June 27, 2011

Charleston {Show} Recap

Charleston was, in a word, splendid!

A dear friend of Kristen's hosted us (for. three. nights!) and two of her other besties accompanied us just for the fun of it - and it was so fun!

here they are now. too bad the camera (or maybe it was the photographer) was more focused on the cocktails than the people...

Before I get too involved in the love letter I'm about to write to Charleston, let me cover the most important base: our show!

To call it a success {in. every. way.} would be an understatement.

The man of the house - surveying set-up. We love Wiley!

still loving our signature napkins! and we took a cue from our near-home favorite on the cheese accompaniments - Marcona almonds and organic wildflower honey - yum! (and is this really the only post we've done about Liams?! i'm ashamed.)

Our kind host did a great job of inviting friends who showed up, shopped and (at least seemingly so ;) ) enjoyed themselves. It was the perfect s&j show.

thank you to everyone who attended and especially to Corbin ♥


Now, onto the rest of the trip:

Since we were travelling so far, we left a day early (and stayed a day late, for that matter) - score!

After the first (of many - seriously, I'm too embarrassed to tell you how many times we went) stop at Whole Foods (we all agreed that if we were so fortunate to have one in town both our waistline and grocery bill would most likely double), we unloaded our inventory (it was a work day after all) and uncorked our first bottle of wine (I'm also too embarrassed to tell you how many it was the first of).

here's a hint, though...
While Charleston does charm visitors with architecture and history, shopping and coastlines, the endless eateries are what swept us away. If eating more was possible, we would have.
Per more than one recommendation, we at dinner the first night at Husk. It was incredible.

When reading the menu - which is very Southern - we were a bit wary but stuck with our initial desire to check it out and were beyond pleased that we did.

The view from their bar next door. Carolina blue porch ceiling, of course!

I had a lovely cocktail (or two) that I am going to recruit my mixologist friend to recreate for us (remember him? we were on a kick there for a while last summer! I'm trying to get back to it.) - I'll share, of course! Here's all you need to know for now: it was lauded as the drink of choice at the world's first cocktail party. London circa 1924 (!) (how could i not try love it?!)

It didn't come before a kick-off champagne drink, though (which i chose to photograph here because as delicious as it was, the favorite one is not much to look at. and champagne is always pretty.)

For dinner, I (officially) had the pork chop. And as far as pork chops go, it was perfection - succulent, tender, marble-y (not a word, i know) perfection. It was a piece of meat from Ossabaw Island, which is home to the descendants of Spanish pigs transplanted over 400 years ago. The pork and pigs get a lot of positive attention but I've also read that they are endangered, so I'm not sure what to think - besides the fact that my singular experience was delicious!

The salad I started with was fantastic, too as it featured beets (my current favorite salad food) on the most delicate, buttery bibb lettuce I've even put in my mouth. It was a perfect example of why people eat salad and like it.

Other offerings on the table included corn bread, grits and catfish (I told you it was southern!) - all of which were a whole different calibur than what comes to mind when hearing of any of those foods. It's above that. For instance, I could not have guessed that the delicious plate to my left was catfish - and I've eaten a lot of catfish.

Everything about Husk - inclduing the atmosphere - is more sophisticated and refined than what their name - and menu - suggest. That's by design, I believe. It is country cooking for snobs - food and otherwise. And I mean that in a very good way.

Their James Beard award-winning chef, Sean Brock, calls this a modern approach and doesn't work to redefine Southern cooking but to explore the reality of southern food. (follow his blog here). Call it whatever you want Sean, you're a genius.

(I was going to give a complete run down of the entire trip but if I wax that poetic on every move we made, we'll be here all week - on to the high points:)

Friday was our vacation day - officially.

We spent it downtown - all of it ( am pretty sure we walked a half marathon). Between the pocket map Bethany kept busting out (thank God!) and the camera that Kristen wore around her neck (good thing - this would otherwise be one ugly blog post), there was no denying our tourist status. Our shamelessness was worth it, though! We covered some serious ground.

City Lights Coffee (on Market Street - between King and Meeting. I don't want you to miss it and I can't find a website) is everything you want an early morning coffee shop to be. It is tiny with dark wood and exposed brick. Serving pieces are bright and mismatched; their menu is scrawled on a chalkboard and the barista even had an accent - nice touch. A chocolate croissant couldn't be denied - it looked just like the one Jane Adler makes in her bakery in It's Complicated (the movie)!

A long walk later, we found ourselves at Mac & Murphy, which is exactly where we wanted to be (can you tell yet that we oft-referred to Design*Sponge's Charleston City Guide?!).

This (also tiny) shop on Cannon Street is off the beaten path - in location and otherwise.

We met with one of the owners, Liz, who enchanted us with her tale of two friends who have grown a great idea into an amazing business. One which is punctuated with both restraint and inspired quirkiness.

The light-filled shop, with its spare furnishings, super-friendly and well-informed shopkeeper/owner, white + gray (with a necessary pop of orange! you know we love an ampersand - especially as an accent!) palette and color-saturated and exciting products made me feel like i was walking around in a blog!

Letterpress calendars and clever greeting cards are neatly displayed in the front of their adorable shop (so neat in fact that i went on an unprecedented shopping spree of printed goods. it's really too embarrassing to go into great detail - i will admit this. i cannot stop thinking about the one thing i did not buy: locally printed pow wow invites. they were to die for); a custom print shop is tucked away in the back.

I first saw these and almost ordered them in bulk...

but then i saw this, which promises to obliterate my terrible habit of missing birthdays, thus negating the need for the first cards! (full disclosure: i love the graphics so much that i was going to buy the thing before i even knew that it was a birthday calendar)

A writer friend gave this (precious!) type writer to Liz. She writes her thank you notes on it - could she be in cuter? (no is the answer if you're still pondering this one)

Upon leaving, we popped across the street, per Liz's recommendation, to discover a little piece of confectionary heaven: Sugar. It was so sweet - pun intended - with it's mismatched cake stands and full view of the busy bakers (it's retro feel reminded me of one of my favorite Savannah spots)

We somehow managed to get out of there with only 4 cupcakes. Since we were still on the verge of a diabetic coma (remember the It's Complicated croissant?), they were devoured enjoyed later that evening.

This adorable little chocolate bar is the product of local artisan chocolatier, Sweeteeth (Chucktown is good about keeping it local aren't they?!)

From there, we perused. And when in Charleston, perusing around the town is an event in and of itself.

Age-old cemetaries and bespoke bookstores keep company with the most current of retailers block after block. Let's put it this way, Blue Bicycle Books and Williams-Sonoma were among our stops.

The self-lead city tour led us to one last meal worth mentioning: lunch at Cru Cafe (thanks Karyn for the rec). Again, I cannot adequately describe the deliciousness of this place. You just have to go!

They have culinary chops, too. Chef-owner John Zucker was sous chef for the opening of the James Beard Soctiety nominated "best new restaurant of the year", Canoe when it was granted such recognition. (I am assuming this is the Atlanta-favorite, Canoe, though I cannot confirm that and do know a public forum such as a blog is not the best place to assume...please advise if you know).  Despite such accolades, I am pretty sure he was handling table assignments during lunch hour while we were there - impressive. This guy is actually beyond impressive. He graduated number ONE in his class from Cordon Bleu (in Paris, no less) and studied under Wolfgang Puck. He is currently considered one of the most sought-after restaurant consultants in the Southeast (and does such for the highly recommended Charleston spot (that we sadly didn't have time for), Fish (next time. for sure).

Our (lovely!) experience there included a welcomed bottle glass (actually, it was a bottle) of crisp Pinot Gris, accompaniment to fried green tomatoes and the most decadent cold melon soup (we must recreate this, girls - soon!). It was refreshing with cantaloupe and honeydew but made absolutely sinful with the addition of coconut (and some other ingredients, of course, but I'll save that for once we've figured it all out!).

The atmosphere here is old south, once again. Outdoor seating on the front porch and barstools with a birds-eye view of the kitchen make the whole experience feel like coming home - to a house with a fabulous chef, of course! Take their virtual tour to see what I mean. Or just go - did I already say that? ;)

At the end of the day (and this has literally taken me all day to compose), the show was a wonderful reminder of why we do this: to have fun - and hopefully make enough money to keep doing it ('it' being the business and the fun).

Thanks again, Charleston. We really do *heart* you.

all images taken by Kristen except for the one from Husk that says 'today's menu.' that one is from their website. it was just too delicious looking to not borrow.

1 comment:

  1. This is probably my most favorite post ever! What a lovely re-cap! I felt like I was there even though I didn't make it...next time for sure! xo


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