Ancestral Peanut Debuts at Old Village Post House Dinner

crab When guests reached the second course of the Carolina Rice Kitchen Dinner — presented last night by the Old Village Post House – table conversations veered sharply to the first softshell crabs of the season, superbly flash-fried by chef Forrest Parker’s team. The supporting Sea Island Guinea flint grits from sponsor Anson Mills barely merited a mention.

The grits’ fade-out was a kind of triumph for Anson Mills’ Glenn Roberts and University of South Carolina professor David Shields, who have jointly spearheaded the effort to resurrect Carolina gold rice and the crops which completed the agricultural system surrounding it. The results of their work, including Chinquapin chestnuts, benne seeds and James Island peas, formed the core of the Rice Kitchen Dinner menu.

But the revivalists’ overarching goal is for the nearly-forgotten grains to attain standard ingredient status. Roberts and Shields have no interest in making the plants cultivated generations ago by Lowcountry growers into untouchable relics; using heirloom grits in service of another regional delicacy is very much in line with their strategy. Continue reading

Touring The Dinnerware Museum

lunchsetWhat’s most striking about the luncheon sets in Margaret Carney’s vast collection is their size: The compartmentalized serving trays, designed so women could effortlessly snack and smoke while playing bridge (or some other game judged suitable for early twentieth-century ladies), have room for what modern appetites would classify as a mere smidgen of food.

When Carney, director of The Dinnerware Museum and longtime ceramics professor, asked her students to create contemporary luncheon sets, “they were all larger.” The story of portion sizes and American eating habits is apparently bound up in its dishes, one of the many types of culinary materials that compose the roving museum.

“We don’t just collect grandma’s dishes, although we do collect grandma’s dishes,” Carney clarifies. “There’s no limit to what we collect: All it has to do is reference dining.” Continue reading

Lee Bros. and Duvall Events Take James Beard Dish for Test Ride

smallleesThe James Beard Foundation journalism awards ceremony, at which Matt and Ted Lee are serving as emcees and first-course cooks, is a private affair. But a local sneak peek of the brothers’ awards dinner dish is free and open to the public.

On  Apr. 29, the Lees and dish collaborator Matt Greene of Duvall Events will host a tasting demo at the catering company’s North Charleston headquarters. The event includes wine, with liquor drinks available for purchase.

Details of the dish have not yet been disclosed, but the Lees are apparently pumped. Continue reading

Slow Food Columbia Hosts Chefs’ Showcase This Weekend

1 Slow Food at Indie Grits by Jonathan Sharpe (800x533)

Jonathan Sharpe

How’s the eating in Columbia these days? An upcoming party hosted by the city’s Slow Food chapter could provide a chance to find out.

Slow Food Columbia’s fifth annual Sustainable Chefs’ Showcase and Potluck on Apr. 13 will feature more than a dozen chefs who’ve been tasked with preparing a dish showcasing a local ingredient. Restaurants represented include Terra, Baan Sawan Thai Bistro, Rosso Trattoria and Good Life Café, which publicist Tracie Broom describes as “a rad vegan place that finally opened on Main Street. Hello, nutmeat tacos.”

Tickets to the Showcase and Potluck at Indie Grits, 711 Whaley, are priced at $20. Broom warns the tickets typically sell out the day before the event. Slow Food USA members are eligible for a $5 discount. Continue reading

Smoke on the Lodge Keeps Food on Crowded Weekend Menu

fair

The first weekend in April doesn’t lack for organized events: More than 200,000 people flock to the Flowertown Festival, and another 40,000 people compete in the Cooper River Bridge Run. Thousands more attend the Family Circle Cup. But for leisure-seekers who care most about food, Smoke at the Lodge may well be the weekend’s marquee gathering.

Now in its 11th year, the hotly-contested barbecue contest is the Summerville Masonic Lodge’s biggest fundraiser. While it occurs on the outskirts of the Flowertown Festival, it’s not affiliated with the event: It’s a stand-alone campaign to raise money for the Masons’ chosen cause (this year, juvenile diabetes is the beneficiary.) Gregg Griffiths, master of the lodge, is reluctant to say just how much money the two-day event generates, lest he spoil the surprise when his lodge presents its donation at a district meeting, but suggests the figure’s in five-digit territory.

For attendees, though, the value is apparent. The night before the Boston butt competition is judged, the 25 participating teams enter an “anything but” cook-off, in which the only rule is “no pork.” The teams sell samples for $1 apiece, making the Friday night food fair one of the area’s most affordable culinary events. Continue reading

RiverDogs’ Smoker Program Takes Shape

smokerIn time for tonight’s opener, the Charleston RiverDogs have revealed more details about their meat-smoking program, new to the ballpark this season.

According to John Schumacher, a local chef will be stationed at the smoker every Sunday (provided there’s a game, of course.) The preliminary line-up includes Ted Dombrowski of Ted’s Butcher Block; Culinary Institute of Charleston dean Michael Saboe and Justin Moore, who served as chef of Carolina’s.

“Each chef will be provided a list of unique cuts of meat from Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, and will select one item to be smoked,” a press release elaborates. “Each chef will have access and use of our commissary kitchen and smoker, and all spices or seasonings (other than salt and pepper) will be provided by the guest chef.”

The items will sell for $5-$7, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.

Belong to a Losing Barbecue Team? Goose Creek Needs You

The city of Goose Creek has secured a musical act (the Shem Creek Boogie Band) and cornhole boards for its Beach and BBQ Festival later this month, but it still needs competitors for its Boston butt cook-off.

Teams are being invited to submit entry applications for the Apr. 26 event; it costs $40 to play, and the winner takes home $250. Only amateurs are allowed to compete, which means teams that have won or placed in an event sanctioned by the South Carolina Barbecue Association since April 25, 2013 aren’t eligible.

Entry forms must be filed by Apr. 14. To learn more, call 569-4242.

St. Phillips Announces Tea Room Dates

stphillipsTea room season – already underway with St. Andrews’ opening last week – continues later this month at St. Phillips Church.

Host of one of the city’s oldest tea rooms, St. Phillips will offer lunch service from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. during the week of Apr. 28. The menu features okra soup, chicken salad, shrimp salad and desserts made by parishioners, including Huguenot torte and hummingbird cake. Guests are invited to dine outdoors in the courtyard or indoors in the Parish Hall, where a pianist will provide live music.

For additional information – or to place a take-out order – call 722-7291. St. Phillips is located at 142 Church St.

First Gullah-Geechee Pop-Up of 2014 Announced

dennis2Chef B.J. Dennis has one of the city’s most appetizing Instagram feeds, thanks to his habit of chronicling nearly everything he cooks. His photos have lately included plenty of stewed royal red shrimp, one of the dishes on the menu for Dennis’ first pop-up dinner this year.

The Apr. 17 Gullah-Geechee supper at L’Atelier de Le Creuset also features chicken purloo; braised turnips and greens stewed with coconut milk (a preparation Dennis earlier this year shared with the Post and Courier: You’ll find the recipe here.) Dessert is strawberry cobbler, and High Wire Distilling Co. is providing the liquored-up punch.

Tickets to the 6:30 p.m. event are $50 apiece, and available online at eventbrite.com. L’Atelier de Le Creuset is located at 116 Ripley Point Dr.