Our Hotel In Charleston – The Planters Inn

This is our hotel in Charleston.  Since we are still thick in our Charleston, South Carolina vacation review, it is only right that we discuss where we stayed while in the great city.  The Planters Inn, located in Charleston’s historic district, is a gracious Charleston hotel known for elegance and Southern hospitality.  Built in 1844, this beautifully restored inn is situated on Charleston’s open-air City Market, the King Street Antiques District is only a block away and Fort Sumter tours are within a half-mile.

The inn has beautiful four poster beds in each room.  Unlike other hotels, there is no real lobby area in the hotel.  Instead, there is a small desk that is off of a parlor area that is decorated with period pieces that make you feel like you are back in older times.  Here are some pictures of the hotel that illustrate the charm of the Planters Inn.

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Besides its beauty, it was nice staying at the Planters Inn because it was close to everything that we did while in Charleston.  Its proximity to tourist attractions, great restaurants and shopping can’t be beat.  After walking outside in the heat, it wa great to come back to the parlor or your room and just relax.  Even though the inn is in the heart of the city, it was always very quiet and accomodating.  We were glad we stayed at the Planters Inn.  What great things, like the Planters Inn, have you discovered over the Summer?

Charleston’s Hominy Grill Restaurant – Yum!

This is one of the first things you see when you arrive at the Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina.  Painted on the side of the building, this waitress seems to assure you that inside you will soon be eating some great home-cooked food just like your Grandma used to make.  Nationally acclaimed and locally beloved, the Hominy Grill is a Charleston institution serving classic Southern specialties.  No cans are opened at the Hominy Grill.  All of the food is prepared from scratch with fresh, locally raised ingredients.  Chef/proprietor Robert Stehling first learned to cook at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC.  He then worked for several years in New York before moving to Charleston where he opened the Hominy Grill.  He received the prestigious James Beard Best Chef Southeast award in 2008.

When we first arrived, we knew we would have a little wait given the number of people who were outside on the patio already waiting for a table.  Given the gorgeous weather that Charleston is known for, waiting outside for our table was nice.  Although there wasn’t a bar to stand at, the Hominy Grill does have a window where you can go up to and order whatever it is you would like to drink during your wait.

After about thirty minutes, it was our turn to eat.  The six of us sat down at a table inside a nice bright room with what appears to be an old-fashioned stamped tin ceiling.

Next up, it was time to read the regular menu and review the daily board of specials.  Almost of the dishes offered were Southern classics made with fresh ingredients.  Right off, we knew that we would hit all three courses in our eating adventure–appetizers, main course and dessert.

We started off with fried green tomatoes with ranch dressing for the entire table.  Is there anything more Southern than that?  Did you know that there is not a special variety of green tomato that you grow to use when you make your fried green tomatoes?  You just need to gather unripened, green tomatoes off the vine and batter and fry them.

After polishing off the fried green tomatoes in record time, it was time to move on to the main course.  Take a look at this delicious dish of shrimp and grits, another Southern classic.  The shrimp was sautéed with mushrooms, scallions and bacon and then served over cheese grits.  In this dish, the bacon actually gave the dish a nice smoky and salty flavor when up against the smoothness of the grits and the tender shrimp.

What would the South be without something fried and then served with gravy and a biscuit?  The Hominy Grill did not disappoint and several of us ate the Big Nasty Biscuit with a fried chicken breast smothered in cheddar and sausage gravy.  When we saw this, all we could do is trick ourselves into thinking it only had 200 calories in it and then dig in.  Talk about some good eating!

BBQ was also on order at the Hominy Grill.  Southern barbeque is more vinegar based than other barbeques that you may have eaten.  I like the bite that this type of barbeque offers.  Here is the BBQ chicken sandwich with slaw.  Vinegar BBQ heaven!

Are you ready for dessert?  We were.  We kept it simple and delicious as you can see.  Nothing light about butterscotch pie and a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, huh?  The butterscotch pie was creamy and delicious.  It has been quite a while since I had eaten butterscotch pie and this was a light and flavorful treat.

Now onto the chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream.  Here’s the question–have you ever met a brownie a la mode that you didn’t like?  I haven’t and the Hominy Grill’s selection was as good as it looks in this picture.

What a great brunch!  At this point in a meal and after all of this food, all you can do is either go back to home base and take a long nap or walk it off.  We thought it best to do some walking which is probably the right choice after you just finished devouring something called the Big Nasty Biscuit.

When we go on vacation, we do some sight-seeing, but for the most part our favorite part of a vacation trip is getting to know the locals through eating.  The Hominy Grill in Charleston really got us acquainted with the food of South Carolina’s low country.  Given that they try to utilize fresh and local ingredients, the food was really delicious.  We hope you enjoyed our little eating frenzy at the Hominy Grill….we sure did.  Do you enjoy dining out a lot when you are on vacation?

South Carolina’s Unbelievable Angel Oak

This is Angel Oak on John’s Island in South Carolina.  When we were ready to make the trek from Charleston to Kiawah, our friends drove their car and we hired a car service.  Our driver begged us to take a few minutes to stop and see this tree.  He said it was one of South Carolina’s best kept secrets and we needed to stop and take a look.

The Angel Oak is a Live Oak (Quercus viginiana) that is a native species found through the South Carolina coastal low country.  Many people think that the name Angel Oak has something to do with angels from heaven, but it just refers to the last name of its previous owners.

Towering over 65 feet high, the Angel Oak has shaded John’s Island, South Carolina, for over 1,400 years.  This means that the oak would have sprouted 1,000 years before Columbus’ arrival in the New World.  Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land, back to the year 1717, when Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant.  The tree stayed in the Waight family for four generations and was then part of a marriage settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel.  In modern times, the Angel Oak has become the focal point of a public park.  Today the live oak has a diameter of spread reaching 160 feet, a circumference of nearly 25 feet and covers 17,100 square feet of ground.  Angel Oak’s largest limb has a circumference of 11.25 feet and a length of 89 feet.  Talk about a large and long arm!

Angel Oak has in the past few years been threatened by proposed development in the area and the destruction of the surrounding woods.  While Angel Oak will not be cut down, many residents of the area believe the surrounding woods help to protect the prized oak from storms and helps allow proper moisture and drainage.  Residents also believe the surrounding woods help filter out harmful pollutants before they reach the Angel Oak tree.

We were very happy to take a little turn off the beaten path and get a chance to see Angel Oak.  Know that the pictures don’t do justice to how large and majestic the oak tree actually is when you see it in person.  It is said to be the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River.  It sure is a sight worth seeing.  Have you ever seen Angel Oak or heard of it?

Friday Dance Party – Who’s That Girl With Guy Sebastian And Eve

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for another week of living.  We give thanks for making it through and for being able to celebrate this fact.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So take a moment and be proud of the fact that you’re here and you’ve made it to another Friday.  Not only you, but your family and friends as well.  So, to that end, are you alive this Friday?  Have you given thanks for this?

Good, now let’s dance.

This has certainly been the week to be glad to be alive and to have made it through another week of living!  On Saturday evening and through a long portion of Sunday, all of us here on Glen Road were part of Hurricane Irene’s passing through Connecticut.  It was a very frightening experience to say the least.  We first heard of Irene on the beaches of Kiawah Island down in South Carolina.  We were happy to fly back and be in our home during the storm in case anything happened to our house, but we were a little unprepared for the hard journey back to a normal life post the hurricane and not sure we are fully back to normal even as of today.  First off, in preparation for the storm, there were extremely long lines at the gas stations in town with cars getting filled up and containers being filled for generator use.  This resulted in the town being sold out of most gas by Saturday afternoon.  Supermarkets were jam-packed and were sold out of many essential items you would want before a major storm struck your town.  Primarily that was canned goods, bread, milk, batteries and bottled water.  We were lucky to eventually get each of the items before Irene hit.  Before the storm hit, we were in pretty good shape in terms of preparedness.  What we were not ready for was the storm itself, which was very scary in terms of high winds, many downed trees and then the eventual loss of electricity.  No electricity means no lights, no water, no air conditioning, no internet, no computer, no TV and no flushing…pretty much nothing.  Even today, a large majority of our town still remains without power.  Crews are working to remove the large number of fallen trees that snapped power lines.  Once the trees are gone, crews can then begin to repair the downed lines and restore power.  We have heard that some people are being told that they will not get power restored until September 8!  Many people you talk to are asking about who do they call…..who do they call for updates on restoration, who do they call for help, who do they call to express their unhappiness.  People are getting cranky and fed up and for good reason.  All of these “who” questions reminded me of this week’s song, “Who’s That Girl” by Guy Sebastian, featuring Eve.  Guy Sebastian was Australia’s first Australian Idol winner when the show premiered down under in 2003.  He has since gone on to release six or so albums and this song is one of his first U.S. hits.  Just like in our town in Connecticut, Guy is asking a question starting with “who”.  To all of the survivors of Hurricane Irene, I hope our dance party finds you safe and sound.  We’ve been through a lot this week, but we are still alive and kicking.  Hang in there and celebrate your life this week by dancing.  You are here and deserve to cut loose.  How have you been doing since Hurricane Irene hit your community?

Charleston Introduces Us To The Firefly Half and Half

This is our new drink of the Summer discovered on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina.  It is a Firefly Half and Half and it is the second installment of our Charleston, South Carolina vacation review.  It’s discovery must have been fate.  It all started when my other adult vacationing friends ordered up some late-morning Bloody Marys.  Being someone who does not like hard alcohol or tomato juice, the idea of drinking a Bloody Mary was just not going to happen.  So I asked the bartender at the restaurant where we were eating to suggest something for me to sip on and she came up with the Firefly Half and Half.  It contains some Southern classics–Sweet Tea (infused with vodka), lemonade, a lemon slice and some ice.  As you can see by this picture, my Firefly Half and Half was much better than the Bloody Mary as mine is half gone and the other drink only just sipped.

Our discovery starts with some Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  It was first created in a small still on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, before becoming the world’s first hand-crafted sweet tea flavored vodka.  Keeping true to its Southern roots, Firefly is distilled four times, infused with tea grown on a plantation five miles from the distillery and blended with real Louisiana sugar cane.  It tastes just like real sweet tea, but with an even sweeter kick.  It is available nationally, but finding something made close to Charleston just seemed a little more special than say finding it in Iowa or Connecticut.

For those of you who want to cut down on the sugar cane, Firefly also makes it in a skinny version using the natural sweetner stevia.  It’s the same great taste, but less sugar.  The choice is up to you.

You really can’t mess up this recipe for the perfect Half and Half.  Here it is:

Firefly Half and Half

  • 3 oz. Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
  • 3 oz. Lemonade
  • One Lemon Twist
  • Mix over ice in a highball glass

You will also hear this drink called an Arnold Palmer or a John Daly.

An Arnold Palmer is a beverage consisting of half iced tea and half lemonade named for pro-golfer Arnold Palmer.   It is often called a Half and Half.  A John Daly is an alcoholic mixed drink, named after pro-golfer John Daly.  It is simply an Arnold Palmer with vodka.  A John Daly could also be made by combining vodka with lemonade and sweet tea.  Anyway you order it, as a Half and Half, as an Arnold Palmer or as a John Daly, just add Firefly to the beginning and a bartender seems to know what you are talking about….at least in South Carolina anyway.  However, no one that I talk to seems to know why this alcoholic beverage and its non-alcoholic cousin are named after golfers.  I can imagine the correlation, but I will wait to write about it until I can find facts and not just my evil conjecture.

By the end of our vacation, the adults had made a batch to take to the beach on a daily basis.  Name something better than vodka iced sweet tea to drink on a hot beach!  I also must give credit for the lead-in photo of my Firefly Half and Half to my 16-year-old traveling companion.  Since I was on my second (o.k., maybe third, but I was on vacation) drink, I was a little shaky with the camera and so my friend stepped up to the plate with a great shot.  Give the Firefly Sweet Tea vodka a try.  It is actually the perfect drink for your Labor Day festivities and a farewell to Summer…but I’m sure it will be great in Winter too.  Is there such a thing as an out-of-season cocktail?  Have you ever sipped on any of the Firefly vodka products?