Charleston, South Carolina is a foodie’s Mecca, among other things. I recently revisited this Low Country oasis to take a food photography course with Helen Dujardin (to become a better blogger) and found myself falling in love with the area all over again. The city is filled with outstanding restaurants that are on everyone’s list, like Husk, named Best New restaurant in America of 2011 by Bon Appetite and Southern Living, McCrady’s, Fig, (Food is Good) just to name a few, and believe me, there are plenty more. Most are seafood and southern infused but there are few destinations that offer so many regional options.
I want to take you deeper into Charleston to some of my favorite places that get me sidetracked and hopefully will do the same for you. Peter and I hopped on our bikes, headed uptown to the up and coming, chic neighborhood of Cannonborough and started checking off my list. First stop Sugar, a quaint neighborhood bakery that knocks you backwards with made from scratch treats and the smell of cake right out of the oven from the moment you open the door. The owners, Bill and David, two architects from New York have transformed what was once a vegetable stand into a bite size dream shop filled with small- batch cookies, cakes and cupcakes. My favorite is the Lady Baltimore cupcake, made only on Thursdays, with sherry soaked figs layered in between the delicate cake and fluffy meringue icing that melts in your mouth.
We then headed downtown on King street and stopped in at Glazed, probably one of the first everything natural and local donut shops in the country. They make their own dough daily; use local goat cheese and herbs from their own garden. With flavors like Maple Bacon (from Nueske’s) and Sweet Potato with Brown Butter Glaze and House Spiced Pecans, how can you go wrong? Pepper Jelly Glaze with Cream Cheese Filling, it doesn’t get any more southern than that!
As we were riding up Church Street, looking at the architecture of one of the many historical neighborhoods and ran into Goat, Sheep, Cow, an adorable neighborhood cheese shop. Another place that makes great use of a small space, packed with the best selection of imported and local cheese and anything you might want to accompany it. There is a small area of select wine, charcuterie, local jams, and honey, crusty baguettes and crackers.
The Gin Joint, is what I would image to be a late night hipster spot, (we were there before 10 pm), where classic cocktails are made true to their name. The bartender, Jerry, twirls, shakes, splashes, dashes, and pours from mystery bottles on the shelf behind him…at a frenetic pace, while usually in conversation with four or five customers at the bar…. Smoky Maple Old Fashion made with Black Walnut Bitter, a Sazarac made with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, at my request. They serve snacks and small plates at night but it has also become a spot for Sunday morning brunch with everything from Shrimp and Grits, Buttermilk Biscuits with Redeye Gravy to Housemade Soft Pretzels, this is a place not to miss day and night.