Hello, happy weekend! I hate to complain but I am so tired! I wanted to post yesterday (Friday) but just could not do it! I guess it is just a really busy week catching up to me. Daughter #3 and I had a wonderful road trip to Charleston. She has landed at a great school and has already met some of her new peeps! She got to meet her new roommate in person and also got to make some new friends. The weather however….talk about humidity! My hair does not like humidity! We had scattered rain and thunder showers for the entire trip. It turns out Charleston, being the low country, floods at every opportunity so we will be looking for rain boots!
Needless to say, the city is rich with American history. Everywhere you turn, you find a little slice of history and the city has done a wonderful job at preserving their heritage.
Let’s talk about shopping! King Street is the main shopping street and there are boutiques to antiques, something for everyone. There is also the City Market on Market Street. The City Market used to be called the Slave Market and it was where slaves went to buy and sell for their masters. It is not where slaves were bought and sold. Today it is a covered three or four block long, open air market providing some handmade (sweet grass baskets) tourist trinkets.
Let’s talk about food! We only had time for four meals and my list was a page long!!! The first night we had dinner at The Ordinary, a seafood and oyster bar. It is a beautiful space and has outstanding food. I heartily recommend it. We had oysters and appetizers. I had an heirloom tomato salad that had me wanting to scrape the plate. We sat at the oyster bar and chatted with a Culinary Institute of Charleston intern who’s job was shucking oysters. He shucks 200 oysters a night (he also shucks clams and composes the seafood towers etc.) and was a delight to chat with. He made shucking oysters look easy. Full disclosure – I wanted to go there because my husband is getting ready to open a seafood and oyster bar at National Harbor, more about that in another post. Here is an interesting link to to the history of Charleston Cuisine.
For lunch the next day while #3 did her thing, I had BBQ at Nick’s and I must tell you I had the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever had. It was moist and pulled apart perfectly and was also perfectly sauced, it was delightful. For dinner that night we went to Hominy Grill and again I highly recommend it. I had the shrimp and grits, a house specialty and it was outstanding. Daughter #3 had chocolate pudding for dessert and we could not stop scraping the bowl! It was the best chocolate pudding I have ever had! Our final lunch was pho and green curry at Co which was just fine. I passed Toast in my wanderings and it is the breakfast place that everyone raves about. There were probably 40 people waiting outside for a table at about 10:30 in the morning. We will have to go there another time to see what the fuss is about.
Since I was a tourist I went for a carriage tour and that was great fun. My tour guide was a high school english teacher and he was fascinating. Do you know the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? I did not! It turns out a graveyard is always connected to a church, a cemetery is not. So, if the church is torn down or turned into something else, the graveyard becomes a cemetery. Do you remember anything about Fort Sumter which sits out in the middle of the Charleston harbor? Well, if you are like me, your memory needed to be jogged because that is where the civil war started after Confederate soldiers attacked the American fort. No one was killed in that attack but it led to a very bloody war in which 620,00 people, mostly Americans were killed.
We went by the house of the owner of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain on the Battery. Can you guess how we knew it was his?
Do you know what crop South Carolina was originally famous for (they called it Carolina Gold)? I guessed cotton but that came later, it was rice!!! A terrible hurricane hit South Carolina and dumped salt water all over the rice fields so they were moved north and after that, cotton was planted. The rice was called Carolina Gold both for its color and its ability to produce great fortunes for plantation owners. Indigo was the second major crop in pre-Revolutionary times. South Carolina did not have a indigo monopoly of the British market, but the demand was strong and many planters switched to the new crop when the price of rice fell. Carolina indigo had a mediocre reputation because Carolina planters failed to achieve consistent high quality production standards. Carolina indigo nevertheless succeeded in displacing French and Spanish indigo in the British and in some continental markets, reflecting the demand for cheap dyestuffs from manufacturers of low-cost textiles, the fastest-growing sectors of the European textile industries at the onset of industrialization. Exports of these two crops led South Carolina to become one of, if not the wealthiest colonie prior to the Revolution.
While exploring King Street, I found open rod iron garden doors (whenever you see open gates, it means come on in and look around) to one of the oldest Unitarian Churches in the United States. The garden complete with a graveyard, was overgrown but so captivating.
Charleston also has beaches about 15 minutes outside of the city! Go visit!!! September and October or spring are the times to go probably not July or August!