A First Date with Joe Maffo

Man holds alligator

Joe adorns me with a snake necklace while showing off  one of his toys; a baby (live) alligator.

If you haven’t yet been to the Joe Maffo’s exhibit at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, then you are missing out on something special.  Held outside on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Joe and his staff of students and volunteers educate delighted crowds about reptiles, chickens, and rabbits, among those he had the day I visited with Johnny D.

Brothers  Brothers, Miles and Owen, share a python.

kid holds baby gator

Local student assists Maffo as summer job.

kid with snake

Visitor from Beaufort, Miguel wears a python “hoodie” with Maffo.

Joe carefully wraps onlookers with his friends, then explains how and what they eat, and why they should never be approached in the wild.

“I want people to educate people to respect our wildlife, but not fear it.  We are all part of the same eco-system,”  says Joe.

 

 

 

 

And we’re not the only ones who appreciate Maffo’s expertise.  Featured in August’s Men’s Health magazine, pg. 34, he’s gone nationwide.  Also look for a piece in the Wall Street Journal called What’s in My Bag, for a look at what Joe Maffo carries around with him… maybe you don’t want to know!

chicken on guy's shoulder

Johnny D bonds with a chicken.

For more information about Critter Management call, 843-681-8050

Or check out the exhibit schedule here: http://www.coastaldiscovery.org/home/discover-and-learn/site-tours-programs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Week to Get a Johnny D Tree at Sonesta Resort, and Help Hilton Head Prep!

Christmas Tree

Hilton Head Prep Decorated Tree for Sale at Sonesta Resort

Season Greetings, Islanders, and Holiday Guests!

This is the last week of Hilton Head Prep’s Annual Festival of Trees at Shipyard’s Sonesta Resort.  Representatives from Hilton Head Preparatory School will be selling these beautifully decorated Christmas trees from 3pm – 7pm.  When Prep representatives are not available, trees can still be purchased at the Sonesta Front Desk.

I call these, Johnny D trees.  For those of you who don’t know my husband, Johnny D, you also may not know that his favorite holiday family activity is NOT packing the family into Sorel snow boots, going to the nearby Christmas tree farm and carefully picking out the perfect fir, cutting it down, loading it into the flatbed in the snow with the kids helping, and driving it home singing Christmas carols.

No.

Johnny D

Johnny D, Tells a Friend About His Day Choosing a Tree.

Finding a Johnny D tree, means sliding barefoot into your Ferragamo driving shoes, taking your convertible Mercedes to a nearby hotel on the beach, choosing the flashiest, most sparkly, already-decorated tree, palming the valet an extra fiver to heave it into the trunk, reward oneself with a glass of pinot grigio at the bar, for a job well done (having braved the traffic circles to get there), and then contributed to the Prep Christmas fund, his wife’s alma mater. High-five Johnny D, and Merry Christmas Hilton Head Prep!

Below, is what’s left on the Festival of Trees schedule this week.  Don’t miss out, get yourself a Johnny D tree, and then pat yourself on the back.

Please join us for the following Special Events coming up this week at 
The Sonesta! 
Christmas Tree

Decorated Christmas Trees Benefit Hilton Head Prep’s Scholarship Program

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Hilton Head Prep’s Strings will perform.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 6:15 pm

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will perform Lessons and Carols, which is based on a service originally offered at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England in 1918.  The service combines readings about the Christmas story from prophecy of a messiah to the fulfillment of the prophecy in the gospel texts. Carols will be sung by Candace Woodson after each lesson; and students from middle school and lower school will perform the carols in sign language.

Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm

The Chamber Readers of Hilton Head Preparatory School will perform “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.  The poem, which has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today.

Gratitude Blog From Hilton Head Blog Angel

Jewelry display at festival

Hilton Head Blog Angel Jewelry Booth at the Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn

This past weekend couldn’t have been better, even if we had scripted the event.  Which actually, we did.  Or rather, Paul Caimano, Committee Chairman of the Sixth Annual Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn, and his friends at the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH) did. (Script the event, that is).

Three people at Italian Heritage Festival 2015

2015 Festival Goers Fan their Beers.

And that’s probably the reason everything at the Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn came off without a hitch or a glitch.  That, and the God-wink bestowed upon us, when San Gennaro instructed the heavens to shine sunny and warm all day long on Hilton Head, while his blood liquefied over in Naples, Italy, in front of the astonished, and awed, Catholic congregants.

And now that the Pope is visiting the United States this week, I thought it appropriate to share this great video I snagged off YouTube, of the March 21, 2015 blood miracle that occurred; a phenomenon that was visited by Pope Francis in Naples, just this past spring.  This is the same blood miracle that we celebrate in the United States every year, only it is the September 19th, scheduled, liquefaction that is fêted.  You see, we are fortunate that San Gennaro’s blood liquefaction is a frequent event – AND annual – so that nobody ever misses a moment to party down Vatican style.

Now according to the video, the March melting was just a partial miracle, as you will note, and Pope Francis – the good sport that he is – did not take it personally, but rather joked, that San Gennaro was probably none to happy with the state of the world, as it is.  Ergo, the blood only melts a little, and looks like pudding.  I guess we’ve got some work to do here on earth, to get his blood liquefying, and roiling the way it’s supposed to.  Way to go, World.

George Paletta at Festival 2015

IACHH Vice-President, The George, Happy that the Sun Shined Brightly on Saturday.

I’m just glad that San Gennaro saw fit to bestow a happy, sunny day on us, this past Saturday on Hilton Head, because lots of fun and entertainment was consumed by the Italian-American plebeians, of the New World.  And Yours Truly, reaped some of the spoils, thankfully, due to arduous planting of marketing seeds prior to this auspicious annual Hilton Head event.

San Gennaro Statue

San Gennaro Statue at Las Vegas Feast, sports paper bills for a tie (big surprise).

That is why I am thanking Islanders and visitors from near and far, who trod courageously through the fairgrounds Saturday, fending off pesky fan-wavers, and smoldering scents of pizza and grilled sweet Italian sausage wafting through the air, to brave the crush of local business vendors selling everything from hand-made ceramics, to raffle tickets, wine, and jewelry.

All, to the rousing musical entertainment of Larry Tanelli and his wife, Claudette, whose showstoppers included, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “That’s Amore!” and of course, the ever-popular (and my personal favorite), “Has Anyone Seen Il Presidente, Johnny D?  The Port-o-johns Are Running Low On Toilet Paper!”  That one, as always, drew a standing O.  Interestingly, the ubiquitous Johnny D, was suddenly scarce during that little ditty.

I also want to thank the IACHH Board, Club members, Festival volunteers, and especially the USCB students who assisted the set-up of my booth, and the ROTC who directed traffic and parking.  It would have been a rather amusing, end-of-day activity driving out of Honey Horn without the supervision of these patient, courteous guides, for many festival-goers (and ragged vendors, like me).  As it was, I felt cared for, and looked after by my young attendants.  Great job everyone.

Pink Beaded Necklace

Multiple Shades of Pink Beaded Strands Accent Any Beachy Outfit.

For those of you who couldn’t attend this gala event, and are devastated that you missed the grand opening of Hilton Head Blog Angel Jewelry, fret not.  I have here, the hyperlink needed to go directly to the website (Jewelry Gifts For Less), and choose a lovely, colorful, necklace to wear to almost any festivity that lies ahead in your future. And for those of you who read all the way down to this point, you will know that there is a contest with a free jewelry gift as reward, to the first patient reader/generous customer that sends me a link to any news media reporting on whether or not the blood liquefaction miracle occurred fully this past Saturday in Naples.

I could not find any, and I’m concerned since the last one didn’t, you know, totally liquefy.  I’d like to know if San Gennaro is getting over his Agida with this world full of wanderers from the flock.

In closing, I leave you with a full-blown, ten-minute documentary, explaining the blood miracle (for those of you obsessive, curious geeks, like me) of San Gennaro, that draws an explicit history of this Christian martyr’s journey from teenaged, medieval, Italian priest, to principle patron saint of Naples, seventeen hundred and fifteen years after his death.  Behold.

Hilton Head Art, ‘Life is a Carnival’, by Nancy Mitchell

Fire-Eating sculpture, Mr. Inferno

Fire-Eater, “Mr. Inferno,” sculpture hangs on wall.

Want to see what happens if you pursue your heart’s desire?  Check out Nancy Mitchell’s most recent handmade, hand painted sculptures at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’Walter Greer Gallery, sponsored by the Art League of Hilton Head.  Her show is inspired by the Savannah Carnival, put on annually by the Shriners.

Made from clay, wood, and painted with acrylics, each work is an exquisite, detailed creation, comprised of many meaningful levels, and signifiers.  One will observe something new on each viewing of the same piece, and feel the same childlike delight as though seeing it for the first time.

A surprising pleasure; some of the larger sculptures move with motorized parts for an enchanting display, such as the “Country Carousel,” and “Country Ferris Wheel,” (see close-ups below).

Pie-winner on ferris wheel

Blue-ribbon pie-winner rides the moving ferris wheel in “Country Ferris Wheel.”

Carousel sculpture

Detail of motorized, “Country Carousel”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, each one tells its own story.

Sideshow Tent

Sideshow Sculpture, “Step Right Up.”

Guitar Girl from sideshow

Sideshow close-up of Guitar Girl.

Like the girl playing guitar in the sideshow sculpture (see close-up, left) inspired by Mitchell’s daughter, real-life musician, Hannah Wicklund, singer in the rock band, The Steppin Stones.  Or, the man selling cotton candy, in “Cotton Candyman,” (wall sculpture, below right), based on the Italian vendor who worked the cotton candy stall.

sculpture of cotton candy man

“Cotton Candyman,” wall sculpture.

"Tough Crowd," sculpture

“Tough Crowd,” offers the whimsical perspective of the festival crowd.

Unique angles, whimsical characters, and bright colors hold the gaze as all the details come into focus, as in the sculpture, “Tough Crowd” (below, left). This work provides a rarely explored glimpse of the carnival audience enjoying the show.  A true joy to behold.

Carnival man on stilts

“Things are Looking Up.”

Such it is also, for the tall man on stilts, making balloon animals for kids (right), in the cleverly titled, “Things are Looking Up”.

There are multi-textural, multi-layered works that tell several stories at once.  And you don’t have to be privy to all of them to appreciate the piece in its entirety.  “Rock and Roll Funhouse,” is one such sculpture (below).  To see what Mitchell has added to the guitar’s fingerboard and head stock, you’ll just have to check out the exhibit this month.  Believe me, nothing disappoints.

Guitar-shaped funhouse

“Rock and Roll Funhouse,” displays the artist’s incredible attention to detail.

Wicklund family

Nancy Mitchell flanked by husband, Matthew Wicklund (l) and daughter, Hannah Wicklund (r). Not pictured, son Luke Mitchell.

 

Mitchell will gift 5% of the proceeds of her sculpture sales to the Shriners Hospital fund, in honor of Mark Bradley, Jr., a childhood friend of Hannah’s, who played drums in her band when they were kids.  After being in a plane crash years ago, he sadly passed on in a Shriners Hospital burn unit, after being treated for three months.  The donation is also a nod to her uncle, who was a Shriner, and is in recognition of the Savannah Carnival, which the organization sponsored annually.

sculpture of kids eating

Playful, “Sweet and Salty” wall sculpture.

Nancy Mitchell’s, “Life is a Carnival,” show of original, hand made sculptures, presented by the Art League of Hilton Head, can be viewed in the Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina this month.  

An opening reception will be held, Thursday, April 9, from 5 to 7 pm.  Dates – April 7  through May 3, 2015.; Days and Times- 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday – Saturday; Location-  Mid-island, 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, SC;  Contact-  (843)681-5060 for more info.    Cost- Featured art is for sale, event is free and open to the public.

A Hilton Head Aria Weekend, Like Eating the Icing First, Says Sam, the Beach Beagle

Beagle on sofa

Sam Gears Up For a Night of Arias on Hilton Head

Hi.  Sam here.  It’s been a while, I know, and I wasn’t planning to make this a habit, but Blog Angel asked me to do her a solid.  And apparently, a “solid” doesn’t mean, what I did next to the tennis courts on our way back from yesterday’s run, which is why there was some confusion on my end, about when to get this thing out to the reading public.  You see, my way of getting the daily news, is a whole lot more interesting than the way you guys do it.  I sometimes forget how far behind the homo sapiens species is, when it comes to communicating with one another.

La Scala Poster

IACHH Offers Islanders an Aria Weekend

Be that as it may, HiltonHeadBlogAngel, is quite busy these days promoting the Italians and working for The Man.  Not sure what that means, just checking her notes here, and that’s all she wrote. Literally… that’s all she wrote… down for me, here… so bear with me.  Oh yeah, and she’s still working on some other big project, which is taking up, like, half a life-time, to complete.  It better be some project, is all I can say, because I am tired of picking up the slack around here, I can tell you.  And, she’s tired of picking up after me, is what she would say, in retort to my uppity attitude. All right already, moving on…

For those of you who live in a deep hole in the ground, under a bucket, and also, those of you who may live up there in the New England area, like Rhode Island; you may have missed the biggest, best, Italian Heritage Festival on Hilton Head, there ever was.

But that’s okay, all is not lost.  See, this month, being October, the 10th month of 2014, you can still catch up with those crazy Italians in the American Southeast Coastal Corridor region.  But only, if you’ve got the moxie to just get-up-and-go, for a good time, and a long weekend, of fabulous, classy arias, and Broadway show tunes, and even spend a day at the beach.  Check this out:

Tenor for La Scala weekend on Hilto Head

John Kaneklides, Award-winning Tenor

The Italians on Hilton Head are bringing EIGHT – count ’em – EIGHT, major opera singers to the island to sing only your favorite tunes, with their favorite accompanists.

Singer

Krista Rose Wilhelmsen

Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just want to hear my favorite songs from a story.  Y’know? I don’t want to have to sit through the whole first act, and unfolding plot-points, monologues, and choruses, just to finally get to hear a rousing, rendition of Maria, from “West Side Story”, or to suffer the pontifications of the king in “MacBeth”, just to hear someone finally sing, Come dal ciel precipita, which is what you’re pretty much in for, if you buy tickets to the opera in Vienna, or someplace like that.

Will_Jacob

Will Jacob

No way.  Not here in Coastal, Italian Lowcountry.  They like to get right to the point of things when it comes to entertainment.  Like, eating the icing off the cake first, so to speak.  Kind of like Johnny D, the president of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH), who pretty much lives his whole life eating the icing off the cake first.  Those of you who know Il Presidente personally, know what I’m talking about.  (FYI: He’s the one who lent me the sunglasses for the photo shoot up there on the leather sofa).

Lacquavia Alston

Lacquavia Alston

So, rather than making you buy an expensive season of tickets to watch a bunch of three-hour shows, just to hear your ONE favorite song, the Italians on Hilton Head, are condensing it into one easy night out: great singers, performing only the best arias and Broadway showstoppers, for a night of pure, uninterrupted, musical joy. Wooo-heee!

Opear Singer

John Fowler to Sing, 10/25 & 26, on Hilton Head

You can’t beat that kind of upscale entertainment with a stick, especially when you consider that all the proceeds go to local charities and scholarship funds.  This is the best of the best, singing the best of the best, all for you, dear music lovers.  So don’t waste any time, buy your tickets today, by clicking here, or you can call 888-860-2787,  or call Johhny D for more information, 401-524-1416.  Then, don your opera-night-out-duds, and have a great time!

Singer Stallard

Tina Milhorn-Stallard

singer headshot

Harold McIntosh

Marc Rattray

Marc Rattray

And this is all being made possible, thanks to the generosity of our presenting sponsor, Coastal States Bank, without whom, it wouldn’t be possible-which- okay… I already said that. Thanks, Coastal States Bank for being our presenting sponsor.

Bank logo

La Scala to Broadway, Presenting Sponsor

So here’s the nuts and bolts:

La Scala to Broadway  is playing ONE NIGHT ONLY at the Arts Center of Hilton Head, on October 25th, 2014.

Buy your tickets online, or call the box office: 888-860-2787, or for more information: 401-524-1416

Ciao, Hilton Head!

George Paletta & John DeCecco

‘The George’ Paletta, Vice President, with the ‘Legendary Johnny D’, President, of the Italian-American Club of   Hilton Head at 2012 Italian Heritage Festival, Drown the Clown dunk tank.

Okay.  You knew there was no way I could let Hilton Head’s 2013 Italian Heritage Festival get by without posting a blog about it.  Last year, I had to bite down on my nails to keep from commenting on, and displaying the proud images I now depict.  No, last year, I had to limit myself to sending these visual gems in covert emails with restrained captions, to close friends and associates near and further north, because it might smack indecorous, given that the two gentlemen portrayed thusly, en masquerade, are also Board Dignitaries of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH).

Please note, I have exercised enormous restraint in recent print media descriptions over which I had some control, by not taking advantage of all the literary parallels, puns, metaphors, and ironies implicit in two Italian-American men being dunked at the Drown the Clown booth – one’s face covered by an Obama mask, the other, behind Italian flag sunglasses – during an election year in America… and BOTH wearing fuggetaboutit! t-shirts.  The only inappropriate, tactless item that seems to be missing is a bottle of non-FDA approved jug of homemade grappa from Cousin Luigi’s backyard cantina (thankfully, that was hidden somewhere during this auspicious photo-op… along with Cousin Luigi).

Yes, I held off the laughs, in deference to my husband’s sincere commitment to the IACHH, a wonderfully philanthropic community organization that donates proceeds from the annual Italian Heritage Festival  (along with that of four other yearly events) to local island non-profits, and high-school graduate scholarships.

So now I bask in some relief, knowing that I have finally shared one of the funniest pictures ever taken, with all my friends and patient readers.  And it brings me to question why, for the life me, they, didn’t publish it alongside the article in September’s issue of Hilton Head Monthly – that classy, sophisticated publication, with accompanying cerebral content – that sits on the coffee tables of our most stylish vacation beach homes, residences, and gets mailed to subscribers all over the world.  Why on earth would they choose images of lovely children and cultural activities, and not the above delicate portrait of two pillars of the Hilton Head community?  One can only guess at the wisdom of such censorship.

Which brings me to my plea.  If you thought you might, y’know, lay low, this weekend because you just need to rest, or you can’t get a babysitter, and you can’t get too excited about anything after weathering the most humid, wet, summer-from-hell in the lowcountry, please reconsider, amicos.  First of all, this is a family-friendly event, and children under 10 enter free.  Secondly, this Saturday at Shelter Cove Park, from 11 am – 4 pm, the 4th Annual Festival being held in honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro, will be bigger and better than ever.  And, as in the past, the Island Recreation Center partners with the IACHH, and the proceeds go to local non-profits and scholarship funds.  And if you need more encouragement, see the video below for Flash Mob activity at the 2012 Italian Heritage Festival.

There will be food prep demonstrations, grape-stomping, stickball, bocce ball, live music, and the incomparable cuisine prepared by the best Italian restaurants south of the Mason-Dixon.  And that’s saying something.  See below for further details, or IHFestivalProgram2013.  Or, if you prefer a more high-brow article and pictures with details, you can click here, or here.  Otherwise, always check with HiltonHeadBlogAngel for the fraternity-level take on anything.

What: The 4th Annual Italian Heritage Festival in Honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro

sign

Italian Heritage Directional Signpost

Where: Shelter Cove Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head, SC  29928

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost: $6.00 at the gate, children 10 & under, free

Contact: 843-682-4625

Why: fuggetaboutit!

Parasailing Above the Calibogue Sound of Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island.

Parasailing above Hilton Head

Hello from Above! Carmen & Jesse Parasail Over Harbour Town

Hello again. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks (or maybe you’re not, and now you’re thinking, “Wow. Is she full of herself or what, if she thinks I’ve checked here for a blog post in recent memory. I sure have lots more things to do than see what trivial minutiae Blog Angel is yammering on about.”), and if you are, I’m sorry to be remiss lately in reporting on the many extraordinarily fun things there are to do on Hilton Head Island.

But you see, in order for me to write about these extraordinary activities, I have to experience them myself first, while collecting information with note-takings, research, picture, and video-taking, and/or, chasing down other people’s smartphone pictures who were enjoying the activity with me and had to take the pictures (because I couldn’t take a picture of myself at the same time as holding onto the straps of a parachute with both hands). Then, I have to edit the notes, pick the best pictures, and/or edit the video and then search iTunes for suitable accompaniment to the visual art.  It takes alot of time and painstaking thought to intertwine this multi-media feast into a coherent blogpost, and I can’t just go into my own playlist and throw up any old Velvet Underground rockin’ song that I happen to like with a video that may not speak to Hilton Head Blog Angel‘s audience demographics.

All of this investigative journalism takes great time and care and fact-checking, and so that’s why sometimes a few days or weeks go by between blog posts. I know that’s a bit more information than, “the dog ate my homework,” but I like to explain where I’ve been, so you all don’t think I’m just kicking around down here, lollygagging on the beach days, with an umbrella drink in my fist, laughing my way to the bank.  Which, by the way. is something I’ve never seen anyone do (laughing their way into a bank, that is). Real artwork is always in progress, and sometimes I have to wait a little extra for the content to be workshopped at the Boston area’s Exclusive Writer’s Forum, a very elusive group of elitist-type writers, who critique one another’s work with filet knives and switchblades, thereby rendering you a sobbing, insulted artiste, with nowhere to go but up.

Digressing, again…

Back to parasailing. My cousins from Virginia were in town a couple of weeks ago and 17-year-old son, Jesse, had not experienced this exciting watersport activity before, so we scheduled a trip for him to join me and get an aerial view of the gorgeous, lowcountry seascape for which Hilton Head is so famous. Leaving out of Harbour Town on  an H20 Sports boat with two, rather buff-bod parasailing experts to hold our hands, we trolled out into the Calibogue Sound with all the other fun, outgoing, watersports-lovers who were going out on paddleboards, pirate ships, sportfishing boats, and kayaks (and sort of rolling their eyes at us novices giggling our way out to sea pointing, at every stupid thing that jumped, swam, or flew by),

Sean, our gentle leader, explained in a very relaxing voice, with cool undertones of been-there-done-that-please-don’t-worry-and-enjoy-this-fun-ride, what we would be doing before and during our delightful journey floating above the beautiful, scenic, southern end of Hilton Head Island. While, Jesse, my astute companion wondered aloud, what those dark, swirling clouds were doing a little over there, off in the distance above the vast Atlantic ocean, and asking, “isn’t this hurricane season down here?” To which we all responded, firmly and with courageous contempt, “Oh don’t be so alarmist, Jesse, they are just a few clouds that are blowing our way, and will pass by us with no drama. Please, can’t you enjoy yourself?”  To which, he just looked at us quizzically, and saying nothing, looked down to make sure the life-preserver jackets were indeed under our seats, somewhere.

Before going up on parasail

Jesse & Carmen Ready for Anything

No, we did not get caught up in a hurricane later that morning, but my clever young cousin was later fully vindicated, by news reports in the local paper the next day of water spouts (hurricanes’ ugly and dangerous second cousins) that did encircle Hilton Head at exactly the same time that we began heading back from our trip.  The moral of this tangent in my story, being, “listen to your teenagers and don’t write them off with scornful ha-ha’s, when they notice odd, weather patterns in the sky”.

So, to make this long story just a little longer, I want to say that we had a marvelous ride for about twelve – fifteen minutes, rocking quietly with the breeze and looking out over God’s blue earth from a comfortable, secure five hundred feet or so, while the boat pulled us lightly through the sky. It was a truly joyful experience and I thoroughly recommend this activity to anyone visiting Hilton Head and who would like to get a different angle on our little oasis along the southeast American coastline. H20 Sports did a great job explaining everything to us, and if we wanted to explore the area by kayak, or paddleboard, or simply cruise around the sound (among their many other watersport offerings), at a later time they were there to accommodate with similar experience and USCGA-licensed staff, secure equipment, and professional services.

Give them a call, 1-877-290-4FUN (4386) or check out their website.

Adios, and have a great week on Hilton Head!

Blog Angel signing off.

Dine at Flora’s Italian Cafe and Treat our Troops!

Hilton Head map.

Hilton Head map.

As many of you may have noticed, Hilton Head Island has evolved into the Little Italy of the southeast coast, when it comes to fine Roman fare.  And this actually makes some sense, geographically speaking; you see Italy, as we all know, is the shape of a Gucci boot, and Hilton Head Island is the shape of a beat-up Nike Air Max sneaker.  And, Italians are known for wearing snazzy boots, just like Hilton Head Islanders are often seen running and playing around in

Snazzy Islander Sneakerwear

Snazzy Islander Sneakerwear

Nike sneakers.  Both of these descriptive devices happen to be clothes for feet.  Obviously, Italians and Islanders place a premium on how we dress and protect our respective tootsies.

Snazzy, Italian boot- I mean, Map of Italy.

Snazzy, Italian, Map of Italy.

 

 

 

The literary parallels and metaphors are endless.

Many of my Vacation Company blogs about restaurants are raving reviews about dining establishments specializing in Italy’s exquisite recipes accentuated by the freshest ingredients and locally grown vegetables and herbs.  Flora’s Italian Cafe at South Island Plaza is no exception, and has easily become one of our most favorite restaurants on the island. Staffed with courteous (and very patient) servers, bartenders, and chefs, Flora’s is managed and run by the family. And The Family consists of Flora, her husband Branco, and son Branco, Jr.

When we eat there, I usually order the same thing (which is stupid I know, because everything on the menu is truly mouthwatering delicious), but the Capellini Dora is a dish I crave so much at times, I just can’t get my brain to be rational about choosing some other savory menu item. The ingredients of Capellini Dora are simple – crabmeat, shrimp, diced tomatoes, garlic, white wine, olive oil – but how they are prepared and tossed and arranged on a dish for me to plunge my head into, is truly cerebral. Every mouthful pops with flavor and the freshness is palpable; ie, you know the tomatoes were fat on the vine, sun-bathing that very morning.  Fortunately, my husband tries other dishes, such as Grouper Meuniere, Gamberi di Casa, and Fettini di Vitello Saltimbocca, and we share appetizers like Melanzane Rolantine (eggplant rolled with cheese baked in tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella) so I know that every creation is as tantalizing as my Pasta Dora.

Vino at Flora's!

Vino at Flora’s!

As some of you may know, my partner, Johnny D., is also Italian and he is lucky enough to eat at Flora’s every Thursday for lunch because Flora and Branco host the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head’s (IACHH) weekly lunch meeting.  You know things have got to be good at this place if a whole club of over a hundred tansplanted, professional Italians will go there week after week, crowding out Flora’s Cafe, while solving major international conflicts between Italy and Hilton Head like, should people be allowed to drink a little wine on the beach? Which as everyone knows is good for your health, but on American soil, can sometimes be confused with glugging down any kind of fermented vegetation that started in a blender and is best consumed through a straw.  You see how easy it would be to confuse the two thirst-quenching methods, right?  However, the Italian-American Club is also a major contributor to local charities, scholarships, and non-profit organizations, donating lots of money and good will towards the community, through fundraisers like the Annual Italian Heritage Festival held every September. Which brings me to my next tangent…

Jeannette Cram l-r on Martha Stewart's Show.

Jeannette Cram l-r on Martha Stewart’s Show.

Next Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Flora’s is donating $5/plate towards Treat the Troops, a local organization gone national, founded by Jeannette Cram in 1990 during the Gulf War.  Jeannette and volunteers, known as Crumbs (get it? Crumbs, like cookie crumbs), bake homemade cookies and ship them to our young heroes overseas who are protecting our right to drink wine on the beach, among other rights and freedoms over which we are very protective, and sometimes take for granted. This organization needs money for shipping costs and baking ingredients, and is greatly appreciated by our soldiers who probably miss Mom’s cookies, while breathing in mouthfuls of desert sand on our behalf. Jeannette is grateful to Flora’s Italian Cafe, she said when I called to ask her about the cookie organization, because “people forget that our troops miss the flavors from home.”  This is an excellent opportunity to both a.) try out Flora’s Italian Cafe, and 2.) demonstrate your patriotism by contributing to a wonderfully inspired, local non-profit organization. AND…. another cool thing (they just keep coming don’tCookies &Crumbs they?  I’m almost out of breath here…), at 6:30 pm, there will be a book-signing event by Jeannette who also wrote, Soldiers, Cookies, & the Crumbs. 

Chefs, Branco and Flora Raiac

Chefs, Branco and Flora Raiac

Okay, so back to Flora’s who, by the way, greets you in person and seats you with a genuine smile, while her son, Branco Jr. works the tables along with several other excellent wait staff. The kitchen is run by Branco the First, and each dish is his and Flora’s chefdoeuvre, hand-prepared to order, with herbs and vegetables grown fresh in their own garden. Flora herself makes all the desserts from scratch, and has been featured in the local press for award-winning pastry  and each one is more delectable than the last. I can’t say enough about this marvelous bistro when it comes to the authentic quality of the food.

Originally from Romania, Branco Raiac studied Italian cuisine at the Culinary Institute of Romania before moving to New Jersey with his family. In New Jersey, they owned and operated a popular restaurant called, Villa Romagna for ten more years and then they migrated south to Hilton Head, like the rest of us Yanks tired of long winters and screeching traffic.  And if all of the above doesn’t sell you on dinner at Flora’s, how about being voted Winner of the 2012 Island Packet Reader’s Choice Award for Best International Restaurant?  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Tell her Carmen and Johnny D sent you, and maybe she’ll laugh really hard and say, “Who?”

Flora’s Italian Cafe located at South Island Plaza, 841 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island, SC  29928, is open Monday through Saturday 5 – 10 pm

Call: 843-842-8200 for reservations

 

A Rippin’, Zippin’ Fun Ride at Broad Creek Marina.

Zipping Along at 75 ft.

 

      At The Vacation Company, we’d heard about it, read about it, and talked about it for weeks, and finally, Johnny D and I experienced it.  And for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past six months, I am speaking of the ONE, the ONLY, Hilton Head Island ZIPLINE at Broad Creek Marina.  This is a blast for the whole family (please check website for age/weight limits), and takes the pressure off parents who feel they  have to know everything. 

      Staffed with professionals, you are pre-screened for alertness and physical ability (read; awake and sober, preferably at the same time), then fitted with straps, harness, buckles, clips, helmut, gloves, and counseled to thoroughly sort things out under your clothes, so that nothing vital gets pinched during your zip (and for those of you semantically challenged, from here on out, zip refers to the ride, not the mechanism holding your pants up). 

      Then, there’s ground school.  These guys don’t miss a trick, and our guy Tom, a certified, career, risk-taking climber (among other certifiable things), carefully prepared us for all eventualities, including getting knocked in the head by an asteroid and dangling unconscious from the end of our lanyard hooked to the cable.  This of course, being a worst-case scenario as Tom also used much humor to relax us each time he told us something very serious.  Like, “Pay attention on each landing because there are no hand rails, and if you fall backwards, you’ll bang your shins like there’s no tomorrow.  The good part, is that you’ll never forget that there are no handrails again, right?  Ha, ha, ha…”  Johnny D thought Tom was very funny.

Landing Between Zips

      I will say that by the time we went for our first zip, I felt very comfortable and safe.  All the guides are very experienced and take their responsibilities seriously. Each group runs with five to eight people accompanied by two guides; one who leads off, and one who brings up the rear.   The front guy takes the zip first so you can see how fun and easy it is, while the back-end guide gently prods each zipper up to the line, reminding her or him of how fun and easy it is.  “Put your right hand on the trolley first, then the left, and cross your legs,” said Ashley to six different people, times seven ziplines.  Hey.  I know it sounds simple, but you try to remember all three things at seventy feet up in the trees while college kids on the ground point and laugh at you.

      The cool part is that you don’t have to get it perfect the first time.  You have several zips that take you higher and higher into the trees, until you are on an eighty-foot tower looking out over Broad Creek.  It is a beautiful view and very rewarding.  And actually, by the time we got to that point, it was no longer work, but had become the enjoyable ride for which we had hoped.  Each zip is a little higher and longer and faster than the one before, easing you into the whole experience.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something new and fun to do with the family.  Currently, the zipline course takes about two and a half hours from beginning to end, and costs $85/person; which isn’t a bad deal for half a day’s ride through the trees.  Call for reservations: 843-682-6000 or book online.

Zipline Hilton Head is located at 33 Broad Creek Marina Way, Hilton Head Island, SC  29926.

 

 

Celebrate World Ocean Day with the Coastal Discovery Museum Friday, June 8, 2012

World Ocean Day, June 8, 2012

 

What better way to wind up a Hilton Head vacation week, than to visit the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn for a full day of presentations honoring our delicate ocean systems and wildlife? (That was a rhetorical questions… there is no better way.)  Beginning at 9:00 am on Friday, June 8, with Dr. Michael R. Denson of the Waddell Mariculture Center, followed by six more forty-five minute presentations ranging in subject from seafood in lowcountry restaurants, hearing measurements of bottle-nosed dolphins, sea turtle habits, sharks (natch), and human impact on marine environments.

Loggerhead Turtle

 

Space for each lecture is limited to the first sixty people who arrive.  For more information, check out their Facebook page for a full schedule of events, or call: 843-689-6767 or email: info@coastaldiscovery.org.  And if you can’t make it on Friday, check out the website for daily family and kid-friendly events and classes all about the lowcountry wildlife, history, and environment.

 

And for those of you who have never been to the Coastal Discovery Museum, take a walk around the gorgeous grounds of what was once known as Honey Horn Plantation… and bring your camera!

Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn

Located at 70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head Island, 29926 just off the Cross Island Parkway: