Last fall I had the opportunity to visit my sister, Lori, in South Carolina. It was my first visit and I told her that she could plan the entire itinerary except I wanted to see Charleston and I had to have shrimp and grits. Fortunately, she delivered on both. We went to Acme Lowcountry Kitchen on Isle of Palms on the recommendation of her friend, a Charleston local, after we mentioned wanting to try the Lowcountry version of shrimp and grits.
If you happen to be in Charleston and are looking for a contemporary approach to traditional Southern cuisine, with ingredients locally sourced, I recommend making the effort to visit .
The grits section of the menu at Acme reads like variations on a theme. I’ve had shrimp and grits a number of times in Texas and in California (prepared by a native of Louisiana), and there can definitely be a difference, sometimes slight, sometimes great. Being somewhat of a traditionalist, however, I asked for Southern Hospitality, which is shrimp and grits and collard greens, while Lori chose the BBQ.
We split our servings half and half. After her first bite, Lori was ecstatic. “If there’s food in heaven,” she said, “I hope it tastes like this.” I know what she meant.
Our server told us that the grits for the BBQ dish were prepared in advance, molded into a square or rectangular pan, and frozen. Then they were cut into small rectangular blocks and fried, and the sauce and shrimp and crumbled bacon and scallions and Gouda cheese added.
I could pull out my thesaurus to find synonyms for ‘delicious’ but I don’t think it would adequately describe the taste. The same goes for the traditional Southern dish. I’d never tasted grits so flavorful and creamy, and the greens were a perfect complement. I have seldom felt so disappointed at getting full.
Because it was Lori’s birthday, we ordered key lime pie for dessert. It was good, but not remarkably so. We also got a non-alcoholic cherry limeade, but it tasted too much like medicine. However, even that could not overshadow the gustatory pleasure (thank you, Roget) of the meal we experienced.
I’ll have a forthcoming post or two on other things we did in Charleston, but for now I really just want more shrimp and grits.