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A Culinary Tour of Charleston – Part 1

June 4, 2012

The Mr. & I had been itching for a trip to Charleston for over a year now. All the talk lately of the culinary gems and amazing food coming out this quaint sea-side town were calling our names. This past weekend we finally had the opportunity to make the long-awaited trip. Part early anniversary celebration, part vacation, 100% revolving around food.

We arrived in town late Friday afternoon, and after checking with the cute old ladies at Fulton Lane Inn, we began our exploration. After getting the lay of the land and enjoying a few local watering holes, it was time for our first reservation of the trip – the highly acclaimed darling of Southern cuisine, Husk.

Recently named the “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appétit magazine, Husk has become the talk of the restaurant world, especially when it comes to Southern cuisine. Sean Brock, who won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Southeast” in 2010, has a passion for using local and regional food products in his restaurants, which is evident by the large chalkboard inside listing all the purveyors of their various meats, veggies, cheeses & the like.

Set in a beautiful plantation home in the heart of downtown Charleston, it was actually quite a different setting and vibe than we expected, but dripping with South Carolinian charm and history.

The menu was nothing short of impressive, and since it was just the 2 of us, balancing between everything we wanted to try, and what we could fit in our stomachs was a constant battle all weekend. We started the night out with 2 appetizers:

Southern Fried Chicken Skins with Hot Sauce & Honey

Kentuckyaki – Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps with Pickled Cucumber and Red Onion

Both of these dishes were as amazing, crunchy and unhealthy as you would imagine. The chicken skins melted in your mouth, and the hot sauce/honey mixture was just perfect. The “Kentuckyaki” was fried pig ears in a teriyaki sauce, but the crisp freshness of the cucumbers and onions helped balance it out.

For the main course, we dove straight into the proteins. Alan opting for the pork chop which was the juiciest pork chop I think I’ve ever had, and one of his favorite bites of food on the trip.

Heritage Pork Chop from Adam Musick, roasted Red Pepper Farrotto, Heirloom Kale, Pepper Jus

As my in-laws would fully expect, I ordered the steak. TX Wagyu style sirloin which was cooked perfectly and accompanied with a tasty potato salad.

TX Wagyu Sirloin with Creamer Potato “Salad”, Charred Turnips and Pole Beans, Mushroom Jus


And you can’t come to Husk without getting the corn bread. Infused with Benton’s Bacon it has that perfect smokiness, although no actual bacon bits

A Skillet of Smoky Benton’s Bacon Cornbread

There was unfortunately no room left for desert, although the whole list looked delicious. Overall the food was great and a great way to kick off the tour!

While we are on the subject of Sean Brock and his great spots, I figure I’ll jump to the last night of our trip and dinner at McCrady’s.

McCrady’s it self has been around since the 1700’s. Originally a tavern opened by Edward McCrady in 1778, it changed hands many times over the years before becoming McCrady’s Restaurant in the 1980’s. Sean Brock has been at its helm since 2006 and as expected, is turning out some incredible food. With the focus still on local, seasonal ingredients, the menu changes daily, just like Husk’s. We opted to go with the 4 course tasting menu, although they do also offer a 12 course Chef’s Tasting Menu for a much heftier price tag. Suffice it to say we were perfectly impressed and satisfied with our 4 courses.

FIRST COURSE:

Edisto White Peaches w/ Burden Creek Goat Cheese & Pistachio

Strube Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartar w/ Egg Yolk & Crispy Beef Tendon

 I dare you to guess his & hers 🙂 The peaches were perfectly ripe and the goat cheese fresh and delicious, overall a perfect start to such a big meal. The beef tartar was delicious, and the egg yolk so different we honestly forgot what it was. The beef tendon’s were a unique crispy addition.

Charleston Shrimp w/ Heirloom Cauliflower, Field Peas & Arugula

Charred Octopus w/ The Color Green

This shrimp dish is #2 on my list of favorite dishes on this trip. The flavor in the sauce was just incredible and the shrimp was cooked to absolute perfection. The octopus was soft and not the slightest bit chewy, with a play on the “color green” it was accompanied by what I believe was a pea puree, fresh peas, celery and various herbs & micro greens.

MEAT COURSE:

Thornhill Farm Chicken Baked in Hay w/ Roasted Carrots, Beech Mushroom Mostarda & Wild Herbs

Trio of Kathadin Lamb w/ Baby Fennel, Blueberries, Elderflower & Blue Foot Chanterelles

 The chicken cooked in hay was something we were both intrigued by because we had seen Sean use this trick on a recent episode of No Reservations at the Cook it Raw meet up in Japan. While what appeared to be a pate of the dark meat was absolutely amazing, the chicken breast was somewhat uneventful. Cooked well but lacked seasoning or much flavor, the one unfortunate part of our meal. My lamb on the other hand was incredible, with the blueberries adding a nice sweetness against the fennel.

DESSERTS:

Chef’s Cheese Selection

Chocolate Farro Crunch Bar w/ Coffee, Chicory & Strawberries

The cheese plate was of course delicious, although I can’t tell you a lick about what was on that plate. The crunch bar was amazing, with farro used to emulate a Nestle Crunch Bar, it was crispy and not sweet like the normal crunchy bits so it added a nice contrast to the chocolate and strawberries. If I could have licked the plate I would have.

And thus concludes the Sean Brock portion of this tour. Much more to come as we continued to explore the city!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2012 8:18 am

    “…Alan opting for the pork chop which was the juiciest pork chop I think I’ve ever had.” — Ah, the wifely presumption that “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” Fun read. YLF

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  1. Road Trip 2013 – Charleston & Beyond | FOOD.IS.A.GOOD.THING

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