Monday, October 17, 2011

Charleston!


"Where did Jill go?"you may have wondered upon seeing no blog updates from me for awhile.

Answer:
South Carolina!

The painting above is entails three symbols of the area:
South Carolina Flag
Carolina Warblers
Carolina Jasmine
I thought the moon on the Carolina flag was oddly placed.
That sent me researching.
It isn't actually a moon.
Did you think it was?
More about that later on...
Bernie was scheduled to be at his office in Greenville SC for a few days, so using his frequent flier miles, I joined him on his trip upon being promised a long awaited weekend in Charleston.
We flew into Atlanta, then on to Greenville on Friday Oct. 7, spent the night there then drove down to Charleston on Saturday morning.

Called a Church City, the area includes several lovely churches with grand spires that spear up to the sky.

It didn't take long for me to be clicking away as we  strolled around the downtown Charleston area near our hotel.
I realize from looking at my photos that my eye is drawn to things related to history, architecture, gardens, fashion (hats especially), food, and quirkiness.
It astonished me to discover that FOUR signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in Charleston.


The air was warm and humid as so typical in the south; a walk through an old graveyard was not to my soul nor skin the least bit chilling.

We did eventually locate all four signers...

 
Reading the inscriptions could have been an interesting full day's activity.

But there were other sights to explore that pulled us out of the mossy graveyards...



Narrow pre-Revolutionary War era streets lead straight down to the water front.


I thought it was rather warm to be wearing a felt hat, but if one was from the area, and fashion inclined, the mild weather just might have held just enough chill to warrant going about with such a topper.

Two large churches were situated just a block apart and both had weddings in progress.
I had done little recent reading about the history of Charleston, and the fact that it was an area populated by French Huguenots had escaped my notice in my earlier reading.
Now the word Huguenot has a new meaning to me: Our son's wife is a descendant of one of the first Huguenot Families to come to America in the 1600's, the Agees.
Did you know George Washington's was a grandson of a Huguenot?


I could see a French influenced in the choice of architectural style.
And I liked the simple palm leaves used as wedding decorations.

It is a marvel to me to know that my family was toughing it out in Massachusetts as Puritans while this church was being built.
Bernie's family was living in Maryland at the time, and Rachel's family was in the area at the same time.
That was some twelve or thirteen generations ago...

Oh the beautiful crepe myrtle bark!

We later learned that there was a total of six wedding happening within a few blocks that afternoon.
No wonder everyone on the streets were dress so nicely...

Gawking around...

Checking out the ironwork fence festooned with four-o'clock blossoms and taking peeks at the wedding party members amidst the tombstones.
We later learned that one man was responsible for most all of the wonderful Charleston iron work, and that when he died recently the entire town mourned and placed ribbons on the iron work in his honor.

How could anyone not enjoy walking down streets like this one?
Or wonder how many people have lived in these row houses, peeking out at the water from the top dormer windows?

We later learned about all the fires that Charleston has suffered over the centuries with such tightly spaced buildings.

Home and business owners would contract with privately held fire departments, placing the contracted fire department's plaques on the wall so when all the city's fire trucks responded to a fire, they would know which fire department should be putting the fire out

If one didn't contract, and a fire broke out, the owner had to pay an increased premium on the spot to have a fire extinguished.

If they didn't want to pay...the fire departments let the building just go ahead and burn to the ground.


Brick sure seems like a better choice for building materials.
Of course I might be prejudice as my ancestor in Massachusetts was a brick maker and his bricks were prized on the east coast during the late 1600 and early 1700.
I would have loved to have known if some of the bricks used in this old town had been made by my ancestor...it is is quite possible!


Mule carts and horse and carriage carts carrying tour groups clattered by us as we walked the historic streets.

We took a similar tour the next day.

 

The cat and butterfly bounced and swayed just slightly in the very light breeze.
I really wanted to buy this piece; Bernie made me think through where I would put it...and I really couldn't come up with a workable place just then.
If I ever do figure out a place...I might have to contact the shop and have them ship me one!

A park shaded by old Spanish moss strewn oaks was just steps away from the waterfront, or battery.
It didn't take much to be able to picture people in costumes of various eras walking the coastline, watching for ships and cringing from Revolutionary and Civil War battles.



A pineapple shaped fountain could be heard splashing over the sounds of the soft shoreline waves.
We later learned why the pineapple became the symbol of hospitality for the area:


The returning husband would bring his wife a pineapple.  After the fruit was cored out, the outside of the pineapple was placed on the home's fence as a sign that friends were now welcome to come over and join the reunited couple in a repast featuring favorite foods and pineapple of course!

(Or at least that is how the story went in Charleston when we heard it).

Flowers and plants of a tropical nature bloomed all about us...some of it quite out of season too.


On one street a fire engine sirens wailed loudly.
We turned the corner wondering what we would see.
A Fire Department at a bachelor party...going at full swing!

We walked and peeked into private courtyards; I sadly realizing that this weekend could be given over to the famous annual Charleston's Home and Garden tour.
So much to see, so little time in just a tad over 24 hours long visit.
I made do with getting glimpses of gardens as I could.

The next thing we heard was a bagpipe being played, and church bells pealing like crazy.

The Huguenot church wedding had ended...


And the bridal party was on the loose!
Don't you love the bride's sassy red shoes flashing out as she dashes across the street?
Running in a hooped skirt...now that is brave.

Whew!
I don't know what the rush was all about.
Note the fire department plaque behind the girls in red.

We didn't catch sight of any of the other bridal parties around town. Wish we had.
 

Bernie laughed about the restaurant named Petticoats.
They were closed for renovation, but on the door was a sign saying Bootleggers, their bar to the rear was still opened.
The south has priorities.
The bar...it must remain open!

Southern sea coast towns love their pink building with black lacy iron work.
This was a hotel that Robert E. Lee saved from burning during a fire that destroyed most of the city.
He was on the balcony, spotted smoke and directed that all the hotel's blankets be wetted and placed outside the walls.
In later years, the building had to be razed due to water damage (Lee's saving water soaked blankets were not to blame....)

The original lamps and trim work was able to be saved and reused.

Two restaurants had caught our eye:
Husks, which is pictured above and winner of a Bon Appetit's best new restaurant award...serving only food locally grown, and with reservation out weeks ahead...

The traditional "haint" blue paint on the balcony's ceiling; the color is said to deter spirits or "haunts" from entering the home.

I do like Bon Appetit magazine, even though some of the recipes go completely over my head in time, effort and ingredient lists.

Given a choice, I will select Southern Living as my all time favorite "foodie" publication.

Southern Living name another restaurant just a half a block down the street as their Best in Charleston restaurant.

The restaurant's name?

82 Queen.

Same as the restaurant's address.

I. Totally.Trust. Southern. Living.


Ambiance?
Oh yeah...

Housed in an old, old house....

We were seated by choice upstairs in a garden view area.

The menu.
We wanted to taste everything but defaulted to just having appetizers to enable tasting as much as we could in one sitting.

The drink list had me wishing I could likewise sample several drinks.


I settled on the Charleston Breeze.

Bye bye Cosmo, Mojitos and Margaritas.
I have found a new love for my cocktail time.

When Southern Living says to be sure to have the She-crab soup, you listen.
Every single spoonful made me MMMmming and wanting to live here just so I could have this treat over and over again.


That first plate is holding Fried Green Tomatoes with White Cheddar Pimento Cheese.
The middle plate is an herbed biscuit, and in the back is Shrimp and Grits Bites with Red Pepper jam.
Did I ever mention how fond I am of Shrimp and Grits?
I am.
Very.
The sideways plate hold the last of the Crab Cakes.

As I told our waitress: I wanted to live the rest of my life in that restaurant. Seriously.
Since moving into 82 Queen wasn't really an option, we eventually left and went back out to the streets.
The shops were now closed and I had missed this book signing by several hours.
Darn it.
I did think of all my northern cookbook signing friends and wondered if this author and they would every explore each other's recipes.

To me, Charleston is the kind of town where men wear seer sucker suits in the summer and blue blazers in the winter, both of which look especially charming with extra brightly colored ties.

I totally love the look.

I love bow ties...I even like the look on dogs!
Dogs would do well to consider ditching their tacky old leather collars and begin to sport bow ties instead.

Charleston has a great antique row.
Anyone know what this thing is for?

I would love to join this local society...especially if male members wear bow ties.

The hats and dresses in the windows had my rapt attention.
Isn't that dress fabric wonderful?

A nod to another fashion era of cloche and flappers.


The next day I came back and discovered the hats in this shop were from the Toucan collection.
Just lovely!


It had been a long day, starting quite early due to the time being different on the east coast.
Back to hotel we found our room and snuggled in for the night...

To be continued....

7 comments:

Vicki said...

Oh, how I adore "CHAH-ul-stun" (ya gotta say it right!)! In fact, I haven't found a South Carolinian town yet that I don't like!

Charleston is coastal and southern enough that those double-flowered hibiscus plants will continue to bloom for a while yet. (I love hibiscus, too!)

Okay, here's where it gets funny! As I read through your post, looking at (and savoring each photo), I came to the menu and "biggified" it. I immediately selected the starters that I would choose...and lo and behold! Jill, you chose the same things! I spotted the fried green tomatoes first...then I saw those shrimp & grits bites...and crab cake...and by the time I got to the she-crab soup, I was practically drooling!

South Carolina's state flag: I know! I know! I won't spill the beans about the "moon-shaped" emblem, but I'll point out the Palmetto tree on the flag. SC's nickname is The Palmetto State.

Oh, I wish I'd been able to tag along! :)

Lovella ♥ said...

I loved coming along. .even if it was just pretend. My mouth watered...my sense of smell was awakened at the idea of that tropical dampness with flowers all about..and that cloche. .love it.
I was happy that at least a few of those things in your appy trays seem familiar. Maybe we are not that far apart from those southern belles after all.

Sara Lorayne said...

Looks like you two had a marvelous time in Charleston. Dinner looks scrumptious! Love the hats.

Vee said...

Thank you for the tour! You do very well despite your brief time. (I don't know about blue porch ceilings driving off haints, but I do know they keep wasps and hornets at bay.) Ahhh, Jill, you are such a traveler. What fun!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

If Virginia ever signs books up north...we might just meet up!

Thanks for the tour of Charleston. You've whet my appetite, for sure! Maybe one day I will see it in person.

I'm smiling at Bernie...always the voice of reason. 'Where will you put that sculpture?'

running wildly ❀ said...

ACK! You have been caught red-handed cheating on cosmo!!!!!!!!! Blasphemous!

;)

You never cease to amaze me with your historical lessons. Every time I read your blog I come away learning something new.

And I love that you take photos of random strangers. It makes me smile.

ellen b. said...

Fabulous shots Jill! I'm going to have to show the bartender the ingredients in that drink!
Looks like a wonderful time. Too bad it's beyond our driving distance for when we help Katie relocate to Camp Lejeune!
Thinking of you...