Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let's Do The Charleston

Sunday evening we returned to the frozen north after an all-too-quick trip to visit friends in Charleston, South Carolina. We had a grand old time, and not just because it was warm. We loved catching up with Jeff and Jessica (and meeting their new puppy Waldo), the city is just beautiful, and we ate incredibly well. Today it's a snowy evening back in Boston, but I'm still thinking of sunny South Carolina!
This was our first trip to Charleston, and boy have we been missing out. We loved strolling along the streets of downtown soaking up the sunshine and admiring the historical homes. Many of them were built before the Revolutionary War, and they're just stunning: real gas lamps, painted shutters, white columns on long covered porches, intricate wrought iron gates, colorful paint, and weathered brick.
There are gorgeous steeples dotting the skyline. The trees are an odd combination of Palmettos (the state tree) and Live Oaks with branches draped in Spanish Moss. Just a little ways down the road are sand dunes, charming beach homes, and light houses. We even saw the Angel Oak, a massive, knotted tree thought to be 400-500 years old, it's branches spreading low to the ground.
Jeff and Jessica, who we met through my husband's grad school program, took good care of us! They were the best tour guides, and we just had the best time catching up with them and exploring. I think my favorite moment of the trip was actually sitting around in their living room. Jeff started a crackling fire, Waldo curled up on the rug, and we caught up over champagne (for the girls) and whiskey (for the boys).
Sights We Saw:

Walking Tour of Downtown - Gorgeous old homes and churches, cute little shops, and cozy restaurants

The Battery/White Point Garden - A lovely seawall promenade and park, walkways shaded by Live Oaks, complete with a romantic little gazebo

Sullivan's Island Beach - A long walk down a weathered boardwalk brought us to the beach, still damp from the morning rain. Sand dunes, beach grass, light houses, rolling waves, and seagulls were involved.

Ravenel Bridge - We actually hiked out to the center of the bridge, over 3/4 mile. It was a good opportunity to walk off our BBQ, complete with a view over the water

Marion Square - Another pretty park, home to the Charleston Farmer's Market, the Calhoun Monument, and a moving Holocaust Memorial.

The Angel Oak - Can I tell you how much I wanted to grab a book and curl up on one of those long, low branches? What a lot of history this tree must have seen in its 400-500 years.
Things We Ate:

Red's Ice House - The perfect way to start the trip: outdoor seating, a view of the water (apparently dolphins usually play in the creek, but they must have been visiting other waters last weekend), a bucket of beers, shrimp fritters, and BBQ bacon-wrapped local shrimp

The Bar at Husk - After our walking tour of downtown, we stopped to rest our feet and grab a quick drink before dinner. It's a whisky bar also serving up some great cocktails like the Charleston Light Dragoon Punch.

McCrady's - An elegant restaurant serving up four courses of French fare made with local ingredients. I loved the fish course as well as the duck with black garlic puree.

Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ - Ok, here's what you do. First, order the dry-rubbed smoked chicken wings. Next, go with a plate of pulled pork, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and collards. The pork is great with the Hot Red BBQ sauce but even better with their Pepper Vinegar. Wash all that down a Pain Killer, a tropical frozen rum concoction that makes no sense at a BBQ joint, but that doesn't matter because it's really good. Finally, despite how full you'll be, share a bowl of the banana pudding. You won't regret it.

Closed for Business - After our hike up the Ravenel Bridge, we stopped in here to try some local brews from their extensive tap selection. I really enjoyed the Holy City Pluff Mud Porter.

The Granary - We had the most memorable dinner here, starting with their house-made charcuterie plate (let me just tell you that there was pickled okra involved. I love the South). My entree was a perfectly fall-apart tender beef short rib over creamy, cheesy grits. 

Fat Hen - A carafe of mimosas, friend green tomatoes topped with pepper relish and dollops of pimento cheese, and the most amazing shrimp and grits I have ever tested made for a mighty fine brunch and a mighty fine farewell to Charleston.
Charleston, what an amazing city you are! Until next time!

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