Went to the Ovis Hill Barn Raising on Sunday at Lowndes Grove along with seemingly every newspaper, magazine, television station, online magazine, blog, and art magazine in Charleston. Seriously, this thing was covered more thoroughly by local media than the state legislature ever has been.
So what was the takeaway from this barn raising? Well, a S.C. farmer was helped beyond measure by a passionate and motivated food and beverage industry. The restaurateurs and chefs of Charleston stepped up to help out a guy in need and they raised their goal of $20,000. Good job to all involved, particularly the Patrick Properties group (Randall Goldman, Nico Romo, et al.) for donating the space and organizing the event, which was really lovely: cool breezes, warm sunshine, great food, tables of steaming oysters, craft beer. It couldn't have been a nicer day.
All of the food was very good. Sean Brock's Korean lettuce wrap (bo ssam) came with pulled pork and a raw oyster on top. Uh, yeah, it was unusual and delicious. I think Brock must be going through a similar love affair with Korean food that I am. When I was in San Fran a few weeks ago I ate at Namu, an amazing nose-to-tail kind of joint run by three Korean brothers. (The oxtail and braised daikon was amazing as was the kimchi and the pickled turnip greens.) The last time I ate at McCrady's, Brock delivered a kimchi and beef belly dish that I haven't been able to forget (Sam Sifton wrote about it in his NY Times piece too — so good). This exposure to fantastic Korean flavors has led me to bemoan the serious lack of ethnic diversity in Charleston's food scene. I love Kim's in West Ashley, but it could use a serious rehab. It's kind of depressing to eat there.
But enough about Korean food. Let's get back to the event. Ken Vedrinski's polpette was so comforting and satisfying. I mean, who doesn't love meaty meatballs with a zingy tomato sauce on top?
Jacques Larson from Wild Olive's dish had a similarly meaty satisfaction to it. The little riblet was spicy and tender. And agrodolce sauce is one of my favorites with its sweet and sour notes. (Drooling).
Jeremiah Bacon's take on the BLT with pork belly, arugula pesto, and truffle oil made for a tantalizing little sandwich. My group adored this little tidbit. But, I have to admit I'm feeling a bit fatigued by the pork belly thing. It's so fatty! I know, what the hell's wrong with me, right? But I'm starting to think I've eaten enough pork fat in the last year to last me a lifetime.
I made the mistake of sharing my porchetta dish from FIG with my son, who proceeded to lick up the tonnato sauce. They could bottle that shit and sell it for a mint.
We also made our way to the oyster tables and I couldn't help but dig into the steaming piles. Quintessential Lowcountry, but there was one key difference to these oysters. They had a Cajun spice sprinkled over them. I feared it would be an intrusive flavor, but instead it was a nice jolt when you'd happen upon a bivalve that had some on it. Nice touch, oyster cooker man.
If you missed this event, for shame. If I learned anything after last year's Big Chef/Little Chef event, it's that Lowndes Grove is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. It's utterly beautiful. Picture perfect. Next time you get a chance, go there and enjoy. You won't be sorry you did.