This is for the bad planners out there. Those who neglected to pay attention when tickets went on sale back in August for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, and the hottest events sold out in mere days. So here you are. It's February, a little more than a week before the festival begins, and what are you going to be able to attend? Unfortunately for you, the two events the CIty Paper is sponsoring (Saturday night dinner at the Macintosh and a Saturday afternoon trip to Bowen's Island) are completely sold out, but there are still tickets to other stuff. Here's a list of best bets:
Locavore Luncheon on Thursday
I didn't make it to the first go-round of this luncheon in 2011. I won't make the same mistake this year. All of our favorite local farmers and purveyors will be on display in the three courses crafted by Chef Frank Lee of SNOB and Ramon Taimanglo of High Cotton, with wine pairings from master sommelier Sara Floyd. Oh, and Jennifer Cole from Southern Living will be there as the culinary expert. She's a riot of good stories and good times.
Soul Food Shuffle
While locals can eat at Dave's Carryout, Martha Lou's, Bertha's, and Alluette's any day of the week, having Jeff Allen as your guide is a pretty special thing. Allen is the City Paper's former food critic, and he has a certain way with words. We like to call him John T. Light. On Friday afternoon, he'll regale Soul Food Shufflers with stories as they eat their way around town. Should be a fun shuffle.
Taco Turf Wars
I would go to this event simply for Anita Lo and Michael Laiskonis, two chefs with mad skills. But then again, I would go to this event for Melissa Perello and Ken Oringer too. The lineup is pretty stellar, and the concept is fun and casual — a taco truck festival at Lowndes Grove. You can usually count on the weather to be warm and sunny on Friday afternoon, and this could be a good treat. (But then again, it's $100 for tacos, so it's no wonder this is a tough sell.)
Perfectly Paired Dinners
There are still a few of these dinners available on Friday night, and we think these are the highlight of the festival, when our local chefs get to shine.
Celina Tio was on both Top Chef Masters and The Next Iron Chef and is cooking at Lana with the lovable local chef John Ondo. Over at the Grocery, Kevin Johnson will host the highly acclaimed Steven Satterfield of Atlanta's Miller Union. Either one would be a great choice.
Festival After Hours: Taking it to the Streets
The bus shed will be the site of a street food festival on Saturday night for what looks like a fun late-night party with performers, food trucks, sweets, and specialty cocktails. I like parties at the bus shed.
Sunday at the festival is really locals day. There's a discounted ticket to the culinary village, there's a gospel brunch at Lowndes Grove, and the day wraps up with a BBQ, Blues, and Brew party at the Maritime Center. If you're going to take in something, this might be your best bet.