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Culinary Village - We Told You So!

on Friday, 16 March 2012. Posted in Magazine, Eat This! February 2012, Do This!

Culinary Village - We Told You So!

By Antonia M. Krenza and Laney Roberts

411-1In our February issue we talked about strategizing your Wine and Food Festival experience and then we did just what we suggested. We did a walk-through of the Perimeter and the Culinary Village on the last day of the festival. Lucky for us, the rain abated and the sun shone. Armed with appetites and galoshes, we strode in….

 From the “get go”, let me tell you that the Perimeter was well worth the $25 entrance fee. Just hanging out in the Charleston Cooks! booth made our day. We got the chance to meet Chef Hugh Acheson, whose restaurant, Five and Ten in Athens, GA, we recently had the pleasure of dining in. His food is as interesting as he is. And icing the cake, the Lee Brothers and Steven Satterfield were there to sign their books. Also next door was the Palmetto Cheese Tent where we witnessed an amazing butchering exhibition.368-1

We had the Culinary Village pass ($75 including the Perimeter Village) with access to the Tasting Tents sponsored by the Piggly Wiggly, AAA and SCE&G. The tents were an overwhelming conglomeration of tastes, both food and libations. You would have to be there to understand, but the whole experience of the Charleston Wine and Food Festival comes together in that melting pot that is called the Culinary Village. Vendors whose products were the stars of culinary events around town, restaurants that hosted outside events during the week and reps for the beer, wine and spirits that appeared in mixology and wine tasting events - all were there in one convenient, affordable spot.

 We decided to experience the Culinary Village, not like writers with note books in hand, but like a regular ticket holder. (Okay, we did have a camera.) We followed the crowds taking in the sites and the aromas with no particular plan in mind, tasting and sipping at our leisure. It was relaxing and quite fun, more like play than work. Without notes to reconstruct the event, we feel that we recall it much like every other attendee - in remembered flavors and vignettes of sights and sounds….

Entering the tents, you could forget that you were walking through Marion Square. Instead it was as if you’d entered a bustling Moroccan market - vendors hawking their wares, the smell of meats and spice wafting around you, the occasional festive pop of a cork, and the undercurrent of excitement punctuated by animated exchanges and laughter. So much to taste and see that you are propelled from tent to tent and table to table with gustatory ambition and a realization that you cannot possibly take it all in. It is afterward, in moments of shared reminiscence, that you recall your favorite tastes. For us it was no different, we talked afterward of Manchester Farms and the delightful bite of Carolina quail and risotto, the honeyed smoke of Jack Daniel’s Honey Bourbon, the elevated comfort food of lobster mac’n’cheese from Graze, the softened, clean citrus notes of Arona from Barker’s Marque Wines of Marlborough, NZ, the spicy bite of Jalapeno Palmetto Cheese, the meaty and chocolate notes of Holy City’s Bacon Porter….

 We both agreed that the events taking place outside of the tents during the Wine and Food Festival were unique and exciting, but if there is only one event that you can attend at next year’s festival, well…. You would be hard pressed to get more bang for your buck than with a Culinary Village pass.


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