Traveling twice in one month is extremely out of the ordinary for me. If I'm lucky I usually take a winter vacation to a warm destination once a year. Then I use the rest of my free time to visit my parent's and in-law's during the summer months at their beautiful homes in the northeast. However, this winter has been different. First I went to Florida for a week, and last week I traveled to Charleston South Carolina. Luckily for me, this is where my parent's chose to spend the month of March this year, in their own effort to escape "mud season" in upstate New York. They have traveled to Charleston before but this was the first time I was able to visit. Last year I was at home - deliriously tired - with a newborn, and in the years prior to that I was working. Charleston is a wonderful place to visit, so, despite the challenges of flying with toddler, I willingly faced a two hour flight to get there.
Luckily for us, from the moment we arrived at the airport, my parent's were hot to trot to show us all of their favorite places in the city. Obviously, I was focused on the eating and design activities of the city, while my daughter was interested in scouting out playgrounds and ice cream. Needless to say, we both got our way. I was able to enjoy many culinary treats throughout the week, and my daughter did more than her share of playing outdoors. In fact, we played so hard that we barely knew where the time had gone when it was time to go home. There is so much to do and see that it clear we will have to visit again next year. In the mean time, here is my first round of my favorite spots in Charleston:
The Naptime Chef's picks of what to do in Charleston, SC (in no particular order):
1. Basil: My childhood friend Stuart lives in Charleston with his wife, Jenny, and their son, Cooper. As luck would have it Stuart was turning 30-something when I was there and I was able to join him, Jenny and their friends for dinner. I left my daughter with her doting grandparents and met them on upper King Street at Basil. I never thought I would be going out for Thai food in Charleston, but I'm glad I did. This place is amazing, I recommend the Beef Larb appetizer and the Chicken Pad Woon Sen for dinner.
2. Peninsula Grill: If you haven't already, order yourself a coconut cake from Peninsula Grill. This restaurant is a favorite of mine. I won't say whom, but, on occasion, members of my family have been known to order the coconut cake and have it shipped up to the northeast. It is the sweetest, most decadent thing I have ever tasted, and, despite our best efforts we are never able to finish it.
3. Cupcake: I still have never met anyone who doesn't appreciate a good cupcake. This cupcake store is ace when it comes to unique flavors. During our week there we sampled the Red Velvet, Mandarin Orange Chocolate, Rocky Road, German Chocolate Cake and many more. I am lucky the weather was good for exercising, with a cupcake-per-day habit it is necessary to squeeze in some extra laps around the track.
4. Brixx: A good pizza restaurant will always hit the spot when traveling with kids. When we ate at Brixx we were thrilled to run into Stuart, Jenny and Cooper when they were arriving for kid's night (kid's eat free on Wednesdays). My daughter adored the pizza with roasted chicken while my parent's devoured a Bronx bomber (once a New Yorker...).
5. South of Market: King Street is an interior decorator's paradise. If I were able to hire my own decorator I would request that she shop exclusively for my furniture at this store. While I was milling about the store, making a mental wish-list, I was thrilled to discover a very well-edited selection of cookbooks. I wouldn't have thought this the cookbook spot, but someone there knows what they are doing when selecting books to sell. I recommend that you stop in to browse the books and furniture when in town.
6. Peggy's Kitchen: Per my post last Thursday, my friend Peggy has an awesome kitchen and dining room. As you can tell, she has an insanely good eye for decorating, having designed the entire interior of her house by herself. In addition to decorating, she is an accomplished cook and has a cookbook selection that makes me weep with envy. I should note, however, that if you go to cook in Peggy's kitchen it is best if you are 5'8" or taller, she had it custom made for tall people like herself. Luckily, we had the privilege of eating in her lovely dining room one evening. It was prettier, and more delicious, than any restaurant in the whole city.
7. Monza: More pizza! It seems that Charleston is a little pizza-crazy. After a trip to the children's museum (see more below), we were famished. I was thrilled to discover this delicious pizzeria right down the street. We settled into the back patio for a bite. The pie was delicious, as were the salads and frothy cappucinos. It was the wonderful end to a great morning.
8. Paolo's: Some time ago Paolo moved from Italy to the Southeast US. With him, thankfully, he brought the Italian method for making gelato. Every year he orders all of this ingredients from Italy so that his gelato tastes truly authentic. I seriously have never tasted gelato this good outside of Italy. Walk, no, run, there as soon as your plane touches down.
9. Charleston Receipts: I've often heard about this wonderful cookbook so you can imagine my delight when Peggy loaned me her copy. I have already thumbed through it twice and can't wait to get started on the delicious recipes. Stay tuned for more recipes from this book, I am sure they will prove to be easy and delicious, perfect for Naptime Chef-ing.
10. Children's Museum of the Lowcountry: Given that we were traveling with a toddler meant that we couldn't spend all of our time eating and shopping. One morning we had the pleasure of spending some time at the CML. It was the perfect place to take an active toddler, there were more than enough fun and age-appropriate activities to keep her occupied. Her favorite activity was the fake shrimp boat, complete with scale for measuring fake shrimp! If you are traveling in Charleston with children I highly recommend a visit.
Stay tuned for a new recipe this Thursday!