Charleston, Day 2: feeling happy and fat

Do you know one reason I love going on trips to vibrant cities? Invariably you walk. A lot. Everywhere maybe; we sure are. This pedi-motion lifestyle is one of the things I miss most sincerely about life in New York- exercise and seeing your city from a foot-based vantage point are built in to a life there, and really, it adds so much. I didn't do much today beyond eat and walk, and what a glorious day it was. Blue skies, a shining sun, sales at almost every store!, great food in abundance. We finally left our room around 10:30am and headed to Black Tap, a fantastic coffee house in a residential/college neighborhood that really reminded me of New Orleans. Coffee-elitist alert: I don't usually preference Counter Culture joe, but my latte and T's cappuccino at Black Tap were both superb. Creamy, coffee, not a hint of sour...bellissimo! Afterwards, we meandered our way southeast to lunch at Husk, Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurant in America award recipient in 2011. It did not disappoint. As we're on vacation, T and I decided to share a Fire in the Orchard, an Old Fashioned'ish cocktail comprised of rye, smoked apple cider, Applejack, bitters, pickled jalapeño and muddled sugar; the booziness factor was off the charts, but it was quite good, lasted throughout the entire meal and paired wonderfully with our dishes, many of which contained a smoked element or two. We also ordered a sweet tea each, the taste of which immediately jolted me back to my Mimi's kitchen in Toccoa, GA, the tiny town in which my Dad grew up.

Husk Fire in the Orchard

We shared an order of wood-grilled Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with a bacon crumble on top (insane perfection) as well as an arugula salad with beets, blue and pecan granola, T then went with the catfish BLT and I opted for the shrimp and grits. Holy shit on this bowl of shrimp and grits. Even T, an avowed grits-skeptic and generalized sweet pepper-hater, was like "good god, that is insanely good." I couldn't finish anything but was thrilled to simply taste such a panoply of great food.

photo (75) Husk shrimp and grits

The fact that all this merely constituted lunch gave me even more in the way of possible-shopping-spree glee. I simply must walk, and walk far. Burn, burn, burn so as to be ready for dinner at F.I.G., Food Is Good. T headed back after a while but I just went into store after store, talking to folks, musing over wares, utterly enjoying my break from my life. Have I mentioned that the sun has shined continuously since our arrival? Good grief.

I finally decided it would be wise to rest just a bit so headed back to the hotel to meet T and clean up. Before I knew it, we were off to F.I.G., early in the hopes of snagging a spot at the bar since we were without reservations for a table. In general, I prefer to eat at the bar -so does T- and we were thrilled to find two open seats when we arrived at the nearly-psychotically early hour of 5:35pm. I have to hand it to FIG though; we were never rushed, had multiple drinks and a wonderfully drawn-out meal and left perfectly happy, satisfied and full. This was not a spot in which I'd dare take pictures but here's what we had and swooned over: house-made pappardelle with chicken confit (unbelievable), ricotta gnocchi with farm lamb bolognese (I didn't taste the lamb but the ricotta were other-worldly), roasted carrots with fennel pollen, farro picolo with broccoli and parmesan (possibly the second best item), sea bass crudo with cucumber, grapefruit and kumquat (insane!), and for T only, pig confit in a mustard-pork jus. His carrot puree could bring you to tears. In the middle, I decided I must have a slice of the meyer lemon tart that graced FIG's dessert menu, so had pretty much all of my veggies boxed in order to save room. Good call!

As I want to get to Downton watching, I won't regale you now with descriptions of our bar-mates: the v-neck wearing poser, his fist-bumping girl-toy, the fleshy-faced mean banker guy in Buddy Holly glasses or the lass who appeared to be his wife. But tomorrow yes, because it's all just too much and too good.