Last month we headed to Charleston to take advantage of a fantastic opportunity to stay with the Belmond Charleston Place. It was an incredible weekend, and it came at the exact moment in this rather difficult spring when we really needed a little time to relax and be together.
The weather was perfection, all the flora was in bloom and the city was overwhelmed with that intoxicating feeling of early spring. We arrived late Friday night with just enough time to head to Craftsman Kitchen & Tap House for a few beers. We stopped through there last year after running the Cooper River Bridge Run and were blown away by the burgers and the draft beer selection (and don’t even get me started on the ice cream sliders), so we were glad to squeeze it into our trip this time around.
On Saturday I started the day with a run around the battery and through the historic district. One of my favorite parts of traveling is running in different places, it just adds such an air of adventure to the experience. Dan and I had just finished listening to The Invention of Wings, so I spent the entirety of my four mile loop looking at the homes and imagining the Grimke sisters, Handful, her mother Charlotte, Denmark Vesey, and all the rest. It was such a cool way to connect the history with the city and I ended up circling back to a bunch of spots during the weekend to take pictures for my book club!
After a quick shower in our room (hellooooo incredible rain water shower head) Dan and I headed to Black Tap Coffee where I had a black julep- espresso, honey, and mint shaken together and served cold. Holy smokes, this hit the spot! I also grabbed a to-go cup of iced coffee and we headed out onto the town to do a bit of sight seeing. We walked past the Grimke house (Dan was eager to see it too!) and through the open air City Market (where I picked up a beautifully made grass basket), and did a bit of shopping on King Street before meeting up with my very best friend Megan and her boyfriend, Madison.
Megan and Madison have both lived in Charleston for years (and Dan and I have tried to make it a habit to visit as often as possible), so we trusted them completely to give us a tour of all the best new spots. The kids at school had gotten “Cheeseburger in Paradise” stuck in my head (groan) so my only request was that we find a way to fit a cheeseburger in, a request that was completely fulfilled by a trip to HoM (I had the green hornet and it did NOT disappoint). After that we headed down the street to Closed for Business for a few beers, including SweetWater’s 18th Anniversary Tripel which was SPOT ON. Next on that was a trip to Bay Street Biergarten which deserves an afternoon of its own because the selection is insane and also hot pretzels. With cheese dip. #bless.
M&M dropped us off thoroughly pleased and relaxed and ready for the big event- dinner and drinks at the best that Charleston Place has to offer. We changed into our fancy clothes and headed downstairs to enjoy drinks at the Thoroughbred Club, where we were blown away not only by the quality of the perfectly mixed cocktails but also the elegance of the environment. One thing we noticed again and again was the attention to detail in the decor and styling of Charleston Place. The design was cohesive and struck a perfect chord between being timeless and trendy.
We had the opportunity to meet with a few of the lovely women behind Charleston Place and both completely gushed about the quality of dinner at Charleston Grill. To say our expectations were high would be the understatement of the century. We were greeted with an enthusiastic welcome by the restaurant manager Mickey and ushered to our table where we continued to be lavished with attention throughout the night. We started with a cocktail that I will be replicating at home all summer long- a refreshing combination of elderflower, cucumber, and gin, and then dove into what seemed like the best of both worlds- the tasting menu. Chef Michelle Weaver served up a many course dinner complete with wine pairings, each course of which was more incredible than the next. From the dill and citrus crab cake (one of the best I’ve ever had and we ate a lot of crab during our years in Baltimore) to the apple pie with foie gras and creme fraiche, each dish was unique, complex, and completely delectable. Dan and I have never felt as fancy or special or well taken care of as we did during this meal, and we could not get over how lucky we felt to be there.
The next morning we had brunch at Heart with Megan, Madison, our friend Bonnie, and her boyfriend Andy (there is no better brunch (nor cure for a hangover (coughwinepairingscough)) than breakfast pizza and a bloody mary). Our friends were treated to a play by play of our dinner which included photos of each course and in depth descriptions (and maybe some sound effects). The one dish we couldn’t stop talking about was the crab cakes, and on the way home we decided that we would absolutely be recreating them at home as soon as possible.
As quickly as possible I picked up some blue crab, fresh dill, shallots and shrimp and we had ourselves a feast. It’s hard to describe what makes these crab cakes so amazing but it’s something to do with the combination of buttery crab, aromatic dill, and citrus. It blew us away in Charleston and it did not disappoint when we recreated Chef Weaver’s masterpiece in our kitchen.
Trips like this are pretty rare for us and we couldn’t stop pinching ourselves all weekend. The hospitality that we received from Charleston Place was above and beyond– we felt like royalty. I am so grateful for this experience and will be adding it to the Holy-smokes-this-is-real-life list. Thank you, Charleston Place, for showing us everything you and your fine city have to offer!
this post is brought to you in partnership with the Belmond Charleston Place
Citrus & Dill Crab Cakes
adapted from Chef Michelle Weaver
1 lb blue crab meat
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp bread crumbs
Salt & pepper
6 shrimp peeled & deveined
1 large heirloom red tomato
Juice of 2 limes
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh dill
4 tbsp butter
for the crab cakes: Mix together all ingredients. Make a patty and sear in butter or oil.
for the sauce: melt butter and brown garlic and shallots. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Fold in dill, tomato, and lime juice and heat through. Serve over warm crab cakes
to make a meal: Serve crab cakes and sauce on a bed of long grain brown rice, creamy cheese grits, or mixed greens.