In between coming down with an upper respiratory infection and becoming a contributor to Sweet Lemon Magazine’s Zesty Digest blog, I drove up to Charleston for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. It always feels good to go back, even if it’s not home anymore. I never had the chance to go to the festival while I still lived there because it usually fell on spring break and also because it’s crazy expensive to go. But thankfully, I got a press pass to cover it for This Is My South, giving me the opportunity to geek out on chefs, food, craft beer and wine. And to get a lot of free stuff. Obviously.
After a rough Thursday night downtown, my friend Scotti and I headed to the big white tents in Marion Square. While some afternoons you might find coeds sunbathing in the grass, the park was transformed into the so-called Culinary Village, the hub of all festival activity.
I was greeted by a whole lamb on a spit, so I knew it was going to be a good day. I was so overwhelmed by all the tables set up by such fantastic local restaurants. My first dish was the one you see below, shrimp purloo from Queen Anne’s Revenge. I couldn’t believe the beautiful presentation despite the plastic container. The spicy tomato sauce, shrimp and Carolina rice were the perfect combination to curb my hangover.
The Charleston Wine and Food Festival incorporates two big tents, the JetBlue and Piggly Wiggly tents, as well as a perimeter tents for other activities, like the Heirloom Book Company signing booth, BB&T Lounge, Avalon Wine Outdoor Grilling and Living, Southern Foodways Alliance Culinary Hub and the SCE&G Celebrity Kitchen.
After munching on ahi tuna, I made sure to try beers from Charleston breweries Palmetto and Holy City, as well as Carolina Brewery from North Carolina. I can’t remember all the wines I had, as I was constantly refilling, but there were definitely some tasty whites in there.
Another perk to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival is that it’s a great test market for new products, like the Firefly Moonshine you see above. I sampled the apple pie flavor and while it packed a punch, it didn’t burn on the way down.
While it takes a whole lot of food samples to balance out all the cocktails and booze, I tried my best to not be a lightweight. If you go, I recommend trying foods you might not ordinarily eat or from restaurants you’ve wanted to visit but never had the chance to.
Jetblue has recently started running flights between New York and Charleston (with Bill Murray as one of the first passengers, obviously!) and they are celebrating with a photo booth, as you see above, and bright blue cocktails.
I had a blast stuffing myself in the tents (and at local restaurants) and would definitely go again. Check out my Instagram feed to see all the other tasty dishes I had or follow #chseats and #holycityeats.