Charleston, SC

I'd like to say that we picked Charleston, SC to visit because of the rich history, or the awesome architecture, but we really just wanted to eat.  I love my food blogs, podcasts, and websites, and I hated that I hadn't been to one of the emerging food cities of the US.  So when Ben mentioned a trip to Charleston following a wedding he was attending in Charlotte, NC, I jumped at the chance to join in.  He and his friend Chris, who was also attending the wedding would meet me at the airport in Charleston, and we'd begin exploring from there.

There was one tiny little itty bitty snafu to overcome...  There was a huge hurricane named Joaquin to overcome.  Originally I was worried that he would cause me to miss my flight from Maryland, but it soon became clear that Maryland was not the issue, Charleston was taking a beating, and was flooding and under several feet of water in some places.  If we had been flying in Friday or Saturday, we would have been turned away.  Because of the wedding over the weekend, we had always planned to arrive on Monday morning, and we somehow lucked out in that.  Strolling around on Monday we occasionally had to detour around standing water, and I was happy I brought my umbrella with me, but generally we were super lucky that we were still able to explore Charleston and keep our plans as they stood.  I'm happy to report that the city was turning around fast, and everyone was working together to get up and running again quickly.

We checked into our AirBnB, dropped off our stuff, and headed out to explore King Street.  Somehow Chris spotted a chocolate place right off of King Street, and we headed in for our first taste of the city.  The sign said French Chocolate Cafe, but according to google it's called Christophe Artisan Chocolatier.  Ummm, I was already in heaven.
 So was Ben.
 Ben got Opera Cake.  I got a snickers cake thing.  Chris got a sample of truffles.  Dig in, guys.
We continued to stroll around King Street, exploring as we went, in the general direction of Rainbow Row (a colorful row of houses).
 We walked along the water for a bit, and saw a bunch of dolphins too!
Fort Sumter in the haze.
 The market was flooded, so we found an alternate route to explore...
We ate dinner that night at FIG (acronym for Food Is Good), which I was epically excited about.  I will never say that the flooding was a good thing, but we certainly had a lot of places more to ourselves than we would have usually.
We had pork ragu gnocchi, dungeness crab pasta, and a cheese platter.  And that's just the appetizers!  I'd never met Chris before, but luckily we were all totally cool with sharing plates, because I was excited to try everything!  We were asking for more bread to be able to sop up all of the sauce once the meal itself was done.  I couldn't have asked for a better start to a meal, and I wasn't sure anything could top this fresh meal.

I ended up getting this chicken dish as my entree with tomatoes and a chimichurri sauce.  It was delicious, but I loved the appetizers more than anything. 
And then we ordered dessert.  I had my eye on a plum crumble, and ate the whole thing, which was surprising considering how full I was.  Ben and Chris both got a chocolate pudding with salted caramel sauce at the bottom of the dish, and somehow Chris couldn't finish his and I was lucky enough to have another coupe bites of dessert.  I wish I had ordered the chocolate pudding myself, because it blew this plum crumble out of the water, but being able to try both was still really awesome.  And to be honest, a bad dish at FIG doesn't exist, so it was more a matter of preferring the chocolate pudding to this crumble.  Life does not suck.
Also Ben got espresso to finish his meal, which explains why he never sleeps.
 Can we check out the amazing art at FIG?!  I want a sunrise series gallery wall!
We passed out watching Netflix, so beyond full and unable to move.  But we woke up ready to eat for another full day!  We started our day at Hominy Grill, which promised amazing biscuits and gravy.
Grilled pumpkin bread to start!  Perfect pumpkin bread, made better with crispy edges on a griddle.  And probably butter was involved.
We all ordered the Charleston Nasty Biscuit, which is a fried chicken breast, on a biscuit, with gravy and cheese all over it.  I knew I wanted some biscuit with jam, so I ordered mine with the gravy on the side so I could try all the things without getting too full.  Umm, I still got too full, but at least I got to try the awesome jam too!
After filling up on chicken and biscuits, we headed to Drayton Hall, a preserved plantation house from the 1700s.  Turns out it was flooded and we couldn't get in.  But just next door was Magnolia Plantation and they weren't flooded!  So we took a tour there and then explored the grounds for a good few hours.  There were huge gardens and grounds to explore!  And of course, Spanish moss everywhere.
 Read my lips, al-li-ga-tor.
We saw a few really large spiders.  Like really large.  The boys are reminding me of these very large spiders we saw while they took my picture.  I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide.
 Observation tower selfie!
This donkey was a jerk.  No, that's not a lead-up to a joke.  He really was just a jerk.
We went back to strolling around downtown, and Chris stopped in King Street Cookies for a snack.  I surprisingly didn't get any this time, but I got two the next day, don't worry.
We explored more waterfront too, this time by the aquarium, before dinner.
We headed to The Grocery for our second dinner in Charleston, and we were meeting up with a coach of Ben's from when he was younger, who moved to Charleston after Ben graduated from high school and he was awesome.

Once again, please note that due to the extreme weather, it is not typical that we had the whole place pretty much to ourselves.  Made it seem kind of silly that we even had a reservation...
We had this crab agnolotti pasta dish, steamed mussels and chorizo, and roasted eggplant caprese.  I was super into my appetizer (the eggplant and mozzarella dish), and not as interested in the others on the table.
I was already full, but go hard or go home... I got the beef short rib with chimichurri sauce, green beans, and mushrooms.  I've never had a more amazing short rib.  If Fig ended up winning the appetizer round, The Grocery ended up winning the main courses for me!
Dessert was split between Ben and I.  Chris had ordered a lamb shank that ended up making the Flintstones meat orders seem downright dainty, so he tagged out for dessert.  We ordered the churros and a peanut butter chocolate thing.  The churros came with 3 sauces- salted caramel, vanilla creme anglaise, and bittersweet chocolate.  I loved the vanilla one, but wasn't as big a fan of the other two.  But the peanut butter chocolate thing was just calling my name.  It was tough to stop eating, despite being too full once again, but overall an amazing meal.
Both Fig and The Grocery employ seasonal menus, that change daily to reflect what they have in stock.  You probably won't see the dishes we ordered on their menus, but that just makes it all the better for visiting them again and having another great meal!

We accidentally ended up at Husk the next morning for breakfast (or actually lunch, based on the time).  We didn't think we'd get seated, but since we got there 5 minutes before they opened...and on a Wednesday, we got lucky!
It's a really cute restaurant, and I wish we had been there for dinner!  Can't believe we made it there at all though, so no complaints :-)
The fresh rolls for the table were still warm, had been brushed with butter (pork-infused butter), and were topped with bourbon smoked sea salt.  Heaven.
Ben got the fried chicken, while Chris and I stuck with the cheeseburger.  It was two thin patties, with bacon incorporated into the burger itself, and served with potato wedges and homemade ketchup.
You know how everyone grew up with Heinz ketchup and anything else tastes weird?  My brother and I actually make a point to try ketchup in other countries, because it just tastes so different.  This ketchup was not weird ketchup, it was so freakin good.  Was there going to be any meal we didn't enjoy immensely??
We finally had a nice day to explore the downtown, and we headed to the waterfront- once again, a different area than previously!
We were exhausted.  Or at least I was.  We walked over 10 miles each day, had eaten a ton of food, and I was surprised I could move at all anymore.  We parked ourselves in Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream and I had some of the best ice cream ever.  I'd been eyeing all these different ice cream and gelato places all over the city, while the boys mocked me a little, but I finally settled on this being the one place to try.  No one was disappointed.
I got the salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks and I wish I had a recipe to make this every day of my life.  Add a scoop of "milkiest chocolate", and I was in heaven. 
We packed up our stuff from our AirBnB and hung out in a park until it was time to leave for the airport.  Ben napped, Chris and I read a little, and we were all tuckered out for our flights home.
Any suggestions for my next food city to visit?  Who wants to come with me?!

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