Duly chastened….and back on the case!
April 16, 2012

One of our neighbors in Chucktown....dig the placement of the hazard marker!!

I just got an email from a blog reader who said,” I know you’re busy, but I live vicariously through you and miss more regular posts! I always learn some about new fact, or tidbit, trends and trendy spots.  I love your travel advice and suggestions and the food chat and photos – oh, how I miss the food chat and photos! .  C’mon, Donna, you’re killing me here!”

 

My favorite bridge....to the Holy City...

Tout mes excuses!! And while my excuses aren’t bad really….let’s just get with the program. I just got back from the Holy City(someone here in the newsroom with initial GS–ok, Gerry Sandusky–asked me if I had been in Israel, as I tweeted something about being in the Holy City). I just gave him what I hope was a suitably scathing look, and informed him that here in the U.S., Charleston SC is the Holy City, because of all the church steeples that dot that city skyline.

Here’s the beach I walked to almost every day, over a long boardwalk out over the marsh…you have to know the code to get on the boardwalk, which is why the beach there is never crowded… http://youtu.be/sJ8Jpv3W2CQ

We also had baby gators..so cute....while small anyway...

My daughter with Esmerelda, the dog who lives down the street....

Fish tacos at Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island...yes that Poe....

Pistachio gelato on King Street...with some of the best shopping and eating you'll ever want....

Shop window of Blue Bicycle Books, also on King Street....a literary kitty!

Classic....just classic, and so Charleston.

My two fav purchases....

Adore the dress above with the cute bow in the back and beading…and the grey-green topiary was the subject of some spirited discussion about hauling it back in the car…but as you see, I won.

If you're looking for preppy(and pricey)...look no further than M Dumas.

M. Dumas is really pronounced Doo-Mahs’……but in fun, we call it Dumbass. Quietly of course…quietly.

Dumas ties look like sherbets.....

More Topsiders and in more colors and styles I never imagined.

I did say the place was prep, right?

Soft shell crab at hot new restaurant called The Grocery...soooo delicious!

But Cru Cafe is still our go-to restaurant....so charming, and the food is so inventive. Best mac and cheese in town, hands down.

This was the view I woke up to every morning....the beautiful salt marsh.

And alittle bird right outside always called first thing, “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger“..seriously it does! If you have never heard a bird say “cheeseburger“(they really do) listen carefully to this video I took, on the little porch right outside my bedroom….http://youtu.be/gBYbJbWa4H8

Yep, the drive home was as fabulous as it looks...

But this was the view home, on a 10-1/2 hr drive that should have taken 8…horrible traffic, and fast food french fries. Just keeping it real, ya’ll.

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Back from vacation…..a Charleston rundown…
April 11, 2011

Turtles on a log, sighted on a bike ride on Isle of Palms

Most of you know I love Chucktown….it’s one of the loveliest cities in the U.S., and in my book…THE loveliest in the south. Great weather, fabulous food, terrific shopping, plenty of culture, sight-seeing, nature and golf(key for my crew)…and the beach….Charleston has it all. Really, what more can you ask from a city?

white wine, on the porch of the marsh house.....

There are so many places to stay in Charleston…Kiawah island, Wadmalaw, in the city proper…but we always stay on Isle of Palms, in a community called Wild Dunes. There are two top golf courses on the island, and while there are plenty of houses on the beach…we love to stay on the marsh. I am excessively fond of the marsh….sometimes it almost feels like you’re looking over a savannah in Africa.

Bouillabaisse on the porch...we ate late that night...

You eat well in Charleston, very well…in restaurants and out….though the marsh house has such a great kitchen and eating area on the porch, we have to tear ourselves away to go into town. But we do. This bouillabaisse above was fabulous, and really very easy to make….we used the recipe from the NY Times Cookbook-here.

Breakfast menu at Sea Biscuit on IOP

And we tried some new restaurants this year that were recommended….

Love the Glass Onion....very casual but serious about food...

The Glass Onion is run by three young chefs…one from Atlanta, one from Charleston and one from Birmingham….love the place…check out the menu-here. And we also managed to get into the hottest new place in town….Husk.

tables on the porch at Husk....

 We had to wait a while for a table for five(always an issue)….but it was worth the wait. Very farm to table, locally sourced, organic..that sort of thing. How local? Check out their interactive plates page on the website.

My son, shucking the heck out of some oysters....

And we had a lovely oyster extravaganza one night….from a half bushel of local oysters….oysters on the half shell with regular cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce(simple vinegar sauce-recipe here),

Mignonette sauce...simple to make...

an experiment of mine coating them in grits and smoked paprika(tasted good but looked like a hot mess), and sautéed with onion, garlic and jalapeno. And Callie’s Biscuits, of course….the best in the world.

Gator spotters...

And we did some nature watching….these little kids were with their Mom, and had spotted some cute baby alligators(right by a very BIG alligator) on the grassy side of the lagoon. We all watched them for a while…at a distance of course. There are plenty of gators on the island, just like this one

Part of the hair bow selection at Southern Belles....

And Charleston is a city that takes hair bows for little girls seriously…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a selection like the one at Southern Belles shop. And they don’t pretend to not take football seriously….take a look at this one…

Cheer for Clemson much????

Back from Chucktown….re-entry day….
April 26, 2010

Dinner on the Porch, Charleston style...

Yes, we arrived fresh from a warm and altogether fabulous week  in Charleston…to a rainy and chilly welcome home in Baltimore….not the greeting I was hoping for, but perhaps apropos of saying goodbye to vaca. I always call today….your first day back at work…re-entry, as in re-entry to real life. It can be a little tough, I won’t lie to you, and a little sad. Laundry that needs to be done, grocery shopping list waiting, an email box at work that I still haven’t finished clearing out…you know the drill.

But, it was a wonderful week in Charleston…which I noticed the NY Times touted this past Sunday as a great place to go in April and May. Well, duh, and I’d add March to the list. Spring there is splendid…not humid or hot, just sunny and so, so pretty. The house we stayed in this year was dubbed by the lovely Jennifer, as…”our rock star pad“.   And I can’t disagree. You can check it out on VRBO right here.  The picture above was taken one night before dinner, out on the porch overlooking the Isle of Palms marsh. While we ate dinner out several nights, we found we were happiest cooking and eating at home….so relaxed, and such a gorgeous view. We cooked shrimp and grits(of course), had delish carry out pork carnitas from Caviar and Bananas(a Dean and Deluca like food emporium), made shrimp risotto another night….the local shrimp are so good. And we loved just hanging out….we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like.

view from loft bedroom window seat...

Hey, who would not be happy here? And you know I’m a VRBO girl all the way, when it comes to family travel. To have an actual house to stay in…where everyone has their own bedroom and bath, but we have a communal gathering space for tv, or games or dinner…is perfect. And we love to cook on holiday. And this house had a great kitchen in which to prepare meals, and had the most wonderful selection of pots and pans, utensils and dishes…seriously, it had everything. And nice stuff too.

boardwalk over the marsh leads to the beach!

Great  living room with comfy seating for all five of us, a huge projection screen tv that came down from the ceiling, glass all around, porches with dinner seating and getaway spots for reading, beautiful bedrooms with pretty views….it had it all. It was designed by Peter Bohlin, who is (evidently) a famous architect who designed part of the Bill Gates house. Pete…good job.  Best vacation house ever.

Being a Charleston homeowner….
April 4, 2008

houseOh for Pete’s sake, NO I’m not one, but I got to play one for a week. Here’s what I do on vacation when the fam comes along…I go to V.R.B.O….vacation rentals by owner…and find a home! The two story house on the right is where we stayed in the gated Wild Dunes community on Isle of Palms. bridgeIt’s about 20 minutes to Charleston over the most beautiful bridge in the world. I love driving over it, but I forget who it’s name for. Someone important, no doubt.The reason  I like a house is everyone has their own space, we have a gathering space for watching tv, meals, and when all is said and done, it would be a lot more expensive to stay in a hotel and eat all the meals out, and neatly as nice. Check it out sometime when you’re traveling.

Anyway, the house was 3 pretty bedrooms, 3 baths so no fighting over showers…right on a golf course with pretty view, nice walking around ponds with alligators in them(!), a big great room with beautiful kitchen and dining room…in truth, much nicer than my kitchen at home. And that way I can take food I want , and wine, and music, and candles…yes I take candles with me…my sisters think I’m crazy too. But really, it’s nice to have the things you like around you on your vacation. They are very important to me. And we cook a lot on vacation.

sublimeOK….places I found that you might not stumble across…Sandy Unitas, yes that Unitas, turned me on to SubLime.I met Sandy when we did a story about her heart troubles a couple of years ago, and she was about to embark on a long visit to Charleston. While she was there last spring, my family and I also went down for a week(another house) and I called her cell and invited her over for dinner. She was staying not too far from us….we did have a delightful dinner, shrimp and grits, natch, and she brought over the most delicious key lime pie I’ve ever seen. Presented in a pretty pink box with a big lime green grosgrain ribbon. It was from SubLime. So this year, I found them, thanks to Sandy, and got a pie. Really, the best ever. AND, they also sell “Dirty Pie”…this is the seductive concoction of putting a slice of frozen pie on a popsicle stick, and dipping it in dark chocolate. Yeah…I know.

stellaShopping on King Street is insane….some of the best shops and boutiques you have ever seen. LaTiDa, Nula, Berlins, and Stella Nova. If there is a better makeup and and skin care store, with a better selection, I’d like to know about it. Product lines I’ve never heard of before…seriously I could have spent hours in there.

A reader responded that I should have gone to Jestine’s Kitchen for dinner in Charleston…and I have heard good things about it, but a week goes by fast. Maybe I’ll put it on my list for next year….