Thursday, August 1, 2013

Charleston Culinary Adventure {part 1}

This weekend, I took a trip to Charleston and did nothing but eat.  We tried to go to the beach, but this happened:

Yes, that is a storm cloud directly over my head and only over my head. It was clearly a sign. Eat, jog (to get hungry again), shop, and rest/watch West Wing on Netflix.   Our Friday night dinner at McCrady's was so epic that it needs its own post, so stay tuned for that one. 

After our failed attempt at a beach trip, we stopped by Butcher and Bee, a sandwich shop and bread bakery.  We shared a couple of salads and a gigantic Korean BLT  Pork belly, spicy ssamjang (a wonderful tangy/spicy condiment), and a sweet glaze. The pork belly slab was bigger than an iPhone. no joke.  This place is off the beaten path (don't try to walk there) but the sandwiches are top notch- and they change the menu daily.

Excuse the blurry iPhone photo… my hand was clearly shaking with pork belly excitement.  How cute is their branding, by the way? I love me some kraft stickers. 

In the afternoon, we did some aggressive window shopping and stopped at a wine bar called Bin 152 to devour a few glasses of Sancerre and some charcuterie (Rosette de Lyon).

I could hang out at this wine bar all day. The staff is super friendly and laid back.  My photo disguises the giant hunk of cheese (Delice de Bourgogne) that was served with our charcuterie. So creamy. 

On Saturday night, we had a lively dinner at The Ordinary, a seafood restaurant housed in an old-time-y bank.  The high ceilings and tile decor were beautiful albeit super noisy.  The couple next to us apparently got in a screaming, storming-out-of-dinner-fight, and I didn't even notice! I guess that's one upside to a really noisy restaurant - a false sense of privacy. 

It doesn't matter how loud the place was, because the food was amazing. Excuse these crappy iPhone photos -- it was really dark in there. We started with a  few raw oysters.  They looked like oysters, so I didn't take a picture. 

This first dish was a tangy, caper-filled beef tartare served with fried oysters.  Both of these things gross me out when I think about them too much, but this was really delicious. The creamy texture of the beef was well-complimented by the crispiness of the oysters.

I've never had anything like this before.  

We also sampled some New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp -- which is not normal BBQ, but a delicious cream-filled sauce with lots of spices.  Another dish with a killer sauce was the Clams Meuniere, which had a wine, garlic, and cream based sauce (pictured below).

The sauces on both of those dishes were rich and delicious - luckily they served a lot of bread with them! We enjoyed some other courses, including a simply grilled amberjack "steak frites" and a tasty rice pudding with figs and nectarines.  Everything was on point -- next time I want to try their famous lobster roll. 

On Sunday morning, I tromped around town on foot, stopping at various bakeries that I wanted to try. Highlights included a bacon-apple fritter (which I sampled) from Glazed Gourmet Donuts, and sticky buns the size of my head from WildFlour Pastry (which I did not try - need to save something for the next time!) WildFlour only has their sticky buns on Sunday and the line was out the door! Since I was picking up treats for a dinner, I passed -- but they looked and smelled amazing… especially the ones glopped with a big smear of icing!

I had to save up room for our brunch at Husk. I've actually heard mixed reviews of the place from friends and family (but only glowing reviews from critics), so I was eager to try out their much-hyped burger, which contains both beef and ground bacon in the patty.

The burger was unlike any I'd had before - the addition of bacon into the ground meat made it really smoky.  It was really tasty, but it wasn't my favorite burger of all time - I am a burger purist.  Keep the bacon on top, I say! To each her own. I did appreciate the gooeyness of the cheese, though - it made for excellent fry-dipping.  The house made benne bun was delicate but stood up to the dense burger.

Look at that delicious cheese goop! 

No brunch is complete without a bloody mary, and this one was pretty dang delicious. A drink that includes pickles AND prosciutto? You know how I feel about cocktails that include built in snacks.

Husk also has a ridonculous bourbon menu, so we'll definitely be back at dinner time to try out a few drinks. It's the first time I've ever seen booze listed as "market price" on a menu, like a lobster! (It was Pappy Van Winkle). 

After this weekend, I'm eating salad every day.  It's really inspiring to me to visit Charleston and see all of the awesome and innovative dishes people are pumping out.  I wish that Charlotte's food scene compared, but we are definitely not there yet.   I'm hopeful, though - I know some pretty talented young chefs around here!


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