After the drama of the Top Chef Competition, a quick tour of the grand tasting tents was in order. Vendors were sampling their goods and pouring wine or beer into souvenir glasses. It felt like being in F.A.O. Schwartz as a kid; how do you choose one thing when there is goodness in every direction?
My first stop was an I.O.P. fave, Huck's Lowcountry Table. They were serving Fried Green Tomato Soup with a dollop of pimiento cheese alongside salmon carpaccio. I would have lingered at the sunny tables nearby with those nibbles and my Palmetto Espresso Porter, but this post would've suffered for it. So into the throng of people I went, tasting Anson's Pastrami Salmon on Rye with Pickled Red Onion and Creme Fraiche. Their chef is insanely talented and that restaurant is one of the best in town. They were also dishing out their Anson Grits with Duck Confit. Delish.
A new favorite gadget in my family is the wine aerator made by the Screwpull people. We like to say that "it makes a $10 bottle of wine taste like a $20 bottle." A before-aerator and after-aerator test was performed. Get them for all your real friends, unless they really don't care about wine, in which case I might question the friendship.
Circa 1886 was telling everyone that their tuna dish tasted "just like a S'more!" Of course I'm game for that. A tiny nugget of Ahi tuna was rolled in graham cracker crumbs, seared, and topped with a ball of goat cheese rolled in cinnamon sugar and bruleed. It was served with a cherry gastrique. It DID taste kind of like a S'more! That tuna was fresh.
As I gazed into the roving crowd, I locked eyes with an old friend and former co-worker of mine, Jeff McInnis, who had been a real contender on Top Chef season five a few years ago. We cooked at Atlanticville together back in the day so I got to catch up with him and his friend Ariane Duarte, who had just competed in the Top Chef Challenge. Her beef tenderloin and goat cheese crostini didn't win, but it would make just about any carnivore swoon.
Oh and the salted caramel bar at Sweeteeth might be as good as a first kiss.