I’m joining Jain in her bi-monthly edible book review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!
South of Broad ** by Pat Conroy
It’s been 14 years since Pat Conroy’s last book came out (Beach Music). I really, really, REALLY wanted to read this book. I looked forward to it…pre-ordered it. 80 or 90 pages into the book, I began to think, I don’t identify with these characters, or even LIKE them so far (the book has 512 pages). Nothing much changed through the course of the book for me. I struggled to finish it. I resisted pitching it off the Cooper River Bridge when I was in Charleston in January, but just barely. This book read like a soap opera there was so much drama: suicide, rape (male & female), mental illness, murder, alcoholism, adultery, and AIDS. (I’ve come to expect suicide, rape and family dysfunction from Pat Conroy, but the psychotic killer put this over the top.) I feel like this is sacrilege, only giving this book two stars, but this book was a huge disappointment for me.
This book spans twenty years, starting in 1969 and ending with Hurricane Hugo. I’ve included this video with Pat Conroy that was on Amazon’s website, that gives a brief synopsis.
I thought I’d focus on what I do love about South of Broad. And that is Charleston. The FOOD, gardens, architecture, and history. We went there on our honeymoon twenty-five years ago. Since it’s only a three-hour drive for us, we try to get away for a weekend once a year. We like to park our car when we arrive and walk once we get there. We eat, drink, and shop our way down King Street. I decided to include some of our favorite places as part of this Edible Review.
This was a crab cake recipe from Magnolia’s Cookbook, one of our favorite places to eat in Charleston.
Read the History of She-Crab Soup HERE
We also like to eat at Cypress. At the very least, have an appetizer at the bar upstairs before we make our way to dinner elsewhere. The lights in the floor change colors (which are the lights in the ceiling in the restaurant below). It took me a couple of visits to realize the colors were changing.
Fodor’s has this to say:
“From the owners of Magnolias and Blossom comes a renovated 1834 brick-wall building with an urbane contemporary decor. Rust-color leather booths, a ceiling with light sculptures that change color, and a “wine wall” of 5,000 bottles keeps things interesting. The cuisine is high-end Southern-American, with fresh local ingredients accented with exotic flavors, notably from the Pacific Rim. Try fabulous salads, like the hearts of palm and baby greens with local goat cheese topped with a walnut vinaigrette. The duck is a good entrée choice, as is the fillet cooked over hickory wood and topped with a Madeira wine sauce. Executive chef Craig Deihl consistently creates simple yet elegant fare, and you can do the same with his cookbook called, of course, Cypress.”
My favorite menu item is Sashimi Tuna & Oysters with cilantro-lime glaze and pineapple wasabi.
We also try to have Sunday Brunch at High Cotton.
and lunch or dinner at
Slightly North of Broad or SNOBS
Fodor’s Review of SNOBS:
“This former warehouse with brick-and-stucco walls has a chef’s table that looks directly into the open kitchen. It’s a great place to perch if you can “take the heat,” as chef Frank Lee, who wears a baseball cap instead of a toque, is one of the city’s culinary characters. Known for his talent in preparing game, his venison is exceptional. Many of the items come as small plates, which make them perfect for sharing. The braised lamb shank with a ragout of white beans, arugula, and a red demi-glace is divine. Lunch can be as inexpensive as $9.95 for something as memorable as mussels with spinach, grape tomatoes, and smoked bacon.”
We seem to be creatures of habit and frequent our favorite places. I’ve always wanted to follow this Appetizer Crawl Guide that I saw in Southern Living.
McCrady’s is listed in the App Crawl Guide. We’ve had several great meals there. Feast your eyes on their food images when you click on McCrady’s link. Here is a quote from Executive Chef Sean Brock:
“Food should be a treat for the emotions as well as the palate, at once comforting, exciting and entertaining. We like to surprise and delight our guests with familiar flavors presented in unexpected ways.”
Here is a perfect example:
This is a GREAT Magazine. There is an article in the February Issue: Chefs’ Night Out. Charleston Magazine is full of recipes, restaurant reviews and dining guide, as well as home and garden features.
Places we have stayed:
We love the Jasmine House. We just stayed there with a group of friends for a 50th birthday celebration over New Years. We stayed at the Elliot House Inn (currently closed for renovations) on our honeymoon, and several times since then. It is next door to 82 Queen. It’s also right down the block from Poogan’s Porch, which has a great Crabcake Benedict, available on Saturday and Sunday.
Two roof top bars that are fun to visit for happy hour–the newest is the Pavilion Bar on top of the Market Pavillion Hotel on East Bay Street. The roof top bar at the Vendue Inn has a harbor view. The Vendue is also a great place to stay… the milk & cookies in the lobby before bedtime are a nice touch.
This is something that sounds like fun that we have never done, where you can enjoy gardens and architecture first hand…
“Experience the intimate charm and elegance found only beyond Charleston’s private garden gates and historic thresholds”:
March 18 – April 17, 2010
and if you need another reason to visit, there is always The Spoleto Festival, May 28th – June 13th, 2010.
This passage is vintage Pat Conroy and is found in the prologue:
“I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen. The high tides of the city flood my consciousness each day, subject to the whims and harmonies of full moons and rising out of the Atlantic. I grow calm when I see the ranks of palmetto trees pulling guard duty on the banks of Colonial Lake or hear the bells of St. Michael’s calling cadence in the cicada-filled trees along Meeting Street.”