Ready for more irony? Remember in my last blog, I mentioned that Disney would probably be the most exciting place we went. Despite the sheer amount of food to be found on the property of the park, I didn’t have too much to blog about. Well, today the irony continues folks. On our way up the coast, we spent a little less than 24 hours in the city of Charleston, definitely our shortest stop of them all. During that time, I spent more money, and more time focused on food than in any other location we’ve been to. I will say though, unlike other places where I’ve basically loved and devoured everything I ate, I have more mixed reviews of Charleston’s fare. Maybe it’s because I had found most of my recommendations for this spot from entertaining sources like Unique Sweets, Sinful Sweets and Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, but I had pretty high expectations going into my eating adventures. Some were met…some were not. Ready for the controversy? Here goes!
(Before you read on, realize that we did do more than just eat and shop here… look for a Facebook album coming soon for the rest!)
Our first stop on our (self-guided/Pinterest recommendation based) walking tour of downtown was Sugar Bakeshop. Here, they sold a variety of goodies like cupcakes, tarts, and cookies.
From here, I purchased a Derby Tart… mainly because I figured something with a name that didn’t list the obvious ingredients, had to be worth trying. Essentially, a Derby Tart has a flaky crust and is filled with chocolate and pecans. It’s supposed to be similar to a mini pecan pie. I was pleasantly surprised because normally, I find pecan pie to be too sweet and filling, thanks to the goopey center. But, this combo of nuts and chocolate in particular, was just right, and had a nice crunch to it. Plus, it was small, so it didn’t feel super heavy like a piece of pecan pie would.
As we continued shopping along Market Street, we ran into a store I had read a lot about: Moon Pie General. This is a such an odd but wonderful store that specializes in old time-y candies and treats, along with a lot of random crap that you can only find in a southern general store. Their feature product of course, is the moon pie.
Now, for those of you who have never tried one, a moon pie is cookie made up of marshmallow and graham crackers. Then, it’s covered in chocolate…kind of like an inside out s’more. The company sells quite a few flavors: vanilla, banana, strawberry, salted caramel and chocolate. Here’s a top tip from the woman behind the counter… apparently, if you heat these things up in the microwave for a few seconds and serve with ice cream…they’re to die for. Since they seemed like such a staple in Charleston, I had to try one. So, I picked up a prepackaged chocolate mini. Here’s where my first mediocre review comes in. I guess overall, the moon pie was tasty, but I was expecting more of a crunch. But, maybe it was because I expecting a s’more? Either way…eh.
Luckily, my disappointment was short lived. Soon after leaving the general store, we found Christophe Artisan Chocolatier – Patissier. The chocolatier/ freaking candy genius this place is named after, specializes in fancy hand painted chocolates and interestingly flavored truffles. In here, you are not going to be finding run-of-the-mill chocolate truffles, or fruity candies. Oh no, those would be far too simplistic for someone named Christophe, for goodness sake.
It was incredibly hard to choose, but I finally decided on: a hand painted coffee milk chocolate, a bananas foster truffle (chocolate ganache with fresh banana and an essence of Jamaican rum), and a cinnamon green apple pate de fruit (pureed fruit rolled in sugar). By the end, I couldn’t even pick a winner of the three. Hands down, it was the best candy I’ve had all trip – the flavors were SO genuine and powerful.
Up next, we entered King Street Cookies. This was another place that had tons of variety, ranging from classics like chocolate chip, to out-of-the-box flavors like Black Cherry Lemonade, and the minty chocolate Rabbi.
For my cookie, I picked out GW’s Cherry Tree, which stuffed chocolate chunks, toffee and cherries in an oatmeal cookie. When I first tried this bad boy, I was underwhelmed. Because there were so many ingredients going into one cookie, there wasn’t really enough of any one thing. So, what do you do when you have a kind-of mediocre baked good? You zap it. Let me tell you, when the GW Cherry Tree is warmed up in the microwave for precisely 7 seconds…magic. The cherry flavor comes out and the chocolate does it’s gooey thing.
For dinner, we decided that we needed to try a type of food we hadn’t yet experienced on our trip: some traditional, rib sticking, southern comfort food. I mean, this was Charleston. It’s pretty much as southern as you can get. Seeing how it was our last opportunity to find the real thing, we sought out Nick’s BBQ. Here, you could choose mostly any protein to eat barbecued, as well as a couple of traditional southern sides to go along with your meal.
I went with BBQ roasted chicken, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, watermelon and cheese biscuits. I can’t say enough about how good that stuff was. Let’s see… the chicken? Fell off the bone. The biscuit? Had a muffin like texture, and was as light and fluffy as a cloud. It DEFINITELY gave Red Lobster a run for it’s money. The sweet potato casserole? Best side I’ve tasted on the damn trip. It had candied pecans instead of marshmallow and brown sugar mixed in throughout. To really make sure you were on the verge of a coma before you left, the brown sugar was also in a glaze form over the top. Dear God.
The next morning, we toured a plantation and saw some of the more historical attractions in Charleston. To boot, we visited two more bakeries. One, Wildflour Pastry, I won’t dwell on. They’re known for their sticky buns, but they’re only sold on Sunday. Seeing how it was Wednesday, I was out of luck. But, because they were so well known and so highly recommended by Cooking Channel and local write ups, I had to try something. Well, two somethings. So, I went with a blueberry lemon curd scone, and a blondie. Let’s just say the blondie was eh, and the scone? Where’s the curd man!?
Okay, I promise. I’m almost done. One. More. Place. Kaminsky’s: a dessert bar in historic Charleston. A bar, in which the sole purpose is to eat dessert, people!
There, they are famous for their Tollhouse Pie. Basically, this is exactly what it sounds like: a pie crust filled with everything you’d find in a chocolate chip cookie. Oh, and with walnuts. Thank God this was the last goody we found there, because it was a high note to leave off on. There’s a really good reason they’re famous for this pie. The goo to crunch ratio is spot on. I mean, to be honest, the crust was just like a big spoon to hold it all in, and wasn’t completely necessary, but it was flaky as a snowstorm, so no complaining here.
I think I feel the diabetes setting in just writing this post, so I think I’ll end here. Next stop, a location near and dear to my heart: Washington, DC. This place holds a lot of amazing memories for me, so I am really excited to be returning to a city where you are literally living in a postcard. Can’t wait to tell you all about it! Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!