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Friday, March 7, 2014

Epic day of pre-parties, side events, and champagne

W+F fringe day

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 4:21 PM

The wine and food festival hadn't even officially kicked off, but a crowd of lucky revelers, including W+F's new executive director Gillian Zettler, congregated at Le Creuset's l'Atelier on Thursday for a rainy afternoon packed with baked clams, Fitzgerald cocktails from High Wire, Edmund's Oast beer, roasted oysters, growers champagne, and oyster shooters from Mike Lata and the Ordinary.

The star of the day was the Gramercy Tavern's Michael Anthony, who cheerfully cooked and served to an enthusiastic group of eaters in the beautiful demo kitchen. Guests received a signed copy of his cookbook, gift bags, and for the unfortunate few who smashed into the glass walls — big goose eggs on their foreheads. The offices are so sleek and clean that you really need to protect yourself by walking with your hands in front of you like a Scooby Doo sleepwalker.  

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Roasted oysters with kale and salsify were served smoking hot from the oven. So fresh and so clean. 

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Not even sure what was in this fried oyster, but it had people rolling their eyes to the heavens in delight.

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On the back porch, Clammer Dave was serving up ice cold oysters on the half shell. 

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From there, the next stop was Heirloom Book Co. for a book-signing with San Francisco Chronicle wine columnist Jon Bonné and some tastes of new California wine. We noshed on a spread of stinky cheese from Mixson Market and sipped from a selection of interesting wines. 

Harry Root from Grassroots Wine (pictured below left with Jon Bonné) organized the event and supplied the wine. 

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Is that fuzz growing on that wheel of cheese in the lower righthand corner? Perhaps. And it was stinky good.

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Wines that proved Bonné's point that there are very interesting things happening in the California wine world. Read David McCarus' column in this week's City Paper and buy a copy of Bonne's New California Wine for more on this topic. 

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Next up was the Charleston Brown Water Society's big debut party. The guys threw me an invite after I had attended some of their meetings in preparation for the piece I wrote about them this week. This was the first time many people had gotten a peek inside the new Charleston Distilling Co. on King Street and, boy, was it impressive. Lots of copper, wood, and money spent. CBWS founding father Weaver photo-bombed my shot of the distillery, but you get the idea. 

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The Cainhoy Cookin' Depot, which will open in Wando in the coming weeks, provided a spread of Southern delicacies, like biscuits, pimento cheese, and the like. It was good. Particularly the biscuits. 

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A roster of heavy hitters were on hand, including Julian Van Winkle and Ann Marshall (High Wire Distilling) with a photobombing Angel Postell.

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From there, we headed to Marion Square to take a quick tour of the opening night Salute to Chefs, grab a couple of quick bites of food from Ken Vedrinski (mushroom tea with ravioli), Craig Deihl (goat gyro), and Mike Lata (clam fritter) and get a rundown of the Jacques Larson mini-controversy. Apparently, he inadvertently and unintentionally offended some people with his comments in an Eater interview. Awkward. 

After that, we hit the Billy Reid party being held in the envy-inducing Blue Ion offices where I encountered two castmembers from Southern Charm and spent the night talking to them about how mean I am for my scathing review of the first episode. Luckily, they were game about the whole thing and had a sense of humor about it (at least I think they did). 

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Then, the crowd headed to the Butcher & Bee for the Grassroots Wine dance party followed by the official W+F afterparty at Indaco. At this point, cameras were put away and dancing shoes were put on so we have no more pictures to share. All in all, it was an epic day that ended with Charleston Copilot driving us home at 2 a.m.  

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