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Charleston Wine + Food

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What is a Southern Renaissance?

I don’t want my iron skillet to become an artifact. Relegated to the back of the cabinet with a seldom used Bundt pan, a forgotten Jello mold, and my avocado green fondue pot.   Times change and the notions of what is essential in the kitchen do too.  And, there they sit, in the dark, waiting for their moment to roll around again or more likely to get carted off to the thrift store.   Every time I hear the phrase “traditional Southern cooking” I begin to worry about that iron skillet.     Most speakers say that phrase with love or reverence. But that’s not what I hear.  I hear nostalgia for foodways that are long gone.  And, disrespect for the Southern food of this moment.  Not to mention, the unspoken rebuke that a skillet that isn’t turning out sawmill gravy or slices of country ham, ought to be forgotten or given away.   Even though fried chicken the way my grandmothers and great grandmothers knew how to make is long gone from my repertoire, the skillet I inherited from them is still in daily use, all thanks to recipes like Ashley Christensen’s Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus with Sherry and Cream, Shuai Wang’s recipe for Brown Butter Radishes and Greens, Skillet Fried Turnip Green Pizza from Vivian Howard, and Vishwesh Bhatt’s Okra and Potato Hash.     Some 40 Southern food and beverage folk are at the center of Charleston Wine and Food’s closing celebration, Southern Renaissance. Not many of them turn out “traditional Southern cooking.”  Rather, like Nina Compton, they interpret St. Lucia by way of New Orleans, like Frank Stitt, they apply French technique to the agricultural bounty of Cullman, Alabama, or like Eddie Hernandez they fold the spices of Monterrey, Mexico into Southern turnip greens.     To be sure, Southern Renaissance might be dismissed as clever marketing. Or it could be that Charleston Wine and Food is on to something - a very real awakening of Southern creativity.   Music, art, fashion, literature, and food – the cultural output of this place -- do seem to be having a moment. I’ve listened to both The Alabama Shakes and St Paul and the Broken Bones as I wr0te this piece.  On my walls hang work from Blair Hobbs, Amy Evans, and Adrienne Brown David. I have a Holly Aiken purse and closet full of Natalie Chanin scarves and wraps.  My bedside table holds the novels of Jesmyn Ward, a memoir by Kiese Laymon, and Ronni Lundy’s Victuals.   The men and women cooking and mixing and pouring on Sunday night showcase a constantly evolving South, one that accommodates new immigrants and adopts new traditions.  All claim the South as their own and together they are crafting the 21st century version of traditional Southern food.  Won’t you join us?
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Lowcountry Limelight: Candice Townsend

Charleston's culinary scene is a diverse ecosystem full of chefs, beverage professionals, farmers, and others who contribute to our city's internationally-renowned community. Our Lowcountry Limelight series highlights members of this community and their unique role in the continued success of Charleston's hospitality industry.   For our first installment, we sat down with Candice Townsend, the creative force behind Charleston Food Writer and author of Provisions to Plate: A Charleston Seasonal Collective. Blending her love for food with her passion for storytelling, Candice embarked on an 18-month journey to bring to life the farm-to-table process. Find out more about her journey and learn about some of the unique people who make up Charleston's culinary community, including a delicious recipe from chef Jacques Larson of The Obstinate Daughter.    
How did you get your start as a food blogger?
I began blogging at the same time that I started my social media channels as a creative outlet because I LOVE food! I grew up visiting the local farmers market with my grandparents, gardening at home, cooking with my family and as a adult- I greatly enjoy dining out and trying new things. I was being asked regularly  for recommendations from my clients and friends about where to go, what to order, and personal suggestions about what were the latest hot spots to check out! So, I decided to put all my recommendations in one place- a blog! I never imagined that it would gain traction and lead to a career change as a professional writer, content creator, photographer and creative marketing strategist. 
 
What inspired you to write a book?
Charleston has an amazing bounty of great cookbooks, coffee table books and reference guides, but I hadn't seen a book that took components from each of those categories and put them all together in one place. I love reading articles about peoples' lives, learning what fuels their passion, and understanding how they've built their businesses. I wanted to create a book that shared stories about the people who are growing, harvesting, fishing, and making our food. Along with telling their stories, I thought there needed to be strong imagery that transported the reader onto the water, into the fields, and in the kitchens of some of our most recognized and respected farmers, fishermen and chefs. Our food scene is strong, abundant, and amazing because of the dedication to producing high quality products and being good stewards of the water and land.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during the book-writing process?
After devoting 18 months to this project, I learned many things- enough to write another dozen more books if I could! However, the greatest thing I've realized was something I've always known, but it became so much more clear and evident: in order for small farms & local fishing companies to survive, the community by which they are surrounded must support them and actively and regularly choose to be purposeful in their purchasing habits and source from these companies on a regular basis. Sometimes that means choosing the less convenient path for the greater purpose.  'Buying less, but better quality' are words we actively strive to live for in our home!
What was it like interacting with not only the chefs, but also the farmers and purveyors who produce the ingredients that inspire their dishes?
I love every single person that was featured in my book so very much. After spending several years meeting such a great group of people inside the industry, I wanted to make a book that took aspects of all of the things I love about our food community and share the story of what it takes to grow and make a great plate of food- the process from beginning to end. I wanted the words to have faces and offer a rare and beautiful glimpse into a carefully selected group of people who could each offer a different perspective. I featured 20 fantastic contributors, 35+ recipes, and a seasonal perspective of what the Lowcountry looks like, tastes like, and feels like. 
       
How is the book a reflection of Charleston's growing culinary community?
I think that Charleston is a unique place. We are in the south, specifically the Lowcountry, and there are deep food roots that run through these parts. Traditional grains, like rice and grits, are being recreated and turned into innovative, new, and exciting dishes! There is a deep sense of pride, love, and tradition that will never go away from staple foods that have been enjoyed here for many generations. But, we live in a time where they are reinvented and changed and new cuisines from other parts of the country and world are being introduced and interwoven into this food dialogue. It's been given a new voice. Chefs move here from all over the world and bring with them their own traditions and style which, collectively, is melding to make what today's current food scene looks like. I love seeing the evolution.
        
Do you have a favorite recipe from the book?
One of my favorite recipes from the book was the Shrimp Bucatini created by Jacques Larson (Executive Chef from the Wild Olive and The Obstinate Daughter). It is simple, flavorful, and the perfect summer go-to-recipe. Using local shrimp, basil, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and lemon- it embodies so much of what makes summer food so delicious.
 
Bucatini with Shrimp, Tomatoes, Basil and Fresno’s Jacques Larson (Makes 4 Servings)   Ingredients: 4 Cloves thinly sliced garlic ¼C Olive Oil ¼C Sliced Fresno’s (or 1 teaspoon chili flakes) 1 lb Cleaned, De-Veined and Halved SC White Shrimp 1 lb Bucatini 2C Halved Cherry Tomatoes 1/8C Lemon Juice ½C Picked/Torn Basil Leaves 4T Butter Salt & Pepper to Taste   Method of Preparation:  Bring 6 qt of water to a boil in a small stock pot on the stove with 2T of salt. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat 1/8C olive oil on the stove top.  Add garlic and Fresno’s.  Sauté the garlic until the garlic just begins to brown.  Then add the shrimp.  Once the shrimp begins to turn pink, add about ½C of the pasta water and tomatoes and turn off the heat.  Set Aside. Cook the bucatini in the salted boiling water until al dente (about 10 min) and drain.  Toss the pasta in with the shrimp, tomatoes, and Fresno’s.  Reheat the pasta in the pan over moderate heat.  Once the pasta sauce begins to tighten and the pasta water reduces, add the butter and lemon juice.  Reduce to coat the noodles.  Add the basil and toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the pasta/shrimp among 4 pasta bowls.  Serve while still warm.
   
 
 
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COUNTDOWN TO THE DECADE: FESTIVAL BY THE NUMBERS

BB&T Charleston Wine + Food will celebrate the decade with our annual festival from March 4 – 8, 2015. The 10th annual festival is a grand celebration of the culinary treasures of Charleston and beyond with over 200 chefs (local and guest) coming in from around the country to cook, eat, drink, and celebrate 10 years of BB&T Charleston Wine + Food. Over 48 winemakers, mixologists and beer experts will join to toast the decade in 2015. With over 100 events showcasing the very best that Charleston has to offer, here are some numbers to celebrate the decade.
  1. The 2015 festival is hosting 107 individual events, including 24 Signature Dinners, taking place throughout March 4-8 with 355 volunteers (and counting) by our side.
  2. The $85 ticket to Culinary Village (the heart of the festival - March 6-8) includes all-access to 13 distinct culinary experiences from 12pm - 6pm daily.
  3. The Culinary Village features 6 new tents including the Third Space presented by Summers Corner hosting over 80 intimate chef demos over three days. The Third Space will feature 5 smaller-tents representing Land, Air, Sea, Earth and Fire.
  4. Off of Third Space is Rose Garden + Grilling presented by Chateau D’Esclans featuring over 11 grilling demos, including a Grilled Cheese Competition on Saturday afternoon.
  5. The other side of Third Space will be the expanded Biergarten presented by Bay Street Biergarten featuring 14 breweries from the Carolinas and beyond. The back of the Third Space features our new Fire area where 2 whole Border Springs lambs will be on a spit and 5 Cowboy Cauldrons will grill up delights throughout the weekend.
  6. There are 62 participants in the Grand Tasting Tent presented by Baker Motor Company and 35 participants in the Artisan Market presented by Rewined throughout the Culinary Village.
  7. The Hands-On Kitchen presented by SCE&G features over 8 opportunities to roll up your sleeves and get into our kitchens!
  8. The Cookbook Retail Shop presented by Williams-Sonoma features 18 book signings with top cookbook and beverage authors.
  9. 1 bus! Southern Foodways Alliance is bringing their new Oral History Bus to collect Lowcountry oral histories at the Culinary Village throughout the festival for your listening pleasure all year long. SFA will also premiere their new maritime project at the festival, so enjoy culinary stories from the South Carolina coast all weekend.
  10. A new Music Stage featuring over 15 local bands will bring lively energy and music to the Culinary Village.
The countdown is officially on for BB&T Charleston Wine + Food in March - come and join the festival fun! Culinary Village Map
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info@charlestonwineandfood.com
635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 101, Charleston, SC 29403

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