Friday, April 29, 2011

Charleston Style

It was overcast and breezy, but that didn't stop our fun.  Lord Forbes said he had never been to Charleston and was anxiously awaiting this day.  Turns out he has been there before...and the memories came flooding back to him once we were at the Old City Market.  Nonetheless, our day trip to Charleston was a very fun birthday present for him!

The Old City Market was obviously our first item of business in Charleston.  We toured the street vendors and the boutiques that lined the streets of downtown Charleston.  Of course each shop held amazing treasures.  Some of our favorite finds included these little veggie animals:
How adorable!  I am not a collector of any sort.  I keep things very simple in my home and do not clutter my shelves with anything like this.  However, if I did, I would certainly collect these fellows.
I love the cauliflower sheep and that cute little cabbage dog.
The green pepper wiener dog was great but the cauliflower poodle was my favorite.  They had all sorts of farm animals, dogs and cats.  What a perfect little vegetarian collection!

Wednesday was all about Forbes so we hit up a hat store and a few other places for him.  We didn't find much in the way of clothes...but in the way of food we hit some home runs.  Unfortunately the next few finds I will show you are not of the vegan variety.
The South is known for its pralines.  These are to die for.  As we walked in each candy store, praline samples were literally forced down our throats before we could even mutter the word vegan.  Yeah, right.  Like I would turn down a free sample anyhow!  I swear, after just one little sample my head was spinning from the drug we like to call sugar.  I'm pretty sure if I ate a whole praline it would induce a violent trip of wavy colors and 3D walls.  A sample was just enough for us and we headed to the next infamous shop.
 The Moon Pie museum.  Seriously, these things should be in a museum. 
Can you believe Lord Forbes made it his whole life without ever trying a Moon Pie?  I lived on these things as a child.  I just couldn't deprive Forbes any longer.
Verdict?  Um, yes, the best thing ever.  I thought so.  I am determined to recreate these delights at home with vegan ingredients so my future unborn children will not live as deprived as my husband.

With the shops along the market out of the way we headed off in search of some history and some brews.  Our transportation of choice:
A bike taxi.  It was such a fun idea, but once inside the "taxi" I felt so awful for the poor man who had to pedal us around Charleston.  We gave him a big tip.
He steered us to the end of the Battery and we strolled through the gardens and along the riverfront.
Did you know: Pineapples are a sign of hospitality.  Back in the day, a host would leave pineapples outside their home to signal a party or that people were welcome over.  When they tired of their guests, the pineapples came down to let everyone know it was time to go home.
At the end of the Battery as you head back toward the market, you can make a left on Exchange and find a unique shop inside an assuming building.  This shop was Forbes' favorite.
The Charleston Beer Exchange sells about a million different beers from around the world.  For the birthday boy, we put together a 6-pack sampler that cost about $30!  I'm not sure he has even tried one yet; I believe he wants to savor them for as long as possible.

We continued our walking tour of Charleston back toward the market and our parked car.
We found a garden full of frog statues that were amazing!
We also found a nice spot to cool down from all the walking.
I feel a little breeze in my skirt!

We were ravenous by the time we arrived back at the car and hustled over to the Black Bean Company for a late lunch.

At this point my phone was dying a slow death, and we still needed directions to get back to visit a friend and get back to Hilton Head.  I snapped just a few quick photos but they do not give justice to this delightful meal.
We split the Baked Spring Rolls, the Vegan Tom Yum soup and the Green Ginger Palmetto Wrap.  The Black Bean Company is an all organic, all natural, Charleston based fast food restaurant.  It is actually the anti-fast food, but still serves up speedy meals.  Lord Forbes and I were not disappointed.  We just want to know now if the company will allow us to open a franchise in Mooresville!

After our delicious meals we were suckered into dessert.
The chocolate chip cookie wasn't amazing, but it was vegan and good.  Overall, this restaurant really hit the spot.  The menu was very diverse and had some very interesting, appealing flavor combos.  I would really like to try everything on their vegan menu!  Please just send one of each to my house!

Like I mentioned above, we drove to a friend's house after lunch to say hello.  I met Joanna at the Women of Worship Beach Retreat last fall and haven't seen her since.  Her in-laws attend our church and are great friends of ours.  Forbes had never met Joanna and I had never met her husband Wes so it was fun to make the introductions.  Joanna and Wes are a beautiful couple and have 4 wonderful children.  It was so neat to catch up with her and now I am already anxious for the next time!

We were back on the road by 5pm and made it back to Hilton Head just as our stomachs were beginning to growl.  Dinner was cooked up in a jif, but was still so, so delicious.
Portobella Mushroom Sliders topped with BBQ sauce, tomatoes, grilled onions and pineapple, a side salad also topped with grilled pineapple and corn on the cob.
My mouth is watering just looking at these photos again.  Portobellas really are a favorite in our house.
Grilled pineapple is also my new favorite.  It is sinful.  I am becoming a true believer in cooked fruit.  The heat brings out the natural sugars in the fruit.  Grilled bananas are among one of my other favorite cooked fruits.  The flavor of the pineapple played with the BBQ sauce and grilled onions on these sliders to make this meal wonderful.

To cook the mushrooms, marinate in BBQ sauce of choice and grill for about 3-5 minutes on either side.  You could also pan cook the mushrooms or use a George Foreman if you are inside.  Careful though, the George Foreman will cook off many of the natural juices from the portobellas.

Wednesday was our last night in Hilton Head so we decided to head out on the town for a few drinks.  We found this wine bar on Yelp and decided to check it out.
Wine Times Four is a unique spin on wine-tastings.  They have over 72 varieties of wine and when you enter they hand you a card (similar to a credit card) and a glass.  You then choose the wines you want to try, choose whether you want a 1 oz. pour to sample, a half glass, a full glass or you can buy the whole bottle.  Thus "times four". 
 You just slide your card into the machine and use it like a soda fountain.  This was a perfect option since I am such a light drinker these days.  I took just a few samples of a couple different wines and was satisfied.
While tasting the wines, Forbes and I settled into an over sized chair and played trivia games on the iPhone.  Maybe not the most romantic option, but it certainly kept us entertained.  Later we also swung into the Hilton Head Brewing Company for a quick flight of beers.  None of them pleased my palate, however.
It was off to bed after that.  What a full and wonderful day!  We are getting close to finishing the vacation recaps.  Thanks for following along!

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