Charcuterie platter.

Charcuterie platter at Cypress. Photo by my iPhone.

Returned from one full week in Charleston feeling as never before what an exciting food town it has become. While I was there to film more Le Creuset demos at their new headquarters with Taste Five Media, as part of the fun I got to explore the town some more. By chance the Spoleto festival was underway and my dear mum was in town with friends. She’d booked a table at Cypress where Craig Deihl continues to serve house-cured salumi that is second to none in the country that I’ve tasted. My favorite was the Braunschweiger, smoked liverwurst. Most interesting charcuterie note was that for his emulsified sausages, such as the mortadella on the left, he grinds the meat five times rather than using a powerful chopper called a Buffalo chopper.

Charleston is one of the few cities in the United States that is like no other (along with New Orleans and Key West), but it has also become a truly rich restaurant and food town, far beyond the scope of Sean Brock’s fine restaurants (the chef who first brought so much national attention to the city).

The following are a few highlights.

the docks

Sorting shrimp at Geechie Seafood.

Dock days
Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat


Josh Keeler of Two Boroughs Larder demoed his excellent octopus in a nduja sauce.

Mike Lotta

Mike Lata, right, at The Ordinary, describing the plateau de mare. Highlight, the lobster ceviche.


The plateau features a variety of Atlantic oysters.

Le Creuset truck on the streets of Charleston, SC.

Part of the filming required my scooting up and down the street in front of the cheese shop Goat Sheep Cow in this sweet little Le Creuset truck.

Crew prepping a shot.

Producer Matt Mosher, standing, and Zsolt Haraszti, camera operator, rigging the truck with cameras.

billboard SC

Hominy Grill is a great spot for grits and more.

Charleston House

Sean Brock’s Husk

Le Crueset one.

Mosher and Warren Johnson of Taste Five Media on the set at Le Crueset’s new demo kitchen.

Mise en place time

My prep leaders, Nick Garcia, sous at the Kiawah Island Club, and Maya Morrill

Check out that sink!

Check out that sink! A goose pot!

dinner 1

Chef Josh Walker at Xiao Bao Biscuit

dinner 2

I actually ordered this Xiao Bao tofu dish; I’m disturbed to tell you how fabulously pungent and fiery it was.

Tommy & Michael

Jonny Cosmetics did my makeup; he told me that “entrepreneur” is not necessarily a favorable term. I guess you have to put “successful” in front of it.

The best sandwich ever.

End note: Among the dishes I did, a croque madame, the best sandwich ever.

First bite

Maya didn’t disagree!


A sandwich that makes you smile

Whenever I get grumpy, I need to remember how lucky I am to be able to do what I do.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


25 Wonderful responses to “Travel: Charleston, SC”

  • joeinvegas

    Wow, that top platter sure has a lot of meat. Did you knock that one off by yourself (and why don’t you weigh 400 lbs)?

    • ruhlman

      I am a fatso, but I would weigh 400# if i didn’t exercise and learn only to taste rather than eat in such circs. the platter was enough for four.

  • claudia young

    YES! you are SUCH a lucky man – for too many reasons to even begin to mention…

  • Tags

    When I read the name Taste Five, I saw four moons, with an eye on one, a nose on another, an ear on the next, and a hand on the last one, all orbiting a planet with a mouth on it. And it doesn’t surprise me that you got there before anyone else.

  • allen

    Whats on that croque madame besides frisse, gerkins, bread and egg?
    You cant tease us like that, not nice.

  • grammar and syntax

    For the love of god Ruhlman, you’re a writer. Is it so hard to proofread the two paragraph/187 word intro to this piece? What did you mean when your wrote “…he grinds the meat five times rather than a powerful chopper called a Buffalo chopper.” I wish this didn’t drive me crazy, but it does.

  • Mike

    I’m totally going to make that Big Nasty Biscuit from Hominy Grill and the Croquet Madame! Wowee…those literally made my taste buds tweak into high gear.

  • Tony

    Ruhlman, count your blessings every damn day! I know you work hard, but you are engulfed in a world many of us food and cooking enthusiasts would trade our left arm for. I’m feeling especially jealous of this post, seeing that it smacks me in the face that I do not live in the city I so dearly love. This is how you make a living for God’s sakes! If I wrote a blog about what I did for a living, no one would read it,,,,,,except the dork corporate ladder climber in the cubicle next to me….I need another Bourbon!……..yes, I have issues.

  • Wisteria

    Whats on that croque madame besides frisse, gerkins, bread and egg?
    You cant tease us like that, not nice.

    Start with a Croque Monsieur: grilled ham & gruyere w/mustard, topped w/mornay plus some more gruyere, then run under the broiler.
    To turn it into a Croque Madame, top it with the egg.
    The frisée & Cornichons have nothing to do with it, just garnish/sides.

    • ruhlman

      yes forgot to mention the dijon and the gratin stage! thanks. also I use a bech because theres cheese enough already in sandwich.

  • DJK

    That truck looks like a cross between an elongated VW Beetle and a short bus. It’s awesome and I want one.

  • Sherry Bellamy

    I’m still fixated on the sink. Dang. Brilliant.

    • Tags

      I’m surprised they didn’t use the lid as a hubcap on the truck.

  • Kelly M

    Croque madame is my absolutely favorite — both Le Pichet and Bastille here in Seattle make killer versions. Yum!

  • Darcie

    For those who love the truck, it’s a Citroën Camionette, based on the venerable 2CV (deux chaveaux), the ultimate minimalist vehicle. The 2CV was designed in the late 40s as a low-priced, rugged car that would enable four farmers to drive 50 kg of goods to market at 50 km/h, across unpaved roads, while using no more than 3 L of gasoline per 100 km. The car’s design brief also required it to be able to drive across a ploughed field while carrying eggs without breaking them. They are a joy to drive, especially with the cloth top rolled back.

  • Robert Muncy

    When you where there did you try some of the other fun places like gin joint or perlz for fresh oysters?

  • Erin

    I can’t wait to try Cypress. Next time you’re in Charleston check out Cru Cafe for lunch; it’s one of my favorite lunch spots! Love their daily soups, chinese chicken salad and truffle fries. Their general tso’s wrap is good too!

  • j G

    The best meat joke I’ve heard lately:
    Mom: How could you eat a pound of bacon in two days?
    Me: Self control.


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