What a perfectly rejuvenating, fun, laid-back trip this has been. Charleston is terrific, y'all, a city to which I'd happily return at any moment. I desperately need to head home today, however, so that the cholesterol build-up that has surely occurred since we arrived can subside; my liver would also love a break from the joys of such festive living; and I miss vegetables as experienced in a clean and spare state. I'm almost embarrassed to say that, still full from last night, we cancelled our lunch plans for today and have already commenced with more restrained eating. Even a good run this morning didn't much lessen the feeling of over-stuffed plaguing every bit of my body. Nonetheless, every calorie, every drop was worth it, and I will happily trudge to the airport like a pack-mule, laden with grits, Carolina gold rice, coffee and all manner of other goodies currently stuffed in my bags. I am newly inspired by the many ways in which we've enjoyed seafood here. Indeed, by the way we've enjoyed everything we've eaten here.
I have got to hand it to Charleston: this is a city that really takes food, coffee and drink seriously. I have drunk so many unique, memorable wines here and tip my hat to the willingness of area sommeliers to jump off the beaten path and seek out new ways to excite wine drinkers. Last night, before drinks with friends, T and I went to Social, a French Quarter wine bar committed to sourcing from small, artisinal producers, for an aperitif (you see what I mean? pre-drink drinks, post-drink drinks...). I opted for a flight of unusual whites, expecting three small pours that would perfectly whet my whistle in the 45 minutes we had. Swear to god, these were full-on glasses of wine and it soon became clear I'd started my night on a seriously boozy foot. Cheers!
When we sat down at Social, I was totally chagrined to see a the SF/ATL football game playing on a TV in the corner. However, Social is one of the only places I've ever been that's managed to have a tube and not lose a good wine bar vibe. The bartenders knew what they were talking about, and two of my three wines -a Greek assyrtiko and the Chateau Musar "Jeune" [same vineyard as that fab red I had at McCrady's on Friday], a blend of viognier, chardonnay and vermentino grown in Lebanon- were fantastic. Crisp, racy, decidedly not your standard whites. T ordered a beer that made both our mouths sing. If you're a beer-lover, it was like a cross between an American IPA and a Belgian Saison. I gotta get the name...
As tipsy'ness was upon us, we ordered two quick items: a shrimp dish and a remarkably awesome bruschetta topped with ricotta, sage, apple and butternut squash. RiDICulously yum. They to drinks with friends at their lovely home and then a spontaneous dinner at The Ordinary, a seafood restaurant that just opened last fall.
If you've ever been to Balthazar in NYC (one of the all-time greats, in terms of both food and atmosphere), you'd think you were visiting its delightful step-sister in stepping foot inside The Ordinary. Oh mamma, the ambiance at this joint is great: sky-high ceilings; huge, globey lights; gorgeous, endless wood bar; towering staircase; white tiles everywhere; just the right noise level -definitely hopping but not a mosh pit; and awesome seafood. Naturally we sat at the bar, and decided to start with the Oysters Moscow; raw guys on the half shell topped with a dollop of crème fraîche and caviar. I opted for the extremely local capers blades oysters and was not disappointed. Feeling rather czarina-like, I ordered a perfect glass of Chablis, and we then indulged in black roux gumbo and some BBQ white shrimp. To.Die.For. Must make black roux. Thank god we walked home.
So you can see why I might be full, might be in the slightest need of a detox. It sure has been fun though. Oh, and best coffee here is to be found at Black Tap, not Kudu, according to a multi-day tasting done by T and moi! But more on that later.