Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Charleston, SC - Friday's Agenda

Our first full day in Charleston starts with the Chef's Kitchen Culinary Tour. It's a 2 1/2 hour walking tour that begins with coffee and pastries and we'll visit 'several great restaurants' and get to visit the kitchens!

The tour is only on Friday mornings and has been featured in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and the Michelin Guide among others.

BlossomSince no food except those early pastries is provided on the tour we plan to Lunch at Blossom after the tour. Turns out Blossom is owned by the same restaurant group as Magnolia's - where will will have lunch the day before.

Blossom's menu has tasty offerings like 'Buttermilk Fried Artichoke Hearts with red pepper remoulade' and a number of wood oven pizza options. Their sandwiches come with rosemary fries - and they mention daily lunch specials served with soup or house salad for only $9. An inexpensive way to try a great restaurant.

After lunch, we are planning for a bit of shopping (likely mostly window shopping considering my budget) on King Street. Upper King Street is the 'Design and Dining District', the Fashion District falls in the middle and the Antiques District is found on lower King Street.

28 South Battery
We'll wander around the residential Historic District (perhaps seeing up close some of the things we saw on Thursday during our carriage tour) and according to Pamela's research there are 3 excellent cemeteries near St. Philips Episcopal Church.

Starting near the cemetery at the Unitarian Church, the Gateway Garden Walk opened in 1930 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Charleston. The three block walk connects Archdale Street and Philadelphia Alley.

The idea of the walk came from Clelia Peronneau McGowan who found that a garden walk in the busy city of Paris was refreshing. As the president of the Garden Club, she suggested the idea to members upon her return to Charleston.

I'm also told that while we're there we need to check out 28 South Battery (see picture). This house was built by George S. Cook, a noted photographer in 1860. George S. Cook is an ancestor of my husband, Dan's - and I suspect also the source of his middle name 'Cook'.

Pavillion Rooftop Bar
After all that wandering around, we'll need a drink. So Friday's Sunset drink will be at Pavilion Rooftop Bar (assuming they don't have a table minimum, a packed house and no heaters in case there is a chill).

After a drink, it's time to stroll the cobbled streets and gas lit alleys for the French Quarter Art Walk (is this starting to sound a little like our last trip? New Orleans?). The art walk is free and open to the public but only happens a few days each year.

Participating galleries on Meeting, Church, State, East Bay, Broad, Cumberland, Queen, Chalmers and Tradd Streets will be open with artists on hand and refreshments. The French Quarter is located within the original walled city of Charleston and the art walk is from 5 to 8 pm the first Friday in March, May, October and December.

Food. Is. Good. Dinner at F.I.G might include some of the following tasty menu items: "Capers Blades" on the half shell with cabernet mignonette, lemon agrumato and pickled garlic. Or Pan Roasted Scamp Grouper with braised fennel, roasted tomatoes, cerignola olives and lemon. Perhaps the Suckling Pig Confit with sauteed young greens, roasted beets, mustard jus and smoked bacon.

I'm glad to see FIG described as 'laid-back, eclectic and unpretentious' as some of the bars we've researched seem to think quite a bit of themselves. FIG is another Charleston eatery that uses local source products and their menu changes daily. Yum.

That evening, before turning in we have several bars on our 'to do' list: Enoteca, Torch, Chai's, Bin 152. The first 3 are about 7 blocks north of our hotel, Bin 152 is about 4 blocks south. I'm not sure of their proximity to dinner at this point. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some of these were selected purely based on pictures.

Enoteca is a new 'wine bar' in Charleston. It's tiny, only about 24 seats, and some bar stools. Self described as a 'sexy little space at night with the soft lighting giving the woodsy interior a warm glow". The focus is Italian wine, beer and cheese (they're owned by Trattoria Lucca just down the street).

Torch is another on our list, certainly more of a 'lounge' feel and they also seem to be following the 'hooka bar' trend. Chai's is Asian inspired, but describes 'fusion tapas'. Too bad we will already have eaten...

Bin 152
Bin 152 is in the French Quarter and fairly close to our hotel. They are also a wine bar, feature 35 different cheeses and have freshly baked bread. Sounds like dessert to me! Bin 152 has a very Country French look. Maybe we'll have some room left for a cheese and wine pairing.

So that's the agenda for our first full day in Charleston. I'm tired and full just thinking about it!