travel: brocked…

Charleston, South Carolina

A new term was coined this weekend in Charleston: “Brocked.”

It’s what happens when you get spoiled by Sean Brock’s full-throttle brand of hospitality – a dangerously high-octane combination of bourbon, lard, and his infectious laugh that’ll keep you up and out until all sorts of crazy hours of the morning.

My friends chuckeats, Miss O.M.G., and Tomo and I were Brocked over a four-day weekend in the South, during which we ate some of the best food we’ve ever encountered.  I also drank more than I’ve ever drunk before, and laughed more than I’ve ever laughed before.

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Philadelphia Alley

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Our trip began and ended in Charleston at Husk, a magnificent two-story mansion that rises, like a movie set, up from Queen Street.  There, Brock welcomed us with pig ears and a history lesson.  On our last day in Charleston, Dan Latimer, the restaurant’s general manager, welcomed us back for brunch on the restaurant’s upper porch, under the shade of an enormous magnolia tree.

In between, we made our way through four states to Chilhowie, Virginia to visit John and Karen Shields at Town House, stopping briefly in Asheville, North Carolina at a tapas bar opened by an elBulli alumnus.

At Town House, the Shieldses dazzled us with a twenty-course dinner that was worth every minute of the nearly fourteen-hour round-trip drive.  In fact, I can think of a few dishes that, alone, were worth the journey.

We returned to Charleston by a different road, mapping a detour to Hemingway, South Carolina for barbecue at Scott’s Variety, a roadside pit that Brock had recommended.  There, at a picnic table in the wild, we made pulled pork sandwiches with crackling skin beside.

High-tailing it back to Charleston with extra barbecue and two cases of beer for the kitchen, we arrived at McCrady’s for our last dinner.  From an ingredient list over four pages long, Brock cooked eighteen courses for us, almost entirely extemporaneously.  Afterward, he packed us off with cured ham, hot sauce, and house-made bottarga.

The details of these meals will follow in subsequent posts.

Besides food and drink, there were beautiful, tree-lined ridges of the Appalachia, misty in the morning, to behold. There were magnificent Southern mansions and townhouses, lined with brick and Spanish moss.  And there was a morning walk along the battery to watch the fog roll out to sea from Charleston Harbor.  I didn’t have nearly enough time to take it all in properly.

To Sean, John, Karen, and my road buddies: thank you for an unforgettable weekend.  I can’t wait to do it all over again.

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8 Ball Bourbon

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I’ll link the posts to each of the restaurants when they publish:

Cúrate (Asheville, North Carolina)
Glass Onion, The (Charleston, South Carolina)
Husk (Charleston, South Carolina) (Dinner and Brunch)
McCrady’s (Charleston, South Carolina)
Scott’s Variety (Hemingway, South Carolina)
Town House (Chilhowie, Virginia)

Photos: The fog rolling out from Charleston Harbor in the morning, Charleston, South Carolina; a door in Philadelphia Alley, Charleston, South Carolina; Sean Brock at Husk Bar, Charleston, South Carolina.

~ by ulterior epicure on April 11, 2011.

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