Charleston has my heart, easy as that. I've had romantic notions about South Carolina since I started singing along with James Taylor as a child, so driving down the few hours from Raleigh to Charleston had me smiling already. We've managed to have sunny autumn days almost our whole trip and this was no exception. We had found a place just out of town, on the Ashley River, which is wide and spills into flooded rice fields. The banks are shaded and leafy and dripping with Spanish moss like an old postcard. Our room had a wall of windows neat with shutters and an open fireplace, if we fancied. But it was gloriously warm, and for the first time in weeks we left our coats behind and rolled our shirt sleeves, and I squinted at the sun trying to take pictures of near every corner.
I'd done some reading, mostly pouring through local lovely Olivia Rae James' pictures and recommendations, so we could make the most of our two little days in town. Things started out well, started out amazing, with a late breakfast (which I suppose was actually just lunch) at Butcher and Bee. We shared a Brussel's sprout and apple salad with crispy bacon, and a smoked butternut squash, slaw and pickle roll. It was hearty and sweet and so more-ish. Jordy had a mug of strong tea while I sipped on a tall and sweet iced coffee. We talked about travels and truckstops with the guy sitting across from us - he was all smiles and kindness as I've discovered most people around here are. We wandered the historic quarter, browsed markets and laughed and sunned ourselves so much walking along the waterfront that we forgot where we left the car.
We found it later, after a glass of wine and some creamy French cheese at Bin 152, which was candle-lit at dusk and a perfect corner of Paris here in the South. Later we ended up with the widest selection of whisky and bourbon I've ever known at Jordy's new mecca, Husk. The service was sharp and the list of drinks long, and he smiled all night at the banjo music and exposed brick of the old barn. We spent the next morning wandering the plantation and gardens our hotel neighboured, and I was amazed to learn how their indigo grew and was harvested for dye. We found Two Boroughs Larder for our lunch and ate a plate of fresh clams, cooked like a dream with oxtail, tomato and green olives and a side of lemony, garlic collard greens. It was a lunch of a lifetime, a near-perfect moment I'll keep always, washed down with a glass of Portugese white and good talks with our waiter. He had two sleeves of tattoos, a cheery beard and about the best Southern drawl I've heard yet. He told us about Clammer Dave, the purveyor of our delicious lunch, apparently an old man who looks like the sea and harvests the best and most sought after clams in the region, all sustainable and local. And if that wasn't wonderful enough, we stopped by Sugar for some, well, sugar, before our car ride south to Savannah. I sighed over my sweet potato and ginger cupcake, and Jordy declared his molasses cookie the best he'd ever had, and you really can't ask for more than that.
Should it come to it, I'd quite happily pack up and move to Charleston. I loved the old houses with their long porches stretching down one whole side, and the vintage bikes peddled around town, and found leaning against lamp posts and shop windows. I imagine high-summer, with miles of beaches and islands and inlets, is something else again. I told Jordy we should come back in summer, come back with friends and books and a deck of cards and rent an old house by the beach for a week.
A week of the good life.