In Love with Charleston

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Hello, Friends!  I have just returned from Charleston, SC – which just might be my new favorite city in all of the land.  The Holy City absolutely lived up to its charming reputation; seeped in so much history, and full of pretty details.  I am enamored with all of the colorful facades, and the window boxes, flowers, and winding vines I saw on every surface.  What a truly beautiful place!

In addition to all of that gorgeousness, the food and shopping were spectacular!  It should come as no surprise that I dove head-first into both of those facets of life while in Chucktown.  When I am on vacation, I am always conflicted as to whether or not to whip my camera out.  I want to be fully present where I am, but I think for anyone who is a photographer, or simply passionate about photography, you come to feel even more in the moment with a camera in hand.  It’s almost as if you learn to see things differently and pick up on tiny moments that you might not otherwise.  Can anyone relate?  It’s an interesting phenomenon, for sure.  That being said, I did my best to find the balance, with and without.  These are a few (Okay, way more than a few!) of my favorite snaps, as well as my hit list of things to do and see.  Truth be told, I feel as if I could have been in Charleston for a month and not accomplished everything I wanted to, so I am already in the process of planning my next trip.  If anyone has any recommendations, please feel free to add them, as I am all ears for my next go round!

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend! ♥

 

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good eats

This is going to be the longest section of this post, because FOOD, duh!  I wish I had more pictures to share with you of all of the amazing things I consumed, but no one wants to be the dork standing over their food with a giant camera in hand, in the middle of a crowded restaurant.  Plus, I like my hot food hot, and left to my own devices, I will shoot for a long time.  There was seriously, so much goodness to be seen and had though!

I always try to find a mix between the must-hit spots and the off-the-beaten path charmers, and that really worked out well on this trip.  In this case, I also embarked on an {unplanned} tour of fried chicken (Ha!), so after 4 servings at 4 different places, I needed a break from the lowcountry fare.  I am almost embarrassed to admit that, but it’s an important point to note.  Balance in all things, right?

Without any further ado, this is my highlight reel:

The Daily/Butcher & Bee:  The Daily (above left) is an outpost of Butcher & Bee, where cold-pressed juices, coffee, and grab-and-go provisions are sold.  We popped in to peruse the offerings (The food items, as well as the gift selections were fantastic.), and then made our way to B&B.  The line was only semi-long, and the service was pretty quick, but honestly, I would have waited an hour for the Fried Chicken Sandwich above!  This was my absolute favorite fried chicken preparation; served on a brioche bun with arugula, dill verde, garlic mayo, and roasted tomatoes.  My mouth is watering as I write about it!  We also tried the Blueberry Salad, Kale Slaw, and Grilled Cheese (with smashed peas), and all were equally as delicious.  The menu changes daily, and can be found on their Facebook page.

Xiao Bao Biscuit:  This was one of the best, and most artfully prepared meals I have had in a long time.  Xiao Bao Biscuit is down the street from the popular Hominy Grill, set in a gas station turned hipster restaurant (See below!).  They have an excellent beer selection, and while the food menu is small, I felt it was perfect in the range of dishes offered.  We shared brisket with mushrooms and sesame curry, pork dumplings in sweet chili oil, coconut turmeric crepes with mung beans and herbs, and a showstopping saucy cabbage pancake.  The entire meal was perfection!

Husk:  It’s no secret that Sean Brock is a culinary genius with a James Beard award under his belt, and Husk having been named the “Best New Restaurant in America” {in 2011}, by Bon Appétit.  The emphasis at Husk is on quality Southern ingredients, with a menu that changes daily.  Everything I tasted was extremely “thoughtful” – and wonderful – but the drinks were the true standout, in my opinion.  I have been on a shrub kick lately, so I had a “Summah Lovin'” mocktail made with Red Pear Shrub, Grapefruit Juice, Habanero Agave, and Soda.  It was the perfect choice for an afternoon lunch, where I wanted something a little fancy, yet wasn’t quite ready to get my drink on.

I loved Minero too – another Sean Brock establishment – for its casual, Mexican vibe and fun food.  We shared a mix of tacos, guacamole, and posole.  I sipped on a hibiscus tea and cinnamon cocktail that I am most definitely going to recreate for the blog!

Other Standouts:  Cupcakes at Sugar Bakeshop (The Almond and Honey flavors were exceptional!).  Mexican Chocolate Iced Coffee at Caviar & Bananas.  Iced Lavender Honey Latte at City Lights Coffee.  Salad (We had the seasonal special with greens, peas, peaches, and a spicy dressing.) Pizza, and Homemade Blood Orangecello Spritzes, at Monza; everything here was fabulous!  Biscuits and Gravy, Pimento Fritters, and Famous Fried Chicken Salad at Poogan’s Porch (This was clearly not my healthiest meal, but it sure was good.).   

 

 

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shop til you drop

I can shop anywhere, but I found the shopping scene in Charleston to be pretty magnificent.  While I could have spent (Ummm, DID spend…) hours on King Street, the places I loved the most were the little independently run, in some cases hidden, stores we stumbled into along the way.

Curiosity:  This shop is “open by chance” according to the website, so I am very glad that we popped in at one of those times.  Set up as a beautiful apothecary, peppered with antique and vintage finds, I wished I could take home one of everything.  If I could have managed carrying it back on the plane, I would have left with a set of colorful West Virginia glass, but settled on a few pieces of hotel silver and some sweet smelling hair powder instead.  Random, but lovely, nonetheless.

The Commons:  This small store is situated in a courtyard, oozing with cuteness.  The goods inside are all American made, for the home, and have a timeless feel.  I am still lusting over some of the pottery and wooden boards (Think of all of the blog prop possibilities!), and may eventually have to place an order.  I did purchase a small clay plate with a heart imprint on it, that I knew was sturdy enough to tuck into my carry-on.  It’s already been photographed for an upcoming post, and I am definitely pleased with the way it looks.

Hampden Clothing:  Alright, so this boutique is actually on King Street, but given that it’s one of the most superbly stocked places I’ve ever visited, it was essential that I include it here.  If I had an event to go to, or I just wanted to treat myself (Like, really treat myself! : )), Hampden Clothing is hands-down where I would go.  As an extension of its flagship store, James is directly connected to this space.  The shoe selection there is drool-worthy!  It’s a very good thing that I don’t live in Charleston, because I know I would have an extremely hard time resisting all of those cool kicks.

 

 

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to do

Candlefish:  This suggestion could fall in the category above because Candlesfish is technically a shop, however, they also offer candle-making workshops.  We signed up for one on a Monday evening, and had a fantastic experience.  The class fee included instruction, two candles [that we made ourselves] to take home, the option to BYOB, and a 15% discount for any merchandise we wanted to purchase.  The shop itself is stunning, and filled to the brim with books, locally-made products, gifts, and more candles.  I spent the most money here buying a hand-beaded necklace, the latest edition of Kinfolk, yoga-themed stationery, and a few odd-and-ends like Incense Matches; incredibly awesome.

Charleston Sole Walking Tour:  I should fess up here and say that I am usually not a tour person.  I find a lot of them to be gimmicky, and cover the same information you might find in any old guide – BUT – we decided to do this on a whim, and it was a great decision.  Plus, I needed to walk off all of that fried chicken!  : )  Our guide Finn was super sweet and knowledgeable, and when he noticed that I was taking very angular photos (I am all about the angles!), he made sure to point out architectural particulars and scenes along the way that he thought I would find interesting.  Our group was under 10 people so it was very intimate, and by the end of our 2 hours, we had made some new friends as well as found our bearings in Charleston.

WANDER!:  This isn’t an activity per se, but it is my favorite thing to do whenever I am in a new city – and Charleston is truly the perfect place to get lost.  There are so many quaint alleyways to stroll down, handsome historical homes to look at, and out-of-the-way restaurants to sample.  You can head toward the water and walk or bike The Battery.  On our way to White Point Garden one morning, we stopped at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum.  There, I loved learning about all of the decor choices in the home, including why certain paint colors were chosen for certain rooms (Think “Salmon” and “Aqua” if you want a color that beautifully reflects candlelight!), and inspecting all of the neat intricacies like the Blue Lapis floorboards, which were installed as a sign of wealth.

I could go on and on, but I am going to leave you with my photos, because I think you get the idea by now; madly in love with this city. ♥

 

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15 Responses to In Love with Charleston

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful tour of Charleston I have through your stunning pictures!! Can’t wait to explore this city myself!! Thanks. . . .!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Charleston is an awesome city! Love it there! By far my favorite city!

  3. Cate says:

    What beautiful old buildings!

  4. It looks so pretty here. Did some of the houses belong to plantation owners in the past? The town looks so grand.

    • jjbegonia says:

      Yes, some of them did. The homes in Charleston really have such unique history behind them – It’s something to be able to see, and learn about! XO

  5. katelon says:

    Thanks. Looks like a place I need to put on my list. And wow…lapis floors!

  6. Dale says:

    What a beautiful post! Makes me want to visit even more. The only time I drove through (I know, sounds like a horrid idea) was because we were taking a cruise ship. Had it been solely up to me, I would have arrived a few days earlier… alas, I was part of a group of 18 so… I had no say!

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