Seeing Charleston Through Your Stomach

Ann Kaufman

Charleston Culinary Tour's walking tours provide a good way to see the city -- and eat it


A couple of weeks ago my husband and I joined up with one of Charleston Culinary Tour's downtown cuilnary tours to spend an afternoon as tourists in our own town. As much as we enjoy living here, we spend most of our weekends and weeknights tethered to our young children, so it was nice to have an excuse to get out and eat see some of the city.


Left: a bowl of she-crab soup; right: a fried green tomato sitting on a nice puddle of pimento cheese and topped with chow-chow relish


The tour started at Southend Brewery, a great place for newbies to Lowcountry cuisine to get a taste of what locals consider staples -- she crab soup, a fried green tomato, barbecue, and of course, a nice cold glass of in-house brewed beer. No good Charleston food tour could be without these basic foods, and the downtown culinary tour didn't disappoint.


At Burwell's, we enjoyed a Prince Edward Island oyster prepared sous vide (or "firmed") and topped with thinly sliced-radishes, micro greens, sunflower seeds and tomato viniagrette 


My husband and I had never been to the other two stops on our tour, Burwell's Stone Fire Gril and Leaf, so we were pretty excited to get to try some new places we hadn't been before. If you've ever read my blog, Grits & Chopsticks, you'd know that my husband and I are big fans of multiple-stop date nights. As the parents of two young kids, we act like caged birds let loose in a cornfield whenever we get a sitter, and frantically stop at several places over the course of a couple of hours, sipping a drink here or sharing a plate there. When there are little ones who will be jumping in bed with us by 6 am the next morning, we've discovered some serious advantages to speed and efficiency. It's not romantic, I know, but hey, romance is what got us in trouble in the first place.


Hoon Calhoun (pictured on the right in the straw hat) explains the delicacy that is dried okra


By the end of the tour, not only were we pleased with the foods we tried and the time we'd had to enjoy our fine city, we'd also enjoyed the company of our tour guide, Hoon Calhoun. Mr. Calhoun is a fount of Southern history and culinary storytelling, making for an entertaining companion as we graciously tried not to stuff our faces full of the delicious samplings on tap. He sits and gabs with you as if you've known each other a million years, as if you'd just spent another afternoon spinning tales and sipping sweet tea on a back porch.


Good food. Good tales. Sweltering summer July heat. I mean, isn't that really just the embodiment of a good tour?


I think so.


For more photos and details about our visit with Charleston Culinary Tours, please visit my blog here.