It may seem strange at this late date to be reaching back into my log of unwritten posts, all the way to last May, to write today – when there are numerous subjects to write about from July’s visit to Strasbourg, or even more recently, October’s visit to Rome and Venice. Perhaps I am a bit nostalgic, with last March’s visit to Charleston being our last such visit before becoming residents of the city. Certainly, I would want to capture one last time the feeling of being outsiders enjoying the richness of what Charleston has to offer.
But in another sense, I want to share just a couple of the posts that did not get written, while we were in the midst of our transition to Charleston residents – before moving on to the here and now. So here are some highlights of our day at the Wine & Food Festival 2017.
Our new friends the Sussers, who had been to the Friday Culinary Village, warned us that if we made a beeline to the Le Creuset booth, we could get a shopping bag to carry our swag for the day (for some reason, they don’t give you such a shopping bag when you enter, as is common for example at the New York festival). We were delighted, not only to get our shopping bags (which were huge), but also to learn about a new dish Le Creuset was debuting – the Deviled Egg platter. We resolved right then and there to get one, with the idea that we might be able to use it to make one of our favorite hors d’oeuvres, bacon-wrapped dates.
Just next to the Le Creuset station was a huge tent (you can see it in the map above marked “Third Space”) that included four food stations for the four elements of land, earth, sea and air. We had our first sample of the day there – a chicken salad pita – and I had my first experience of asking for something to be made for me without dairy. The fellow manning the station had a sense of humor about it, and the pita tasted good.
From there, the grounds were wide open to us. We would have to show our wristband to move from quadrant to quadrant of the Marion Square grounds, but where we went was up to us.
We headed to the Biergarten first, with the idea of getting some free beer glasses, courtesy of Bay Street Biergarten. But we also tried out their tasso ham sampler while we were there.
After that, there were so many samples, most of them quite delicious, that I can’t remember them all. The brisket sampler comes to mind for two reason – first, the brisket was made sous-vide, or slow cooked. Second, it was served over grits, which nearly always contain dairy. I carefully plucked the brisket off the grits on mine, and enjoyed it.
Nobody ever has to tell me to “eat more duck!” but as a lover of duck, it was great to see the sign posted by Joe Jurgielewicz . And his samplings of duck breast were yummy.
While the vast majority of the samplings were meat-focused (sometimes even meat-exclusive), there were some quite excellent ones utilizing all the flavors of the vegetable world. This one with broccoli, sweet potato and pistachios was my favorite. Surround pretty much anything with crumbled pistachios and I will be a fan.
Close to the middle of the grounds was a huge stage with demonstrations going on all day. Right around the time that I needed to take a break from stuffing my face, Chef Vivian Howard, who I know from the PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” was up. Like so many people, I was all like “hey, what did she do with her hair?” (she cut it pretty radically). And then I felt like such a loser celebrity fan.
There was so much good food, I can’t even begin to tell you about all of it. Truth is, I was more focused on eating and enjoying myself than documenting the day. But rest assured, it was a wonderful day. Our bellies full, we made it back to our hotel in time to see the sunset over the Ashley River.