Yesterday (Tuesday) we drove into Charleston (about 35-40 minutes from Kiawah). We had two things on our agenda – to eat and to visit Fort Sumter. The eating part ended up taking over the day. Aunt Maggie, Justin and I decided to take in lunch at Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B) on East Bay Street, a highly reviewed restaurant we found online.
We were definitely not disappointed. We started our meal with a cup of red bean soup with freshly baked cornbread.
This soup surprised us a bit, as the consistency and taste was very much like the chili I make at home, only pureed. It was garnished with a spoonful of fresh salsa, which added a bright and fresh dimension. After much contemplation and discussion, we chose three lunch entrees, with an agreement to willingly share amongst ourselves.
Justin ordered the Southern Medley. Grilled chicken rested on grilled eggplant and zucchini, accompianed by goat cheese croquettes and a roasted tomato, with a bright basil pesto. Each of the components were delicious, but a bite that included a bit of each skyrocketed this dish to extraordinary. The result of the combination of textures and flavors was definitely more than the sum of its parts.
Maggie ordered the Southern Shrimp and Grits. Large shrimp and a spicy sausage were smothered in a slightly spicy red tomato sauce, ladled over thick, cheesy stone-ground grits. It was definitely a winner, and impossible to stop eating.
I ordered one of the daily specials, a Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich, with chips. While it may not sound very special, the ham was smoked in-house, the cheese was a beautifully melted Fontina, the bread was a freshly baked sourdough, and the chips were made to order. This sandwich was by far the best ham and cheese I’ve ever eaten. The ham was out-of-this-world good. The chips were perfectly salted, thin and crisp. Yum.
We were officially stuffed and more than satisfied as we walked out of the restaurant. But, lo and behold, we happened to park right next to Baked, a bakeshop that I have read about, and actually already own and love their cookbook. We decided to walk around the streets and waterfront a bit before we shared dessert. The treats at Baked are beautiful to look at, and the selection makes it difficult to choose just one item. Justin chose a Grasshopper Bar that we all had contemplated. Again, there was an agreement to share each of the items. It was chocolately and minty, without being too heavy. Bright and delicious, perfect for after a big meal.
Maggie chose a beautiful Citrus Coconut Cake. The lemon flavor was fresh and strong, folded into a wonderfully light cake. Maggie and Justin appreciated the texture and flavor of the coconut in this cake more than I did, but as coconut is not one of my favorite things, that was already expected.
I chose a slice of Aunt Sassy’s Pistachio Surprise Cake with a Honey Vanilla Buttercream. Oh gosh, was it delicious. Again, the cake was incredibly light and tender, with roughly chopped pistachios distributed throughout. The frosting was wonderfully smooth and light, without being fluffy or too airy. I was halfway through it when I was more than full, but there was no way it wasn’t going to be finished.
A trip back here later in the week may be necessary.
We then passed the afternoon on a harbor cruise and tour of Fort Sumter. The weather was beautiful and the tour was interesting, but I’ll post pictures of that in another post. I’m highlighting the day’s food… focus!
We met up with John and Sarah for dinner at another restaurant we found online, 5 Loaves Cafe. Specializing in locally grown and homemade ingredients, we found this little spot to be comfortable, and the food generous and comforting. I choose a rich Garden Risotto, which was about 8 times too much food for my appetite. The creamy risotto was loaded with fresh vegetables, including zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, red onions and peppers, and arugula. It was delicious, but I didn’t stand a chance of finishing it.
Justin ordered a Potato Gnocchi with Shrimp and Golden Raisins in a creamy Parmesan sauce. This was amazing. I admit, one of the reasons I couldn’t come close to finishing my dish was because I kept reaching over to Justin’s. The gnocchi were tender and light, and the cream sauce was irresistible.
And to finish off the day, a block or two down the road from 5 Loaves was a little bakeshop, called Sugar. This shop is exactly what I have in mind for A Dash of Delicious.
On display are a few glass cookie jars holding small batches of freshly baked cookies, and glass cake domes with freshly baked and beautifully decorated cupcakes. They also make cakes and pies for special orders. The owners even live right behind the shop in the same building! It was fun to talk to one of the owners, to hear their experience renovating the space into a kitchen and shop. We walked away with a Butterscotch cookie and a White Chocolate Macademia Nut cookie. Both were very tasty.
I woke up this morning still full. And ready to walk down to the beach!