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Charleston – Fort Sumter Eating at Husk and the Joy of Timeshare Sales Pitches

My timeshare company is on an unrelenting mission to sell vacations.  They especially like to sell them to unsuspecting individuals attempting to enjoy a vacation on their property as a guest of an owner. I knew this and despite the coaching I gave my parents, despite the coaching I gave myself, they found a way to get us all in their "informational seminar" and talk from 8:30am until we missed our 11am boat to Fort Sumter. On the bright side, as a result of this hazing we got "free" lunch and my parents can now traverse the universe of my timeshare's properties freely extremely wary of the tactics used.


It also gave us something to talk about as we ate at the famous low country cuisine establishment, Slightly North of Broad or SNOB as it is so lovingly called by the locals.  


SNOB is anything but snobby, it is quite homey and they are serious about their comfort food.  Above is the cornbread – so good. Below is my butter bean soup – its chicken based broth was both tangy and herby.


Each of us got what appeared to be a reasonable lunch entree – the portion size didn't even really seem that daunting until each of us got less than half-way through before too full to continue ensued.


Fresh swordfish with sunchokes, mustard greens, onions and pickled cauliflower. 


 The "lunch express" portion of beef stew my mother ordered.  The beef was extremely tender.


SNOB's famous shrimp and grits for Russell – so tasty.


Prior to settling in to lunch we did make an attempt to get to the Fort Sumter boat – but we went the wrong direction.  We found Charleston Waterfront Park and explored the fountains and found a few curious signs.  


Apparently, no life guard is on duty to watch the water fountains.  


There are also these neat maps that show Charleston from the 1700's through the 20th century so you can see the development of the area across time.


After lunch we went back to the room to deposit left overs and regroup.  I returned to the timeshare office to finish the paperwork from my membership upgrade and points restructure – joking that there couldn't be any other surprises.  I was wrong, there was about an inch of paperwork waiting for me so by the time I got out it was again time to quickly walk to the Fort Sumter boat to catch the second and last sailing of the day. Luckily this time we knew exactly where we were going.


We caught the boat and sat on the top deck on the 30 minute cruise out to the island fort turned into National Monument.  Over the boat speaker a disembodied narrator tells you about key sites along the way and other historical bits about Charleston and the fort.  About half-way there a park ranger gives a 15 minute lecture about Fort Sumter's role in the beginning of the civil war of the United States following South Carolina's succession.  


This sign greets you just outside the entrance.


The first shot of the civil war occured on April 12, 1961 when Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard lost patience with the siege of Fort Sumter by Major Robert Anderson and his garrison of federal troops. Six days after South Carolina succeeded from the union on December 20, 1860, Major Anderson moved himself and his federal troops to Fort Sumter as  it was the most defensible position in the neighborhood (it also happened to have supplies for 110 men, 39,000 pounds of powder and 78 guns, although some were not mounted yet). Major Anderson's move to Fort Sumter was declared an act of war by South Carolina Governer Pickens.  Anderson also raised a very  very large version of the Stars and Strips to the great annoyance of the locals on December 27, 1960. South Carolina militia immediately took possession of all the other batteries and forts and federal arsenals in the area, and the stand-off began. 


From January to April positioning among the politicals, and attempts to supply Fort Sumter occurred.  On April 11th Beauregard and Anderson exchanged some words about Anderson leaving or Beauregard opening fire, and Beauregard did not like Anderson's answer which stated "If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we meet in the next."  The signal shot to begin the bombardment was fired at 4:30am and by 5:00 all of the batteries of Charleston Harbor were firing on Fort Sumter.  The impression in the wall in the photo above is an example of the damage the 34 day bombardment had on the Fort with its 2 stories of 3 foot thick walls. 


Eventually, something was worked out and Anderson agreed to leave, but not without a cannon salute that claimed the life of a man because of accidental cannon fire. So the first death of the civil was a complete accident due to a cannon handling safety issue during a ceremony.  Beauregard took the fort after the vacation of the federal garrison and it wasn't until later in the war and the advent of better cannon technology that union troops obliterated the top stories of the fort during  their bombardment of the confederates.  You can see a remnant of this bombardment in the wall in the picture above.


 Here's my mom standing by some of the giant cannons the fort was equipped with.  


This is an example of one of the smaller artillary units used to stop invading union forces at the fort. 


Here is a bad photo of the original flag that Anderson flew over Fort Sumter on December 27, 1860.


This is what it looks like to stare down the barrel of a ginormous cannon.


Another view of the same gigantic cannon.


Before we knew it the hour at the fort was over and it was time to board the boat and go back to the mainland.


On the way back only the diehards from the midwest stayed outside on the top deck.  Charleston in January is like a Northern Minnesota summer.  We also watched our tour boat race with a giant tanker vessel.  It had nine stories and countless shipping containers on it.  A dolphin kept jumping in front of what looked like its ice breaker/cutter device – my mother and I were concerned for its safety.


We took our time walking back from the boat landing taking in the sight of historic homes and local Charleston landmarks.


Then we got ourselves ready for dinner at Husk.


 Husk was hopping – so it is a really good thing that I made us reservations over a month ago. 


We started our dinner with a whiskey flight with a sampling of country ham to clear our palate.  The whiskey was all private cask – there was a 7 year, a 9 year, and an 18 year featured. It was quite the enjoyable flavor experience shared between us – we even got Mom to try the 18 year and admit it was pretty amazing.


Next was a bowl of fried chicken skins with the most delicious seasoning and sauce on them – it was lemony and they were so savory and crispy and just filled with the joy that eating pure fat fried in fat brings.  We told our waiter – "this is not an everyday kind of food."  


Then came the wood fired clams served with a roasted shrimp bisque, shitake mushrooms, red pepper and peanuts.  Indescribable umami amazement all over the mouth.  We just ate spoonfuls of the sauce with little peanut chunks in it and delighted at the rich deep shrimp and shellfish flavor that penetrated your tongue.  The clams themselves had lost all of their chewiness and were just delightful dabs of flavor that melted in the mouth.  So good.  So good.


I ordered the duck confit, that also featured peanuts.  The goo on my duck was the most delightful goo I have ever experienced and the heirloom rye with its strikingly citris risotto treatmeat was so nutty and crunchy chewy – everyone at the table stopped to discuss the distinctness of the flavor. 


Russell got the roasted pork that came served much like a rillette.  It was a circle of pork fat heaven surrounded by smokey beans.


My mom got the cornbreaded catfish with greens, resting on a creamy citris sauce sent from the closest diety in the kitchen.  More importantly she fell in love with the crazy amazing wooden dish the plate arrived on.  Further investigation revealed that she could not take it home with her, even at a price, but it was recommended we try the local market to purchase one of our own.


Here is another angle so you can see the dish – it is also featured in my duck confit picture above.   We washed everything down with a lovely french style rose from Napa Valley – which was the best wine ever for all of our dishes but I never got a photo of the label.  

We left extremely full and very happy and walked slowly back to our hotel on the dimly lit alley-like streets of Charleston to sit up and talk for many more hours until the church bells tolled bedtime.  

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