We took a boat cruise around the Charleston Harbor. Being on the water for me is as ordinary as my morning coffee and as necessary. It grounds me in a new place. Allows me to gain perspective, to be an observer, to listen to the distinct inflection that comes with the colloquial delivery of one’s homeland. In the case of Charleston it’s all about the “yaaaawl, usually followed by “have a good day”. Those southerners are nothing if not polite.
I adore exploring a new place through the observant eyes of a child. The wonder of watching a formation of five pelicans swoop low across the water, followed by a pod of dolphins arching through the water had me squealing with glee at my very first sighting. I’d be remiss in my reporting if I didn’t admit that I squealed when I saw the array of thousands of BMW’s ready to board container ships and cross one ocean then another on the Atlantic Route to Japan. Who knew we manufactured BMW’s in Charleston? Needing a new car and lamenting the chip shortage that is limiting my options, I considered hopping off to broker a deal. Would they really miss one less car?
No wonder the antiquing is so fabulous, two days from France to the 6th largest port by volume in the U.S. equals fantastic and affordable furnishings from the 19th century, and by the way when you buy there and ship home you don’t pay any tax. Did your heart just skip a beat like mine? I not only found one dining table for my new home which largely unlocked the key to the layout I was troubling over these past few months, but two! One English Loo Table with incredibly marquetry, and a second French Regency with a dolphin base to die for.
A town that survives on tourism is bound to have good food. My dear southern friend mapped out a culinary experience for us girls that would make a star-studded Michelin Chef smile with supreme satisfaction. The Caviar Experience at the Zero George was magical. The candle-lit veranda was aglow in fairytale light. The bar tucked at the end of the porch a jungle of tropical plantings lorded over by a King, known as both a purveyor of spirits, and the resident photographer – look for him in Travel + Leisure Magazine next month. Young, polite, handsome Huck – yes, that was his name – Huck, don’t you just want to keep saying it?, served us Osetra in silver domed glass dishes, accompanied by split soft boiled eggs their golden yokes puddling on the plate, brioche toast, ramekins of crème fraiche, and chive, and salty potato chips. You won’t believe me when I tell you that the crab souffle that followed was even better, but it was.
If you haven’t been to Charleston, get it on your list and include: Frannie & the Fox at Hotel Emeline, Husk for the Chicken and Waffles, Leon’s Oyster Shop for the Buck Bay Blades, and Bar 167 for the Arroz con negro. Go hungry, leave happy.