Once a slow-paced city by the sea, Charleston has transformed from regional secret to international sensation. including a 2016 nod from Travel & Leisure as the “No. 1 City in the World”—are well deserved. An intrepid foodie could book a month’s worth of memorable dinner reservations. Or, visit during Spoleto Festival USA (May-June), Charleston Wine + Food fest (March), or Charleston Fashion Week (March), and you’ll experience a cultural scene that rivals New York City’s, minus the hectic pace.
Few tastes in this world compare to a first bite of kalua pork that’s just fallen off the bones of a pig you’ve spent two days preparing and roasting. Like the pitmasters of the American South, the Hawaiians know that to create a meal worth remembering for the rest of your life, you can’t cut corners.
Beach towns aren’t always bastions of good eating: When you’ve got waves and sand to draw a crowd, it’s easy to get by with cheap burgers and ice cream. a 6-mile sliver of sand known as “The Edge of America” -- stands apart from its peers, with nearly two dozen beach bars and casual kitchens to its name.
Having lived several winters of my adult life in the great north country (North Carolina, that is), I’m able to commiserate with our poor cousins across the Midwest and New England who suffer from seasonal depression. Even in the relatively balmy environs of Davidson, the freezing evenings of January and February are hardly a time to gather outdoors with friends.
On the shelf in my childhood kitchen, my mother had a cookbook, published by the local Junior League, called Some Like It South. I took it as a point of pride. "Some" referred to me. I like it South. But in 2014's culinary world, what does that even mean? Does a chicken biscuit consumed in Haight-Ashbury qualify as "Southern"?
Across the marsh, beyond the silhouettes of two shrimp boats pulled to the dock, the sun hovers over the horizon - reluctant, it seems, to put an end to this idyllic summer day. When Johns Island farmer Joseph Fields was a boy, days spent in the field were even tougher than today.
The biscuit gleams. A solid spoonful of butter rests precariously at the edge of a slab of chicken and doughy bread, its artery-coating goodness disintegrating unabashedly onto the plate. It's the first bite to go. Pies 'n' Thighs' chicken biscuit ($5), doused in Frank's RedHot, honey, and butter, is the value star of the Brooklyn, N.Y., hole-in-the-wall restaurant's Southern-fried menu.
Progress does not always connote forward motion. When man discovered how to create fire, civilization (and cuisine) immediately took a giant leap ahead. That was progress. However, when we discovered thousands of years later that a fire fueled by gas or the heat from a coil could also cook our food, we may have taken a small step backward, at least in terms of flavor.
Monday night is Sake Night at Octobachi. Inches away from me, two coeds are making out, occasionally bumping up against me as I slurp a peach/pear/apricot sake smoothie. It's delicious. Sugary, of course, but after an array of sake concoctions over a long afternoon of sake touring, it's a welcome respite, even with the sex-crazed, sake-infused college kids going at it over my shoulder.