I’m an art fan. I love contemporary painting, abstract impressionism, sculpture using different mediums, but I’m not gonna lie. As far as I’m concerned, this event might as well have been called the Palate and Palate and Palate Race Toward Diabetes. When it came down to having platters of endless hors’ doeuvres made by Charleston’s top chefs in front of my face, a glass of wine in my hand, and 15 galleries to hit in two hours, I couldn’t give a damn about what was hanging on the walls.
It started to rain at about four o’clock that afternoon, but it didn’t seem to effect the stroll too much. By the time 5:30 p.m. rolled around, there was only a slight drizzle, heavy enough to poof my hair and make me decide to wear a cocktail dress with sneakers but not enough to change my plans for the evening.
I began at Robert Lange Studios, one of my favorite galleries downtown, where Mike Lata from FIG was featuring a melon soup with feta cheese in a small plastic cup and a Sea Island deviled egg. The chilled soup was like a carnival grab bag of offbeat textures and flavors. The chunks of sharp feta and cantaloupe popping into mouth were fun and unexpected, but not exactly what I would enjoy if it were an entire bowl of soup. Nonetheless, still worth mentioning and not even close to the worst shot I’ve ever taken.
The Fat Hen at the Martin Gallery on Broad had the most impressive spread that I encountered. Chefs Neuville and Mazurek rocked it with four giant sweet glazed salmon fillets with dill and capers, patés, plates of charcuterie, and colorful fruit platters with dried figs served with crostinis. It was the type of platter you’d wet your pants to see at an office party.
On the corner of State and Queen streets at Helena Fox Fine Art, The Boathouse on East Bay served a swordfish, tangerine, and fennel salad. McCrady’s had scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and a tomato jam. Jeremiah Bacon from Carolina’s made a salmon napoleon, layered with scallion crepes and crème fraiche at Horton Hayes. Everything was stellar. Of course Sean Brock stepped it up, displaying his culinary talents by cooking scallops sous vide (a dish currently on McCrady’s menu) on the window sill of the Smith Killian Fine Art Gallery.
Some other honorable mentions were Cypress’ lamb bacon and green sugar peas with balsamic vinegar reduction (I had about five) and Virginia on King’s she-crab soup with brandy. Not everything out there was worth eating, though, and I walked in and out of a number of places. You have to prioritize with an event like this. It must be hard making so many little dishes without having a kitchen on site. I understand, really. To be able to make impressive dishes in such an environment really displays the talent of a chef and his team.
Next year, I hope they use recyclable silverware. Seeing all those expensive plastic cups and plates piled in the trash really disappointed me. Come on!
I didn’t make it to all of the galleries. I had to skip Tradd Street. There is no way you can do them all by foot unless you’re wearing rollerblades. By the end of the stroll, I was turning my map all sorts of twisted directions trying to figure out where my car was, until Katie Koch from advertising saved me. All in all it was a great evening, filled with good food, drinkable wine, and a bunch of tipsy foodies. But man, drinking at 5:30 in the afternoon and gorging for two hours will take a toll on you for the rest of the night. I was out by 11:30 p.m. —by Alison Sher