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Monday, March 16, 2009

Gourmet & Grapes: Saturday's wine odyssey

Posted by Angela Hanyak on Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 7:32 AM

On Saturday night, I sent Angela Hanyak out to Kiawah for the first Gourmet & Grapes event. She attended the Wine Odyssey:

As part of the First Annual Gourmet & Grapes at the Sanctuary, Saturday evening’s Wine Odyssey featured the perfect pairing of food, wine, and philanthropy. The event began with a silent auction with plenty of enviable lots, one of which was the highly popular Dessert Party for 30, which had several bidders engaging in tense competition to scribble down the winning bid. When the doors to the main ballroom swung open, the golf packages and tennis lessons offered on the auction tables were readily abandoned in exchange for the lure of the exquisite morsels prepared by some of Charleston’s favorite chefs. Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill served up a delicious tuna crudo, while Brett McKee delivered a beef braciole that was a tender and flavorful interpretation of the classic Italian dish.

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After a busy Food + Wine weekend, it was impressive to see so many chefs at the Sanctuary supporting the Hollings Cancer Center. Some of the busiest guys in town were there, including Sean Brock, who served clams and sunchokes with a red pepper broth, as well as Mike Lata, whose beluga lentils were intriguingly paired with portions of pork.

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Brock told us all about his upcoming travel schedule: multiple stops in Atlanta and a night of cooking at the Beard house in New York. How does it do it all? Simple — Red Bull. As for Lata, it seems that FIG was the home of an after-after party of sorts last Saturday night. Seems that after we all trudged home, the guys enjoyed a scrambled egg feast prepared in FIG kitchen by Johnny Iuzzini, Wylie Dufresne, and Sean Brock. No talking, just cooking.

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One of the best plates of the night was Bob Waggoner’s potato skins with bacon and foie gras, garnished with a port reduction. He dangled some clues about the upcoming filming location of U Cook with Chef Bob, but like a true pro delivered no concrete scoops. He will be enjoying the sunny shores of Hawaii for the next few days as he helps a friend with a restaurant opening. The next plate we sampled was a delectable cut of lamb from Craig Diehl, who paired them with beets seasoned with chocolate. (A good gamble, they were fabulous.) The artichoke salad that we sampled from Fred Neuville’s Wild Olive was the best imaginable endorsement for the new Johns Island eatery.

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The live auction got a shot in the arm when the food-focused lots arrived on the auction bloc. A private three-course dinner for 20 prepared by Brett McKee pushed the bidding up to $8,000, at which point McKee opted for overtime and decided to award the prize to both bidders, thereby taking in $16,000 for cancer research. When one considers that all donations were matched, those two feasts will bring in a combined $32,000.

The final lot was an over-the-top spread of prizes. The focus was the fully restored 1957 Thunderbird, which was then joined by a private dinner for twelve by both McKee and Waggoner with wines by Hal Jones of Southern Wines and Spirits, two nights in the Presidential Suite at the Sanctuary, and a spot on U Cook with Chef Bob. The final take was $56,000, which will yield an astonishing $112,000 for research.

The champagne and dessert assortment was far too much after the decadence of the main event. My waistline cried out as I loaded up my plate (“But that dress, Fashion Week, two weeks away, Noooooo!”) I just couldn’t care. If I’d had the food diary with me I would have burned it as a sacrifice to the pastry gods. We snacked on chocolate covered fruits and red velvet cake while waiters floated about with strawberry chocolate ice cream sandwiches. A quick splash of Moët & Chandon saved me from a sugar-induced coma. I could eat no more, I had been conquered and destroyed (readily and happily) by Gourmet & Grapes.

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