Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! My typical MO on a Monday is to share a breakfast recipe, but alas, for the first time in recent memory I did absolutely NO cooking this weekend…none! Instead of (joyfully) slaving away at the stove, I enjoyed the most fabulous girl’s weekend in Charleston, SC with my best friend Anna! You may recognize her as my wonderful traveling companion from all of my China posts.
I met Anna in college when she became my “little sister” in my sorority and we have been best friends ever since! She lives in Charleston, about two hours away from me and we try to meet in the middle for lunch or dinner every few months to catch up. Each time we meet for a meal we talk non-stop and never seem to have enough time to catch up as much as we’d like, so we decided a weekend reunion was a must. Charleston is a fabulous city, and one that I have had the good fortune to live in for short periods both post college and post graduate school. It is rich in history, full of fun things to do from museums and horse drawn carriage rides to pirate tours and designer shopping, a total foodie destination, and last but not least it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the south. There is literally something for everyone, so if you are traveling to South Carolina for the first time, Charleston is a must see destination!
I arrived at Anna’s around 7:30 on Friday and we caught up over a glass of wine as we got ready for dinner. Anna lives close to East Bay Street, which is one of the two main destination streets in downtown Charleston (at least in my mind), the other being King Street. King Street houses the majority of the shopping downtown while East Bay is home to many different restaurants and bars. We decided to try Minero for dinner, a new Mexican restaurant opened by Sean Brock. Sean Brock is a very well known, James Beard award winning southern chef who has appeared on Top Chef several times and has several restaurants in Charleston. I had a feeling the food would be delicious and we were not disappointed.
We started with guacamole and margaritas and each ordered several different tacos. I tried the grouper and the green chorizo, both of which were delicious. I was actually inspired to come home and attempt a homemade green chorizo recipe which I am planning to try later this week, wish me luck!
After dinner we called it an early night in anticipation of a big day on Saturday. Saturday morning we woke up early and headed our for a brisk walk around The Battery. The Battery is a seawall around the Charleston Harbor that is lined by breathtaking antebellum homes. I say homes but they are really more like mansions and each is stunning, unique and VERY expensive. Since it’s safe to say I’ll never be able to live in one of these homes, it’s nice to be able to enjoy them as the backdrop to a morning run.
The day quickly heated up and we walked back to Anna’s to cool off and enjoy a light breakfast before heading over to King Street for a little retail therapy. King Street has everything from Louis Vuitton to Forever 21 so there is lots to see at every price range. Anna and I both made a few purchases before deciding it was time for lunch. King St. has LOTS of restaurants, Burgers, BBQ, Pizza, Lebanese, Greek, Mexican, Asian, ALL THE FOOD! It’s a foodies dream and an indecisive girls nightmare. Luckily Anna suggested Vietnamese early on in her extensive list of everything available and I remembered how much I LOVED my banh mi in Atlanta a few months ago. We ended up at CO, a Vietnamese restaurant I remember seeing when I lived in Charleston but had never tried. We were seated immediately and decided to split a few things so we could both try a lot.
*Side Note* Is it just me or is one of the best things about girlfriends the fact that they love to share? My mom and I do this too when out to eat but Robert HATES to share. Is this a man thing? Or just a mental thing? Like maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough to eat if we split things instead of having an entire full meal to himself? He doesn’t mind sharing dessert or appetizers but anytime I’ve suggested splitting a salad or entrees I get shot down immediately and he tells me I should just order both/all of it. Maybe I’ll wear him down eventually.
We ordered the edamame dumplings, pork belly buns and a Korean short rib banh mi. It was all tasty but we both liked the banh mi the best. The lunch prices at CO were surprisingly inexpensive for a sit down restaurant, we both left full but not stuffed and only paid about 10 dollars each! I’ll have to remember to add “cheaper” to my list of reasons to convince Robert to start sharing
After lunch it was time to get creative. Anna had signed us up for a candle making class at CandleFish, a local candle shop and self described “inspiration destination”. The candle making class was AWESOME and I plan to do a full re-cap in my next post to prevent this one from becoming too long.
Once our class ended, we headed back to Anna’s to shower before dinner at The Ordinary. The Ordinary is an upscale “seafood hall” and is a fairly new restaurant on the Charleston food scene from another local James Beard award winning chef, Mike Lata. Anna’s boyfriend Spencer met us for dinner and was much more open to sharing than Robert. We sat at the raw bar and ordered a razor clam appetizer that our server claimed was the best thing he had ever eaten in his life. This is a pretty bold statement but he wasn’t wrong. It looked a little like chopped celery but tasted like heaven.
Anna and I also split some raw oysters which were surprisingly delicious. I usually only eat oysters steamed, but I might actually prefer them raw, especially if they are paired with a dill pickle mignionette like they were at The Ordinary.
We shared tempura battered mahi, swordfish a la plancha and a smoked squid dish that we all agreed was just a touch salty. Overall the meal was delicious and although a touch pricy, I would go back in a heartbeat. Towards the end of the meal (and wine) I got a little excited and dropped a bite of fish on my napkin/white pants I asked a server to bring me some powder (baking soda/corn starch etc.) from the kitchen as I’d heard this will absorb a grease stain. That may have been one of the stranger requests he’s ever gotten because he came back with baking soda and Chef Lata himself! I explained the theory (I think my mom heard it on Good Morning America) and he proceeded to give me a few grease fighting tips of his own, Dawn dish soap and a diluted de-greaser from auto body shops. I thought it was very sweet of him to come out of the kitchen just to check on my pants and am happy to say that the stain came out
After dinner we walked across the street to the Woolfe Street Playhouse to watch the Spoleto show we had purchased tickets to see that evening. The Spoleto Festival is a 17 day music and arts extravaganza that takes place in Charleston each spring. It is recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival and gives visitors the chance to experience a wide variety of dance, theater or music performances by world renowned and emerging artists. Anna and I purchased tickets to see Taylor Mac’s “24 Decade History of Popular Music: Songs of the American Right”. We weren’t really sure what to expect from the performance, and it turned out to be quite an experience! It was part concert, part comedy, part drag show, part history lesson and part political commentary with a touch of burlesque thrown in! We both enjoyed it but agreed that it was certainly not for everyone.
We also both got called up on stage to participate in the performance, and Anna got called up again for the finale! I think Taylor Mac was a fan of her all white ensemble
The next morning we woke up and walked to Bull Street Gourmet & Market to enjoy brunch before I left town. Anna got an omelet and I ordered the Smoked Salmon Hash and in true Charleston fashion, neither dish disappointed.
I was sad so say goodbye to Anna but we are already planning our next visit in July! If you ever get the chance to visit Charleston, check out any of my above recommendations for food and entertainment, you will NOT be disappointed! Have a great week!