Monday, March 14, 2005

Eating my way through Charleston

I think if I have nothing to complain about, it means I'm having a good time. So that's the story here from Charleston, SC. I'm sitting on my sister's patio, soaking up some sunny, 70-degree weather, typing away on this laptop, pirating someone's wireless internet signal, and listening to some surprisingly good radio stations here in "the low-country." This feels like a vacation, man.

I've jumped through most of the tourist hoops on my previous trips to Charleston, so my visits now mostly consist of eating my way through the city. I haven't traveled around this country nearly as much as I'd like, and I imagine most metropolitan areas have good-to-great bars and restaurants, but for its size - Charleston ain't no New York or Chicago - this area's good-food-per-capita is amazing. Since I still have trouble going to a place that requires me to tuck my shirt in or wear a jacket, fine dining isn't happening. (Sis would prefer to save those places for dates and boyfriends, anyway.) But that's okay with me.

And I worked for my meals, man. My little sister's about to become a homeowner, so we spent the last two mornings driving around town to look at any place that had tiles, flooring, and blinds. Believe me, I'm just the guy you want next to you when you're mulling over vinyl vs. ceramic vs. porcelain tile. (No, no, I'm leaning my forehead against the shelf because I'm thinking about whether ceramic is best for a kitchen floor, Sis.) Hey, I try to help as much as I can. It's the least I can do while she lets me stay here and eat her food, right?

But for my troubles (and, if I may say so, my phenomenal patience), we chowed down southern-style at Jestine's Kitchen. After trolling the aisles at Lowe's, you need some light, healthy eating to regain your energy. So we went to a place famous - and I'm told there's almost always a line out the door - for its fried chicken, fried okra, fried oyster, fried catfish, and fried green tomatoes. (If you want something a bit lighter, you could opt for - and I'm not kidding about this - an iceberg wedge with mayo. I take it that's a southern thing.) I really wanted some o' that fried chicken, but since it was the middle of the day, and I saw how heaping those platters were on their way to other tables (and I didn't want to have a heart attack while on vacation), Sis and I shared the oysters, okra, and tomatoes. All washed down with sweet tea. (My first time in Charleston, I exposed myself as a Yankee by ordering "iced tea." Oops.) Good stuff, but I might have to sneak in a solo lunch for that fried chicken while Sis is at work.

(By the way, Matt and I have sort of a running joke that my blog hits the wall the day I start writing about what I had for lunch. I'm hitting that wall running, pal. 'Cuz that's how I roll.)

Last night, after some gentle begging (and capitalizing on her sleepy state), Sis agreed to dinner at Andolini's, which has - I don't care how hyperbolic this sounds - the best f#$%ing pizza I've ever had. (Yes, Mis Hooz - even better than Anna Maria's in Brooklyn.) New York-style thin crust, huge slices, just the right amount of cheese and sauce, and maybe the best italian sausage I've ever shoveled into my mouth. I'm sure plenty of you out there have a pizzeria you'll stick up for, or maybe you're more Chicago or St. Louis-style. I challenge you to come down to Charleston and have a slice at Andolini's and then ask yourself if you'll ever eat better pizza again. (I wonder if I can smuggle a pizza in my luggage?)

Oh, you're getting more of this tomorrow. A man's gotta eat.