I promised to blog about Charleston’s Coffee Culture and the beauty of the City, so here I go. I will be in Charleston, South Carolina for the next three weeks, and sometimes you don’t realize a good thing until it’s gone (I currently live in Tampa, FL). If you’re looking for a city in the south with a definite cultural flair, incredible food, cute little knick-knacks, and a booming social life, you’ve found it. Destination: Charleston will be an open-ended blog, and as I get reaquainted with the city in which I grew up, I will let you know where the best places are:
#3 – California Dreaming: Downtown Charleston, on the Bay. One of the most exquisite restaurants in Charleston rests on the bay and features elegant views of the City of Charleston. Inside the restaurant, the floors are reminiscent of the paved Charleston streets, and the lighting is a replica of the traditional Charleston street lamp. The ambiance is perfect for a night out with that special someone or perhaps just a night on the town with friends. The most incredible dishes are served out of their glass-front kitchen. I started off with a sparkling wine from Kenwood: Yulupa, Cuvée Brut, a dryer wine with a light sweetness to it. This was the perfect pairing for the Classic California Dreaming House Salad which was doused with boiled eggs, tomatoes, and bacon (classic Charleston Culture!) accentuated by their honeyed croissant (get a basket for only $4.99). My entree selection: Shrimp San Francisco, which is a medley of sauteed shrimp, garlic, white wine, butter, and more garlic served over angel hair pasta and romano cheese. I altered my selection a bit, and opted to have mine served over garlic mashed potatoes lightly dusted with romano cheese. Let’s just say I am still salivating at just the thought of it. One of my other favorites on their menu is the Marinated Sirloin, which is marinated for 48 hours in fruit juices, garlic, soy sauce, and spices. California Dreaming’s Prices are moderate to expensive (my whole meal with wine and tip was just under $30). If your style is a combination of ecclectic and traditional, California Dreaming is your spot!
Overall Rating: 5 of 5 Coffee Beans
#2 – Muddy Waters Coffee Bar: James Island. The coziest coffee shop can be found just across the bridge that links West Ashley to James Island. Seldom do you find a coffee shop that doesn’t over-roast their beans or over-extract their brew. Muddy Waters features coffee exclusively from Counter Culture, a quaint social sitting area, eye-catching artwork, and handmade coffee mugs (my favorite!). I had some of their Holiday Blend, a traditional Vienna Mélange with honey-like characteristics and a cinnamon aroma. What I tasted was peach, fruit, bittersweet chocolate, and toasted notes. I was thrilled with Muddy Waters’ atmosphere and the lively, informative Barista, Amanda. With two locations, one on James Island and the other located West of the Ashley River, accessing this neat place is exceptionally easy. Oh – and the West Ashley location serves Paninis!
Overall Rating: 5 of 5 Coffee Beans
#1 – Wholly Cow: Ice Cream and Coffee, Citadel Mall. I have seen this little coffee shop emerge over the last few years from a small-town favorite to a local shop with true coffee style. They now provide fresh roasted coffee via Island Coffee, owned by the same people (Rob and Laurie Kramer), which roasts exclusively for Wholly Cow. Using a select group of farmers who are passionate about coffee, practice sustainability, and who only pick fully ripened coffee cherries, they launched the Cielo Rojo Project. Although this Wholly Cow is located in a busy mall, they have managed to keep a little history and flair by featuring photos of coffee shops from all over the world. My personal preference is to always taste my coffee black, so I ordered a small coffee of the day, which turned out to be Cielo Rojo, which means “Red Heaven.” Cielo Rojo, cupped at a score of 93.5 has an amazingly floral taste. Sweet scents of jasmine tickled my nose as I tasted it. I definitely recommend this shop – stop by and have a little “Heaven In Your Cup.”
Overall Rating: 3.5 of 5 Coffee Beans
I’m on my way to downtown Charleston – who knows what I’ll find next!