Open Your Palate to New Experiences
Written and Photographed by Candice Herriott
What makes something good or great or exceptional all boils down to personal preference, and the best way to judge it is to try it for yourself.
I really enjoy dishes that offer something unique or slightly unexpected. I want to be pushed out of my food box and explore things that I have never before tried or taste new versions of classic dishes. I am constantly in search of that ultimate-something special dish! How I classify food perfection varies greatly — it could be enjoying a bite of something sweet with a slight salty finish or a bite of something savory with just the right amount of crunch with each bite that keeps you intrigued and going back for more.
The first step to finding your happy food place is to put aside preconceived notions of what you think you do or don’t like. There are two key steps to finding your favorite flavors. One, open your mind and your palate to new experiences. Two, if you don’t know very much about a drink, a dish or ingredient, research it, ask someone who is knowledgeable and don’t feel embarrassed or insecure when inquiring about it.
For example, I didn’t grow up eating bivalves, and the first time I had them as an adult I thought I might throw up, but people kept talking about how much they loved them. Over the years I decided I needed to give them another try. Fast forward 12 years and I’ve become known as an oyster expert. I can’t eat enough of them. I love them steamed, raw, fried. I can talk flavor profiles about how the water and seaweed of a particular creek influences them. I didn’t give up on them. Well, actually I TOTALLY gave up on them and then revisited them and tried them different ways. There is an enormous and flavorful world of out there waiting for you to explore, experiment and enjoy!
CHSFoodwriter Candice Herriott’s Favorite Flavors
The most common question I am asked is: “What is your favorite restaurant?” There is no short or simple answer. The truth is I don’t have one favorite. I have many places that I love and frequent. The answer is all reduced to: What am I in the mood for? SWEET, SAVORY or SPICY?
Here’s a list of some of my favorite spots around town. These spots offer a dish I think is exceptional and I can not get enough of. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. Create a new list for yourself of your fav flavors combos, dishes and sips!
Zero Restaurant + Bar, 0 George St.
Chef Vinson Petrillo’s deviled eggs are the most decadent and flavorful eggs you will ever eat. Toppings include black truffle, caviar, pickled mustard seed, chorizo, mizen and mustard greens. They are magical and if you love eggs, they will take your palate to new places. I love how this classic snack has been modernized!
Short Grain food truck
Shuai Wang’s flavor combos are unparalleled. He is on fire and makes some of the exciting food coming out of Charleston. Influenced by his Chinese background and time cooking with his mother, who passes down what she learned from her mother. His ‘Nashville Hot’ Karaage Rice Bowl (Japanese fried chicken, shaved cabbage, Sichuan oil, ponzu, ‘bama sauce’ and pickles) will have you following his food truck all over town.
Juliet, 654 King St.
Chef Nate Whiting is a culinary mastermind, and I am so happy he is back downtown! I have ordered the prosciutto, arugula and burrata pizza four times in the past two months. The crust is perfection and you likely will be thinking about how good it is the next day and the next day until you are compelled to go back as soon as you can!
Rappahannock Oyster Bar, 701 East Bay St.
Daily selections of oysters change regularly and rotate along with Rappahannock’s own varieties of Virginian-raised bivalves. Rappahannock features an amazing selection of raw bar items, a fantastic lunch and dinner menu, a fresh fish market and great list of drinks! I am in love with the Rappahannock river oysters, and their ceviche is stellar.
Sugar Bakeshop 59 1/2 Cannon St.
Owners Bill Bowick and David Bouffard push the limits of mixing cupcake flavors, such as yellow cake with raspberry jam filling and grapefruit icing made with fresh grapefruit reduction and topped with blueberries and raspberries. They use quality ingredients and while they have the staple cupcakes on the menu Bill says they get most excited, “about the next seasonal fruit or holiday on the calendar.”
Christophe Artisan Chocolatier, 90 Society St.
Lots of people can make chocolate, but not many can create the unique flavor combinations or delicately handpaint chocolates like Christophe’s. The colorful macraons, the rich truffles, the scrumptious individual desserts that fill the case and counters. It’s one of the loveliest and sweetest places in town. I make frequent visits here for hostess gifts, items to fill my holiday gift baskets and an occasional splurge for myself!
Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer, 4 Vanderhorst St.
The selection of craft beer and coffee selections will blow you away! My favorite drink is the chai tea latte. It is the most amazing cup of happiness you will find in town.
About the writer: Candice Herriott is a Charleston-based food blogger, writer, photographer and social media influencer. She has spent the past few years eating her way around Charleston and has taken her food adventures throughout the country, sharing her favorite places to eat, stay and experience. She uses her platform to help promote farmers, fishermen, growers and chefs. Follow her blogs for skirt.com and at chsfoodwriter.com.