Monday, February 25, 2013

Chucktown

This is a follow up to our Charleston's Charm  post. I've been back down to Charleston a dozen times since that June 11' post and feel you should know my new fav spots. My latest jaunt South of the Border was a couple weeks ago. My Mississippi friends were celebrating a Big 30 and I agreed to meet them and play sort- of travel guide. Malone was a Charleston virgin while it had been some time for Mary Hayes and Brantley. I must say it was enjoyable to be in town with new people and play tourist ( I've been going for years and had several "first" this trip). We were to meet Friday around lunch and dive in hard.


THURSDAY
The 7th of Feb was the date of  the annual Valentine's making party. Sadly, I never get to be a part of this oh so special occasion with my Charleston Gals, well b/c it's always on weekday. This year, while I arrived 30 min before everyone left, I still got a yummy lasagna dish, drank vino and made several cards. Covered in sticky clue and glitter Becca and I wobbled our full bellies and crafts out the door into the pouring rain. 30 min later we are on the other side of town. I literally fall asleep the second I hit the pillow. I had a cozy bed, fresh sheets, sound machine, eye mask and rain pounding against the windows- gah what more could you ask for as you fall into a much needed slumber!? As if the start of this Charleston visit could not get any better, I woke up and looked out my bathroom window at the Dew Residence and saw that beautiful landscape above!



FRIDAY
 I have been coming to Charleston for years, but never actually stepped foot on Folly Beach. Sure, I'd eaten at Lost Dog, had frozen screwdrivers at Taco Boy and sipped pain killers with fresh nutmeg at Surf Bar but never actually been on the beach. Becca decided it was time to change that. We loaded up her 3 huge dogs and stopped in for an fresh breakfast at lost dog before heading to the sand. It was a perfect morning: cool and sunny. The waves were just big enough to attract local surfers. We walked a mile or so then called it a day.. I had to get ready to play tour guide! On the way home we stopped at Bowens Island. Becca was gushing about it and I just had to see it. After we left, I knew I'd be back.

It being a 30th bday and all, we decided we should stay in a legit place, you know like "real adults". Charleston Place, was our home for the weekend. We could not have picked a better home to make us feel special and grown up. Charleston Place was adorned with a large circle drive,  valets at your beck and call, a huge horse fountain, the largest chandelier we'd ever seen, superb customer service and a rather decent size room. We were by far the youngest people staying there. After some heeeyyyyys and hugs we headed to Cru Cafe for lunch, not to my surprise there was a 45 min wait, so we wandered the Market area eventually landing in LB's bar for a pre-lunch cocktail. Usually the stuff on Market is really touristy and down right cheesy but this place had charm, nice folks working and a great drink menu. They even served up pork rinds while we waited for our spirits. Moments later Bloody's and Sangria appeared and a few short moments later, they disappeared. Back over a Cru, we enjoyed a bottle of bubbles ( we were on a mini vacay after all), delicious soup, salad and sammys. Once we got back to the car, we realized there was a problem, the doors were locked and B could see the keys inside. Not to worry B said,  we had a AAA member on our hands. Within 30 min we were back in business. And I'm not to going to lie, I think Brantley enjoyed using her card! We had to leave Mary Hayes behind - work is a pain. So we carried on our day and sent continuous photos and obnoxiously checked in on FB at every single place we went, you know, to let MH know how much we missed her. Brantley is a landscape architect. She has a cool blog that you should check out here. Keeping with my goal to always try and get some education/ culture/ history in on every trip and appeal to B's style ( Malone does whatever we say) we headed to Angle Oak. It was a beautiful afternoon and the sun was peaking through the limbs and for a few min it was just us and the tree. She's massive, sprawling, always green, is considered to be one of the oldest living things in our country and has grown in this natural habitat for 1,500 years. 1,500 years people!

   Side note: Malone: I bet it's really pretty in the fall.
                   Brantley: It's an evergreen. She stays this color year round.




Late afternoon had somehow come upon us. Bowens Island. This is a gem that I could and still can not believe I'd never found before. It's a small island as you approach Folly Beach. 10 or so houses rest on the  land. All inhibitors are one way or another connected to family that owns the island or the restaurant. This place has been around since the 1940s. Having a thirst for life it's survived several fires. Large and small. When you think seafood shack, this is it. Lots of old wood, steps, ramps, windows and lots of shit that does not make sense, but yet some how does. Fresh off the boat seafood, people wandering around and that smell... oh the smell that people either love or hate. I personally love it. Oyster shells line the parking lot and hand painted signs direct you in. There is a kayaking company houses on the property too. Bowen's is only open Friday and Saturday 5-9ish and on Sundays it was explained by one of them men running the place that they "sometimes have oyster roasts for the public or private companies host them, but either way it's great fun: live music, beautiful sunsets, new friends and just a good ol' Southern time". We arrived just in time to catch the sunset , which happens to be the only time I'm ok with the color burnt or rust orange. After letting B and Malone take it all in for a moment, we walked up to order a tray of oysters. Then walked downstairs to pick them up. On the main ground floor we find a handsome fella steaming up bundles of oysters. He's in the back corner, surrounded by the original 3 walls, thrown together tables and chairs, trash cans here and there and a small wooden bar that is "only sometimes open". Full of delight, we took our space on the dock along with the local fisherman, and started to enjoy the afternoon snack. The sky was on fire. Those 2 hours make up the best Friday evening I'd had in a very. long. time. 




Brantley: Our plane landed last night and we ended up in heaven. 




Mary Hayes had finally finished work and was awaiting our return. Good things were set to happen that evening.  To start, a nice dinner at Poogan's Porch. Followed up with drinks, rickshaw rides, and dance parties. We started with a round of cocktails at Thoroughbred. From here we stroll through the streets looking at architecture, people watching, talking about how delicious dinner will be and passing a party at the Gibbes where old ladies are tipsy and laughing out loud while posing  in front of and on vintage cars parked out front! Moments after we witness this, we are walked up the old steps of Poogan's.  Poogan's is pricey  but I was willing to throw the dollars down for my gals. We had a 9:15 rez. After being seated, I gawked at the menu. There was just no way, the prices listed were correct, as there was nothing, I mean nothing over $10.00. I whispered to the girls, "I think they have given us misprinted menus, even the lunch prices are not this cheap!". Our waitress came over and told us Jan/ Feb are customer appreciation month. Since Jan/ Feb are the "winter and slow season" they created these prices to keep people, esp locals coming back during the cold months. Before they started this a couple years ago, they would have 30 covers on a Friday night. Now they have over 200 covers each weekend night and the weekdays stay packed as well. I was full of glee from my head to my toes. I ordered flank steak and two sides for $7.00! We just couldn't believe it. Since our dinner were dirt cheap, we splurged on a nice bottle of red. Malone picked up the bottle of red, so I walked out of Poogan's with a $15 tab. 
      Side note: We forgot to do this, but should you find yourself at Poogan's, do stop in at Husk... an overlooked, rundown  space beside the main attraction has been turned into a cozy bar. Perfect for drinks before or after you meal at Husk or Poogans!

From here we walk back to the hotel to hail a Rickshaw Biker. Eric would be our new favorite person. Little did he know by picking us up Friday meant he was ours for the weekend. Being the small world it is, we had several mutual friends. All Mr. Toepperwein required was a 15 min call or text before our desired pick up time. Eric and his firemen buddy took us to Upper King. From here we bounced from Macintosh to Rarebit. Both new and fun spots. Macintosh is where B thought she would do her yearly drink switch up. She ordered a "new" drink that sounded great but tasted bad. None other than the Honey Badger. Honey Badger don't give a shit, but Brantley does. It has everything in it she liked, or so she thought: Jack Daniels Honey blend, house made chai, orange bitters and almond milk. Whats not to love!? Well, apparently, those things are only delicious when consumed independently. We all took our turns tasting the Honey Badger. I could barley get it down. Malone said just to chug it as her face was making an unpleasant face and Mary Hayes was convinced it was straight from India, as she tasted "Indian food in there", " that drink has curry in in and you need to be Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love".  Brantley vowed to not detour from her heart again. Bourbon with splash of water from there on out. But she did finish her cocktail. "I've got one sip left. I'm finishing my damn specialty cocktail". Rarebit offered us more tasty cocktails. The Champagne Cocktail in particular: Bubbly Cava, above well grade Vodka, St. Germain, and 'seasonal splash of soda'. These are dangerous. Dangerous if the fact they taste so good, go down so well and make you so tipsy. MH had had enough - she is 30 after all- and caught a cab home. Feelin' like dancin' we ask Eric to take us to Faculty Lounge.  It's shady, small, a local of locals spot, serves strong drinks, dance tunes and best yet, the entire back wall is a mirror. Eric allowed all 3 of us to pile in his 2 person rickshaw seat and headed North. In mind mind FL was not that far. Little did I know, I had asked- BUT he agreed- to bike us 2.1 miles. He even stayed to enjoy the scene while we drank, had photo shoots and dance parties. Then biked us all the way back. Ok, he may or may have not had a friend spinning tunes. Either way, he was a life saver. Trying to a cab from that part of town, would have been a pure nightmare. Oh, and lets not forget the blanket had for us... it gets chilly whirling through the streets. We arrived to our place at 2:30 am. We thanked (and paid) Erik and said, see ya tomo!
       Side note: This Honey Badger story should not alter your judgement on the Macintosh establishment it self. We loved everything else about the place!

Rickshawing 

Dance Party at FL


SATURDAY
Saturday was get touristy day. Before that could happen we needed nourishment and or caffeine. The new Bull Street Gourment on King was the spot. I heart this place. It smellls good, there are feel good treats to take home and made to order foods that will surely satisfy your belly. Next up was a carriage tour. Palmetto Carriage Tour was recommended by a friend. We are pretty sure our tour guide, Troy, thought we were two couples on a vacay, but we corrected him... several times and asked he stick to the history lesson. He was funny and a great story teller, just not sure about us. The hangovers, loud talking (on our part) and obscene comments may have had something to do with it. Justice our beauty of horse was much more polite. Here are a few things we learned:
  1. The Grid: The grid for "Charles Towne" was laid out in 1680
  2. Oleander is poisonous.  Even if burning the fumes will get ya!
  3. Blue ceilings: We've all seen it, but do you know why? Blame it on the haints. In South Carolina the color blue used is Haint Blue. This color prevents the people of the home to be taken or influenced by the haints. Blue was chosen b/c it is believed that haints never cross water.
4. Earthquake Rods : In 1866 one of the biggest earthquakes to hit the Southeast really shook up Charleston. Over 2,000 building damages and the total in repairs about 6 million ( Troy told us now a days, that would be over 141 million). Rods were placed to existing houses / buildings  to add support to the structure without having to demolish and rebuild. These large bolts/ rods pass through the wall on opposite sides of the structure. Some exposed on the interior, some not. Once they were in place they could be slowly turned until the house became level again. You can see the washers on the outside of buildings. Some new constructions structures add them ( like the ones at Charleston Place) for the historic factor.
5. Exterior front porch entry doors: You see this a lot in Charleston. We were told is was due to the fact men were not allowed to be "undressed" in public- as in must always have suit, jacket, etc on. Even if in the house during the day. However, with a private porch and exterior door, they could 'relax' and have warning to get properly dressed when someone rang the outside door, which was in general, the "entry" into the home. If that door is shut, the family wants privacy,
6. Long Skinny Houses: Someone once told me that the houses were long and skinny b/c the tax value was based on the width of the frontage of the house/ lot, not the length. Troy corrected me in saying while that is rumored, there is no proof for it. The plats were divided this way and houses positioned how they are on the land due to lack of land to give out and to help with income of the breeze in the summers. Most lots measure only 40-50 feet. The city wanted to pack as many houses on one street as possible.



After taking in all this knowledge we needed to talk it over at lunch at Fleet Landing. Yeah yeah, I know it's a tourist trap, but we were playing tourist and it was a cool spot to show the girls. With just a 15 min wait, we passed the time with cocktails at the bar. Lots of food was ordered: fried shrimp, shrimp salad, crab cake benedict  and a mahi sammy. This is one of the only places to eat on the water downtown, seems crazy, since Charleston is in fact a peninsula!

I've got a friend and her name is Friend. She lives with our other friend Nick, who we call Pavia. Friend & Pavia have (ok, had ) what one would call a rather ideal set up for Sullivan's Island. They lived in the downstairs of a beach house on Atlantic,  Station 24 and  two block from the bars with a beach access passing through their yard. After 2 years, it was time to say good bye to yard/ beach parties, grill outs, celebrations, pumpkin painting, volleyball, beer pong, tanning, hulla hooping, swinging, sleeping and drinking.  It was the last "beach house party". Summer of 2013 marks the year we have to be like everyone else: pack a days worth of  towels, umbrellas, ice, drinks, food, sunscreen, outfits and race for parking spots then haul it all to the beach. No more "I'm walking up to the house, do you need anything?" . The closure party started at 1 and we arrived at 3:30. Believe it or not, Malone had never seen up close (only from the air) the Atlantic Ocean. Since it was right there, her eyes had to see it and her feet needed to have the sand and water touch it. So the Mississippi gals took a stroll to the beach. 5:30 rolled around and we decided to take it to Hometeam BBQ to suck down a couple pain killers and let the new gals experience the local vibe out on Sully's. 15 of us pile in and take over two large tables.







Around 7 we head back to our neck of the woods and refresh ourselves for dinner and another evening out. As we are walking into the Charleston Place, we see Eric! We asked him to please return at 8:45- and he did. We had planned to dine at Rarebit, but Eric suggested Macintosh, so we went there... what a good recommendation. We sat outside on the patio- complete with standing heaters. The vibe, atmosphere and food was all just want we needed. It was very intimate and relaxing. As the bill comes, I text Eric and boom, we walk out and he's there. He and his buddy bike us to The Griffon, where we stayed stationed for the rest of the evening. My cousin's band Green Levels was playing. His other band is pretty note worthy too, Yellowknife. The Griffon is a small dive bar with dollar bills stapled all over the place, it is usually packed to the rim and to top it off, it's a cool old house. We got lucky with a table right up front. It warmed my heart and filled my soul with joy, yet again to see my cousin, doing what he loves. Our trusty rickshaw driver picks us up at 1:15 and takes us 'home' again.


SUNDAY
Ugh Sunday was a sad day. It was good bye day. Before we left, we had one last meal together downstairs at the Palmetto Cafe. We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast with any and everything your could want the morning after a big weekend. It was now 11 or so, the girls got in the Volvo and drove away. I drove to Mt. Pleasant for my normal Sunday with Rob, Brie and Evan. We played, napped, ate, played, then I left.

I've had some good times in Charleston and this was one was no different. In fact, It reaches the top.



If you are in the area, also check out:

The Alley- The place where you may run into Bill Murray. Great food. Great people. Great drinks.

Middleton Place- America's oldest landscaped gardens

Drayton Hall- Palladian Architectural at its finest also the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Cocktail Club- Wooden walls and floors. The place where you walk in and could totally imagine dressed up fella smoking cigars and sippin' on the browns.

The Belmont- Fancy drinks. Get the charcuterie plate.

Stars- Great rooftop.

Antique District- dream land.

The Battery- It's a must

Charleston Tea Plantation- Beautiful piece of property. Great tours.

House of Brews- My friend's own this. Go and drink good beer.

Charleston Farmer's Market- Large farmer's market and hand crafted gooooods.

Written by: Emily Ballard
Photos by: Emily Ballard, Malone Gregory, Friend Grey, Brantley Snipes & Google Images

















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