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August 09, 2012

Confessions of a coffee snob

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By Pamela Brownstein
I didn’t always love coffee, but it slowly crept its way into my life, one bitter cup at a time, and now I can’t imagine going without it. Actually, I can, because I tried not to drink it when I was pregnant and it was awful. I missed the savory aroma, those first delightful sips, the distinct caffeine buzz that acts like a green light in my brain: now you can start to work.
My parents drank coffee all the time when I was growing up and I loved the smell. Nothing wakes me up on the right side of the bed like the smell of a fresh-brewed pot of coffee (cue cheesy Folgers commercial from the 80’s). It reminds me of warmth on cold New Jersey mornings and comfort knowing that no matter what the day brings, a hot mug of goodness is waiting just for you.
As much as I enjoy the home brew, like any coffee snob, the best part about a sophisticated coffee drink is that you don’t have to make it yourself. Baristas practically live to serve a well-versed coffee drinker such as myself.
Both coffee shops downtown have quality coffee and serve as natural gathering spots for friends or meetings. The Mint Mocha Frappuccino at Common Ground on Bay Street is simply amazing, but also addicting, so I have to limit my intake. My go-to at City Java is a non-fat vanilla latte, but I recently discovered the frozen cappuccino and it has been my favorite drink of the summer.
I am also a huge fan of the coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. In New Jersey there are Dunkin’ Donuts on almost every street corner, so when the one opened on Boundary Street you can bet I was one of the first people in line at 5:30 a.m. on the first day to get my free travel mug.
I was devastated when Firehouse Books & Espresso closed. I would go there everyday before work with my Firehouse to-go mug and fill it with Snickerdoodle for $1. I have dreams about that coffee, it was excellent.
Of course, I married a fellow coffee snob. Just as I worked in a coffee shop in college, he worked at a coffee shop in his hometown for seven years and perfected drawing a design in foam on the top of a latte. He likes to grind the beans, and his friend from work roasts his own beans and gives us a jar almost every week. That coffee is so bold, it’s a fabulous way to start the day.
When my life was a little more laid back, I used to think the best way to enjoy coffee was slowly, in silence. But now with my hectic working mom schedule, I don’t care where I drink it, but I crave that cup of Joe more than ever.

All-you-can-eat night at The Chocolate Tree will create Confection Fantasy

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The Chocolate Tree.

By Tess Malijenovsky

A love for chocolate is a lasting desire. Just take a look at Beaufort’s local chocolatier, The Chocolate Tree, which has been in business for 32 years. The specialty chocolate shop will be busy once again preparing for its biggest event: the 28th All-You-Can-Eat Night on Friday, August 17.
But the idea behind the popular candy buffet grew more out of necessity than creativity. “Honestly, way back when the heat in August was so hot and the electric bill was crazy, we just did it to pay the electric bill in August,” said Joy King, an owner of The Chocolate Tree.

The Chocolate Tree.

However, in the last three decades this annual event has evolved into a sold-out family tradition. Joy has watched families grow — before they had kids and after having several — and year after year they return to the All-You-Can-Eat Night.
“We have people calling in May, ‘When is it going to be?’ And they schedule their vacations around it!” said Joy.
Just four years ago, The Chocolate Tree began splitting the event into two different timed sessions because there is such great attendance that there was concern for fire code requirements. This year, those two sessions will be from 6:30-8 p.m. and 8:30-10:15 p.m.
At the event adults of all ages (and their children too) can once again feel like a kid in a candy shop with the opportunity to sample chocolates until their heart’s content. “We tell them to pace themselves but they think they know better,” laughed Joy.
A fresh batch of brittle will also be prepared and perhaps a new chocolate creation. The event is perfect for trying all the chocolates one’s ever shied away from.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re losing anything if you try something when you can eat whatever you want — and they may find new pieces they like!”
The chocolate business began with Joy’s sister preparing candies for her children’s teachers for the holidays. When the teachers learned to make the candies, they wanted to learn how to make them too. Joy and her sister began giving lessons and selling supplies and samples. When people kept buying samples, well, they extended into a full-blown business.
Sample for yourself all the goodies available at the All-You-Can-Eat Night at The Chocolate Tree, 507 Carteret Street, and feed your chocolate cravings. Tickets are $15 in advance and, if room is available, $20 at the door. For more information, call 843-524-7980.

Remembering the remarkable life of Roger Steele

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By Scott Graber
My friend, Roger Steele, died on Saturday, August 4. Death came suddenly as he was getting ready for bed. He was with his wife, Cheryl.
Who was Roger Steele?
Roger Steele came to Beaufort in 1974, freshly endowed with a Masters in Fine Arts from Texas Christian University. He brought a remarkable capacity to teach drawing, printmaking and sculpture. And for many years he transferred these skills to thousands of young people at Laurel Bay Schools and at USCB.

Roger Steele.

But who was this guy?
You can learn something about Roger from his lithographs. You can see the purple plains of Texas (where he spent much of his youth); and the golds and blacks and magentas that speak of his time in Japan. He loved the soft, healing force of rain and that was a theme running through his work. But you can’t see his generosity.
In the 1970s, our public schools were under-funded. The same might be said for Beaufort Memorial Hospital and a dozen other local organizations. Roger was not wealthy, but his work was acquired by museums and corporations throughout the United States. His lithographs were collected by private individuals and galleries from California to New York City.
Roger routinely, consistently, cheerfully made art and donated that art (for fundraisers) to almost every civic organization in the county. He made posters, hung banners and coined slogans for literacy programs, fundraising dances and any project that needed graphics. I don’t think he ever asked for a dollar. It did not cross his mind.
Roger liked objects. He was a tactile person who liked to touch things. He spent Saturday mornings searching antique stores for those objects. When he found something he liked, he usually repaired it. Then he polished the piece. Then, without fail, he gave it away.  One wanted to be near this generosity.
So it came to pass that every Friday afternoon Roger and Cheryl Steele would open up their home (and their well-stocked bar) to anyone who might need end-of-the-week counseling. This standing invitation put pilots, mayors, architects and visual artists in contact with one another. One might see Jimmy Thomas (an architect) discussing building mass with David Porter (a Special Forces veteran); or Dean Moss (former Water Authority Manager) discussing the Savannah River Plant with Bill Rauch (former Beaufort Mayor).
These Friday afternoons did not exclude children. They were operating at a somewhat lower, alcohol-free level, but they were always there. Sometimes Roger would stop and remove a piece of antique china, or a Japanese basket, from a child’s hand while he refilled a wine glass. Sometimes not.
Roger and Cheryl did not have children of their own. This is good because they adopted almost every child who wandered into their house.  I believe Will Moss (who is producing segments of the London Olympics for NBC), Libby Davis (who went to the Governor’s School of the Arts) and my own son (a cinematographer) were influenced by the visual cornucopia presented on those long-ago Friday afternoons.
Roger’s legacy is, of course, the Beaufort County children who learned about color, composition and texture at Laurel Bay, USCB and in his home on North Street. He will be missed by all of us. But he leaves something behind — something that is good, solid, substantial.

USCB gallery displays steele’s artwork: An exhibit of Roger Steele’s “Valentines” will be shown in the USCB Gallery at the Performing Arts Center, USCB, Carteret Street, between August 11 and September 7, open 10 a.m. -5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  This is a collection of 28 years of valentines sent to his many friends.  An art scholarship has also been established in Roger Steele’s name.  Donations may be made to University of South Carolina, designating the Roger L Steele Scholarship Fund, and mailed to the USCB Development Office, One University Blvd, Bluffton, SC, 29909.

Give blood, win car

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The Blood Alliance together with Lucas Honda and HondasForLess.Net announced that Martha “Sam” Cowan of Beaufort was the randomly drawn winner of a 2012 Honda Civic LX.
“We had more than 80,000 donors participate in the Honda car promotion that started on August 31 last year,” said Valerie Collins, Chief Operating Officer of The Blood Alliance, which

Dr. Brad Collins, Beaufort Memorial laboratory medical director and chairman of the Beaufort Community Advisory Committee to The Blood Alliance, hands Martha “Sam” Cowan the keys to her 2012 Honda Civic LX.

has been providing blood since 1942. “Our need for blood is constant and we depend on our community to make that happen. Providing the car as incentive to come in and donate blood brought awareness of our need to new donors as well as donors who hadn’t donated in a while.”
Cowan was informed of her prize and was in disbelief. “Nobody ever gives me anything like this because I never win! What a surprise, I can’t believe it — is this real?” she asked.
Cowan, a regular whole blood donor with The Blood Alliance, said, “I donate whenever my church (St. John’s Lutheran) hosts a blood drive. Whatever Sunday the bloodmobile shows up — I’m there to help my community.”

TCL to create agriscience biotechnology program

in School News by

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Technical College of the Lowcountry will begin offering courses in the rapidly advancing field of agriscience — a field of study that combines science and agriculture to enhance the production of plants, animals, and other related products.
TCL recently received a $199,200 Advanced Technological Education grant from the NSF to develop an agriscience biotechnology certificate program.
“The agriscience industry expects a proficient workforce in South Carolina and needs workers who know basic laboratory procedures coupled with technical communications and analytical skills,” biology instructor Dr. Natavia Middleton said. “The agriscience industry will be one of the economic growth engines of the coming decades.”

Agricultural production potential is excellent in South Carolina.  The agriculture industry has a large impact on the economy in South Carolina generating almost $10 billion a year.  Including indirect impacts, the agriculture industry totals almost $16.8 billion a year.  The labor income is substantial as well generating $1.7 billion in direct labor income and almost $3.5 billion in total labor income.  This income supports over 61,000 jobs a year and with another 55,000 jobs indirectly, totals 115,645 jobs.
Biotechnology plays an important role in food and agriculture production.  The use of technology with crops and animals is expected to be a critical factor in future efforts to increase crop yields and to expand food production.
TCL’s experientially rich, cross-discipline courses in the agriscience certificate program will allow students to attend part time or fulltime. Upon graduation, they will be able to seek employment or continue their education. The program also will allow high school students to be exposed to agriscience and begin taking agriscience college courses while still in high school.
In addition, the grant will allow TCL to:
• Hold community information and seminars/workshops in TCL’s four-county service region that includes Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.
• Host agriscience learning activities for high school students.
• Hold seminars and workshops on agriscience biotechnology at the Beaufort and New River campus labs for area high school teachers to provide hands-on-laboratory activities. This will increase awareness and implementation of agriscience into high school biology curriculum
• Increase awareness of agriscience for area farmers and other agriculture- based businesses.
The agriscience classes will be offered in a new biotechnology lab that was renovated and outfitted with funding from a 2010 Department of Education Predominantly Black Institution grant.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.
For more information, please contact Natavia Middleton at or 843-470-5964.

Athletes, volunteers help clean Beaufort High stadium

in Sports by

Beaufort High School’s recently re-sodded stadium complex will get a pre-game clean-up this month as local boosters and athletes join hands to prep the campus for fall sports.
On Saturday, Aug. 11, parents, business community volunteers and student athletes will converge on Beaufort High’s stadium for a major work day. In the days before and after, additional efforts will be under way.
“Our goal is to make Eagle Stadium the hub of community activity for all the football home games, and then in the spring to attract more people to spring sports,” said Jonolyn Ferreri,

Project Director Mike Ingram and Beaufort High School football players in 2011 help spruce up the stadium complex.

president of the school’s Big Green Booster Club. “Beaufort High has strong academics and strong athletics, and we are proud to put in our hard work to help.
The Aug. 11 community clean-up will include some of the following:
• Spreading of new mulch;
• Cleaning and re-hanging sponsor banners along the football field, fence and press box;
• Tree maintenance;
• Treating the grounds for ants and other pests;
• Cleaning and power-washing locker rooms, concession stands and other areas;
• Re-painting the goal posts;
• Cleaning and stocking the concession stand;
Litter pickup on side streets, parking lot and surrounding areas;
• Check light bulbs across the complex and replace as needed.
Last year, several members of the Beaufort High Big Green Booster Club created an offshoot called “Friends of the Program.”
“This gave us the opportunity to leverage our business contacts and community relationships to restore the football facility for all of our boys and girls programs, and to create a sports complex the school and community can be proud of,” said Mike Ingram, a key organizer.
“A few of us had a vision four years ago. Our facility and field should be a good as anyone’s in the state and I am proud to say that in just two short years the reality is almost there,” Ingram said.
“We were very disappointed with the overall facility for the school, community and the field conditions for our young athletes,” he said. “What has happened in the last two years is nothing sort of remarkable and it’s a credit to the great volunteers and the local businesses who come on board to be a part of the Booster Club and to be a part of the new ‘Friends of the Program.’
“Our goal is a simple one, but one that’s forgotten so many times. These are our kids, our school and our community! If not us, then who? You know, it’s OK to start new traditions and to create a sense of pride for students and the community,” Ingram said.
The stadium clean-up directly ties to Football Coach Mark Clifford’s motto of “One Team, One Family, One Community.”
Additional booster work will be scheduled throughout the year, including fundraisers for all sports.
For more information about the Big Green Booster Club, visit

Local ingredients and amazing dishes make for a sweet experience at Sweetgrass Restaurant

in Lunch Bunch by

By Pamela Brownstein
The Lunch Bunch shed its daytime appetite and gathered after dark on Dataw Island to taste the culinary divinity that is served nightly at Sweetgrass Restaurant and Bar.
The views of the boats and the water, the excellent service and the incredible food made for a wonderful dinner.

Sweet chips with chunky blue cheese.

Owner Lauren Tillapaugh was a gracious hostess and described the emphasis on local ingredients and having a seasonal menu. They partner with many local establishments to highlight the best the Lowcountry has to offer.
We started with three appetizers: Sweetgrass deviled eggs, seafood nachos, and sweet chips with chunky blue cheese. The chips were so indescribably awesome: homemade sweet potato chips with warm blue cheese dressing.
For salad, Daniel ordered the “Hot and Hot Fish Club” made with local tomatoes, fried okra, lima beans, corn, bacon and greens. It was excellent. For soup, I tried something new: Peach gazpacho. I like the traditional gazpacho — Nikki got that, made with tomatoes and cucumbers, and it was really good — but the peach was so unique and fabulous. Tess and I were trying to pinpoint the subtle flavors, and when Lauren told us the

Praline chicken and mac.

ingredients, I never would have guessed jalapeños gave it the slight kick.
For entrees, Nikki had grilled flounder with collard greens and fried green tomatoes. Her husband, Bubba, liked the grilled shrimp with fries and corn and lima bean succotash.
Buck ordered the sirloin steak with a baked potato and roasted beets, which were very yummy, while Daniel had the crab cake sandwich.
I loved my salmon linguine: grilled salmon served on a bed of linguine with tomatoes, capers, lemon butter and grated Parmesan.
But Tess’ praline chicken and mac won as the must-have because you can’t get anything like it anywhere else: lightly fried chicken breast in a caramel pecan sauce over homemade

Peach gazpacho.

macaroni and cheese. Seriously delicious.
Thanks to our server Ashley, the chefs, bartender and the Lauren and Jeff for making such a memorable dining experience.
Sweetgrass Restaurant and Bar is located at 100 Marina Drive at the Dataw Island Marina on Dataw Island. They are open for dinner every evening from 5 to 9 p.m., except on Wednesday. And Sunday brunch and lunch are served from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 843-838-2151 or visit

Poor Pinot Noir, Good Pinot Noir

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By Celia Strong
Hello, again. Another new wine coming at us, again. And, actually, from a grape variety that we don’t look at all that often — Pinot Noir. This is a red variety whose name refers to the dark pinecone shape of its grape clusters on the vine (“pinot” is from the French for “pine” and “noir” is “black” in French). Poor Pinot Noir, though. Over the last several years we have tried and tried to drink Pinot Noir wines, but it’s been hard to get there. The grape itself is one of the more difficult to grow which tends to cause a wide range in the quality of its wines.  And, then, along came a movie that made it sooooo popular that the retail prices on Pinot Noir wines became difficult too. Poor Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir’s home is the Burgundy region of France. It is a very old variety, only one or two generations removed from wild grapes. Interesting how even grape varieties have a line of historical development coming out of the Ice Ages. Today, there is a lot of different DNA research going on with this grape and some of the results are, to say the least, interesting. Just to give you an idea of what, listen to this. In the 1st century AD, Columella in a treatise titled “De re rustica,” discussed a grape similar to Pinot Noir that grew wild and possibly represented a direct domestication (hermaprodite-flowered) of the “vitis sylvestri” wild grapes. Much later, for a short while, it was thought that Pinot Noir was a cross of Pinot Meunier and another variety.  But then they found out that Pinot Meunier is a chimerical mutation in its epidermal cells. Its gapes’ skins have two layers that each come from a different genetic parent. With these mutations, Pinot Meunier can’t be a parent of Pinot Noir. Later, again, research looked at Pinot Gris and its relation to Pinot Noir. This time the theory was that a somatic mutation in the genes that control the grape skin color may have led to Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Not right again, but at least now they know these three Pinot grapes are related somehow. To this day, there are more clones and variations of Pinot Noir (50 as opposed to maybe 25 for most other varieties).  Bottom line is this grape is easily changed or crossed with another variety or misidentified.  No wonder it’s a difficult grape to grow. Pick the wrong version for your soil and climate and you get yuck. Get it right, though, and Pinot Noir can make some of the very best wines in the world!
Which gets us one step closer to this week’s wine. Having learned that it’s such a hard variety to grow well, we can look to California for some of the best soil and climate combinations available for Pinot Noir.  There are several Pinot Noir friendly areas that most of us have heard about, but our wine this week comes from only one of them — the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. The Russian River AVA runs roughly from Sebastopol and Santa Rosa in the south to Forestville and Healdsburg in the north. The area of Russian River vineyard plantings is about one sixth of the vineyards in Sonoma. Some of the AVA’s best Pinot Noir wines are planted in”Goldridge soil,” sandstone of loam. Near Sebastopol a different soil that is more clay based, “Sebastopol soil,” also works well for Pinot Noir because it retains less water than Goldridge soil. And, a third soil from along the river banks is predominantly alluvial and good for Pinots as well. The climate in this AVA is characterized  by cool morning fog and cool evenings.. (It’s really only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean at some points.) This coolness is partly responsible for letting the grapes ripen slowly. Slow ripening intensifies the flavors that end up in our wine and help to avoid overripe grapes where the flavors turn to baked fruits that are not as good in wine. Grapes in the Russian River AVA are usually harvested a bit later than those in neighboring AVAs, again the slow ripening.  Most of the wines from the Russian River are Pinot Noir, 29% and Chardonnay, 42%. (Another grape that originated in the Burgundy region of France so it makes sense it likes the same types of soils and climate.) Looking at all of California’s Pinot Noir production, the Russian River AVA is just shy of being 20% of the total. In the late 20th century, older clones of Pinot Noir were planted here, including Martini, Swan, Pommard and 115 others. The abundance of flavors and textures from all these clones came together and made what is now considered the Russian River Pinot Noir style — vibrant but pale color, lively acidity, cherry and berry fruit flavors, delicate aroma that includes earthy mushroom notes. Because pale wines did not score well in “official” tastings, wine makers started using longer maceration times to extract more color from the skins of the grapes, and new trellising systems in the vineyards that got more sun onto the grapes.  In addition, the new trellising caused the grapes to ripen more, so more sugar means more alcohol that helps to support the fuller flavors.  Success!!!  A difficult grape found a home where it can grow well and make wonderful wines.
So who makes our Russian River Pinot Noir?  Pellegrini Family Vineyards. The Pellegrini family, two brothers (Nello and Gino) to be precise, who got involved in wine making in the early 1900s. They came to New York City from their home in Tuscany and soon made their way to California. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, the brothers established the Pellegrini Wine Company. Nello’s son Vincent took over in the 1950s, and in 1973 bought a 70-acre ranch on Olivet Road in Santa Rosa, in the Russian River Valley.   They converted the ranch from apple and plum orchards to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards. Choosing these two varieties may have been partly luck, but they produced their first wines in the late 70s and labeled them Olivet Lane. The winery is still owned and operated by family members and still located on Olivet Road in Santa Rosa.
The Pellegrini Olivet Lane Pinot Noir 2010 is our lovely wine this week. According to winemaker Daniel Fitzgerald, the vintage was an exceptional growing season. It had long even ripening of the grapes with low yields so the flavors were concentrated in fewer grapes. The wine is a dark garnet  color, loaded with black cherry fruit flavors, some woodsy notes from the loamy soil, and licorice. The aromas include strawberries, dried flowers and spices. As good as it is now, this wine will age really well.  There are fewer than 1,200 cases of this wine and it is 100% Pinot Noir. This wine is priced at $35 at the winery, but here, for us, it’s $19.99. Not cheap, but for a Russian River Pinot Noir, it is a deal. They don’t come cheap. But we have one that is a true value!  Try it when you can, then remember it for special dinners and holiday meals. Enjoy.

Wente went for the gold!

in Contributors/Wine by

By Terry Sweeney
Earlier this year, at the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2012 Wine Competition, American wines competed for bronze, silver and gold medals. More than 300 wineries sent their best to this: the largest competition of American Wines in the world.
What interested me most, of course, were the medal winners under $20. I imagined these lesser-priced bottles arriving with their wine coaches in tow just like in the Olympics. “Make every sip count!” “Don’t pop your cork too soon!” “Remember, you’re in it to vin it!’” Hey, who says you can’t talk to a bottle of wine? I know I have. It’s perfectly normal.  If you hear it talk back, however, then you’ve got a problem.
Anyway, one particular winery’s name among the celebrated winners jumped out at me: Wente!
Carolyn Wente lives right here, slightly west of Beaufort. The other part of the time, she’s oh-so-busy being the CEO of Wente Vineyards which was named in 2011 “The Winery of the Year “ by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Carolyn’s actually a fourth generation wine grower at Wente Vineyards (in Livermore, California) which by the way is the oldest continuously operated family-owned winery in America. What a pedigree! But that’s not all, this woman’s accolades have accolades — from being chosen one of the “World’s Leading Entrepreneurs” to being named one of the “Women Who Could be President” by the League of Women Voters. I wonder if I can get myself selected to be on the short list of “Winos Who Could be President” by the League of Women Drinkers. I better work on that. Heck, I better work on something — compared to Carolyn Wente I’m about as on-the-move as a Lipsitz Department Store mannequin.
As for Carolyn Wente, when she’s not overseeing the making of her fabulous award-winning wines then she’s overseeing her beautiful and elegant Livermore eatery. The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, while at the same time planning the next concert in her concert series — the renowned “Concerts at Wente Vineyards” that have hosted the likes of John Fogerty and Sheryl Crow. Just writing about this woman is wearing me out. I need to sit down and catch my breath and pour myself a glass of one of her “Best in Class” award-winning chardonnays.
Back to the Vinolympics in ‘Frisco. In their categories, Wente Vineyards’ 2009 Riverbank Riesling ($12.99) won a bronze, and her 2009 Livermore Valley Sandstone Merlot ($14.99) won gold, while Wente Riva Ranch 2010 Chardonnay ($19.99) won silver.
Of course, Wente won gold, silvers and bronzes and other awards in the higher priced categories. For example, their Nth Degree wines — the Nth Degree Merlot ($59.99) won gold, and Nth Degree Syrah ($49.99) won Best of Class, and there were more. Every year their list of winners grows.
I move we make Carolyn Wente’s California town of Livermore the sister city of Beaufort; and I’m not just saying that to get a “family and friends” discount at The Wente’s Wine Club. (OK, maybe that’s exactly why I’m saying that, but may I remind you we are not put on this planet to judge others — i.e. ME.)
But if it’s too much of a stretch to make Livermore “Beaufort’s Sister City,” how ‘bout we anoint it “Beaufort’s Drinking Buddy.” That’s close enough. At the very least, let us offer our heartfelt congratulations to the wine Olympian who dwells among us … well done, Carolyn Wente. We proudly raise our glasses to you. Now how ‘bout pouring some of that Wente wine into ‘em?!

10 Healing Herbs for hounds and humans: #6: Lemon Balm — it’s the balm!

in Contributors/Pets by

By Tracie Korol

The clammy paralysis of anxiety has become almost routine for so many people that it is has become the new normal. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect 18% of the adult population of the U.S., or about 40 million people. No one tracks how many dogs suffer from canine anxiety, but experts peg the rate at somewhere around 30% and, many say, it’s probably rising.
A canine anxiety epidemic seems out of sync with a world that includes organic food, daycare centers, and memory foam beds for that special canine in your life. There are dating sites for people partial to spending their free time with dogs and travel agencies that can plan entire vacations around you and your dog.
In canine-obsessed times such as these, how bad could a dog’s life be?
The truth is that most dogs aren’t along for the ride. Even the ones lucky enough to be adopted by responsible people spend a good part of their lives inside and on their own. They’re waiting for someone to come home, and they’re lonely. Even when people are home, they’re often distracted by everything they need to catch up on after a day away. And all that time on the phone, the Droid, or the computer takes time away from exercising, playing, and just plain hanging out with your Best Friend.
A simple remedy for the stresses of everyday life, for you and your Best Friend, might be to spend a few quiet minutes sharing a cup of Lemon Balm tea (or iced LBT, given the season).  While dogs generally aren’t all that wild about lemon flavor and scent, adding a dilute tea to the water bowl will hardly be noticed. Your dog will appreciate an addition of fresh chopped lemon balm to his bowl of chicken or fish, or a light misting of a lemon balm hydrosol.  And certainly, he will appreciate a lemon balm-infused honey for a special spoon treat.
Native to the Middle East, lemon balm traveled through all of Europe. Charlemagne ordered his subjects to plant it, Benedictine monks put it in their monastery gardens, and Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. Part of the mint family, it has known medicinal properties relating to the nervous system, assisting those who suffer from anxiety and related psychological imbalances. So widespread was lemon balm’s reputation for promoting longevity and dispelling melancholy that by the 17th century, French Carmelite nuns were dispensing their Carmelite Water to a faithful following. The lemon-balm infused “miracle water” was thought to improve memory and vision and reduce rheumatic pain, fever, melancholy and congestion.
Lemon balm’s key constituents include volatile oils, tannins, flavonoids, terpenes, and eugenol. Its terpenes are relaxing, the tannins have antiviral effects, and eugenol calms muscle spasms, kills bacteria, and has an analgesic  effect. In recent years, lemon balm has made headlines for its ability to treat cold sores and other breakouts caused by the herpes simplex virus and as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Its strong performance in the Alzheimer’s studies and its safety make it a compelling candidate for a trial with senior dogs suffering from cognitive dysfunction, or to reduce the depression and agitation that dogs with cognitive dysfunction can display.
People whose dogs’  flatulence drives them out of the room may especially appreciate lemon balm’s ability to reduce gas.
Long considered a “universal remedy,” lemon balm is an herb that can be used for almost any ailment but is perhaps most strongly indicated in dogs with digestive problems, separation anxiety, sleep disorders, stress, and irritability. Plus, it’s tasty.

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