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The Charleston Grub Crawl That Was

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On June 22, Bon Appetit’s Grub Crawl headed to Charleston, SC, for hour upon hour of eating, drinking, and Southern hospitality. This is our follow up to the event.

I’ll admit to a bit of a prejudice against eating octopus. A visit to Japan in my early-20s was the impetus for this bias. While in Tsu, I accompanied some Japanese girlfriends to a “cook your own octopus joint.” The table was a cast iron grid, and a suction cup went into each square, topped by a variety of batters. Sitting over the hot iron, the scent of the cooking octopus mixed with my culture shock and my not-yet-discovered-strep-throat, and it quickly became one of those things I could eat, but not one I wanted.

That all changed Saturday. Deep in midday heat, Stars Rooftop & Grill Room was the first stop on the daytime Bon Appétit Charleston grub crawl, and Chef Nate Thurston was grilling up octopus on the rooftop. Tentatively (or tentacle-y), I went in for a bite, and right then, even though it was just beginning, I knew what this Bon Appétit grub crawl was about. It was about curated discovery, not only of new places and faces, but a re-visioning of what I thought I knew.

I’d eaten at every place on the crawl list, and still, the afternoon opened my eyes to the joys of eating in this city, and how easy it is to move from one memorable meal to another, literally just steps away. This event was a vacation, and I relaxed into the pace of things. It was all so darn convenient, so well-executed — I just had to follow the leader, and I didn’t want it to end.

The sweet tea vodka Arnold Palmer at Hominy Grill … the way Xiao Bao Biscuit felt good, from the décor to the food to the drink to the music to the people behind the bar, to even the awesome red chopsticks … the habeneros in the crystal punch bowl at The Cocktail Club … and the mini bacon ice cream cones at The Grocery, which were the perfect ending to a theme of cukes, corn, and tomatoes. How could I go home after this?

Oh, that’s right. I am home. Thank you Charleston.