charleston, south carolina

The Hubs and I have had a hankering to visit Charleston for ages. We'd heard about all their good eats and were overdue for a just-the-two-of-us vacay. Thanks to Visiting Little Sis watching The Kids, we got to jet away at the end of June. Oh-so-hot, but oh-so-good. (Yes, I've been sitting on this post for awhile!)

Much of the fun of a trip is the research, planning and anticipation, and in our case, there was a lot of it. Where? When? How much? Dinner only? Reservations needed? High priority? 

Let's just say spread sheets were involved.

 First stop— Martha Lou's Kitchen. Love the bright, cheerful facade.

The plastic tablecloth wigged out one of us, the collards were HEAVILY seasoned, but the chicken... ooooooh baby, the cooked-to-order fried chicken was AMAAAAZING. Tender, moist, perfectly seasoned, tasty. Add to that some super friendly, joyful daughters of Martha Lou and you've got a must-visit eatery. (And yes, that is a divided styrofoam plate there.)

We tried the Butcher Plate at The Macintosh Restaurant (head cheese, bologna, sausage, foie gras terrine, pork belly, duck rillete, grilled bread and whole grain mustard)

and also ordered (at a different meal, mind you!) the Piggy Plate at The Grocery.
Snout to snout, The Macintosh platter was better.

Each restaurant also had noteworthy sides:

Bone Marrow Bread Pudding— silky smooth, melt in your mouth decadence

Fried Eggplant dusted with Moroccan spices— light, airy, crunchy, flavorful

The Grits at Hominy Grill were definitely delicious, which was a good thing as it was The Hubs first time trying it.  The jalapeno hushpuppies were likewise excellent— light, fluffy and tasty.

No visit is complete with at least one stop at a bakery of some sort. Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts fit the bill with some interesting choices. We were lucky to get one of the last Blueberry Cheesecake!

I must also mention the coconut cake at the Peninsula Grill. Unfortunately, I don't have a personal snap of it, as I inhaled the take-out slice before I could pull out the camera.

Okay, I just lifted the picture off of the Peninsula Grill website.

If you haven't heard of this cake, you need to know that it is a 12-layer slice of heavenly deliciousness. There is the not-too-sweet cake, the simple syrup to keep the crumb moist, the creamy coconut filling and then the cream cheese frosting. If you don't like coconut, perhaps it'll make a convert out of you. To. Die. For.  I have decided this slice and a croquembouche will be my last meal.

We stopped by The Ordinary at 3 PM on our way out of town. The restaurant is housed in a former bank, and you can see the chef through the vault door.

They were only serving from their raw bar at that time, so we got a bunch of oysters and local clams.

Lest you think that all we did was eat ...

Charleston is a great walking town. Even in the 90º heat, we enjoyed wandering around, looking at the gorgeous architecture and flowering trees. We also took an educational, enlightening walking tour. This is definitely the way to go if you are interested in the history of the town.

Gorgeous crepe myrtle
 We drove out to Middleton Place, which has beautiful gardens, a house, and plantation stableyards.

There are many fine, historic homes in Charleston. This one, the Edmondston-Alston House, has a fantastic view of Charleston Harbor.

Speaking of the harbor, we took a great boat tour— Charleston Harbor Tour. The boat took us by Fort Sumter, the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, stately homes and other landmarks. The guide was both well-informed and entertaining. The added plus was that we could stay out of the blistering sun and in the air-conditioned interior.

Zero George, a fabulous boutique hotel located in the Ansonborough neighborhood, was our choice of hotel. Aside from a yummy continental breakfast, beautiful and comfortable accomodations, they offered a wine and cheese pairing at 5 PM every evening. Even with all our meals, we couldn't pass on some free food and drink!

If I could have, I would have indulged in a culinary class held in Zero George's display kitchen, housing this stunning Lacanche range, but sadly, none were available during my stay.

We had a fantastic, delicious time in Charleston and look forward to eating/rolling our way through the town again. I'm thinking Spoleto Festival would be an opportune time to visit— world class music and top notch food in genteel surroundings cannot be beat. Anyone care to join?

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