Currently, I’m listening to Gregory Porter on rotation, and I’m warning you that the only thing that could make me quit cooking and brewing for you would be if he asked me to play my double bass on his next international tour. My guess is that isn’t happening, so you’re stuck with me. But don’t be surprised if you find some surprise musical guests on your visits to Dale View. Music is one of my love languages.
One Fathers Day about six years ago, my family gave me a Mr. Beer home brew kit that quickly spiraled out of control after I started to regularly visit Doug Amport at Bitters & Esthers in Prospect Heights where I discovered the craft of developing my own grain builds. I kept at it, and after buying a priced-to-sell used Kegerator from a beer-lovers disgruntled ex-girlfriend on Craig’s List, my brewing experience continued to be inspired and developed.
And through the love, investment, and support of friends and brothers who have become family, including Shawn Liu, James Lawrence, and Alvino Ray Johnson and my family who are unbound in their support and love for me, I am here. And I’d like to think they did it for me, but I have the sneaky suspicion that they did it for the love of all of you.
I grew up in Dale View, a small predominantly black neighborhood in Columbia, SC. We lived in a brick house situated almost next door to a cemetery and a creek where I would find myself spending hours after school and on the weekends watching the world go by. Less than a mile away, my Grandma Viola spent her days working hard for her family as a coveted house cleaner for her devoted clients, tending her bountiful garden, and taking care of her family the best way she knew how. My Grandma’s hands were charmed, and everything she touched had a way of staying with you. Her biscuits weren’t biscuits. They were the first step on a magic carpet ride through her hot Southern kitchen. And you better believe I was watching with my big little boy eyes. Learning and watching how one little hot piece of bread could change the world.
But she wasn’t the only person in her house. Uncle James Earl never quite left home, and he still lives with my Grandma to this day, only now he’s about a year older and he can find time to take my three kids on lawn mower rides around the yard during our summer visits. Uncle James Earl liked his beer cold, and he preferred tall cans to bottles. He liked to pretend he was hiding his drinking habit from my Grandma, but I knew all about his beers hidden behind the tool shed, the moonshine he bought from the bootlegger on Sundays, and his dedicated love for brown liquor. In fact, he was the first Certified Specialist of Spirits that I ever met. I wasn’t old enough to taste what he he was drinking at the time, but I never forgot that sometimes, you just need something to “drank” with a good meal.
After studying classical music at Anderson University and building a career in retail, I moved to the big city to continue my career and start a family. The rest is recent history. You’ll find music in everything I do. You’ll find family in everything I do. And through that, I hope you’ll find love in everything I do.
I never left the South. I brought it with me. Now, I’m sharing my little piece of Dale View with you, one hot biscuit with something to “drank” at a time.
1170 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA