trip report: charleston
As we have done for the past few years, we headed out of town for Memorial Day weekend. The number one requirement for our destination? Good food (duh). We decided on Charleston, South Carolina, which is a quick flight and has an eminently walkable downtown.
Also, this box of chocolates was waiting for us!
We landed early evening on Friday, so we had just enough time to drop off our bags and head out to Sullivan's Island, where we had dinner reservations at The Obstinate Daughter. Take a minute to look at the menu, I'll wait.
Above is my pizza, which was made with ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, red onion, Italian sausage and local greens. Mike also enjoyed their local beer selection, especially the Westbrook Gose.
When we got back to the room, this was waiting for us:
That is a slice of Peninsula Grill's (rightfully) famous coconut cake. It is ENORMOUS and extremely delicious. Mike has already requested one delivered for his birthday.
Brunch the next morning was at Poogan's Porch, just a quick stroll from the hotel. I finally got to try she-crab soup and we had our first (of many) true Southern biscuits.
One of my favorite parts of this city is the architecture. They're not afraid of color and almost every building has really beautiful architectural details.
After a few hours of walking around, we stopped into Xiao Bao Biscuit, where we had neither bao nor biscuit, but a very satisfying lunch nonetheless. This is the bo bo ji chicken, made with cilantro, peanut and scallions and served with an additive roasted sesame sauce.
We took a ferry to Fort Sumter in the afternoon for a little history lesson. Everyone should be especially pleased to learn that they're getting rid of all their Confederate merchandise, in light of the recent shooting.
Everyone and anyone had told us that FIG was the best dinner spot in Charleston, so we figured we had to try. Verdict? It wasn't bad, but it was fairly similar to any farm-to-table meal we can get here in Manhattan. Above are veggies, quinoa and ricotta.
I think Charleston cuisine really shines when you're eating the authentic Southern stuff.
Speaking of that...
Hominy Grill is kind of like the Clinton Street Baking Co. of Charleston, if I could make a not-very-good analogy (because I think Hominy is loads better). It's thronged with tourists, but it seemed to me that locals too respect its breakfast supremacy. Plus, there's a to-go window for cocktails while you wait for your table!
I finally had my first bowl of shrimp and grits here. The things I would do to eat that bacon-butter sauce again are entirely unprintable.
We popped into one of the many spectacular historic homes for a quick tour after brunch. This is the back garden of the Heyward-Washington house.
Our afternoon activity was a splendid walking tour with (how great is this name!?) Palmer Stowe of Oyster Point Walking Tours. Above is the famous Rainbow Row.
We ended at the Battery, which is home to some of the most jaw-dropping mansions in the city.
Dinner was at Hank's Seafood, which I think may have been my favorite meal of the entire trip. They were certainly the best crab cakes I've ever had and that's coming from a Maryland girl.
Our last morning we walked to the Aiken-Rhett House, which has been preserved as-is, meaning that some rooms have exposed floorboards and paint peeling, but you get an idea of how it looked in the early 1800s. I definitely recommend a visit.
Our very last meal was at the place that has arguably gotten Charleston the most buzz as a foodie destination: Husk. We had been to the one in Nashville when were there for New Year's 2013, but I found the Charleston location (which is the original) to be a better experience. Above is my whey drink, which sounds like it would be gross, but was actually extremely refreshing. One of the bartenders bottles them in his spare time.
Of course we tried the fried chicken.
And the hush puppies.
We packed a lot in to less than three days and had a wonderful time. Now, to find decent grits in New York City...