Tag Archives: Charleston SC

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.

Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea (Even From a Yankee)

30 Jul

Even if I love being a culinary adventurer, at the end of the day, I have to identify myself as a Northeastern Yankee through and through. (Growing up in New Hampshire only gives me so much street cred outside of New England.)

As you can see, there’s a lot of the country left. Like 98%.

As much as I’ve come to love the South, Southwest, and all types of international cookery, I’m humble enough to admit when I don’t know a lot about another part of the world – or, more importantly for this blog, that area’s food and drink-stuffs. Which is why I’ve made it such a point to learn about the food of each place where I’ve traveled — to try things, learn how dishes are made, and understand how deeply food ties to the culture. My travels are tastier, and I feel like I’m showing a place the respect it deserves by honoring its cuisine. (Y’know, via my taste buds.)

I suppose it can even make you something of a hipster. But hey, you’re supporting a local economy, and that’s another great reason why this stuff matters.

Among the many, MANY delicious Southern bites and sips I had while in Charleston, one I’d never really tried before was authentic Southern-style Sweet Tea. That killer sweetness cuts through the brewed tea beautifully, all due – as I’ve come to find through a bit of research – to simple syrup, rather than just sugar.

Turns out that simple syrup is easy enough to whip up – combine equal parts sugar and water, and allow the mixture to cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Voila, simple syrup for your tea or other recipes.

But I decided to kick this up a notch with two of my favorite flavors, lemon and basil. Some quick concocting over the stove, and behold: Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea. This recipe should serve 8 full glasses, or a number of refills if you’re using smaller tumblers. (I also have tips below for how to add a grown-up kick to the recipe.) Drink up, fellow faux-Southern ladies and gentlemen.

Image sourced from elizadomestica.com. Two favorite flavors ever? Oh yeah.

Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea – serves 8

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ lemon, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices. (Save the rest for all sorts of recipes)
  • 2 cold-brew bags of Lipton iced tea
  • A large pitcher
  • 7 cups cold water, plus ice (for brewing)

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together the white sugar and water in a saucepan or small pot. Raise the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is just bubbling.
  • Whisk in dried basil. Add lemon slices and cook for 1 minute more, flipping the slices after 30 seconds. Set the syrup aside to cool. Remove the lemon slices and set them aside; you can add them to the tea mixture just before serving.
  • As the syrup is cooling, make your cold brew in a large pitcher according to package directions; you may want to use slightly less water (7 cups, rather than 8) while adding about ½ a tray’s worth of ice cubes. (Lipton teas usually take 5 minutes of cold brewing with 2 cold brew bags.) Remove tea bags and discard when finished.
  • When the lemon-basil syrup has cooled, slowly pour and mix it into the tea, according to taste. You can also leave the syrup separate to use for future tea brews, as well as a lovely topping for sliced fruit (particularly strawberries and blueberries). It should keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

If you’d like to add a grown-up twist to your tea, try the following mix-ins:

  • Add a shot of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka or Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon to your glass; mix thoroughly.
  • Add a shot of honey liqueur (use less syrup with this one), such as Barenjager, to your glass and mix thoroughly.
  • Add a shot of any other lemon-flavored liqueur to your glass for something of a big kid Arnold Palmer; Absolut Citron, a shot of Limoncello or even a dash of Mike’s Hard Lemonade might work well. Keep experimenting!

What are your favorite Southern dishes? Are you a sweet tea person, darlin’? Or do you like yours sweetener-free?

The Best Way to Travel …

20 Jul

… is through your stomach!

No, that’s nowhere near as violent and strange as it may have come across.

What I mean is this: when you’re heading somewhere new, do as the locals do. Or, rather, eat as the locals eat! One of the best ways to get to know a new place or unknown culture is to explore its favorite dishes, the point-of-pride classics or down-home favorites that satisfy local hunger pangs. When I studied abroad in London, you can bet I did my best to try bangers & mash, mushy peas, and even a classic newspaper bundle of fish and chips. My spring break trip to Paris? Une crepe au fromage et jambon, merci beaucoup. My middle school trips from New Hampshire to Quebec City? Artery-clogging but oh-so-decadently-good poutine, please!

Mmm. So so delicious.

You get the idea.

Why this little meditation on gastronomic traveling? The History Teacher and I are going on a road trip! (Insert your favorite road trip playlist here. Mine includes U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and anything that inspires a sing-along. “I Would Walk 500 Miles,” I’m looking at you.) Where are we going?

The lovely city of Charleston, SC! Two Yankees in the deep South? Should be quite the adventure. I couldn’t be more excited — rich history, beautiful architecture, and, from everything I hear, absolutely fabulous food. Items (hopefully!) to-be-tasted:

Low Country Boil

Sourced from myrecipes.com. Shrimp, potatoes, sausage, corn and goodness.

Shrimp & Grits from Shem Creek

Sourced from myrecipes.com. Nom nom nom.

Sweet tea and Firefly vodka (locally distilled here — cool, huh?)

Sourced from examiner.com. This + Lemonade = best Arnold Palmer ever?

Fried Green Tomatoes, or something else just as deliciously Southern and good.

Sourced from myrecipes.com. No movie magic, just plain tasty.

I’ll keep all y’all posted on our culinary adventures. Here’s to open roads and full bellies!