I spent part of one very hot and humid summer living and interning in Charleston, SC. It was the first time I had ever been to a coastal southern city, but the minute I arrived I knew that this place was what I had always imagined a southern city to be. I grew up in California, but watched hours and hours of Gone with the Wind, so the beach and Spanish Moss (along with hoops skirts and parasols) always figured prominently in my mind.

That summer in Charleston, I fell in love with the city. Even now when I talk about Charleston, I feel a little like Carrie Bradshaw and the SATC episode “I Heart NY.” It is hot and feisty, but when one is left to wander downtown to a great restaurant, head off to the beach right after work, or pop into a boutique to drool over a fabulous outfit, it is hard not to be enchanted. (Unlike Carrie, money did not magically appear in my wallet to afford a pair of fabulous shoes…but if it had, I would have been well prepared to use it.)

The next year when I graduated from college, I knew exactly where I wanted to plant myself. So I packed my boxes into my 15 year old silver Saab named Rosie and moved there permanently. I guess permanently was a bit premature because 12 months later, I packed up my life again and moved to foodie heaven, aka New Orleans.

However, Charleston was the first city I really “ate my way through,” and when I go back it is like I never left. The minute I step off the plane, my stomach growls like I am in my mother’s kitchen. There is nothing quite like knowing exactly what I can get myself into in a weekend.

So this year, H and I got our act together and coordinated a trip to Charleston to visit our very good friends Bentina. (Yes, like the illustrious couples before them -Bennifer, TomKat, and Brangelia- Bentina acquired their name first as a joke, but like the others it stuck.) H and I also timed our trip to include a small sampling from the Spoleto Festival USA, a couple of trips to the beach, and lots of fantastic meals.

Our Saturday was spent preparing for our dinner, full of fresh veggies from the Charleston Farmer’s Market at Marion Square. Bentina shared a fantastic marinade recipe, which they used on some shrimp. Heavy on the garlic, but not overwhelming when it came off the grill. Along with a couple bottles of wine, some grilled veggies, and a cold tomato and cucumber salad, we enjoyed a fabulous feast.

Bentina’s Never Fail Shrimp Marinade
1 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt

Mix all ingredients together. Will easily marinade 2 pounds of shrimp. Bentina also use this marinade for Chicken and I personally think it would work for lamb as well.