Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The 2012 Southern Living Taste Of Charleston Served Up A Platter Of Food And Fun

Historic and beautiful Boone Hall Plantation is an appropriate backdrop for the Taste of Charleston. From the moment you enter the plantation gates, driving under the canopy of the broad and spacious Avenue of Oaks leading the way to the house, you sense the grace and charm that is the trade mark of the Charleston experience. The event is a celebration to the culinary expertise of Charleston's renowned chefs and famed restaurants overshadowed by its historic roots. A perfect confluence of the past and the present.

The day promised to be overcast with the possibility of rain. It was humid, but the clouds kept the temperature at a comfortable degree. Despite the grey skies and unsure forecast, Charlestonians and visitors were not going to be deterred from partaking in the culinary festivities. I arrived around 11:00am and the cars were beginning to line the driveway and extend down Long Point Rd. The parking of the cars appeared to be going smoothly. I grabbed my camera, exited the car and headed toward the entrance. I paid the fee. I could already hear the music and smell the food just beyond the treeline.

Once you navigated the gauntlet of raffle ticket selling and simulators, a long line of tents stretching across the expansive plantation grounds, divided in the middle by the Beer Garden, awaited your consideration. I paid my homage to the main sponsor of this wonderful event and took a few moments to watch a cooking demonstration at the huge Southern Living stage. I entered a contest where you had to get a post card stamped by four different travel hosts representing South Carolina Parks, Baldhead Island, and Charleston's sister city, Savannah. I had been to Savannah the week before and bought a t-shirt that was a big hit with the Savannah tent. Next, I had my picture taken for the cover of the Southern Living Magazine and it was now time to move on to satisfy my hunger.

A ticket tent offering souvenirs was to the right and a large stage was set up directly across from the restaurant tents. Before I made my first food selection, I walked from one end to the other to get a quick overview of what each restaurant was offering. I made a close observation of what others were eating as I went and listened for any helpful comments. A trip to the ticket tent was next, 2$ for one ticket.

Bricco Bracco's tent was my first stop. The fried ricotta and fried mozzarella caught my eye. I grappled a bit with this first selection but settled for the fried ricotta. The ricotta was, well ricotta, but the tomato sauce made the dish and the tiny tomatoes were delectable. It was off to a good start. Next, I wanted to seek out a restaurant I was not familiar with, not that I never heard of it, but one I had not previously dined at. My decision did not come easy. It was between Poogan's Porch and Queen Ann's Revenge. I love the dog story and Blackbeard is a popular Charleston pirate. I hope Zoe didn't take offense, but I went with the chicken salad at Queen Ann's Revenge. It was the right choice. The chicken was great and the dressing accented the salad perfectly. I was stopped by quite a few people who were curious about my opinion on the salad. With so many excellent restaurants featured, it wouldn't have mattered who you chose, they all are the best Charleston has to offer. You can only reasonably spend so much money.

Homemade Wine provided the musical entertainment. When you succeed at getting people up to dance, you must be doing something right. They rocked the house.

The Waiter's Race was a highly anticipated event and it didn't disappoint. Plenty of precious wine from the Biltmore Estate was spilled in this one. Jason Alderman from 82 Queen won.

Other highlights of the day was watching a copter camera take off and fly over the crowd, swooping down for closeups. If you were fortunate enough for it to hover over you, you got a reprieve from the humidity by way of a strong breeze. Finally, it was entertaining to watch a group of guys work their artistic wonder on a ice sculpture dedicated to Southern Living and the Taste of Charleston.

White Gables of Summerville was represented very well by our friends and neighbors with their own tent strategically set up near the WEZL van and the stage. I thank the group for inviting me in for some pictures and conversation. They know how to have fun. It was a blast.

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