Charleston, South Carolina might be one of my new favorite southern treasurers. I spent the weekend there repaying my friend for visiting Florence last weekend. And I must say, the city exudes charm. The weekend was interrupted by a death in my family, but my friend made sure I still had an enjoyable weekend in the downtown area. If you've never been, there are a few places you absolutely must check out. First on my list is a little place called Five Loaves Cafe. There are two locations, and I only made it to the one on Cannon St, but oh my goodness am I in like with it.
For one thing, they place huge emphasis on fresh, homemade ingredients. This place makes their own mozzarella. For another, they are extremely gluten-free friendly. When I told my waitress that I was gluten intolerant she didn't even flinch and instead pointed out to me that all of their salad dressings and soups were free of gluten. And when I asked if I could, on future visits, bring my own bread for sandwiches, she described one regular who did just that. And most importantly of all, I loved this place because, quite simply, the food is delicious. I had a salad of mixed greens, tomato, asparagus, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella with a walnut and shallot dressing and I also had a bowl of their carrot and ginger soup. The soup was so thick and comforting that I spent the first few mouthfuls with my eyes closed, just taking in the flavors. My friend ordered the tomato, basil, and goat cheese soup, and that too was creamy and comforting. Combine the excellent food and friendly staff with reasonable prices and bright and lively, local artwork, and you get Five Loaves. I plan on spending a great many meals there with new friends.
Another recommendation is the Old City Market. There are a bunch of quaint little shops and restaurants. My friend took me into one of the candy shops where they made pulled taffy and homemade pralines. This is also the section of town that offers horse-drawn tours of the downtown area. Horses make me sneeze and I was with a local, so I can't comment on the quality of the tour, but I imagine it's a fun way to see the city. I much preferred meandering in and out of the little shops and admiring the colonial architecture.
We also stumbled on a lovely little chocolate shop, run by Christophe and Carly Paume. Christophe is in charge of crafting the equally beautiful and tasty chocolates and treats and Carly runs the shop. I didn't get to meet Christophe, but Carly was a delight. She explained to me how Christophe gets his chocolate bunnies and shoes to look velveteen. And she excitedly told me that they are looking to expand into a larger kitchen space soon, so I expect bigger and even more gorgeous things to come from this couple. If you stop in, I highly recommend the lavender caramels.
I plan to spend a good many weekends in Charleston in the future, and I'll keep everyone up to date on my new discoveries, but I think that I did well for my first weekend in town. Check back with me soon for more!