Falling in Love with Charleston.

If Savannah is the girl you take to a party, Charleston is the belle you take home to marry. So gracious, so stately was Charleston (we were there well before the bugs and the summer humidity arrived) that I longed to live in one of the confectionary houses along the waterfront there.

The houses along the Battery are among the most spectacular in Charleston.

The houses along the Battery are among the most spectacular in Charleston.

Like any real lady, Charleston gives the appearance of eternal serenity, but history tells us otherwise. Founded in 1670 for Charles II of England, the town was subjected in ensuing years to tug-of-wars between Britain, Spain and France, along with regular incursions by pirates as well as raids by Native American tribes. The town was attacked twice during the American Revolution but played a more central part in the Civil War. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, and it was at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861 that the first shots of the war were fired.

photo (485)

Ft. Sumter today as seen from our ferry.

Ft. Sumter today as seen from our ferry.

The Union army bombarded Fort Sumter throughout the war and finally re-took it in February, 1865

The Union army bombarded Fort Sumter throughout the war and finally re-took it in February, 1865

More recently, Charleston has struggled through a depressed economy during much of the twentieth century and suffered devastating losses to three-quarters of the homes in its Historic District when Hurricane Hugo walloped the area in 1989.

The Battery area was devastated by Hurricane Hugo (image from postandcourier.com)

The Battery area was devastated by Hurricane Hugo (image from postandcourier.com)

Charleston has emerged from her turbulent history to reign once again as the belle of the ball. Yankee transplants engage in bidding wars to purchase and restore the area’s historic homes. Just know before you buy that, as Pat Conroy admonishes in the title of one of his best-sellers, the acceptable addresses are all “South of Broad”.

This definitely qualifies as an "acceptable address".

This definitely qualifies as an “acceptable address”.

That being said, we happily crossed to the “wrong” side of town to have lunch one day at Slightly North of Broad. We knew it would be good, since it was recommended in a chorus by some locals when we asked them for a restaurant recommendation. The shrimp and grits were one of the best meals I had on our trip.

I think there is always a line outside of S.N.O.B.

I think there is always a line outside of S.N.O.B.

If you go to S.N.O.B. order the shrimp and grits.

If you go to S.N.O.B. order the shrimp and grits.

Dining was a delight in Charleston. At the popular Husk restaurant, we discovered a pork-centered menu and the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted. Get this: even the butter is “pork-infused” at Husk. Oink!

Hamming it up: our first course at Husk was their Ham Sampler.

Hamming it up: our first course at Husk was their Ham Sampler.

The skillet cornbread at Husk is as good as it gets.

The skillet cornbread at Husk is as good as it gets.

I had an epiphany when I viewed the drink menu at Husk. Ordering a decent wine by the glass had been a struggle thoughout the trip and when I viewed Husk’s extensive bourbon menu I realized I had been seeking the wrong spirit all along; wine is fine in California, but whiskey wins in the South! I switched over to my father’s beloved Manhattans for the rest of the trip and had some memorable coctails (although I may not have remembered much else after drinking them…)

Husk's take on the Manhattan.

Husk’s take on the Manhattan.

One of our best meals in Charleston was at the Peninsula Grill. It is the one place you absolutely must eat if you’re in town. I had the Lobster Corn Bisque and Grouper on Sauteed Spinach with Ramps. Divine. Oh, and we splurged on dessert that night: Panna Cotta Banana Pudding for me and Coconut Cake for the CE. Yes, I sinned and I would do it all over again.

The CE at the entrance to the Peninsula Grill.

The CE at the entrance to the Peninsula Grill.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned: Panna Cotta Banana Pudding at the Peninsula Grill.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned: Panna Cotta Banana Pudding at the Peninsula Grill.

We also had a lovely dinner at FIG and terrific short-order breakfasts at doesn’t-even-have-a-web-site Sweetwater Cafe. There is no shortage of good food in Charleston and fortunately, there is no shortage of opportunities to walk off the calories. Lots of elegant shopping, lots of history and lots of real estate to gawk at.

One of our most interesting walks was to and through the Aiken-Rhett house. The house tour offers a close-up view of antebellum and Civil War history as experienced by prominent Charleston families.

The Aiken-Rhett house

The Aiken-Rhett house

.

Walking along the Battery waterfront is a must while you’re in Charleston.

Charleston Battery

And if for no other reason, take a walk in Charleston just to admire the ubiquitous window boxes that dress up the neighborhoods:

photo (484)

photo (486)

photo (487)

Travel + Leisure called Charleston “America’s Most Friendly” city in 2011 and Southern Living magazine has dubbed it “the most polite and hospitable city in America”. It lives up to all this and more. I know the song is supposed to be about San Francisco, but I’m pretty sure I left my heart in Charleston.

If I disappear, look for me here - in Charleston.

If I disappear, look for me here – in Charleston.

Next stop: Middleton Plantation

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in Gastronomy, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Falling in Love with Charleston.

  1. Mrs. G says:

    I have loved each of your commentaries about your southeast tour!!! Can’t wait to sample some of the places you have visited! So glad for archives!

  2. Reblogged this on Travis Caulfield's blog and commented:
    Charleston looks beautiful! Travis Caulfield

  3. dizzyguy says:

    Chuckburg was every bit as delightful as described here. I rue having left behind my white suit, panama hat and fine cigar as this was definitely the place to whip them out. We enjoyed every experience and would return in a flash if given any chance to do so. The same way that one can enjoy an enhanced Savannah experience by reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” while there, try to read Conroy’s “South of Broad” while in Charleston. Really do love those southerners and their fine little cities!

  4. Katherine says:

    I learn something every time I read this blog. Up until now, the only Charleston I knew anything about was the dance. And now I can see it was created to work off all the calories from those delicious meals. That would explain the frenetic pace.

  5. Emily says:

    Awesome travels! Did I ever tell you I’m originally from South Carolina? Columbia. But we used to head over to Charleston for day trips sometimes. In high school my friends and I actually vandalized one of the handrails along the water with our names. Probably long painted over by now. A long time ago, back in 1994.

    Been meaning to write and tell you how sorry I was to hear of your chicken sorrows. 😦 You are such a wonderful chicken mother though! My animal adventures at the nursery currently includes a momma cat and three kittens and an adolescent rooster who thinks he’s a cat. It’s quite the funny adventure! Never a dull moment in Hawaii with animals.

    • polloplayer says:

      So nice to hear from you, Emily! So the cats and the rooster are friends? My cats are basically afraid of the chickens! It has been so sad losing Hope and Lucy – four doesn’t seem like a real “flock” now. We loved SC so much but I will guess Hawaii weather is better. We’re heading to Maui in July:-)

      • Wow, I’m jealous of your life! I hope one day I can travel like you do. Yes, you definitely don’t want to go to SC in the summer. Miserable!

        Yeah, actually momma cat is afraid of the rooster (Bruce). The kittens stalked him at first but when they go near him and he flapped a little they backed off. He actually is a bit of a nuisance cause he eats their food and momma doesn’t like him nearby so she just leaves and he chows down. We have to chase him away all the time. But it is hilarious when they are just all kind of hanging together.

  6. Angela Gutsche DiGaetano says:

    WOW! Loving living vicariously through your southern travels. Those houses are beyond divine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s