Circa 1886 Names Polite Palmetto Cookie That Best Represents Charleston

A few more Charlestonians may want to stick their hand in the cookie jar come the holidays.

Online PR News – 08-August-2009 – – A few more Charlestonians may want to stick their hand in the cookie jar come the holidays. On Wednesday, Circa 1886 restaurant declared the Polite Palmetto with Sweet Tea Glaze as the winner in its Christmas Cookie contest and plans to serve it on the menu throughout the month of December.

As part of the contest, the AAA Four-Diamond, Mobil Four Star restaurant challenged locals to answer the question "If Charleston were a cookie, what would it be?" With entries ranging from cookies with a sweet tea glaze to cookies rolled in crushed benne wafers, Circa 1886 Executive Chef Marc Collins and Pastry Chef Scott Lovorn narrowed the field down to three recipes.

On Aug. 5, the Circa 1886 chefs prepared the three finalist recipes for taste-testing by the entrants, their families and a panel of judges, which included Nathalie Dupree, chef and cookbook author; Judith Moore, owner of Charleston Cookie Co.; and Tara Lynn, co-anchor for News 2 Today and News 2 Midday.

The winning cookie recipe, which gave a nod to the Holy City’s status as a friendly destination with its Polite Palmetto name, was submitted by Nona Pontiff of Mt Pleasant, a sewing artist and teacher. The cookie, shaped like a palmetto tree, included pecans, rice flour and sesame seeds with a glaze of sugar, lemon juice vodka and black tea leaves.

"When I was coming up the recipe, I was trying to think of elements that would bring in the rich culinary history of Charleston," says Pontiff. "So I incorporated rice in the form of brown rice flour, brown pecans and also sesame that came from Africa to Charleston and the tea glaze, which we have the only tea plantation in the United States here in Charleston."

Pontiff received a complimentary dinner for four at Circa 1886, and her cookie will be featured on the Circa 1886 dessert menu during the month of December. Also taking home prizes were the contest’s second place winner, Christmas on the Piazza, and third place winner, The Warm Welcome, whose entrants both received Circa 1886 aprons.

About Circa 1886
Set inside the historic carriage house for the award-winning Wentworth Mansion® hotel at 149 Wentworth St. in Charleston, S.C., Circa 1886 is a AAA Four-Diamond, Mobil Four Star restaurant offering traditional southern cuisine with a modern twist in a sophisticated, historic setting. Executive Chef Marc Collins, named by Esquire Magazine as a chef to watch in 2001 and co-founder of the successful Charleston Food + Wine Festival, presents innovative southern dishes, which draw on the rich culinary history of Charleston during the time period when the Mansion was originally constructed. Collins also brings a French influence and a touch of 21st century culinary artistry to his creations. Circa 1886 has received numerous accolades, including the DiRoNA award for fine dining in North America, as well as the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and prices range from $8 to $16 for appetizers, $20 to $30 for featured courses, and desserts start at $10. For more information and reservations, please visit or call (843) 853-7828.


Editor’s Note: Photos of the winner and first place cookie available upon request.

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