When I go to the theater, I eat. Even if I have dinner shortly before a film, I still order popcorn. When I heard the Food Film Festival was making its way to Charleston, I knew I had to check it out. Maybe there'd be no hot-buttered popcorn, but I would get to sample the food that I'd see onscreen Sounded good to me.
The Food Film Festival features several short food films with food pairings. The festival director, George Motz, founded the festival in New York seven years ago, and added another event in Chicago in 2010. This was the festival's first year in Charleston, which will become an annual event. More details about the festival can be found in an earlier post, but here's the lowdown on my recent experience.
The Hot Southern Shorts! on Saturday night kicked off with some tasty bites and cocktails courtesy of The Grocery. Kevin Johnson was serving a crostini with smoked mackerel, spicy dill and sumac yogurt, and cucumber, as well as Kurios bibb lettuce filled with strawberry bar-b-jus glazed pork belly and green strawberry relish.
Hallie Arnold crafted two cocktails to go along with Johnson's dishes. The Loretta lemonade consisted of strawberry infused Maker's Mark, fresh ginger, and lemon and my favorite of the two, the Gin and Consequence, was concocted of Dorothy Parker Gin, cucumber, mint, dill, and lime.
Guests had time to mingle while enjoying wine, cheese, and a few options from Palmetto Brewing Company before the lights were dimmed and the films began.
Seven short films were played, with Motz giving commentary in between. The list included the world-premiere of Motz's documentary, Head On, which gives fantastic insight to the world of Lowcountry shrimping. Shortly after the film we enjoyed a sample of spicy shrimp Fra'Diavolo, from Almifi's. The seductive short, Food Porn, involved two individuals feeding each other grapes, strawberries, and bananas to seductive music. The film was appropriately complemented with strawberries and cream.
Hot Wet Goobers gave an inside look at a Georgia boiled peanut business while we munched on the soft green peanuts from Hardy Farms, and Mama Sugar's Sweet Potato Cobbler, which was about as seductive as Food Porn, was followed up with incredible sweet potato pie made by Lauren Mitterer from Wild Flour Pastry.
The first two films were both inspiring and comical. Mr. Okra follows New Orleanian Arthur Robinson as he coasts the streets of NOLA in a truck filled with fresh produce, using his P.A. system to let residents know what he's currently got in stock. "Aint no sense in cookin' if you aint cookin' with fresh food and fresh vegetables," he says. He continues with,"As long as I have that wagon out there, I have no trouble getting women." In honor of Mr. Okra, Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill served a marinated kale salad with peas, corn, rice, and pickled radish and okra.
Mickle's Pickles is a tragic film about pickler Mickey Fluitt and the picklenapping of his most prized possession: a giant pickle. Ok, not so tragic, but pure comedy. The stolen pickle became so famous that when it was returned, everyone wanted pictures with it. After the short film, guests got to enjoy the Not Hot Jalapeño pickles as Mickey talked about the pickle business.
Sticking with the Southern theme, the night ended with an all-you-can-eat Lowcountry shrimp boil. What a fun, creative, and outstanding night. This is a great new festival to add to Charleston's ever-growing festival lineup.
“I hope nobody ate breakfast,” were the initial words of food writer and City Paper contributor Jeff Allen on Friday morning as he addressed a group waiting to be schooled on Charleston’s Gullah and Soul food cuisine. The tour started at Marion Square where Jeff gave a brief overview of the area and the five restaurants on the agenda.
After a nice historical stroll through the neighborhood between King Street and St. Philip Street, the first stop was Dave’s Carryout. We could smell the fried food from about a block away. Everyone crammed into the small joint run by Sandra McCray and two family members. Small brown bags filled with fried shrimp, hush puppies, and tartar sauce were handed out to each guest. The shrimp was flavorful enough that it didn’t require any sauce.
Jeff then led the group over to one of Charleston’s best kept soul food secrets, Ernie’s. A nice spread was setup that consisted of cornbread, a gelatinous okra soup, and butterbeans so good you could hear everyone in the room hum “mmmm” in unison. Ernie’s doesn’t advertise, the bowl of butterbeans speaks for itself.
A shuttle then took everyone up to “The neck” of Charleston, which is basically the border of Charleston and North Charleston, where the sisters of Bertha’s Kitchen cooked up a crispy fried pork chop, cabbage, and rice.
At that point everyone was getting full and in need of a nap but two of the most important stops were still ahead, including the kitchen of a Charleston legend, Martha Lou.
Tables were setup outside and Martha Lou herself started carrying out trays of food that became part of a full-on buffet of rice, baked chicken, butterbeans, and mac n cheese. Word got out that Martha’s fried chicken is the best in town so she ended up bringing out a tray of that as well. It was agreed by everyone that Martha Lou was not messing around — this woman can cook.
Finally, the group was shuttled through some of the rough parts of Charleston on the way to Alluette’s holistic café for dessert. The good news was that Alluette uses almost all organic ingredients. We started off with a cup of decadent dark chocolate mousse followed by a plate of pound cake, bread pudding, and apple pie, which Jeff calls “the best apple pie I’ve ever had in my life.” I tend to agree.
After Alluette and Jeff made some closing comments the group applauded to the close of such a wonderful event. The stories about the rich soul food history that Jeff was able to share with everyone were truly amazing, and all of the food was cooked with pure love. The only thing that could make the event even better is a final stop at the battery where a spread of hammocks are lined up for an afternoon slumber.
Blackbeerd Russian Imperial Stout (9.3% ABV), COAST Brewing Company's winter seasonal, has become one of their most sought-after specialty beers.
On Saturday, Jan. 21 at 5 p.m., House of Brews in Mt. Pleasant will be tapping a rare 9-gallon cask of the 2012 Blackbeerd.
A cask-conditioned beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated. No nitrogen or CO2 is added. What’s even more important is that this particular beer will be dry-hopped using Simcoe hops, adding a layer of complexity to the bouquet.
Hops are an essential ingredient in every beer recipe, adding flavor, bitterness, and aroma. Generally, they are added during the boiling process, which helps release essential oils. Dry-hopping is when they add more hops late in the fermentation cycle. Despite hops' bitter reputation, this process does not add much bitterness to a beer, if any at all. Dry-hopping adds some additional flavor, but mostly enhances the aroma of the beer.
And if a rare cask of Blackbeerd isn’t enough reason to head over to the House of Brews, live music will be provided by 17 South and Roti Rolls will be setting up shop in the lot for those that want to make this a foodie affair.
House of Brews is located at 1537-C Ben Sawyer Blvd on the way to Sullivan’s Island in Mt. Pleasant. Parking is limited so it would be a good idea to car pool. Visit houseofbrewsmtp.com or find them on Facebook for information on upcoming events.
this years event was a blast, thanks sean brock and staff for asking me to be on the team!!!
all you chefs out there in charleston should be so proud!!!!!!!
keep up the good work!