Monday, May 7, 2018

'Till We Eat Again - Charleston Edition - Part II

Greetings, dear readers! Hope this finds you well.

A few weeks ago on the CT, I wrote about a lovely springtime salad that you should definitely make. BTW: I think we have turned the corner here in NJ re the weather & it really is Spring - yeah!

And the time before that, we talked about a luscious Apple Buttermilk Loaf Cake (have you made that yet?).
Ft Sumter flag raising

Now it’s time to get back to Charleston (figuratively speaking). On our last full day in CHS, we hopped a ferry to visit Ft Sumter (about 30 minutes from downtown CHS). On the way there, playful dolphins accompanied the boat while a guide gave us an overview of what we could expect at the fort. There was a crisp breeze but the sun was shining brightly as we did a self-guided tour around the grounds. Lucky for us, being the first boat of the day to land at the fort, we watched as the National Park rangers raised our nation’s flag for the day. Ft Sumter is definitely worth a visit.
Ribs at Rodney Scott's BBQ

Remember in my earlier post, I bemoaned the fact we were shut out of ribs at Rodney Scott’s BBQ on our first day? Well, this was our last best hope to get those ribs & we were determined to get them! So after disembarking the Ft Sumter ferry, we Uber’d over to Rodney’s & got on line (yes, there was a line at 11:30am!). WOW! Must say, BEST RIBS EVER! We try BBQ everywhere (we’re certified KCBS BBQ judges so it’s kind of our job) and these were killer! These ribs were big and smoky and juicy and succulent! Believe me, there were no leftovers at our table. When Rodney stopped by to see how everything was, we tried to convince him to PLEASE come to New Jersey (no dice). Rodney Scott’s BBQ is a must if you love BBQ & are in Charleston (or you could plan a trip just for these - they are worth a drive or a flight!).
McLeod Plantation owner's home

After polishing off those ribs, we took in our last historic site, McLeod Plantation. Established in 1851, it is one of the most authentic views into the lives of slaves who lived and worked there for decades, enriching the plantation owners by growing and harvesting sea island cotton under deplorable conditions. It was an enlightening and sobering visit, lightyears away from the sanitized tour we took at Magnolia Plantation earlier in the week.
View of live oaks and slave quarters at McLeod Plantation

Ricotta Gnocchi at FIG
For our last two dinners in Charleston, we had reservations at FIG (Food is Good) and The Ordinary, both owned by celebrated chef, Mike Lata. After reading for years about these restaurants, I was really looking forward to superb meals. At FIG, the standout dish recommended by every notable food critic is the ricotta gnocchi. I’m spoiled because here in NJ, there is no finer ricotta gnocchi than that served by Ryan DePersio at Fascino in Montclair, so FIG had big shoes to fill going in. And I must say that FIG’s gnocchi came very, very close. These small, puffy pillows of delicate ricotta surrounded by an Ossabaw bolognese were heavenly.
Fabulous whiskey sour at Felix
Before dinner at The Ordinary, we stopped next door at Felix, a terrific cocktail lounge, that reminded me of a chic bar you might find somewhere in Paris. We sat at the bar and sipped expertly made cocktails until our dinner reservation time approached. We loved the atmosphere and service at Felix so that we wished we had stayed there for dinner! Next time!
The view from the upstairs dining room at The Ordinary
Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Toast - The Ordinary

The Ordinary is Lata’s casual seafood restaurant and oyster bar. Set in a former bank building, it’s a cavernous, loud setting. We sat upstairs where we had a birds-eye view of the action downstairs. The first things on the menu that caught my eye were the Hawaiian rolls with sea salt butter (natch!) and the sea salt potato chips - both excellent! My friend, A, enjoyed the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Toast with Lime and English Peas - a beautiful presentation. My entree, Grilled New Orleans Style BBQ White Shrimp was good, but did not live up to The Ordinary’s hype. But the restaurant redeemed itself with my dessert — a perfectly luscious Coconut Cream Pie that made me practically lick the dish!
Coconut Cream Pie at The Ordinary

Our four days in Charleston were a really nice break from winter in the northeast, combined with a chance to visit with friends that we don’t see very often. The city has alot going on, and is growing at a rapid rate, but if you’ve never been and have an affinity for innovative food, traditional low country dishes, American history, and graceful Southern hospitality, make a plan to visit Charleston soon. 

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