This post is long overdue, but chronicles the weekend I spent observing what's so great that it could draw my two friends away from NYC, possibly for good. It turns out that life in Columbia, South Carolina is full of lovely surprises, and it's hard to begrudge anyone's decision to leave the grit and grim and trade it for smiles and sunshine--I mean, if you're INTO that kind of thing.
Some food and farm (and other) notes from my travel:
1. Free refills of seet tea. it turns out they aren't kidding around with the "sweet" part (yowza!), but isn't that kind and generous? Eternal free refills offered with a big ol' grin?
2. Coca cola with ice, sitting by/in the pool. The pool right outside your apartment. Your big apartment, the one with a guestroom and room for your surfboard. The one with parking spaces out front for both of your cars. In South Carolina, no diet Coke, only regular coke will do.
3. Lizard's Thicket. A local breakfast chain that you cannot visit for brunch at 1 pm, because they stopped serving breakfast ages ago. And all the well-dressed church ladies, eating a late lunch will look at you sweetly, shaking their grey heads. But a bright and early brekkie of sausage, cheese grits, giant biscuit and eggs is a really marvelous thing. Cheap, too, i bet, but I have friends who are too generous to let me know what a "bill" in South Carolina looks like.
4. Chicken Salad. Apparently cafes around here are competing for the best chicken salad. Embrace the mayonnaise--you're in South Carolina now--and you might not regret it, 'cause this stuff is pretty tasty.
5.The farm. My hostess had the brilliant idea that Labor Day could best be spent visiting her new CSA farm outside the city. We drove to Five Leaves Farm, a very small and lovely operation run by a husband and wife named Kristen and Ben Dubard. Ben took time out of his day to give us the tour, ripping japanese cucumbers off the vine and breaking into crisp green chunks for us to eat, nipping basil leaves for us to smell, and grabbing one of the last of summer's melons for us to take with us. it's amazing to see how much food can be produced from a small plot of land, and it was cool to see the very soil that Cerry and Ethan's fall food will come from.
Come fall, they'll be all settled in, and here in NYC it will become gray and cold, and there, in South Kakalakee it will be bright and sunny. It might just be heaven on earth...