Monday, July 12, 2010

Charleston, SC... the happiest place on earth.

Not only does Charleston have beaches, and warm weather, and palm trees, and the ocean, and relaxation, it also offers amazing artists, local food community, delicious restaurants with great pastry chefs, cool hang out joints, and great places to shop.

I have been going to Chas for my whole life, and every year I get older, I discover something new that keeps my love strong.

The creativity alone is enough to make your head explode. Every street has an art gallery with original paintings, photos, sculptures, you name it you got it. The best part about it is there is obviously a market to support all of these artists.

Cuisine is the reason I fall in love with any city. There are a handful of staple restaurants in Charleston I can always count on, and there are new ones cropping up all the time. One of my favorites is Benjamin Berryhill's Red Drum in Mount Plesant. They have a fresh seafood ceviche that changes daily and is always spectacular. Even the tortilla chips they serve it with are the best I've had. My favorite part about them is that their desserts are as delicious as their meals. I don't have the biggest sweet tooth. I usually only order chocolate desserts and I eat them cause I can. Most restaurants have the same desserts that are easy to make and easy to keep around and are good but I've had them before. Red Drum has pastry chef Lauren Mitterer (now of Wild Flour Pastry, her new shop!), to thanks for their super tasty pastries. Right now they have these awesome "Warm Cinnamon and Sugar Spice Doughnuts, Dulce de Leche Cream and Sea Salt." I can't get enough. Lauren's shop downtown also has delicious treats, and the best decaf iced latte I have ever tasted.

I also finally made it McCrady's Restaurant where Chef Sean Brock just won the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. My meal was really incredible, although I was disappointed that the menu online matched the menu in the restaurant exactly, exclusive of the suckling pig, which is part of why I wanted to go. I am plotting a trip to Tio Pepe in Baltimore because I hear they have suckling pig and a great wine list.

Speaking of which, I have to say I was sorely disappointed in the wines by the glass available in Chas fine dining restaurants. If any of you are reading this... Step up!

Mercato restaurant was a surprise for me. Mercato is on Market Street, right in the heart of tourist town so I was expecting terrible food. The white bean soup I received was to die for, and the burrata (this link goes to my swoonings over burrata, and here) with my antipasta platter was the freshest I've had since Italy.

One of my newest discoveries in Chas is the nightlife. There is something for everyone. From a fine dining restaurant that has a club on one side, to a dive bar with 8 stools and an empty floor for dancing, to a speak easy with amazing live music. No matter what the mood, you can find a place you feel comfortable in, and youll fit in, and the drinks will be good, and the people will be friendly.

I know I added shopping last like I was the most excited about it. I am. There is great shopping for clothing, but what I am talking about is the Charleston Beer Exchange. CBX is a great place to buy rare beers from a staff who knows their stuff and is excited to help. I just went in and picked up a slew of awesomeness that I will be sharing with you all over the next few weeks. I'm sure some of my gushings over deliciousness will be repeated by Chris over at Beer.Simple. cause I am being nice enough to share. Really I just can't drink a full 20oz of beer at 11% alcohol in enough time to do it justice. Here is the list:

Allagash Odyssey
Epic Armageddon IPA
Founders Devil Dancer
Bell's Double Cream
Bells Porter
Bell's Two Hearted
Coronado Idiot IPA
Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes L'Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien
Avery Samael

So thats the rundown. Get freakin excited. I know I am looking for any and every excuse to drink these guys but I want to savor them.

Until the beer reviews, I bid you adieu.