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November 30th 2019
Published: December 1st 2019
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We rented the car for two days, so we could do a few things outside of Charleston proper. Yesterday was the Antebellum South, and to day is a History Lesson./

Since we did not have to pick up the car, we did get to rest our weary bones a bit longer this morning and the three of us could lounge in bed before the day began. Yesterday I made the huge mistake of not taking a pain pill for my back, which I paid for (well Jerry paid for because I was a b***ch by the end of the day) dearly. Today, I took the pill and it made for a much more pleasant day, with almost no lower back pain. We had a quick breakfast before we headed out of town. Five days of vegetable frittata is growing old, but the next two days we are going out to brunch and try the local hot spot for breakfast.

Charles Towne Landing

The first stop was to the first permanent European settlement in South Carolina. The initial site of the colony was called Charles Towne, and was a cross the Ashley river from what would become Charleston. The initial colonist here were British via Barbados, the Lore Proprietor of the colony in fact was stationed in Barbados, and the purpose of the colony was for him to make more money from the crops and other bounty that the new world had to offer. In addition, most of the earlier white colonist were indentured servants, who would eventually be able to work off their debt to their master and thus be free and able to own black people. Not sure how you go from being a slave to owing them, but that is exactly what they did.

Charles Towne was basically built in the middle of a swamp. This was done for strategic purposes. They needed to be able to protect themselves from the native American, who actually belonged there and the Spanish who were to the South in parts of Georgia and Florida.

The site consists of 80 acres, part nature trails, party history trail, some gardens, and other items of interest to children. There is also a replica of the colonists’ 17th-centurty ship, complete with a costume host.

There are many options to enjoying this site, you can simply walk using the map as your guide and read the signs along the way. You can rent bikes, most of the trails are paved and there is even a shuttle that makes the rounds during the high season. You could spend several hours if you choose to, however, we spent an hour exploring the original colony site and making sure to avoid the alligators. They had signs everywhere warning of the alligators, but like the Moose in Maine, I don’t believe there are any, because I have never seen a Moose and we didn’t see any roaming alligators.

After the park it was time for lunch, some good ole Carolina BBQ.

Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ

While this is not a truly traditional BBQ spot, since they have pulled pork Nachos and burgers, but the food is pretty good. The meats are cooked low and slow and really don’t have any sauce on them as they cook. There are several house-made sauces you can choose from mild to hot (which wasn’t really that hot.) There is also a good mustard-based sauce.

The at noon the place was filling up quickly, we got the last parking spot near the entrance and in the front of the building. This is a no-frills establishment, walk down the line to place your order, with certain items brought to your table, such as the brisket, others ready by the time you get to the cashier. Everything you might imagine be on the menu is, including an abundance of sides, collard greens included. There is nothing healthy here, if BBQ ribs are already a heart attack and you can get them fried with a side of fried macaroni and cheese balls (we did not.) Even the salad had pulled pork on it.

We each had a different sandwich, Jerry Brisket and Pulled Pork for me. I choose the potato salad as a side while Jerry went with the mac and cheese. Both of the sides were good, with the exception of too much salt, especially the mac and cheese. The brisket was very moist, some of the best I have had (next of course to my friend Nick’s) the pulled pork was also nice and moist. I tried a variety of the sauces, but mainly the red. The portions were not huge, so we didn’t have to waddle our way back to the car.

Replica of InteriorReplica of InteriorReplica of Interior

8 men in all were inside, 6 cranking the propeller

The last stop of the day was to the Hunley visitor center. This is in North Charleston, way off the beaten base, close to the naval yards and operated as a joint venture with Clemson University. I can not begin to do justice to the tour. If you have any interest in Civil War history, this is a must stop for you.

Very briefly, the Hunley was the first submarine to sink another ship. It was a last-ditch attempt by the south the break the Union Blockade that was smothering Charleston. The Hunley was the third attempt a designing a successful submarine. The first, sank off the coast of New Orleans. The Union Navy was closing in on New Orleans, so the operations were moved to Mobile Alabama, where the Hunley was developed and built. It was then transported to Charleston by Rail, where it went in to action.

The Hunley only had three missions, the first two failed, killing most of the crew, because the boat sank. Finally, on the third attempt, the mission was completed when the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic. Unfortunately, the Hunley was not seen again for over 75 years, when it was discovered off Sullivan’s Island. The entire crew was still in their spots, not knowing the war was over.

The guided tour lasted about 40 minutes, and was very informative. One of the kids on the tour, was extremely intelligent (he was probably 12) and asked the most incisive questions of anyone in the group.

Oh, and yes you actually get to see the Hunley, it is being preserved in a 75,000 gallon take.

After that we headed back into the city, with a quick stop at the store for wine-thirty libations and then dropped off the car. We took the free shuttle back in to the center of the tree and made one final stop at the Christmas store to get our traditional vacation Ornament.

Finally, back at the hotel for a bit of the social hour and now in the room resting before dinner.

Peninsula Grill

The restaurant is one of the more upscale Charleston establishments and has been around for 23 years. The write up in Fodor’s was completely in accurate, except for the description of the interiors. Spoiler alert, this was hands down the best start to finish meal we have had on this trip. The service was exceptional and the food almost beyond words. Delia our server, went above and beyond an wrote down the ingredients listed in the two specials that I had. I would never have remembered what was in them, and the blog would be incomplete with all the full description of the two dishes.

As a hint to just how good this place was, it took up three pages in my little black restaurant book. The menu was one of those rare menus when you really just wanted it all. There was a southern flair to the menu, but it wasn’t technically southern, all though my main was very southern, if not a touch creole. I could write several paragraphs if not pages about the dinning experience, but I will try to keep it shorter than that.

The interiors were warm and inviting. It was one large room and it was bustling, but you could still have your own conversation. The crowd was diverse, old to new money, locals to tourists. The closest table to us was quite interesting. Mother wasn’t eating, but was certainly drinking. Father was not happy, mainly because I think we was not coping very well with is overly flamboyantly gay son. The daughter was just a chatty Cathy, with a horrible fake fur wrap of some type. There was also a six top of ladies you brunch, or in this case dinner. My hypothesis was they had just spent the last two days tending to the family with cooking, cleaning, etc. and this was their night to treat themselves. Well actually I am sure their “help” did the cooking and cleaning, but they had the back-breaking task of supervising.

So, on to the meal: We started with, what else, a class of Spanish cava, the menu said rose, the check said rose, but it was not rose. It was still good. The meal started with a tasting amuse buse, carrot, micro herps and a sauce which I didn’t catch what it actual was. Before moving on to the appetizer, they get an A+ just for the not just warm but, basically fresh out of the oven sourdough bread and European style (meaning French) butter with smoked sea salt.

The appetizer was perhaps the easiest choice, not that the Escargot Bourguignonne, didn’t sound mouth-watering (I just can’t eat an entire order by myself anymore, or at least rarely), we went with the Beef Tartare. It was melt in your mouth good. Served with aged gouda, chive oil and wild mushroom vinaigrette, topped with a soft-boiled egg, with perfectly toasted ciabatta. We had ordered a bottle of Paul Cherrier Sancerre for main course because we were both having fish, so we needed a nice red to go with the tartare. The sommelier suggested a nice Sangiovese Sassetti, basically a baby Brunello as he described it. It paired perfectly.

Moving on to the salad course. Jerry had a Chilled wedged baby gem lettuce salad, with fire roasted tomatoes, stilton blue cheese buttermilk dressing and smoked bacon. Perfect amount of the dressing. I had the salad special, which the ingredients were written down for us. It was a Roasted Cauliflower Salad: red Belgian endive, arugula, radish, roasted pumpkin, with a pumpkin seed, almond & benne seed granola, the dressing was a sorghum vinaigrette. It placed third in the dish of the day.

Next up, the entrées: Jerry had the Pan Roasted Sea Scallops, braised butter lettuce, lobster medallions, with garlic chive potatoes and a citrus beurre blanc.
Pan Roasted ScallopsPan Roasted ScallopsPan Roasted Scallops

Dish of the Day
The scallops were perfectly seared (a one side sear) and cooked to absolute perfection, melted in your mouth. The lobster was also done just right, not tough but cooked through. The only thing we would do different is replace the lettuce with braised leek.

I had the entrée special, Pan Roasted North Carolina Flounder (just happens to be in season.) This was served over Geechie Boy white grist, country ham and a shrimp creole (andouille, onions, celery, roasted tomato and shrimp stock). It took me back to New Orleans. Again, everything was cooked perfectly. The Flounder was coated in a very nice cornmeal crust (just a bit to salty) and moist moist moist. This was first runner up for dish of the day.

Finally, the dessert. I had the famed coconut cake, the executive chef’s grand mother’s recipe, served with cream anglaise and strawberries that actually tasted like strawberries, not Oregon, but still had flavor. Jerry had Apple Spiced Cheesecake, so not a New York Cheesecake, not dense but light and with a shortbread crust and a pecan crisp to top it all off.

It really was the best meal so far and the service was friendly, helpful and just what it should be.

All that is left now is to reveal the dish of the day, and while it was a very close call, the Pan Roasted Sea Scallops won out.

Tomorrow is not an intense day, and some schedule changes have been made. Best part we get to sleep in a bit.

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