Thursday, February 28, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Charleston Trip/HGTV Dream Home 2013 Visit

From TripAdvisor

My husband and I were in Charleston for Valentine's Day weekend.  Hmmm -- somehow that just doesn't seem enthusiastic enough.  I repeat -- MY HUSBAND AND I WERE IN CHARLESTON FOR VALENTINE'S DAY WEEKEND!!!  We had planned to go last fall, but then our beloved Diamond became seriously ill.  After we lost her in December I was in no mood for travelling. Finally, however, after hearing from my best friend that she was also having a rough time, I decided that getting away for a while would be a good idea for all of us.  We chose Valentine's Day weekend, not only for the holiday, but also because the HGTV Dream Home 2013 on nearby Kiawah Island opened for tours then (you can see photos of our tour experience on my other blog here).

We arrived at our hotel on the evening of Valentine's Day, and enjoyed a great dinner at the hotel restaurant, which had a fantastic view of the city's harbor lights.  The next day we went into the city's historic downtown district to shop the famous Charleston City Market, and managed to give the local economy a healthy boost that morning!  After a tasty lunch at TBonz (I had she-crab soup and flash-fried Brussels sprouts that really hit the spot), we spent the afternoon at the South Carolina Aquarium getting acquainted with Alabaster the Alligator and his friends -- we even got to pet a baby alligator!  Then it was back to the hotel to drop off our many purchases and get ready to go out to dinner.

South Carolina Aquarium

We chose Hank's Seafood Restaurant for dinner that night, and I can honestly say that I ate the best seafood I have ever had in my life!  We started with mussels in a white wine sauce, which have always been a favorite.  My husband also ordered the ceviche, which he said was excellent, but not being a fan of raw fish I did not try it.  I chose the special for my entrée, which was triggerfish in a light blood orange-basil sauce with a parsnip-caraway slaw.  I had never eaten triggerfish before, but I can guarantee I will have it again.  The dish was delicious -- the fish was perfectly cooked, and the sauce complemented it well without being overpowering.  Even the slaw was perfect (I had never had parsnips before either!), and I think I might even be able to make it myself if I can figure out all of the ingredients.  The other entrées were equally tasty, as were the desserts which we shared.  This restaurant definitely warrants a return trip!

Middleton Place

The next morning my best friend and I did the house tour of Middleton Place, one of several restored plantations in the area open to tourists.  Then we spent the afternoon touring the Kiawah Island Dream Home, which was bright and welcoming in spite of a nasty rain squall that hit as soon as we arrived.  It was an interesting contrast to view an elegant house from South Carolina's past and then a brand new home with all of the latest technology.  Not surprisingly, we were very glad that so many improvements and comforts for the home are now available, but nostalgic for the graciousness and simplicity of bygone days.  And the grounds of the plantation are breathtaking -- acres of lovely gardens, and a view of the Ashley River from the house that can only be described as spectacular.  Of course, Kiawah Island has its own charms and loveliness, and the fact that all of the homes in the Indigo Park development where it is built will be Platinum LEED-certified is a definite plus.

Kiawah Island HGTV Dream Home 2013

After our fun-filled day, we had dinner in Folly Beach, a nearby resort town that is probably packed in the summer but was pleasantly uncrowded in the middle of winter (we had mussels as an appetizer again at BLU Restaurant, which were if possible even better than the ones we had the night before!).  We left the next morning after Sunday brunch at Hominy Grill, yet another excellent eating establishment -- they are known for their shrimp and grits, and justifiable so.  We had no bad meals the whole time we were in Charleston, so if you love to eat then this is the city for you!  Of course we did not get to see or do even a fraction of the attractions and activities available in Charleston (such as the Charleston Tea Plantation, which I would love to visit), so we are already planning to go back.  I highly recommend a visit to Charleston if you have never been there, or a return trip if you have.  Do make as many reservations as possible before you go, as the tourist season starts Valentine's Day weekend and runs until Thanksgiving, and everything books up fast!  I hope you go -- I know you will enjoy it!

Charleston's Pineapple Fountain           

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