Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Y'all go to Charleston, S. C.

No one leaves Charleston hungry. It is a must-visit travel locale for foodies not to mention historians, hospitality seekers and architecture buffs.
Chefs here preserve the integrity of the area's wonderful low country cuisine while infusing global touches on local foods. From raising their own veggies and pigs, treating them to the occasional slurp of chocolate milk, to creating a club for patrons of their home made charcuterie, a nearby and personal farm to plate connection is emphasized.
Tip: Don't miss the grits or tomato pie at Dixie Supply Company. Rachel Ray rightfully raves over the sweet potato pancakes at Joseph's.

Not surprisingly, Culinary tours are popular. On Fridays, some tours include a chef's tour through his kitchen. Culinary Tours of Charleston, can set you up with a variety of choices but be warned, these are walking tours.

Warning: Charleston is flat but nothing is level. You have to watch your step here because much of the city has been built on fill and over the centuries, a good bit of settling occurred. It still is, so stop when you spot something worth a look.
You will find much to linger over which is good because in the summer, Charleston is hot and no one in their right mind moves far fast.
Tip: Wander the residential areas in the early morning or late afternoon when the heat's down.
The days are long gone when an open garden gate meant you were welcome to go in and look around but stop and peek through those closed wrought iron gates. You can get a hint of the marvelous gardens beyond. When it's hotter than the latest new uber chef, go from one air conditioned store to another or give up, retire to your hotel and take a nap.
Charleston is a city you need to walk and most can handle it if headquartered in a well-located hotel. Just remember to make frequent stops on a shady bench.
There are no hop-on, hop-off vehicles circulating around the peninsula but you can't walk a block without seeing a tour group going by on foot, in a horse and wagon, a van or small bus. I'd recommend starting with a horse-drawn tour. The pace is slow enough to peek behind the fences and you can make note of where you'd like to return for a longer look.

Tip: The concierge at The Mills House recommends Charleston Tours and Touring Charleston.
To cool off, tea is the beverage of choice. Traditionally served sweet it can be cloyingly so. The alternative is to order a half-and-half, half sweet, half unsweetened.
The coolest new adult beverage for hot weather is Firefly sweet tea infused vodka with a splash of lemonade. It's fast becoming a local tradition.
Definitely visit Charleston, the city where Southern hospitality was born.


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