Sat. May 27, 2017:
Based on the quality of our hotel room we were not going to chance it with a hotel breakfast. Besides, there was a Dunkin Donuts on the way, therefore the choice was quite obvious. I had Biscoff cookies to hold me over until we got there. I went with my usual go-to, the coffee cake muffin. Only after I had ordered did I see that they had a vanilla birthday cake donut! But it was too late. I had also gotten Brent a chocolate donut covered in pretzels which was surprisingly good. I was already dreading the next morning’s super early wakeup- our flight was at 7:30am.
We had a 1.5-2 hour drive ahead of us and an episode of Gastropod all about southern food, it was kismet. They even talked about Charleston, SC and mentioned a restaurant we were going to try for dinner that evening (given we had failed to get reservations). We passed by four different cars all pulled over by cops all within a close distance to each other on a stretch of the South Carolina interstate. The drive felt like it took forever, it had been close to 3 hours in the end.
We got to Middleton Plantation just before noon. It was perfect timing because there is no better time to see a bunch of gardens than at high noon and in the heat. I had thought ahead enough to grab the sunscreen but I had failed to grab the water. No problem we thought, there will be water fountains throughout. I had forgotten how bad Charleston water is. This water however was somehow even worse. I chose dehydration over it, that is how bad it truly was. Easily the worst water I have ever tasted. It was lukewarm, thick and it had an umami taste to it. The gardens were ok and the plantation house was just a pile of ruins after the Civil War. The highlight was the 700-1000 year old oak tree overlooking the Ashley River. The farm section was awesome. We saw chickens, sheep, goats, cows, horses, turkeys, water buffalo, pigs, piglets, an annoyed peacock (everyone kept posing for pictures with him) and a chill cat. One of the turkey’s had somehow gotten out of the enclosure and we tried to heard it back in while its mates all called out in alarm and a horse just looked on. As I was trying to take a picture of another horse it lifted its head up and over the fence- mildly scaring me. It was cute to watch the piglets rolling in the mud.
The flooded rice fields looked very pretty amidst the rolling hills. A guy next to us pointed out three alligators just chilling in the water. Soon we spotted a few more. It was cool to watch them float there with just their eyes poking out above the water and then they’d submerge and resurface elsewhere. There was a giant heron sitting on a branch overlooking the water. We saw some turtles both in the flooded rice field and in a nearby pond. The only food onsite was a sit-down restaurant. I was hot, dehydrated and voraciously hungry. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the car before returning it in the morning. I ended up grabbing a tonne of food: Whatchamacallit, Bright Side Skittles and two sodas, Cherry Sprite and USA Mountain Dew (red, white and blue flavours mixed together making purple). It was all so delicious and quickly devoured but I was still hungry. And of course what snacking session is complete without an episode of Say Yes to the Dress– it was after all 3pm on a Saturday and it was the third episode in a row.
We took an Uber to Husk restaurant. The lady was really chatty but nice. We got to Husk at 4:40. I was feeling hopeful because the lady was on the phone and saying that they do have walk-in spots available. I tried to put our name down and she told me to come back 15 minutes before open… 35 minutes from then. We went to the Husk bar next door and got a table upstairs. I couldn’t resist ordering a Dragoon Punch. The recipe had been found by the Preservation Society of Charleston in the archives and it dated back to 1738. It had California brandy, Barbados rum, peach brandy, black tea, lemon juice and raw sugar. It was so good!!
Brent continued holding our table at the bar while I went over to get my name on the list. At first it was just a bunch of people loitering about outside with no clear line forming. I sat on a bench and watched. Around 5:15pm a line started to form. There were about 10-12 people ahead of me and by the time it got to me we were told we could get a table at about 7:45. Not ideal but still we would take what we could get. I did not have data on my phone so I pulled up Brent’s contact info and read it off the screen to the server (of course I don’t know it off by heart).
Back at the bar we ordered the fried chicken to hold us over until dinner. I was not impressed at all. The hush puppies on the side were far better than the chicken. The Foggy Ridge craft cider from Virginia was delicious.
We went for a walk around town to see what was going on for the Spoleto festival. Two doors down from Husk there was a parking lot with food trucks and tables and a stage set up. We walked past the security guard and once inside we quickly realized that this was not a Spoleto event- it was a wedding. We had just crashed a wedding. It was embarrassing and we quickly got out of there. The open bar sucked, it was just martinis so it would not have been worth it to stay anyways.
We walked over to the arts fair we had passed in the park earlier but it was all shutting down for the evening. On the way we had passed a cat café. I gasped with joy at the sight of a kitten in the window. I got all excited and asked Brent if we could go in and right on cue, as another couple approached, Brent played the mean guy and dramatically said no just to make them laugh. With not much else to do we decided to go scope out the venue where the jazz concert would be. What we were trying to figure out was where to pick up our tickets.
We passed by a parking garage and went in because we saw signs for a bathroom. It was the second worst bathroom I have ever been in. There was no toilet paper and one of the taps was missing and the toilet seat was all scratched up. We walked by Husk but there was no point in sitting outside, we still had some time. We walked to a nearby park and watched some dogs meet and get their leashes all tangled. By 7:45pm we still had not gotten a text about our table. At 8pm we walked over and sat outside. A family came out and the mother complimented my dress and immediately after asked me to take their picture outside of the restaurant. I went inside to follow-up and see what was going on. I had been warned that we were not guaranteed a table so I thought maybe there was just a delay? She seemed confused, she said they had sent a text and gotten no response. I pulled out my phone, pulled up the contact info and verified it- it was definitely correct. I had for sure given them Brent’s phone number… his old phone number. I panicked and in a blink said that it was correct and that we had just never received the text. She said she would see what she could do. And by 8:10pm we were seated and it was all good. I still felt kind of bad, it was clearly my fault but they had no idea.
I was way too full from the fried chicken to even look at the appetizers or to think about dessert. Plus we had a concert to get to. I was fine just ordering a main (even that seemed like almost too much food). I ordered another cocktail, this time a Husk bartender concoction that had pepper in it. We had already decided on our mains earlier at the bar. Ever since I had gone in initially and seen on the board that they had catfish, that was stuck in my mind as the dish I wanted to order. I stole a bite of Brent’s pork chop and it was amazing. It was a very close call but he won. The meal was amazing and it is difficult to say if it was the best of the trip, competing with Mrs. Wilke’s Kitchen and Bowen Island.
We got to the concert 20 minutes after it had started and we stayed until 10pm. I really enjoyed watching the Cuban jazz band the Pedrito Martinez Group. It was all great except for the part where the singer tried to get the crowd to sing along but instead of just the usual one or two simple words he was trying to get them to sing a long complicated sentence in Spanish. It failed epically. There was one guy at the back of the crowd, who was just loving the concert, he kept yelling YEAH really loudly.
Getting back was not as easy. The first two Uber drivers couldn’t find us and bailed on us. When we got to the hotel there were three cop cars pulled up outside but it did not seem serious, maybe just a fight? The hotel did not have a business centre so we could not print our boarding passes. I had to rush to finish writing in my note book so I could go to sleep.