What is DelightFULL?
DelightFULL is one of seven macro trends apparent globally. It is all about consumers looking for moments of escape and excitement due to global uncertainty or the pressures of modern life. If this doesn’t sound extremely applicable right now, I am a little envious how you’ve avoided COVID and the 2020 election. Consumers were already looking for meaningful indulgences and novel experiences that surprise and delight the senses. This macro trend has taken on even more meaning with how 2020 has gone.
Natalie recently highlighted how she is finding delight in the ordinary at home. I have been fortunate enough to take some much-needed rest and relaxation time during COVID. For those of you who are feeling comfortable enough, there are indulgent experiences to be had when traveling. I cannot stress this enough, my trip was to a city I know well and involved mask-wearing, social distancing, and a lot of hand washing. Just feeling that I had to note safety at the beginning of this post shows how much things have changed. Taking the opportunity to trek on my vacation to Charleston, South Carolina during a global pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Why Charleston, South Carolina?
Why was Charleston chosen for DelightFULL? It is a city to which many people escape. World-class beaches, award-winning restaurants, and its historical significance are just a few reasons to visit. My fiance and I have been multiple times every year since we’ve been together and I learn something new or find an amazing new spot every time. I had a friend ask for recommendations recently and I had to stop myself from writing the longest text message ever, so I apologize if I’m long-winded. For those of you still doubting it’s a place to escape, see the photos and video below. Getting to explore a city I love in a new way highlighted how much COVID has changed the world around us. That being said, Charleston is a place filled with indulgence and this trek didn’t disappoint.
Kudos to Abby, my fiance, for finding this place. We had to order ahead to ensure we could try these cookies. We drove a while to find a barely marked warehouse where I texted a number saying we were there to pick up our order. A masked figure dropped off our bag on a table outside and texted that it was ready. Did we just buy cookies or drugs? The answer was cookies, but no ordinary cookies – they’re addictive, so maybe drugs after all. They make half-pound cookies filled with all sorts of treats. Talk about a novel experience that surprises and delights. We tried the Candy Jar, Caramel Apple Pie, Salted Chocolate Chip, and the Oh My Gourd. Each cookie was an experience all of its own with numerous tastes and textures. Luckily enough for anyone reading, they just started shipping nationwide.
Camellia’s & La Patisserrie
These two are in the same location, Hotel Bennett, on Charleston’s infamous King Street. This newly renovated hotel boasts the most Instagramable bar in South Carolina, Camellia’s, and a decadent coffee shop, La Patisserie. Of course I had to try both. It’s vacation, right? La Patisserie was breakfast. I loaded up with a cortado, pain au chocolate, quiche Lorraine, and a lemon meringue tart. The balance of the espresso to the milk was perfect in the cortado and the pain au chocolate was full of buttery goodness. The real stars of the show, however, were the quiche and the tart. The meringue was impeccable and worked perfectly with the sharp lemon flavor. The quiche was so creamy it melted in my mouth and the saltiness from the ham added another indulgent layer. I got to enjoy all this in a mostly empty cafe, a sign of the times.
We went to Camellia’s to grab drinks before dinner. After snapping numerous photos (seriously, this place is made to photograph), we settled in to explore the menu. Every drink was designed to stimulate multiple senses. Of all the drinks, the Bennett Galaxy was most notable and included tequila, lime juice, cranberry juice, luxardo, a foamy egg white, and edible glitter. Talk about a shareable experience.
While I’ve been to Charleston numerous times, this place was new to me. This food hall has pivoted its operations to fit COVID. All the dining was outdoors and safely distanced. It had all the joy of a picnic without the hassle of having to pack the basket. This place is filled with food entrepreneurs: those who have new and interesting ideas but don’t have the capital for space yet are able to start out here. The food lived up to the hype. My personal favorite was the Chicken Bacon Ranch Philly Cheese Steak from South Philly Steaks. I love Philly Cheese Steaks, and this one was definitely a meaningful indulgence. For a moment, time stood still, COVID disappeared, and it wasn’t an election year. I don’t know where this sandwich took me, but it was to a better place.
This place is reason enough to escape to Charleston. Take a raw bar, add tacos and killer sandwiches and you’ve got yourself 167 Raw. There is a reason why this place always has a wait. Funny enough, we had to pivot our plans while there. We were planning to dine in, but with a two-hour wait, we decided that takeout was right for us. What did we order? Pretty much everything. And everything was delicious. The pastrami’d swordfish sandwich is a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. The warm pumpernickel bun works so well with the Swiss cheese, fennel, and swordfish filet. The shrimp cocktail is perfect – large, succulent shrimp with cocktail sauce where you can mix in as much fresh horseradish as your heart desires. The sandwich is a unique experience all its own and the shrimp are the best version of a well-known dish.
This trip meant so much more than it would have prior to COVID. Simply taking time to have fun, escape, and enjoy myself was of extra importance. It was apparent just how important the DelightFULL trend has become due to the pandemic. Having a moment just for myself or using food and drink to escape our reality for just a second has never seemed so essential to me.
How to enjoy yourself on vacation has definitely shifted. What were once dine-in experiences are now take-out or outdoor dining options. We now have a favorite picnic spot to enjoy dinner. The sunsets are spectacular. The always busy King Street did not have the foot traffic I was used to. This made for great photos, but empty shops. The change was obvious, but we were prepared and our vacation was no less enjoyable. Having novel, shareable experiences may look different and take more planning, but they just mean that much more right now.
Stand out flavor connections: What flavors did we see while trekking that identified with this trend?
- Citrus & Lime
- Butter & Cream
Special thanks to Chef Lindsay for helping me digest all of this!