Friday, June 28, 2013

Charleston Tea Party Tours

 On previous trips to Charleston, I learned of the Charleston Tea Party Tours
(no connection to the political party). 
I called Laura Wichmann Hipp for reservations
prior to our departure from home. 
Laura picked us up at 9:00 a.m. at our hotel, The Mills House Hotel.  She drove us
in a 15-passenger van with five ladies from Phoenix, a couple from New York City, 
and Austin, Glenn and me.  

We have taken many different Charleston tours and visited the area numerous times. 
I booked Laura's tour because she advertised she takes her tour participants
into historic private homes and gardens, 
a peek into the Charleston most tourists don't see. 

An early stop on the tour was The Palmer Home Bed and Breakfast 
located on the Battery, built in 1848.
The view was amazing looking out on Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbour. 
We enjoyed a full southern buffet breakfast of:
Scrambled Eggs, Cheese Grits, Bacon, Fresh Watermelon, Assorted Biscuits and Pastries 
Orange Juice, Coffee, and Tea. 

We continued on to visit antique-filled private homes and gardens
while Laura, an historian and preservationist, told us stories and 
the history of the city where she was born and raised.  

 This pool and lawn look like they could be 
a photo out of Southern Living Magazine. 

After touring homes and gardens, Laura served the group lunch
 at her home overlooking the Ashley River for lunch and tea.  

 She made a special gluten free lunch for me, 
fresh shrimp on her favorite local rice. 
 Her housekeeper assisted in the set-up and serving, but Laura did all the 
food preparations herself.  
 Dessert was almond cookies and a delicious homemade citrus ice cream
topped with a homemade blueberry sorbet.  
 Laura served a delightful Amhad Tea London English Afternoon Blend.
I can't believe I forgot to take photos of the tea.  It is a blend with the muscatel character of Darjeeling, and with the full bodied strength of Assam.  A touch of bergamot is added for a citrus taste.
Lunch and tea were served on her 19th century Cantonware. 

Our family enjoyed this unique opportunity to tour with
Laura Wichmann Hipp of Charleston Tea Party Tours.  

You may contact Laura at 
or 843-577-5896

Just FYI --
14 year old Austin thoroughly enjoyed this special history tour and tea experience! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Joggling Board in Charleston, SC

Are you familiar with a Joggling Board?
The Joggling Board has been a part of Lowcountry life since the
early 1800's, and is found in the yards and on piazzas (porches) in
the Lowcountry of South Carolina. 
history and learn more about the fascinating joggling board. 
As you can see in the photo above, Austin enjoyed bouncing on this one. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Next Stop ~ Charleston, SC

 Charleston is one of our favorite southern cities. 
We love to visit the market (above). 
And, stay at the historic Mills House Hotel (below)

My favorite little "nook" in the hotel is the "Tea Cozy"
 Can't you just imagine having a lovely afternoon tea in 
the Tea Cozy (below) just off the lobby. 
 During our last two visits the guys have gone on ghost tours,
this time I chose our tour which will be in the next post.  
In the meantime, however, we found many fun and several elegant restaurants. 
 Below are just a few of the homes along the Battery overlooking the water. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gluten Free Friendly Asheville

 I mentioned in my previous post, Asheville has more restaurants per capita
than any city in the USA.  Many of the restaurants are locally owned and operated,
and my Internet search said it is the most Gluten Free Friendly city in the country. 
These are a few of the delicious gluten free foods I ate during our visit. 
 These photos were taken at The Blackbird downtown Asheville. 

Below: Homemade Potato Chips and Southern Pimiento Cheese Dip
and Creme Brulee at the Grove Park Inn. 

 Below: An amazing Gluten Free Lemon Bar in 
Raspberry Sauce which I savored with a cup of Tazo Earl Grey Tea at the
Chestnut in downtown Asheville. 

I neglected to take photos of my meal, but I must tell you
Chef Chris came out of the kitchen and discussed gluten free
dishes he could make especially for me!  

We stopped at the Corner Kitchen, the Chestnut's sister restaurant
in the Biltmore Village Shops on the way home.
Creme Brulee is gluten free. How could I possibly pass up the 
opportunity to taste this delightful Lavender Creme Brulee?!?

And, I must mention, lunch at the Stable Cafe on the Biltmore Estate
included gluten free toast with my salad.  

I highly recommend  restaurants in Asheville, NC to folks with gluten issues.

I also need to mention, we stopped at the busy Early Girl Eatery
for brunch before departing Asheville. 
This downtown restaurant is known for "farm to table" foods
serves breakfast all day.
I had the Black Bean and Cheddar Omelet with gluten-free toast.
Austin had the Shrimp and Grits breakfast,
and the less adventurous Glenn had the Southern Breakfast with Country Ham.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Food and Great Fun at the Tupelo Honey Cafe

 We went to lunch at the Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Asheville, NC.
Did you know Asheville has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the USA?
And, it is the most Gluten Free Friendly place I've ever been!
Happy, happy dance for me! :-)    
 My gluten free lunch below was Warm Pimiento Cheese Dip served
with Gluten Free Toast and Pickled Okra, and a House Salad. 
Notice the glass of iced tea to the right in the photo below? 
I consumed many glasses of iced tea while on this 10-day trip throughout the southeast. 
 It was very crowded during the lunch hour on the Monday we were at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. 
We were seated at the bar, just across from one of the chefs who 
occasionally handed Austin and Glenn samples of food while we waited for our meal. 
We will definitely go back to this casual, fun cafe on our next trip to Asheville. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tea Shopping at the Biltmore Estate

 I love the shops at the Biltmore Estate,
especially when I find tea and tea-related items.  
I couldn't resist purchasing a new Biltmore teacup tree ornament,
packages of Biltmore loose leaf teas, Young Hyson, Darjeeling, Oolong, and Southern mint, 
by Oliver Pluff and Company, 
 and, the newly released book, Biltmore Traditions
A collection of Menus, Recipes and Stories.  
 Visiting the Biltmore Estate is one of my favorite things to do, 
since my first trip there with my Aunt Ida and Uncle Lester when I was
6 years old.  Oh my!  Was this little girl from a small Kentucky town impressed!  
 Biltmore Traditions is full of recipes and photography, both old and new, 
and has a very nice chapter entitled 
"Time For Tea" with menus, recipes, and proper way to prepare tea.  

 Many photos from the Vanderbilt family are included in the book.
I especially like the one on the lower right of afternoon tea at a 1903 house party.  

I highly recommend Biltmore Traditions to friends and readers who 
enjoy cooking and/or visiting the Biltmore Estate, mansion and gardens.  

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