Saturday, May 8, 2010

Charleston - Day 7

Wednesday morning we vowed to have a better day than Tuesday! So we decided to go to Charleston Tea Plantation - tea being one of our very favorite things!Charleston Tea Plantation (CTP) is the home of American Classic Tea, the only tea grown in North America. It is located on Wadmalaw Island, which was about a half an hour from our hotel. It was a pretty drive on a sunny, but little bit cool, day.

When we arrived, we entered the gift shop. There's a free self-guided factory tour every 15 minutes. There's also a trolley ride around the grounds for $10/person, but it's not wheelchair accessible (although they kindly explained that they tried to retrofit the trolleys, but the trolleys are just too old and it didn't work/wasn't safe).

We took the factory tour, which takes about 10 minutes and was very interesting.The history of the plantation is also very interesting. It is currently owned by Bigelow Tea, maker of my every morning Constant Comment tea!After the short tour, we browsed through the gift shop and purchased some teas. For ourselves we bought 2 tins of loose leaf Charleston Breakfast and one tin of Peach; as a thank you gift for Googer for taking care of Loki we bought a tin of Island Green tea. We also bought ourselves a tea mug with the plantation logo on it. The tea tins have a sticker that says 'certified SC grown!'The grounds are so beautiful. The employees in the gift shop are very friendly and gracious and share a lot of knowledge. There are also free samples of tea - two kinds of tea. We tried sweetened iced raspberry tea, which was too sweet for both of us, and iced American Classic Tea, which was very tasty.There are rocking chairs on the front porch of the gift shop/factory building. SP & I sat in these chairs and rocked, enjoying our iced teas.I felt like I was back in Napa, only instead of sampling wine and lounging on a porch gazing out at vineyards I was sipping iced tea and gazing at acres of Camellia Sinensis.

CTP just might be my favorite sight-seeing part of vacation.

When we finally left, we discussed stopping at a grocery store to buy wine. Go ahead, laugh, but fellow Pennsylvanians know about our terrible State Liquor Stores and the ridiculously high prices they charge for wines (I am so jealous of my parents being able to buy wine at Costco in Las Vegas - soooo much cheaper than here).

So we did. We stopped at a Piggly Wiggly and went in to check out the wine selection. While we enjoy wine, neither of us really pays much attention to the cost of the bottles we buy because we don't buy that many bottles. Maybe 1-2 a month. Generally, we keep our selections in the $10-$18 range. We were able to find some of the wines we like and were sure they were cheaper than back in PA, so we ended up buying 6 bottles of wine.

Pleased with our wine purchases - after all, we have a new wine rack to fill! - we headed back to the hotel to drop off the tea and wine since neither would benefit from being in a hot car all day. Then we decided to go to a place along the water called Fleet Landing for a late lunch.As I said, it's along the water. The hostess seated us right away and we were able to be seated outside, which made me happy. I don't like swimming in rivers/lakes/oceans, as I get older I seem to get queasy on boats more often, SP doesn't like being out on boats, and neither of us likes beaches because we don't swim/boat/sail and dislike exposing our skin to too much sun -- but we both LOVE sitting alongside a body of water, drinking and eating and watching the motion of the waves and smelling the smells of the water and fish and seaweeds.Big surprise - we ordered unsweetened iced teas. We also ordered a Chilled Blue Crab Dip with crackers for an appetizer:Yum. This dip was very good. We scooped up generous amounts onto the crackers. We split a Baby Spinach Salad: shaved red onion, grape tomatoes, grilled shitake mushrooms, bacon, goat cheese, & carrot curls with balsamic vinaigrette.Very tasty salad. For his lunch meal, SP ordered the Fried Flounder Sandwich:jalapeno jack cheese, asiago cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, & Cajun tartar sauce: He chose potato salad for his side. He really enjoyed his flounder and as usual, ended up leaving most of the white bun behind but devouring all the fish.

I opted for the Fried Green Tomato "BLT" Sandwich: applewood smoked bacon, smoked gouda, arugula, & roasted red pepper remoulade on toasted foccacia: I got the pasta salad for my side. The pasta salad is orzo pasta, which I love, and there wonderful chunks of olives and cheese and tomato in it - very good. The sandwich was very good, too, although at first the tomatoes were way too hot and I burned my mouth! When they finally cooled a bit, they seemed a bit too firm and I had a hard time with them, but overall the sandwich was a winner - especially that amazing foccacia.

When our bill came we noticed this at the bottom:It made us think of the Onorato tax back home! Our server noticed us discussing it, and we mentioned our own Onorato tax, and that we had bought wine at the grocery store in SC! She spent a few moments talking with us about which grocery store is cheapest for wine and about the island CTP is on since that's where she lives. It was such a beautiful day that we lingered out on the deck, enjoying the sunshine and water and watching the boats - including this huge cruise ship which was docked a bit down from the restaurant.When we were done, we decided to drive down to The Battery and walk around.The Battery is a park at the end of Charleston peninsula. It's a peaceful park with monuments reminding of its past use as a defensive battery to protect the city if Fort Sumter fell. After walking for a while, and then sitting and relaxing for a while, the little gnats swarming around our faces got to us and we decided to move on. We moved on to dessert! Back to Kaminsky's, and here is that night's dessert board:SP chose Mandarin Orange Cake:I chose Raspberry, Almond, Chocolate Cake: I liked my cake better than his, but neither was as tasty as the berry cobbler from our first trip there.

Eventually we wandered back to the hotel and went to bed a bit early since we were planning to get up bright and early the next day to catch the first ferry to Fort Sumter.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful day you had at the Charleston Tea Plantation! Thank you for visiting, and for your detailed post. (And it's nice to hear that you enjoy Constant Comment in the mornings!) Take care!
    -Deb for Bigelow Tea