Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Off the Map: Fork?! What Are We Going To Do With a Fork?!

Caramel Apple -- Charleston Candy Kitchen, Charleston, SC
Charleston Candy Kitchen

Let's just completely spoil the ending and let you know that our experience at Charleston Candy Kitchen ends with the phrase, "I can't believe you bathed yourself in a fountain."
Nope, Not That One...
...THAT One
To be fair, few things would make Vodka's friend, Diet Coke, shower herself with pools of publicly available water, but the caramel apple which Alex Guarnaschelli took a liking to on the ON A STICK episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate is one of those things.
Gamechanger Apples
To backtrack a bit, it is nothing short of a miracle that we managed to get our grubby paws on this apple in the first place, as when we first arrived at Charleston Candy Kitchen, they were out of the plain caramel variety, and only had the chocolate and/or peanut flavors from which to choose.
When Vodka inquires about this missing flavor to the girl behind the counter (who, let's just say, is a "character" and is not exactly into her job), she is told that a new batch of plain caramel apples is being whipped up as we speak and will be ready "soon."
In the Meantime, Apparently We Should Help Ourselves to Some Store-Brand Candy
And herein comes Vodka's first lesson about Southern timeframes.  To Vodka, "soon" means "within 3 minutes -- preferably less."

In Charleston Candy Kitchen, "soon" means "maybe possibly sort of finished in 3 hours."

We have a long night ahead of us.
The Fact That They're Missing An O Is The Smallest Problem With This Bulletin Board
Not being wise enough to question this "soon" demarcation at first, Vodka and Diet Coke wander around Charleston Candy Kitchen in search of souvenirs, only to discover that all of the treats stacked up against the walls were created at SAVANNAH Candy Kitchen.

What now?!

Where are we?!
Things That Make No Sense, Charleston Edition
Indeed, it seems as though the only items the Charleston Candy Kitchen staff whips up in house are the caramel apples, the pralines, and some sad-looking hunks of fudge.  Everything else is either a brand name or being packaged in Paula Deen's neck of the woods.

The whole place is, in essence, confusing.
Every Treat You Can Imagine... Shipped Across State Lines from Georgia
Still waiting for "soon" to arrive, we hover by the praline counter for entirely too long before we are finally granted the most miniscule free sample of praline ever -- ironic since there are signs plastering the joint advertising this giveaway.
If You're Going to Make Such a Big Deal of Your Free Pralines, HAND THEM OVER
The praline, from what we can taste of the crumb we are given, is pretty good, though it could stand for some more butter (and perhaps a side of caramel apple.  Hint hint).
Note: The "Sample" We Received Was About 1/16th Of This Size
We re-approach Ms. Personality behind the counter and ask again when the caramel apples will be ready.  She points to a giant vat of caramel behind the praline display and mumbles a vaguely incoherent explanation about them making the caramel now.
The Equivalent of Lucy Ricardo's Candy Kitchen
We are then assured the apples will be ready in "25-30 minutes."

So we leave.  And then we come back.  And guess what?


We go back to our old friend and ask about the apples, and she now seems resigned to the fact that she is not going to get rid of us easily.  When she confirms that the apples are still not -- and seemingly not even close to -- being ready, Vodka (ever the queen of patience) says that she will take one of the peanut one behind the counter.
"As A Matter of Fact, Just Hand Us a Granny Smith and a Wrapped Caramel and We'll Make Do"
"Those are stale," Ms. Personality tells us.  "They been sitting there for days.  Come back later and new ones will be ready."

Knowing it will be fruitless to ask when "later" is, exactly, we go to dinner and return a full three hours later.

And the apples are -- believe it or not -- "ready."  The quotation marks are intentional.
Real Live Caramel Apples
You see, the apples are assembled on the tray right next to the vat of caramel, and they appear as though they were completed mere seconds before.  With no sign of Ms. Personality in sight, we ask the only visible worker for one apple to go.  He looks around the store blankly.
"They're behind you," we tell him.  Listen, we've been here three times in as many hours.  WE KNOW THE APPLE PROCESS.
We Almost Definitely Could Have Made Them Ourselves in Less Time
But instead of fetching one for us, he merely finds Ms. Personality, who removes one from the tray and packages it up in plastic wrap.  "You should put this in the refrigerator or freezer to let the caramel harden," she tells us, thus confirming our fears that the apples are only "ready" in the figurative sense.

Also, being that our hotel room is devoid of a mini-fridge, this hardening process should be "interesting."
We Are Nothing If Not Resourceful
Vodka asks Ms. Personality for a knife to help us make our way through the apple, and when she provides one, Vodka then asks for a fork.

Diet Coke glances back and forth between the gargantuan, sticky apple and Vodka's earnest expression before blurting out, "Fork?!  What are we going to do with a fork?!"

Touche, Diet Coke.
Come to Think of It, the Knife Is Pretty Useless, Too
We drag our two-pound apple back to our hotel, and after some creative "refrigeration," we take it outside to consume by the pool.  Upon trying to tear away the first layer of plastic wrap, Vodka can already tell she is going to hate this thing.  Because it is messy.  SO messy.  Just about the messiest thing one could ever eat.

And if it is not clear, WE HATE MESSY.
Scenic Caramel Apple Consumption Surroundings...
...Hideous Caramel Apple Itself
Vodka tries to saw through the sides of the apple, and failing that technique, we begin biting into the monster to the best of our ability. 

And the thing almost breaks our teeth.
We're Going to Charge Charleston Candy Kitchen for Our Dental Bills
With first impact, we have caramel on our fingers, tickling our chins, and escaping up our noses, and we are none too pleased.  The green apple inside the creation is crispy beyond belief -- indeed, if there were such a thing as a TOO crispy apple, this would be it, as it is nearly impossible to eat.  The caramel, which is still gooey from its creation, is almost flavorless, at least as far as caramel is concerned.
Question: If the Caramel Had Actually Hardened, How Would We EVER Have Bitten This Thing?!
It would be one thing if Charleston Candy Kitchen had created the most delicious caramel this side of the Mississippi (they did, after all, have THREE HOURS to do so), but this is not it.  To make matters worth, the apple itself is way too tart for the caramel topping, and instead of becoming a harmonious dichotomy, the whole thing is -- literally and figuratively -- a mess.
Another Knife Lost to the Process
Not being ones to eat caramel apples, well, ever, we try to keep plowing through in an effort to find its hidden charm.  But instead of better, things just keep getting worse, and by the end of our quest, we are cursing the entire process.  Vodka gathers the remnants up and goes inside to find a trash can (side note: Charleston as a whole is RIDICULOUSLY devoid of garbage receptacles), and when she returns, Diet Coke can be seen dipping a pool towel into the nearby fountain and rubbing it all over her face.
Are You Pleased With What You've Done To Us, Apple?!
"Desperate times," she says without affect, and we retreat to bed knowing the we have tasted both the best and the worst that Charleston has to offer today.
It's Time to Pull It Back Together, Charleston
And if Diet Coke returns from South Carolina with dysentery from her foray into the fountain, we will all know exactly which candy kitchen is to blame.

And it isn't Savannah's.

Charleston Candy Kitchen's Caramel Apple: 1 star

No comments:

Post a Comment