Tag Archives: spring

Hello, Charleston!

The time finally came to pack up our remaining belongings and head down the east coast to our new home – Charleston, South Carolina!

Penske Moving Truck

Driving this bad boy was a bit tricky at times, but we enjoyed the most beautiful drive through the Shenandoah Valley, watching spring blossom more and more with each passing mile.

By the time we reached Charleston, everything was in full bloom!

King Street Walking Tour English Flag

We couldn’t wait for our feet to touch the ground and stretch our stiff legs – we immediately set off on a stroll around town.

Charleston King Street Runner Leafy Spring

Charleston Morgan Driveway

Charleston Architecture

Charleston King Street 19 Architecture Home

Charleston King Street Palm Tree Building Plaque

Charleston Peninsula Striped Cabbages and Roses Knit Sweater Dress

Charleston Peninsula Park Walk Trees

We instantly fell in love with our new city! The charming streets, the regal antebellum architecture, the way everyone you pass on the sidewalk smiles and says hello. We both breathed a sigh of relief that it seems we’ve picked the perfect spot for our new adventure.

Then we realised we were famished from our exceptionally long journey! In Charleston, we will be spoiled for choice because the foodie scene is exploding here. We thought since we’re new in town, we better just start with some local Southern classics. So we popped in to Hominy Grill on Rutledge Avenue.

Charleston Hominy Grill Exterior Wall Sign

First thing they did, was plonk down a basket of boiled peanuts. I’d only ever heard of them once before, when I saw Francis Underwood chomping on some in an episode of House of Cards. Well, they are a pretty big deal in the South. Boiled in the shell, in salty water (for hours!) until they are nice and soft. Once you get over the mushy consistency, it’s still just a tasty peanut! And I have to admit, it didn’t take long to start to enjoy them!

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

Another curious taste of the south is the cherry-flavoured soda pop called Cheerwine. I had my first taste of it in the form of a Cheerwine Negroni. Ruby red in colour and sweetened with cane sugar, it’s a retro favourite in Charleston. I’ll be honest, I probably won’t be stocking up on it anytime soon – it’s a little too sweet for me. But it was worth a try!

Cheerwine Negroni: Aperol, Boodles gin, sweet vermouth and cheerwine

Cheerwine Negroni: Aperol, Boodles gin, sweet vermouth and Cheerwine

Fried Chicken Basket with pickles and pepper relish

Fried Chicken Basket with pickles and pepper relish

She Crab Soup with sherry

She Crab Soup with sherry

There was only one dish under consideration for my first meal in Charleston, and that was a heaping serving of classic Southern shrimp and grits. So many restaurants have their own version of it, and there’s always fierce competition for best shrimp and grits in town. But, boy, I think I picked a good ‘un.

Shrimp & Grits: sautéd shrimp, mushrooms, scallions and bacon over cheese grits

Shrimp & Grits: sautéed shrimp, mushrooms, scallions and bacon over cheese grits

This plate is a basically just a cheesy amalgamation of all of my favourite foods – mushrooms, shrimp, cheese, spring onions and, of course, bacon!

The catch of the day was soft shell crab, which had just come into season. Just a naked little crab, lightly sesame fried, with greens and a scoop of macaroni and cheese.

Sesame Fried Soft Shell Crab with house tartar sauce and two sides

Sesame Fried Soft Shell Crab with house tartar sauce and two sides

There was hardly room for dessert, but we had to share a slice of buttermilk pie. Who would have known it was originally an English recipe, which has now been adopted by the American South! The UK might want to ask for it back – it’s downright delicious!

Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie

Hominy Grill Interior Dark Outside Tables

Charleston Hominy Grill Shades Table

Our first meal in Charleston knocked our socks off. And the way things are looking, there’s no end in sight of good eating in this town.

Let’s Play Ball!

“Is there anything that can evoke spring -the first fine days of April-  better than the sound of the ball smacking into the pocket of the big mitt, the sound of the bat as it hits the horsehide?”

– Thomas Wolfe

Baseball is America’s pastime. It’s more than a game; it sums up the very character of America, the fabric that defines our lives, an expression of our cultural values: hard work, social mobility and teamwork.

I grew up in a baseball-loving family. It has always been a part of life, and I couldn’t wait to share the experience of a day at the park with my sports-crazy English husband!

Inner Harbor View Water Aquarium

Inner Harbor View Constellation Ship

He’s already a fan!

Inner Harbor Orioles Fan Hat Sweatshirt

So we headed to the beautiful Inner Harbor to catch a game at one of the country’s most iconic stadiums, Camden Yards – home of our treasured Baltimore Orioles.

Welcome to Orioles Park Camden Yards Brick

Orioles Park Camden Yards Babe Ruth Statue

Orioles Camden Yards

Orioles Park Camden

The park was buzzing with the excitement of Opening Weekend. We were attending the third game in the home opening series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

And we couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous spring day.

Orioles Take the Field

As the Orioles took the field, the sun shone down and blessed us with a perfect day for baseball.

Orioles Grandstand Camden Yards

The only thing you really need now is to flag down “Beer Man” – a roaming seat vendor who humps up and down the aisles calling out “Heeeyyyy, ice cold beeeeer here!” 

Another one of the beauties of the game: you don’t have to leave your seat and miss a minute of excitement waiting in line for a beer.

Orioles National Bohemian Beer Man

National Bohemian (or as it’s called locally, Natty Boh) is a Baltimore brewery with a cult following. They were the first brewery to introduce the six-pack of cans, back in the 1940s. They are now owned by Pabst Brewing Company, and ninety percent of Natty Boh sales are in the Baltimore area.

Orioles National Bohemian Beer Can

There are a couple staples of the ballpark diet – Esskay hot dogs, and of course, a good old-fashioned box of pop corn.

Orioles Esskay Hot Dog Man Baseball

Orioles Esskay Hotdog

Orioles Vintage Paper Popcorn Box

Loaded up with traditional snacks, we sat back with our feet propped up –  patiently explaining all the subtleties of the game to our newbie. Although, to his credit, he caught on to it pretty quickly!

The game was not short on action. A few innings in, and the Orioles hit a homerun, sending the fans into a frenzy.

Orioles Homerun Fans

Orioles Homerun Run Homebase

Orioles Hat Fan

Orioles Fan Cheering Hat

Including yours truly!

Nothing beats a day out at the yard! Although the O’s lost the game in the end, it didn’t diminish the fun and excitement of being at the game, spending a day in the sun in the stands. We already can’t wait for our next trip to the ballpark.

Washington, DC Monuments

Our first stop in the USA was (but of course) the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

We were expecting glorious blue skies and lots of sun, but we weren’t prepared for the bitter, freezing cold. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival had begun, but there were no puffy blush blooms on any of the trees! It was a crushing disappointment.

Still, there were sights to be seen!

Hay Adams Exterior

Hay Adams Lobby Lift Chandelier

Hay Adams Lobby Telephone Table Chairs

Hay Adams Lobby Brass Letterbox

Hay Adams Lobby Chair Check in

Hay Adams Lafayette Dining Room

We had breakfast at the hotel, at a table basked in morning light, reading over the papers. The Washington Post is running a segment on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War!

Hay Adams Breakfast Washington Post Lafayette

Smoked salmon and chive scrambled eggs with herb oil

Smoked salmon and chive scrambled eggs with herb oil

It was hard to leave our sun-drenched spot and head out into the numbing cold, but we felt obligated to pop across the street and say hello to the neighbours.

Washington DC White House Lawn

Thankfully, Barry and Michelle didn’t answer the door. So we continued on our sprightly stroll around town – taking in the monuments in all their glory.

Washington DC White House Cabbages and Roses Coat

Washington DC Executive Building

Washington DC White House Square

Washington DC White House Oval Office

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Steps

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Seated Marble

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Seated Side

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool Drained

Well, most of their glory…

As if the lack of cherry blossoms wasn’t disappointing enough, the powers that be didn’t see fit to put any water in the reflecting pool. So the vista across the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument was a little lacklustre.

Thankfully, there was still inspiration to be found in Honest Abe’s historic Gettysburg Address, which  gives me chills every time I read it.

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Fore Score

Washington DC Lincoln Memorial Cabbages and Roses Blue Dress

Washington DC Korean Memorial Statues

Washington DC United States Park Police Horse Trailer

After our long walk, it was time for lunch. Well, technically, brunch.

We headed to Logan Circle and grabbed a booth at Birch & Barley.

Birch and Barley Exterior

Birch and Barley Surprise

Dill Bloody Mary

Dill Bloody Mary

I was thrilled when they told me I could get a wheat-free version of their delicious flatbreads. This gluten-free beast was a sausage and cheese dream!

Spicy Muffaletta Flatbread Oil-Cured Soppressata, Olive Relish, Ricotta, Provolone

Spicy Muffaletta Flatbread Oil-Cured Soppressata, Olive Relish, Ricotta, Provolone

The homemade donuts were also a must-try.

Freshly Fried Donuts: Toffee-Bacon, Lemon-Poppy Glazed, Bittersweet Chocolate

Freshly Fried Donuts: Toffee-Bacon, Lemon-Poppy Glazed, Bittersweet Chocolate

After several cups of coffee, we headed back out into the streets for more exploring!

It’s so good to be back 🙂

Little Chelsea Fish Market

Spring is abloom in London!

Redcliffe Square is dotted with pale pink blossoms. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and at long last I can go outside without a coat!

Redcliffe Sq Park

Redcliffe Square Blossoms

Redcliffe Square Balcony View

A pretty little day like this demands a stroll for lunch, and we found the perfect spot – the newly opened Little Chelsea Fish Market. They’ve only been in business for three weeks, but they’re already serving up a delicious seafood menu with fresh fish delivered daily from boats off the English coast.

Little Chelsea Fish Market Sign

LCFM Dining Room

The restaurant is bright and colourful, with an elegant swirl of jazz piano playing softly above.

LCFM Veg

LFCM Fish Stall

The menu changes with the seasons, but the daily catch and fresh organic ingredients are all on display. You can even pick your own salad, where you choose items from the shelf and the chef assembles your selections back in the kitchen!

LCFM Sea Bass

LCFM Vegetables Basket

While we waited for our first course to arrive, I slipped Eddie a little going-away present, Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Handbook. I figure he could do with some brushing up on the culture and customs of the American South before we arrive in Charleston.

LCFM Present

LCFM Southerners Guidebook

Our food arrived, and we didn’t waste time tucking right in!

Cucumber, rocket and ricotta salad

Cucumber, rocket and ricotta salad

Bolinhos de trout: fluffy trout and potato croquettes, honey aioli

Bolinhos de trout: fluffy trout and potato croquettes, honey aioli

Mushroom risotto, creamy arborio rice with wild mushrooms, herbs and grant padano

Mushroom risotto, creamy arborio rice with wild mushrooms, herbs and grant padano

Clam Linguini: black ink pasta with baby clams, white wine, garlic and coral butter

Clam Linguini: black ink pasta with baby clams, white wine, garlic and coral butter

LCFM Squid Ink Clam Pasta

LCFM Lunchtime Smile

 

A charming little restaurant – this place is a welcome addition to Hollywood Road. There’s a terrace out back which is sure to be a perfect spot for al fresco dining come spring and summer. Wishing them lots of success for the future!

Hereford Road Less Travelled

I don’t get up to Westbourne Grove nearly enough. It’s full to the brim of cool vintage boutiques,  independent bookstores, and fashionable cafes – and it’s practically in my backyard just tempting me to swing by.

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Hereford Road has been on my list of lunch spots to try for a while, especially as it has offers a 3-course set lunch for £15.50.

What can I say? I’m a cheap date.

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Okay, maybe not that cheap!

Potted crab & toast

Potted crab & toast

Beetroot, sorrel and boiled egg

Beetroot, sorrel and boiled egg

Butternut squash and garlicy lentils over rocket

Butternut squash and garlicy lentils over rocket

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A nice bottle of red. An easy, English lunch with a spring breeze wafting through the room.

This day couldn’t be lovelier. I’ve even stepped out with no tights for the first time this year.

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That deserves a skip!

Even my wounded beau can’t suppress a saucy little smirk.

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We thought the afternoon was a wrap, but just as we were almost home we happened upon a newly unveiled civic monument…

The just-opened Whole Foods in Fulham!

Time to step up our grocery game.

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With a bagful of foodie goodies, let’s see what I can rustle up in the kitchen tonight!