By Mary Gallagher
Photos by Will Davis
Accolades abound for Charleston, SC the number one tourist destination in the US (Conde Nast), one of the top five rated food festivals in the country (Forbes), “Husk” the top new restaurant in America (Food and Wine). Add in a shining seaside location, gorgeous walk-able historic district with some of the finest shopping and dining areas anywhere and as the man said “And why not?”!
The annual BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival to be held this year March 1-4, 2012 on beautiful Marion Square in the center of downtown Charleston, celebrates the best that the city of Charleston has to offer: a local food culture rich in tradition with award-winning local and visiting chefs. This four-day event integrates historic venues, homegrown and regional flavor, and benefits local culinary charities and scholarships.
We’ve attended four of the previous Charleston Wine + Food Festivals and look forward to meeting celebrated chefs, culinary professionals and winemakers at over 70 events throughout the weekend, all the while sampling outstanding food and wine.
After enjoying our annual visits, we decided to move to the Charleston area and can now participate year round in monthly events put on by the wine and food folks including wine tastings, celebrating the Poster design winner each year and a myriad of other festivities.
Whether it’s been food related book signings with open bar and hors d’oeuvres, the Culinary Village plus tasting tents, blending our own spice rub or the Perfect Paring dinners, we’ve “savored” it all.
If you can, come for a few extra days and enjoy the multifaceted attractions this area has to offer plus you’re under two hours from Columbia, SC or Savannah, GA both great for day or overnight trips.
More than 13 of Charleston’s most highly regarded hotels are offering packages including accommodations and tickets to various Festival events, with some adding special touches such as transportation, drink specials and gourmet meals. Over the years we’ve been privileged to stay at the luxurious Charleston Place Hotel, cozy Kings Courtyard Inn and the historic Francis Marion all within easy walking distance of the Marion Square activities, Museum Mile and the entire historic district.
Other times we’ve enjoyed residing a bit out of Charleston including seaside at the posh Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, in the quiet woods and gardens of the Inn at Middleton Place, and at the Shem Creek Inn, adjacent to the new Shem Creek nature and scenic boardwalk in trendy Mt. Pleasant.
A very special treat anytime of year is the 21 East Battery Bed and Breakfast offering a carriage house and historic servants quarters in the compound of the 1825 Edmondston -Alston House steps from Battery Park and the waterfront promenade with its sea views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney and Fort Moultrie among other historic sites.
2012 New Event Highlights:
Tuesday, February 28, BB&T will sponsor A NIGHT TO RISE + SHINE AUCTION. The auction will feature hundreds of silent and live auction items in one night, which can be bid on while enjoying a heavy hor d’ouvres and, as always, lots of great wine.
Friday March 2, Soul Food Shuffle will offer an intimate group of 20 a soulful ride through Charleston’s legendary Gullah establishments including Bertha’s, Martha Lou’s and more.
Perfect Pairing Dinners will be offered both nights of the Festival Friday and Saturday. Seventeen of Charleston’s renowned chefs are opening the doors of their acclaimed restaurants to a nationally celebrated chef. Together, they’ll craft a five-course tasting menu that will highlight and merge their distinctive culinary styles.
Shop, Sip, and Savor event Friday March 2. In addition to the traditional shopping while sampling food treats and sipping wine, beer and cocktails on the celebrated King Street, each store will be featuring a “Lucky 7” contest.
Taco Turf Wars. Six national chefs will serve up the best Tex-Mex tacos made with a delicious array of fresh Lowcountry ingredients, set with the backdrop of the Ashley River on Lowndes Grove Plantation.
Southern Foodways Alliance Presents “Ode to Goat.” On Saturday, relax and enjoy an ice cold beer with Robert Barber as host and “Goat’ the main star.
The Culinary Village in Marion Square will feature over 90 food, wine and spirit stations—serving samples of products from across the country—blended together at this Festival hot spot. The perimeter tents feature a Celebrity Kitchen, a high-profile book signing area, the Palmetto Cheese Culinary Hub—showcasing specialized food talks and hands-on demos, the Thermador Cooking Competitions, an official Festival merchandise boutique, the BB&T Lounge, and the Whole Foods Market Wine Shop. The Stock Yard Angus Beef and Sterling Silver Outdoor Living + Grilling Area with a FIJI Water Lounge, sit-down grilling demos, live entertainment and more.
Salute to Charleston’s Chefs: Opening Night Party on Thursday, March 1, hosted by the Art Institute of Charleston at the South Carolina Aquarium. Take in fabulous views of the Ravanel Bridge and check out the aquarium’s sea life while enjoying an incredible array of food by local culinary icons and sipping this year’s Signature Festival Cocktail.
Sunday BBQ, Blue + Brew. Ten local and national ‘que maestros are going to see who can prepare the most finger-licking good barbequed whole hog, brisket, chicken and fixings. Guests will vote for their favorite pit master while sipping ice cold beer and listening to a little Lowcountry bluegrass.
For the entire event schedule, more information or tickets to the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival®, please visit www.charlestonwineandfood.com or call (843) 727-9998 ext. 2.