I spent the last few New Year's Eve's in New York City, and truth be told, the years following didn't go so hot, so I thought this year, it was time to try to shake off of my bad karma by kicking off the new year in a new city, hopefully to bring on a new direction.
Two of my good friends were also game for a mini-break, and we landed on Charleston as our destination, where the weather would be warmer (good for the RA), the food would be fried (bad for the RA), and we could celebrate 2009 in the comfort and charm of a small, Southern city (good, period).
Now, this plan was hatched and tickets were bought before the economy went belly-up (good thing, or I might have chickened out!). But, since everything was all arranged and set, down to the South we went, resolved to have a good time and be the belles of the ball.
I had already decided to give my holier-than-thou diet the boot for the month of December, and it's a good thing because we pretty much spent all of our time eating and drinking. We stayed at the French Quarter Inn hotel, which is right downtown in the middle of things. We looked at several others, but what clinched this hotel for us is the fact that at 3pm every day, they serve champagne and lady fingers and at 5pm, they serve wine and cheese. Clearly, this place was designed for us! Or so we thought. By the look of the other guests, it seems it was mostly designed for families and older couples. We were clearly the glamour girls of the hotel, but we didn't mind.
The warm weather and sun felt especially good to me and my joints. (As I write this back in cold New York, they are all feeling stiff and complaining more than usual.) Soon after arriving, we strolled down to the Battery, looking enviously at all the old, beautiful homes wrapped in porches and gardens. The smell of the salty ocean was divine and whet our appetites, so we headed off to lunch at Poogan's Porch, where we dined on biscuits, she crab soup, fried green tomatoes (better than the movie), an oyster poboy and barbecued chicken, swishing it all down with my favorite, sweet tea.
That afternoon, we enjoyed our bubbles in the parlor, laid down for a rest and then got ready for a fabulous dinner at FIG. If you ever go to Charleston, eat here. I won't bother to tell what we ate, I'm just going to show you the pictures:
(photos by K.C.F)
The next day, we worked off some of the previous day's indulgences by walking all around the market and King Street, the main shopping district, which is so charming and pristine that it feels like a movie set, and then touring the Aiken-Rhett house, a real treat and step back in time.
We headed over to one of the most popular spots in town, Jestine's Kitchen, where we waited with a bunch of other hungry tourists over an hour for lunch, but it was well worth the wait. We started with some cornbread smothered in butter and honey, then delved into shrimp creole, fried chicken, cole slaw, collard greens, macaroni & cheese and fried okra, washed it down with sweet tea and finished it off with a blackberry and blueberry cobbler decked in vanilla ice cream. The owner of the restaurant, Dana Berlin, was out on the floor seating guests, bringing them their tea, clearing tables and taking the time to talk to her customers and tell them about the woman she named it for. Places like this are rare. Go if you can, diet be damned!
After this, we rolled back to the hotel and had some bubbly out on one of the balconies enjoying the afternoon sun.
That night, after a walk around the French Quarter, we got all gussied up for our five course dinner at Circa 1866. (I wasn't kidding when I said we ate our way through the city-did you think I was?) Every dish, from the foie gras to the conch corn chowder, the baby turnip salad to the three entrees (we each got one-we aren't THAT gluttonous!) of lamb, bass and kobe beef, and the finale of three desserts, chocolate soda float, almond cake and meyer lemon moon pie, were seriously, divinely good.
The restaurant was quite ready for the new year and brought around feather boas and 'Happy 2009' tiaras and top hats for everyone in the dining room, along with plenty of champagne.
When the clock turned to midnight, we lifted our glasses and made wishes for the new year ahead. I'm not telling mine, but I'm hopeful that this next year will be as sweet, warm and rich as all of my meals in Charleston were!
Now, it's back to New York City, back to the cold, and back to my dreary, but healthy, diet. Maybe by February I'll be able to get back into the skinny jeans.
Cheers to 2009!