The humble taco got the gourmet treatment Friday afternoon at Taco Turf Wars at Lowndes Grove Plantation. A huge tent was set up on the lawn (unfortunately blocking the view of the historic home), and national chefs were set up around the perimeter offering up their spins on the Mexi-classic dish.
The event, presented by Elliott Davis and Rachael Ray Magazine, was appropriately, impeccably styled like a magazine shoot: The tables were covered in bright fabrics and orchids, vintage cans hung from the ceiling over the stage, lemon trees flanked the entrances, and tiny jars of Jerusalem Artichoke Relish were offered as favors. Comfy couches and a bar were set up in another tent overlooking the dock.
Although there was a nice selection of tequila-based cocktails to choose from, the mood was pretty subdued as most guests grabbed their tacos and settled into their seats. Our favorite was Melissa Perello's (Frances, San Francisco) light and citrusy herbed crepe "taco" with giant hunks of blue crab, grain mustard, and creme fraiche. Another winner was La Condesa's (Napa, Austin) Tacos Arabicos with seared cervena venison on a house-made bacon fat tortilla. The line for Ford Fry's pork belly tacos was the longest, but we skipped it, having had our fill of the decadent dish at Oak the night before.
Chefs Anita Lo (annisa, NYC) and Ken Oringer (La Verdad, Boston) filled out the selection; we were a little disappointed that there were only five choices. But Le Bernardin's pastry chef Michael Laiskonis made up for it with some amazing desserts made with roasted white chocolate crema, black arroz con leche, and perlas de mango. We may have had about four of these addictive little shots.