the parking lot. However, we decided to check out the art studios first. (more…)

Taylors Renaissance and Textures

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Taylors Mill with Texture

As most readers by now know, I am fascinated with old ghost towns. However, what I like even more is when I find an area that was previously in decay now coming back to life. Such is the case with the old Taylors Mill in downtown Taylors.

The phrase “downtown Taylor’s may not have much meaning to Greenvillians. Most think of Taylors as a nebulous area somewhere on the Eastside of town before you get to Greer. There is actually a downtown area, just off of Wade Hampton Boulevard, beyond Taylors First Baptist Church. There are a few storefronts, but the most prominent features are the old Taylors High School, now converted into a Fine Arts Academy and Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and the old Taylors Textile Mill. (more…)

Composite Greenville History

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On our latest Lowcountry Unfiltered trip down to Bonneau Ferry I enjoyed creating some composite images from old photographs. These show a historic photo of of the plantation superimposed over a present-day photo. The photos proved popular, and I wondered if I could do more with local historic photos.

I love historic photos. I’m a sucker for those little historic images books from Arcadia Press. When I first got involved with multimedia design for the classroom, one of my first projects was to create an interactive display comparing historic images of Greenville taken from the same vantage point over time.

Finding suitable images can be tricky. Copyright issues aside, I could scan the images from my books, but I’d prefer to find something available online. The best, most extensive collection is the Coxe Collection. The Greenville Historical Society has those locked away, available only at low resolution and watermarked to hell and back. The Library of Congress has some good images, as do the South Carolina Digital Library collection and the Greenville County Library.

Recently I discovered that Greenville History Tours had been posting some cool photos of Greenville on their Facebook page. Some of these were perfect for my project, and I spent one afternoon greedily downloading images from their site.

Thursday of this week was a beautiful day, and seemed like a perfect opportunity to put my project to the test. I printed out copies of the historic images so that I could try to line up my photos with the original. I think some of these turned out quite well. I’m going to be posting larger than usual images in this post because of the nature of the project, so I apologize ahead of time to the bandwidth-challenged. (more…)

Lake Connestee Nature Trail

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Reedy River Bridge

It seems I wasn’t the only one itching to get out and shoot some photos when our planned outing went belly up due to weather yesterday. Sunday’s weather was perfect, and Alan wanted to take his new Nikon DSLR for a spin. So, we planned to meet somewhere local. There had been an article in the Greenville News about additions to the Lake Connestee Nature Park, so we decided to check them out.

Our plan was to meet at the parking area at the dam, or so I thought. At the appointed time I got a call from Alan saying he was at the entrance to the park. Turns out he was behind the old Braves Stadium, so I headed in that direction. Then, it turned out that there were TWO entrances to the park with large signs that look like this…

Lake Connestee Sign

Alan was at one, and I was at the other. Through the magic of cell phone technology we got it sorted out, and rendezvoused at the correct trail head. (more…)

Urban Religion in Greenville

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Mountain View Baptist Sign

I had different plans for today. Several of my friends and I were going to go on a photo ramble through Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, so we decided to cancel that trip. I was still in the mood to do some photography, so when the rain let up in the afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed out. I had a project in mind.

I’ve stated it here, and it’s been pointed out many times that there is a church just about on every corner in Greenville. I wanted to explore a few of these. Specifically, I was interested in the older, smaller, out-of-the-way churches. Most of these are tucked away on residential streets. There are so many, that unless one has a connection to the church, most likely one would drive right by without noticing it.

With so many churches in one area, I have to wonder what services must be like. Is there that much diversity that so many are needed? It certainly fragments the church-going population. I think back to McCarter’s tiny congregation, and I know that many of these churches must be struggling to survive. Yet, that small place is a meaningful place of worship for someone. I guess they take the “where ever two or three are gathered” phrase seriously.

Part of this I can understand. There are many, many denominations and sects, and each wants its own place of worship. Then there is the segregation of Greenville’s population. I’m not talking about specifically racial lines, although there are clearly neighborhoods that were historically black or historically white, and each had its own set of churches. Greenville’s population is fractured by mill villages, and each had its own set of churches for each denomination, usually one black and one white. Given that, it’s easier to understand why there are so many in our area. (more…)

MLK Day Photography

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River Place

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day off for me. In years past I’ve tried to get out and take some photos. Sometimes it’s been a local trip, and sometimes we have ranged farther. This year taking a longer trek was out of the question, so I stayed close by. Turns out I had a full day of photography, with lots to learn along the way. I’ll break it into three parts…

Falls Park Time-Lapse

Laura and I had appointments in the morning, and I wanted to watch the Obama inauguration around noon. So, it wasn’t until early afternoon that I was able to set off. I’ve got a hair-brained idea for doing a series of time-lapse videos around Greenville, and I wanted to shoot some proof-of-concept videos to test the waters. I headed down to Falls Park and the River Place area. (more…)

World’s Fastest Leaf Blower

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More Leaves 2

Raking leaves is an exercise in futility. This is especially true since our trees still have loads of leaves on them. I’m tempted to just wait until they all fall, then hire someone else to clean them up. that strategy has worked well in the past.

Alas, though, I’m bowing to neighborhood convention, and at least cleaning off the front yard so that the house looks respectable. However, there’s nothing that says that I can’t have fun doing it.

I had thought about this video the last time I cleared the leaves off of our front yard. This would make an excellent time-lapse video. My new Nikon D7000 has an interval timer build into it, so why not put it to use? (more…)

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