The Charleston Food + Wine crew finally made it to Memphis for a weekend-long barbecue competition. Read Angel Postell's account of their memorable first night:Memphis in May, you need to go. Last night was one of the coolest, funniest, most craziest experiences of my life, and we still have two more days.
Located downtown right on the Mississippi river, the festival is a month long and has a different focus each weekend. This weekend it's all about barbecue with its annual cooking competition. More than 600 teams travel from all over to compete and win.
The smell of smoke and pork seemed to permeate the entire city, and it eventually just became a permanent part of our stench. There were rigs of every size and each "team" gets a space to make their own. Teams go all out, some with double- and triple-decker scaffolding that creates a makeshift clubhouse for the weekend. It's tailgating like you've never seen before, and it goes on for miles.
As soon as we entered, we were excited to see Food for the Southern Soul sporting some Carolina love. They were hosting one of many VIP parties of the night, and we happily crashed it.
We then found our Fatback Collective friends. They decked their spot out with photos documenting their journey and old cots to sleep on during the night while cooking. They also had enough memorabilia, books, and decor to gave it a homey feel. We also caught up with a lot of pitmasters who've been a part of the festival for a long time, including Mike Mills, Pat Martin, and Rodney Scott.
Even though there was more drinking than eating, we managed to eat some really great food. But instead of the picking our favorite eats for this recap, we're listing our favorite experiences of the day:
1. Crashing the Collier Insurance party and everyone looking at us wondering if we were the new girls at the company.
2. Bracelet making at the Fatback Collective tent.
3. The Lowcountry boil featuring Rappahannock oysters, Mark Marhefka shrimp, Lowcountry clams, and the best accompaniments that Sean Brock could whip up.
4. Doing luge shots with Ashley Christiansen and Angie Mosier from pegleg himself.
5. Buying glow-in-the-dark blinking pig necklaces for Rodney Scott to sport.
6. Dancing with farmers Craig Rogers and Will Harris.
7. Hanging on the top of the Big Red Rig in the wee hours of the night eating leftover ribs and pork rinds.
8. Jamming out to Cowboy Mouth!
9. Enjoying some Foggy Ridge Cider several times throughout the night.
10. Visiting a double-decker tent which had a chandelier made of beer funnels that came down every half hour for nearby guest enjoyment. And yes, we did.
After hitting up Graceland, our plan is to eat more and go back for more rounds of Memphis in May.