Sunday, May 9, 2010

Charleston - Day 8

Thursday we got up bright and early and were at Fort Sumter by 9 am to purchase tickets for the first ferry. There are only 3 ferries each day over to the fort (which can be reached only by ferry). Unfortunately, the ticket guy told us that the wheelchair ramps used to disembark from the ferry were not operating, so I would not be able to get off the ferry at the fort. Sigh.

So we just walked around the museum for a bit. Fort Sumter is where the Civil War began in April 1861 when the Confederates fired on the fort.

We decided to drive over to the City Market so I could search for a sweetgrass basket and to walk down to a tea shop for tea and lunch.

Church Street is a much more wheelchair friendly street than other Charleston streets! We got to Fuschia Tea Emporium a bit after 11 am. Unfortunately, they weren't serving lunch yet, but they said we could have some scones and tea and after enjoying those goodies, they should be ready to serve lunch. We were told that each guest gets to choose a teacup from the tea cups on display in front of the shop.

SP chose the one on the left; I chose the floral yellow one on the right. There were cute teapot salt & pepper shakers on the tables:Our teas arrived in these green pots, and we were served lemon slices for our water in a teapot shaped tea caddy:Even the trivet says 'TEA.' I chose Peach Tea: "flavored with peaches, orange flowers and papaya, there's a taste of the orchard in every cup."SP chose Mango Pineapple Chili: "A black tea with a mango kick and a hint of chili, very refreshing." Soon, our cranberry scones arrived, served with butter, raspberry jam, and cream.The scones were very tasty and were more scone-like than muffin-like. After quickly eating the baked goodies, I turned my attention to examining the tea room. It was also part art gallery as all the wall hangings were for sale:Around 11:30, we ordered lunch. SP chose just a bowl (well, huge tea cup shaped bowl) of Chilled Cucumber with Shrimp Soup.He really, really liked his soup.

I chose Canadian Bacon, Swiss Cheese and Green Onion Quiche with a side of soup, the Chilled Cucumber with Shrimp Soup:Yum! The quiche was very tasty and I loved the soup! Such a delicious cool cucumber and dill flavor. SP helped me eat the wedge of quiche. We couldn't pass up dessert, especially when we saw Chocolate Orange Crepe Cake on the menu:
It wasn't exactly what we were expecting, then again, I don't know what we were expecting, layers of crepes stacked together, maybe, like a tall cake of super thin crepe layers? It was tasty. There was a lot, maybe even too much, chocolate filling. The chocolate was flavored with orange in addition to the orange zest on top. Despite our best efforts, we couldn't finish it.As we were leaving, I snapped a photo of the teacup clock:With our bellies full of tea and treats, we walked back up Church Street. When we passed Chalmers Street, I took a photo of the cobblestone street, the evil cobblestone:As we walked by the Dock Street Theater, we noticed an accessible entrance. Wow!!! An old building I could actually go into!The theatre was built in 1736, the first building in America built as a theater. Later on, it became the Planters Hotel, where the Planters Punch cocktail originated:Beautiful detailed designs around the windows, doors, and on the ceilings:The building is once again a theater and has just finished undergoing a 3 year renovation. The grand opening is in May 2010 but I forget what will be performed on stage!

After checking out a church and a couple cemeteries, we stopped in Spice & Tea Exchange: We didn't buy anything, but of my gosh it all smelled so good! Five or six kinds of cinnamon, a bunch of different salts, loose leaf teas...

Next, we bought my sweetgrass basket souvenir. It was so hard to choose. Many of the basketmakers took time to talk to us about their baskets, the history of sweetgrass baskets, and the Gullah traditions. But we went back to this basketmaker:She and her husband talked to us for quite some time. The basket I really wanted was one of her original designs, but it was $375 - ! Yes, sweetgrass baskets are expensive! They are time-consuming to make - even a small one can take 12 hours to make. The $375 basket was beautiful and I was so close to just saying 'oh what the heck' but... I didn't. I think SP was close to saying 'oh what the heck,' too, but he didn't. We ended up buying 2 smaller ones, a small one with a twisty/curvy handle to keep in the kitchen to put our rings in when we take them off (as I always do when I wash dishes) and a sewing basket one, which has a lid with a rose on top, for some of my cross-stitch supplies.

We dropped our purchases off at the hotel and headed off for Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. To get there we drove across this bridge:I loved looking up as we drove across and watching the cables come closer and 'change shapes.' Once on Sullivan's Island, we went to Fort Moultrie.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, although it was quite breezy, but it was a gorgeous day to stroll around this fort. There's a sloped path up to the top from which you can see not just more cannons and rapid fire guns but the water off in the distance.Here's a view from the top of the fort of cannons on display down on the grounds:And here's an early mine from mine fields laid in Charleston Harbor:After walking around the fort's grounds, we got back in the car and drove over to Isle of Palms. There's no road along the water, so we just got to look at pretty beach homes (and people wandering around in their swimsuits!).

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up and decide about dinner. We wanted to try Anson, but when we called for a reservation, they were booked for the evening. So we called Magnolias, and they had a table for 6:45 pm. We parked in the same lot as when we dined at Blossom. Magnolias has 3 steps to enter the front door off of E. Bay Street, but there is a side entrance down a cobblestone street where they put out a portable ramp. We started off with iced teas, sauvignon blanc for me, and a red wine for SP, I can't remember what kind of red, though:Our server brought some tasty bread and herb butter - we think it was the same yummy bread that Blossom served.We started off with a salad for SP (which I also tasted and enjoyed). Arugula, Pear, and Blue Cheese Salad with candied pecans and lingonberry vinaigrette.The salad was very good. The arugula/greens with blue cheese and poached pears seems like a popular combination in Charleston; we saw it on several menus.

I chose an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes with white cheddar and caramelized onion grits,country ham, and tomato chutney.Oh my gosh this might be my favorite fried green tomato dish of the trip, although the ones at Vic's in Savannah were really good, too.

SP chose a 'Small Plate' for his meal: Lowcountry Bouillabaisse. It's local fish and shellfish simmered with andouille sausage, corn, okra, new potatoes, and bell peppers in a spicy shellfish potlikker, served with grilled sourdough.He really enjoyed it. I didn't try any of his meal because I had plenty of food in my 'Down South' Entree: Shellfish Over Grits. It's sautéed shrimp, sea scallops and lobster over creamy white grits with a lobster butter sauce, and fried spinach.It was very tasty although I found my lobster to be a bit tough and chewy. I made SP taste a bite of it to see if it was just me and he agreed that the lobster seemed to have been cooked just a wee bit too long. But the rest of it - yum! The fried spinach reminded me of the kale chips SP makes.

We decided to share a dessert: Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry Sauce and a Shortbread Cookie:It was very tasty. Moist, lemony, not too rich/dense/heavy, we fought over the dollops of strawberry sauce, and we had a little competition to see who would take the bite that toppled the layers over (I lost; I toppled the pretty cake over).

Mmmm. Magnolias is definitely a bit of a splurge but it's definitely worth it. Our server was very helpful, friendly, made suggestions (he helped us choose the cake for dessert). It was a lovely meal.

I was stuffed! I felt like a beached whale, unable to move! When we got back to the hotel, I could barely drink my hot tea because I was so stuffed. I convinced SP to 'watch' Grey's Anatomy and give me a foot rub while I digested my food - you know you have a great husband when he agrees to that! Of course, I do remember hearing some snoring noises during my TV show...

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