Sip & Savor

Finding the perfect spot in Charleston this Valentine’s Day

In a city as quaint and charming as Charleston, romantic spots are a dime a dozen. It’s one of the reasons brides and grooms and honeymooners routinely select Charleston. And why the city frequently finds itself on lists touting the most romantic cities. If your plans land you in Charleston this Valentine’s Day, consider yourself lucky. This city is packed with tucked away restaurants, secret gardens and indulgent adventures to enjoy with your loved one on this special day.

If cooking isn’t your strong suit, here are a few suggestions for a romantic dinner around town:To assist in planning, we asked our staff to share their ideas on the most romantic ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Charleston. So ladies, forward this post to your man. And gentlemen listen up—this is pure gold. Skip the chocolates and flowers this year, and earn a few points with these stellar tips.
• Start the evening with cocktails. Try the bar at Husk, then move to McCrady’s Restaurant—listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks and features the cooking of Chef Sean Brock. After dinner, enjoy a short walk over to to Kaminsky’s for coffee and something sweet.
EXTRA POINTS: Book reservations at McCrady’s ahead of time and score a cozy table near the fireplace.
• Located in the heart of a quiet residential neighborhood, it’s hard to find a spot more charming than Trattoria Lucca.  It’s a small intimate setting, where Chef Ken Vedrinski takes you on a trip through Tuscany with his cuisine. Settle into a table for two, or the bar that sits only six, with your loved one on Valentines Day!
EXTRA POINTS: If your significant other is a pure foodie, this is your place.
• Valentine’s Day is about love and appreciation. Of course, there’s no better way to show it than to strip away all the grand gestures and just get to it. Head on over to The Wreck overlooking Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant. This is the perfect spot to “just be” with your beloved. It gets you out and away from all the hustle of downtown and places you right in the moment. It’s local food served right off the dock and is a favorite spot of Charlestonians.

EXTRA POINTS: After dinner, stroll hand-in-hand around the Old Village—a lovely little neighborhood in Mt. Pleasant.

• Tucked on a quiet side street off upper King Street, check out Pane E Vino. This place literally glows with charm on a chilly night. What could be better than warming up with a bottle of wine, delicious Italian fare and your sweetie in one of the coziest restaurants in town?

EXTRA POINTS: C’mon, we can’t tell you everything. The simple fact you found this place was enough.
• Looking for the quintessential “date night?” Charleston Grill is the best in town.  Once you’re settled in with a drink, prepare to have your senses delighted. Chef Michelle Weaver’s tasting menu will keep you guessing while you two are immersed in the smooth jazz. To top off the night, Maitre D’ Mickey Bakst sends every woman home with a red rose.
EXTRA POINTS: According to Mickey, table 41 is the restaurant’s most romantic table. Hint hint. Wink wink.
If your M.O. is to avoid crowded restaurants and plan a more private affair, here are a few options that’ll be sure to keep you in the good graces.
• Sometimes the most simple (and last minute), yet thoughtful plans create the best memories. Skip the forced sit-down dinner and stop by Caviar & Bananas for a bottle of wine and a cheese board. Then head on down to the Battery or Mt. Pleasant’s Waterfront Park for a quiet evening picnic together.
• What better way to say “I love you” than with the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation. The Spa at Charleston Place offers a romantic couples massage, complete with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.
• Grab a bottle of champagne, or one of these Valentine’s Day themed wine suggestions, and head to Palmetto Islands County Park. In the very back near the docks, there’s a lone swinging bench overlooking the marsh. The rest is up to you.
What do you think? Any other ideas that will take the stress out of planning and help ensure the perfect evening?

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Sip & Savor

The Conductor Holiday Cocktail

The holiday season creates an enchanting atmosphere at Belmond Charleston Place. With festive decorations and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) train display, the hotel magically comes alive. Located on the lobby level, The Thoroughbred Club features special holiday drinks, available for a limited time. The Conductor, created in honor of the hotel’s VSOE train display, wraps the sweet smell of holiday treats into a must-try drink.

The Conductor:

1.5 oz. Wild Turkey American Honey, infused with vanilla bean and cinnamon
1 oz. Hoodoo Chicory liquer 
1 oz. lemon juice
1 round lemon slice, for garnish
Granulated sugar, for garnish

Rub a lemon slice along the rim of a martini glass, then dip the glass into a dish of sugar. Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Stir,  then strain liquid into the glass.  Garnish with lemon slice.

For the bourbon infusion: Place one vanilla bean and and one cinnamon stick in the Wild Turkey American Honey bottle and let it infuse for at least a week. Strain before using. 

With an intimate setting and live music, The Thoroughbred Club is the perfect spot for a group gathering or to cozy up with a loved one. Stop by to indulge in this holiday drink or create it at home for your next holiday party. Toast to the season!

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Sip & Savor

Holiday Recipes from Charleston Place

The holidays are a time of year when families are brought together around a dinner table covered in delicious family specialties. Here in Charleston, we have many holiday traditions involving food, including Oyster Dressing, Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens. It seems every family has their own version of a recipe and a story to go along with it.

We asked Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill to share some of her recipes for holiday dishes that will be perfect for your family feast. Best wishes for a happy holiday and a prosperous new year from everyone at Belmond Charleston Place Hotel.

Cornbread Oyster Dressing

Ingredients For Dressing
5 cups cornbread (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup small dice of bacon
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage
1 cup roughly chopped fresh baby spinach
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half
3 dozen oysters, shucked and liquor reserved
Ingredients For Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Make the cornbread, roughly crumble it and leave it out overnight to dry. You will need five cups.

When you’re ready to make the dressing, preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan. Add onions, celery and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and fat has rendered from the bacon. Remove the pan from heat and add lemon juice and zest and herbs. Allow mixture to cool slightly.

Put crumbled cornbread in a large bowl. Pour the onion mixture over the cornbread and gently toss together. Add spinach and toss again. Add Parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and half-and-half and pour over the cornbread mixture. Add oysters and their liquor and carefully stir together.

Place mixture into a buttered 8 x 12 x 2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove dressing from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Preheat oven to 400°F and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside to heat.

Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs just enough to break them up. Stir in sour cream, buttermilk and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Pour mixture into hot skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves: 6
Charleston Grill Collards
2 bunches collard greens, washed and stemmed and chopped rough
1 tablespoon oil
1 large yellow onion, diced small
5 slices apple smoked bacon, chopped rough
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
7 cups chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)
1 bottle beer (Chef Michelle suggests Palmetto Amber)
2 teaspoons Texas Pete hot sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and bacon. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, Texas Pete, stock and beer. Bring to a boil, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the collards a few at a time (they will wilt, so you will have enough room to get them all into the pot). Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until tender.

Serves: 8

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