Charleston On Foot, aka Charleston Footprints, is now offering morning and afternoon tours of historic Charleston. Featuring a wonderful array of architecture, gardens, ironwork, historic landmarks, legends, and cultural heritage,the tour is hosted by seventh-generation Charlestonian Michael Trouche and begins at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm from 108 Meeting Street, at the Historic Charleston Foundation Gift Shop, lasting approximately two hours. Reservations are required, by contacting Michael at 843-478-4718 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael personalizes each tour with events, characters, dialects and legends from his own Charleston experience, and even has a "test" question at the end for the inquisitive mind. One favorite is to guess why many Charleston "single" houses feature very noticeable odd exterior windows that do not match other windows across each floor.
Aw shucks, everybody's gettin' steamed up over big batches of bursting bivalves again this month. It's the 27th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, Sunday January 31st at Boone Hall Plantation, hosted by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association. If you haven't been to one of these, it's a merry mob of thousands who descend on the marshfront areas of Boone Hall, where hundreds of tables are set up, and the steamed oysters(65,000 pounds give or take a shell or two) keep comin' for hours.
Gates open at 9am and it's $12 per person – children under 12 free – at the gate, but you can pre-purchase tickets from any Association member restaurant for $10 prior to the event. No pets or coolers, but you can buy beer and wine and bark or howl all you want as the savory slivers of salty oyster slide from the gaping shells. It's also advisable to bring gloves and oysters knives, which can also be purchased at the event, although a personal recommendation is a screwdriver(not the drink), becuase the best oyster-opening wedge is one that is flat, and strong.
With so many blooms and colors permeating the Charleston landscape each year, the city's historic area is a veritable garden in itself. Yet although Charleston is famous for its azaleas, camellias, gardenias. oleanders, pittosporum, Confederate jasmine, lugustrum, four o'clocks, hydrangeas, and cherokee roses, all are non-native species, brought to this subtropical climate as experiements by botanists. Fortunately, we do have plenty of native flowering species as well, including redbud, bignonia, magnolia, dogwood and syringa.
The peak blooming season is early March through May, and sweet fragrances fill the air along with the buzzing of honey bees, who are so delirious with loads of nectar that you can actually pet them as they probe flower petals – and don't worry, they rarely sting unless you threaten a hive.
One way streets are very much a fact of Charleston life, and were first instituted in 1949. Begun because larger and more numerous cars were cusing traffic concerns, the initial changes were made on a few east-west streets and other thoroughfares were added over the years.
The new one-way configuration was frustrating to some long-time Charlestonians, most notably the elderly Poppenheim sisters, who, despite being Vassar graduates and very bright, were renowned for intentionally driving the wrong way down the newly-changed streets
The fine Adam-style building at 77 Church Street is today a private residence, but as is the case of so many Charleston structures, originated as home to a grocery and liquor store. Ferdinand Danjou built the brick building in 1808 to house his burgeoning business in booze. Since then, it has seen service as an inn, and today is a private home. It features exquisite Flemish bonding, in which the courses of bricks are aligned in alternate "headers" and "stretchers" for maximum beauty and strength.
A long-standing New Year's Day tradition in Charleston is a meal with localy-grown collard greens, which is legendary as a symbol of potential wealth and good fortune. Another January 1st favorite is Hoppin' John, which is an Anglicization of the French "pois pigeons", meaning pigeon peas, when mixed with rice makes this dish delish. Winter also signals oyster roast season across the coastal plain, with single and clusters of the tasty shellfish being steamed for a singularly-satisfying slurp from the half-shell. Most oysters eaten at outdoor roasts are actually steamed, prepared as simply as throwing a flat pan over an open fire and covering oysters with a wet croaker sack until they pop open.