Southern Livin’ (and Southern Eatin’!)

5 Aug

[Note: I began drafting this post while sitting in bitterness at BWI. Read on.]

Well friends, I hadn’t planned on writing this post until I was safely home in New Hampshire — your neighborhood friendly Galley Kitchen Gal is traveling again, only this time back to the Promised Land of the Northeast for some much-needed famiglia time — but, given airlines and their penchant for extending my residency at Baltimore-Washington International airport by several hours for no understandable reason, here we are.

[Rant over — let the eating retrospective commence!]

Last week, as you folks and friends know well, the History Teacher and I took a road trip down to Charleston, South Carolina. For a New Hampshire girl and an upstate New Yorker, this would be our first joint venture (and my first altogether) to “tha deep South,” or what’s known to folks from Savannah to the Outer Banks as the Lowcountry. It’s the region along the southern Atlantic coast of the United States that comprises much of what we think of as typical South, but with this great coastal, almost tropical vibe.

It was, in a word, gorgeous. As I told my aunt the day I returned, “…yeah, I’d go back tomorrow.”

Here are some highlights — just a few of my favorite sites around town:

Live Oaks lining the driveway at Boone Hall Plantation

Rainbow Row houses.

Sweetgrass baskets — handmade along Route 17 in Mount Pleasant

And now, for the important stuff — the food! A few highlights in photos:

DIY Gullah Gumbo — deee-licious.

A real Lowcountry boil — shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. And, y’know, deliciousness.

Homemade pecan pralines. Somewhere, a shudder is traveling up my dentist’s spine.

It was, by far, one of the tastiest trips I’ve ever had. (And I haven’t even mentioned what we cooked over campfires back at our camp site! For a future post, fellow camping lovers. I’ll give you a hint: Grilled pizza is involved.) For those of you who may be traveling to Charleston sometime soon, here’s an index of where we ate and what we loved there:

  • Red’s Ice House — 98 Church Street, Mount Pleasant SC, 29464. Located in the Shem Creek area of Mount Pleasant, Red’s is a local institution with a waterfront bar and a great selection of classic Lowcountry seafood faves. The History Teacher noshed on crab legs, I ate the heck out of that Lowcountry boil, and we shared a Lobster and Sweet Corn dip for two as an appetizer. We washed it all down with healthy (well, not literally) glasses of sweet tea. Let’s just say we rolled out of there. If you’re headed that way, try the oysters, too.
  • Sticky Fingers — 235 Meeting Street, Charleston SC, 29401. With only 16 locations across the entire Southeast region of the US (3 of which are in the Charleston area), Sticky Fingers is a small franchise with big flavors. While their sauces are served and sold across the country, the restaurants themselves boast delicious barbecue, flavorful sauces and killer desserts. Try the bbq pork with mustard-based South Carolina-style sauce, the outrageous ribs, and the peach cobbler with ice cream. I had no time to take pictures of our food, because we consumed it at an ungodly pace of nom nom nomming.
  • Market Street Sweets — 100 North Market Street, Charleston SC, 29401. While this candy shop carries more than a few gems from its sister shop in Savannah, GA, the pecans in those amazing pralines are Charleston originals. Get thee to this sweet shop, if for nothing but the view. Walls of candy, bins of treats, free samples, freshly-popped popcorn, and an ice cream bar make this a fun, sweet-tooth-satisfying stop during a jaunt through the city’s restored old marketplace.
  • Cafe Paradiso — 51 S. Market Street # A, Charleston SC, 29401. A quick stop for delicious iced coffee, this cafe has small square footage and big personality. Check out the hookah pipes for sale as you nosh on coffee shop standards or sip your caffeinated beverages.

These are a tiny percentage of the dining options that Charleston has to offer. The city, recently named the top food destination in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, is a mecca of farm-to-table local eats. A few highlights for our return trip — or your first (of hopefully many) voyages:

  • Husk Restaurant — 76 Queen Street. A James Beard award winner for best new US restaurant, Husk is THE place to get a reservation in the city. (And one of the hardest!)
  • Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.) — 192 East Bay Street. A hallmark of Charleston’s southern cooking revival, S.N.O.B. is cheeky and fun, paying homage to the city’s culinary heritage with some of the best shrimp & grits around. (Apparently the Banana Cream Pie is to die for.)
  • Caviar & Bananas, a gourmet food and coffee shop with a location on George Street and in the heart of the Old Market.
  • FIG [Food Is Good] — 232 Meeting Street. Soft Shell crabs, seafood stews and so much more.
  • Jestine’s Kitchen — 251 Meeting Street. Lines will wind around the block for Jestine’s fried greet tomatoes and legendary Coca-Cola cake. Get there early!

While most of these joints can be found in Meeting Street — arguably the heart of the city north of Broad — nearby King Street and Queen Street are also filled with food-stuffs and goodies. Check out the neighborhoods near the College of Charleston for low-budget eats, including the much-lauded Hominy Grill. The long and short of it? You can’t go wrong, anywhere you go. Eat up, tuck in, and happy travels, y’all.


2 Responses to “Southern Livin’ (and Southern Eatin’!)”

  1. glitzgirlzglamourguide August 5, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    These pics are awesome! I grew up in the south living close to Savannah, Ga. All the trees are beautiful like that huge trunks and they shade a road by covering it because they touch. I also lived in Hilton Head, SC for 7 yrs which has the same character and feel 🙂 The south is great glad you enjoyed your trip!

    • galleykitchengal August 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Thanks! It’s seriously so beautiful — Savannah’s next on my to-do list! Now off to check out your blog … 🙂

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