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Friday, October 17, 2014

Charleston: A Food Lover’s Paradise

Charleston is not only the cradle of South Carolina’s farm-to-table renaissance, but it has become the epicenter for sophisticated Southern cuisine.  Low-country cooking has now been elevated to an art form…succulent local shrimps are being served with the city’s artisan-milled grits; swanky cocktails are being made with Charleston’s hand-crafted Jack Rudy tonic.  It’s difficult to walk down the street without passing a restaurant of a James Beard Award-nominated chef.  The city’s food scene pulse is palpable.

Antebellum cooking has morphed into something that is exhilarating and exciting. This innovative culinary landscape has created a tsunami of new foodie shops.  A former furniture factory has been turned into a ground-breaking grocery store where Southern staples such as jars of homemade pickles or pimento cheese sauce appear along with freshly made Moroccan tagines and Italian salsa verde.  A few blocks away, a cutting-edge diner/foodie store offers an eclectic menu with dishes from Korea and Mexico, to Taiwan and also the South.  Its shelves are stocked with local roasted coffee, straight-from-the-farm eggs, and the area’s maple syrup.  Locavore at its best.

The Southern cuisine revival has also created a synergism for ethnic restaurants with an out-of-the box syntheses of the South with far away places.  One of the stars was opened by a chef who was raised in the South, but born in Israel to a mother from Shreveport, Louisiana and a father from Iraq.  His cooking, an interesting blend of his Iraqi-Israeli heritage through a South Carolina prism, includes items such as a Peach Salad, along with a Lamb Pita served on local artisanal bread.   There’s even a South-Asian fusion where Southerners are served “Asian soul food”…fried chicken is on the menu but its “black bean fried chicken over rice and spicy papaya salad.” 

In addition to its electrifying food-centric offerings, there are several other compelling reasons to visit Charleston.  Travel + Leisure just voted Charleston as the #1 city in the U.S.   While its “acclaimed cuisine” was cited in this significant award, so were its “charming boutique hotels, coastal setting, friendliness, garden ambiance and historic vibe.”   Wine-Knows will be taking its first-ever group to Charleston next March…perfectly timed for the city’s best weather and for its annual Home and Garden Show.   At the moment there are two spots remaining.  For more details, check out the trip at  

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