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Welcome to our world of business information, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “A Sites & Bites Mini-Holiday Guide for Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.
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Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA
Events & Exhibitions
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Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In the Low Country you can see these species: Swallow-Tailed Kite, Painted and Indigo Buntings, Black-Necked Stilt, Purple Gallinule and Scarlet Tanager.
The Cape Romain Bird Observatory (crbo.net) – provides what, when and where for breeding, migrating and wintering seabirds.
Steve at the Charleston Audubon (charlestonaudubon.org) is continuing to work on an interactive birdsite providing timely tips.
The Carolina Bird Club (carolinabirdclub.org) generates a larger picture of birding in the Low Country.
Transportation: Check out this site for local transport (charlestoncvb.com).
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Business Information: Here is help in regard to your business: (crda.org)
Day One: After dropping your bags at your hotel our Cousin suggests seeing Ft. Sumter.
This is where the first shot of the American Civil War was fired. If you have your own boat visiting Ft. Sumter is free and easy, but chances are you don’t have your own boat. In that case you need a tour company, like we did, (http://fortsumtertours.com/) who will take you there and bring you back.
At the Fort the National Park Service Rangers will provide details about the pivotal roll it played in the American Civil War.
Next let’s visit the Charleston Museum – M-Sa: 9-5, Su: 1-5, 360 Meeting St, 843-722-2996
They claim to be America’s First Museum. It was founded in 1773, and its mission is to preserve and interpret the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Low Country.
Here we see artifacts, slave badges, “Dave” jars, Civil War memorabilia, a Natural History gallery with contributions from Audubon, Michaux and Catesby, a Textiles gallery and the Loeblain Gallery of Charleston Silver.
If you haven’t heard about Husk – L & D: Daily, 76 Queen St, 843-577-2500 you should keep on going to Mickey D’s.
Sean presents tough choices, like the skillet of cornbread with Tennessee bacon and honey pork butter or the wood fired chicken wings, spicy honey BBQ with candied pecans for starters.
Follow this with the cornmeal fried oyster sandwich with malt vinegar, green tomato Chow Chow and scallion remoulade or the shrimp and Geechie Boy grits, smoky tomato broth, spring onions, sweet peas and HUSK cotechino.
Our wine is the ‘10, Sicily-Etna Rosso-Fattorie Romeo del Castello “Allegracore”. Dessert is the heirloom Carolina gold rice pudding.
Shopping in Charleston includes a visit to the City Market – Daily: 9:30-5:30, 188 Meeting St, 843-937-0920.
The Market has been a central part of life in Charleston for over 200 years. The Greek Revival-style Market Hall building facing Meeting Street was completed in 1841, and today houses the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum.
In the Market you will find clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, food items, artwork, and crafts of all kinds – including the Low Country’s famous sweetgrass baskets.
A strong recommendation from Cousin Scott is a walk along The Battery. It stretches along the shores of the Charleston peninsula and is bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. The Battery is famous for its antebellum homes that include Louis DeSaussure House, Roper House, Villa Margherita and William Washington House.
From the High Battery you can see Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, the USS Yorktown, Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island. This area is also known as White Point Gardens named for the piles of bleached oyster shells. The canons were installed here as a line of defense in the War of 1812.
Our last stop before dinner is the Magnolia Plantation – Daily: 8-5:30, 3550 Ashley River Rd, 843-571-1266
The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens were founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Low Country and the oldest public gardens in America.
The plantation house provides a look at life in the 19th century. Ten rooms are open to the public, furnished with early-American antiques, porcelain, quilts, and other Drayton family heirlooms. The History Room provides more information on the current owners of the Plantation. There is a guide here to answer your questions.
The gardens were opened to the public in the early 1870’s, but some sections are more than 325 years old. Today there are various varieties of flowers from camellias, daffodils, to azalea’s and countless other species in bloom year round.
Let’s have dinner at Fig – D: M-Sa, 232 Meeting St, 843-805-5900 where “the food is good”.
Start with the marinated razor clams with fennel, golden raisins, pine nuts and preserved lemon or the salad of nine spring vegetables with ramp vinaigrette and brown bread croutons.
For our entrée we like the cornflour dusted jumbo flounder with Yukon gold puree, cauliflower and piquillo pepper piccata or the shrimp, squid, mussel and potato fish stew with rouille.
Our wine is the ’12 Alzinger Liebenberg Riesling. For dessert it’s the sticky sorghum cake with calvados ice cream.
Day Two: Cousin Scott recommends breakfast at the Hominy Grill – B,L,D: Daily, 207 Rutledge Ave, 843-937-0930.
We enjoy the pumpkin ginger bread, eggs, hominy grits and double-cut bacon. They also have buttermilk pancakes and shrimps and grits with scallions, mushrooms and sausage.
Our Low Country journey to Savannah takes us to Beaufort (Byoo-furt) where the first meeting to draft the Ordinance of Secession took place. The region is known as a center for the Gullah people who were brought here from West Africa to be sold as slaves.
A must stop is The Penn Center – M-Sa: 9-4, 16 Penn Center Cir W, St. Helena Island, 843-838-2432 that offers a historical perspective of the Gullah.
For more than 150 years the Penn Center has been the epicenter of African American education, historic preservation and social justice for tens of thousands of formerly enslaved West Africans living in the Sea Islands, known as the Gullah Geechee people.
The Gullah people have continued to survive to today and represent the most tangible living example of one of the outcomes of the Port Royal Experiment, a plan by the federal government to “test the capabilities of the Negro for freedom and self-support” during the Civil War.
The John Mark Verdier House – M-Sa: 10-4, 801 Bay St, 843-379-6335, also known as Lafayette Building, is an interesting place to visit.
This Federal-style mansion is one of the finest examples of 19th century architecture. The kitchen, bathroom and closets were located outside. It served as the HQ for Civil War Union soldiers, and it was the first telephone exchange in Beaufort.
Despite the name the Foolish Frog – L & D: M-Sa, 846 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena, 843-838-9300 is our lunch spot.
We can’t say no to the hot oil fried pickle chips with garlic dill butter or the wok fried Vietnamese chicken wings that are tossed in lemon grass chili ginger. Our main is Charlie’s crab cake sandwich on a toasted bun or the oyster Po boy. Wash it down with a cold beer.
After arriving in Savannah we think that it’s fitting to visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – Call for hours (The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist can be visited most days, with the exception of much of Sunday. When you approach the Cathedral you will notice if they have a sign out front. The sign will usually let you know if the Cathedral is closed to guests. Otherwise, head over to the far right door on the front of the Cathedral and go inside), 222 E. Harris Street, 912-233-4709
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was built in 1873. It was dedicated on April 30 1876, by the Most Reverend James Roosevelt Bayley, who was the Archbishop of Baltimore. The spires were added in 1896.
The interior of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the most impressive interiors of any building in Savannah. The stained glass windows, executed by the Innsbruck Glassmakers in the Austrian Tyrol, were installed in the Cathedral around 1904. Christopher Murphy, an artist from Savannah directed a firm of artists in the painting of the murals.
Tonight we are dining at Local 11Ten – D: Nighlty, 1110 Bull St, 912-790-9000
For a relaxed beginning we like to share an order of the warm castelvetrano olives, roasted garlic, tomato, feta cheese, merlot vinegar and grilled bread or the chef’s selection charcuterie, pickled vegetables with house mustard and crackers. Accompany this with at least one glass of the ‘08 Mont Marcal, Cava Reserva.
Or you might want to share one of the above and the local rabbit galantine, baby carrot, pink peppercorn granola, farm beans and white chocolate-celeriac puree.
For our entrees we like the seared sea scallops, baby apple, fingerling potatoes, black garlic bisque, buttermilk cream and sorrel or the milk-braised lamb belly, chive potato puree, peas, carrots napped with a black garlic veloute.
A nice wine with either is the ’09 Pinot Noir by Argyle, Willamette Valley. For dessert we enjoy the chocolate torte.
Day Three: Breakfast is memorable at Narobia’s Gravy & Grits – B & L: M-Sa, 2019 Habersham St, 912-231-0563
Everything is really good. Sausage gravy and biscuits, smothered shrimp with grits, French toast, hash browns, omelets and crab stew. Let the good times roll.
Let’s start our day at the Telfair Museums of Art – Tu-Sa: 10-5, Su: 1-5, M: 12-5, 121 Barnard St, 912-790-8800
Their permanent collection of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, and decorative arts contains over 4,500 objects from America, Europe, and Asia, dating primarily from the 18th-20th centuries.
Highlights include examples of American Impressionism, with major paintings by Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, and Gari Melchers. Ashcan School paintings filled with strong colors and bravura brush strokes are represented with works by Robert Henri, George Bellows and George Luks. The collection also includes several works by European expatriate Julian Story.
The Jepson Center – Su,M: 12-5, Tu-Sa: 10-5, Th: till 8, 207 W.York Street, on the corner of Barnard and W. York, 912-790-8800
The Jepson Center is home to the Telfair’s Kirk Varnedoe Collection. The collection features works on paper by Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Richard Avedon.
The museum’s contemporary collection also features works by William Christenberry, Helen Levitt, Sam Gilliam, James Brooks and many notable Georgia artists.
The Owens-Thomas House – Su,M: 1-5, Tu-Sa: 10-5, The house is on the northeast corner, at 124 Abercorn Street. Enter at the Carriage House on President St, 912-790-8800
The stately former residence is now a historic house museum. It boasts a decorative arts collection comprised primarily of Owens family furnishings, along with American and European objects dating from 1750-1830. The site also includes a beautiful English-inspired parterre garden and an original carriage house-which contains one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South.
At lunch time in Savannah head for Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House – L: M-F, 107 W Jones St, 912-232-5997 and get in line. They don’t take reservations or credit cards.
Find a seat at one of the large tables for ten and help yourself to platters of fried chicken and cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins and biscuits. The menu changes daily so regulars can have something different every day. We suggest the unsweetened ice tea for your beverage.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Museum – Sa,Su: 12-5, Tu-F: 10-5, Th: till 8, 601 Turner Blvd, 912-525-7191 is worth a stop.
The museum building, itself a work of art, was constructed in1853. The original walls feature handmade Savannah gray bricks, and it is the oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot in the country. In 2011, this National Historic Landmark was transformed into an award-winning, modern museum building by architect Christian Sottile, a SCAD alumnus and dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts.
The museum’s permanent collection includes the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, a Modern and Contemporary Art Collection, the Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art, the 19th- and 20th-century Photography Collection, and the SCAD Costume Collection.
Forsyth Park – Open Daily: Dawn to Dusk, is the largest park in the historic district of Savannah. The Park covers 30 acres of land just south of Gaston Street and north of Park Avenue. The east border of Forsyth Park is Drayton Street and on the west is Whitaker.
For locals and tourists Forsyth Park is a hub of social interaction. Concerts, recreation sports, people watching, sun bathing, reading, relaxing can all be seen going on. On Saturdays there is a great Farmers’ Market. Our favorite place here is the large fountain at the north end of the Park. The fountain was built in 1858. It resembles a few other fountains found around the world, including fountains in Paris and Peru.
Our last gustatory indulgence in Savannah takes us to A.Lure Restaurant – D: M-Sa, 309 West Congress St, 912-233-2111
We suggest starting with the pork and mango pot stickers with jicama slaw in a mango jalapeno BBQ sauce or the gruyere and onion tart with a warm apple compote and balsamic gastrique.
For the next course the choice is the Low Country Boil of shrimp, crab cake, baby potatoes, smoked sausage, collards,a sweet corn soufflé in an Old Bay hollandaise or the pan seared sea scallops, sweet pea and baby carrot risotto, shiitake mushrooms, ginger-carrot reduction with sweet pea coulis.
A good wine choice is the ‘09 Château Génot-Boulanger – Meursault. Dessert is the pineapple polenta upside down cake with a blueberry ginger compote and caramel lime ice cream.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge aka Mr. & Mrs. Sites & Bites
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