Eat This Tonight: Get some wine and food before W+F 

A precursor to the big festival weekend

Next week, the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival invades our Holy City, with some of the most celebrated culinary artists and wine makers taking center stage, and food writers and serious eaters from all over jamming our restaurants with long waits. There's no better time than now to preview the exciting dishes that chefs will be showcasing for the crowds.

"Every chef in town is trying their best to be prepared in time for next week," says Executive Chef Mike Lata of FIG, who has a new dish he's excited about: coddled Sea Island egg with parsnip cream and beach mushroom ragout. Then there's his fragrant fish stew, which is filled with fresh local clams, oysters, shrimp, crab, triggerfish, and Carolina gold rice — a perfect taste of the local waters.

Trattoria Lucca is fine-tuning a new appetizer that Sous Chef Drew Tursi says is "like nothing I've ever tasted before." A crudo of Nantucket Bay scallops dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and citrus and served with pickled vegetables. "It's a unique dish that tastes like the ocean," says Tursi. And since Lucca is a tiny treasure little tucked away on Bogard Street, we think you should stop by this weekend before you can't get in the door.

At Tristan, Executive Chef Nate Whiting will be serving a pan-roasted farm pheasant with Italian-imported polenta, butter-braised cabbage, and a black truffle jus. Whiting is also preparing veal with lemon-crushed potatoes, broccolini, and a white wine sage jus with pistachio. "The veal dish will be featured during the festival weekend, " says Chef Whiting. "It's something you don't want to miss."

At Poogan's Porch Executive Chef Daniel Doyle searing scallops and serving them with crispy fried pork belly and collard green jus for a savory appetizer. For an entrée he's featuring a blackened grouper with parsnip purée, coconut apple gastrique, and wilted spinach. "This is the time to come out and join us without worrying about lines," he says.

At Carolina's on Exchange Street, Executive Chef Jill Mathias is serving a salad of smoked trout, shaved red onions, radishes, frisée, and topped with Banyuls vinaigrette. For an entree, she's cooking striped bass with shiitake mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and a miso-mustard sauce. She recently added a housemade bratwurst to the bar menu too. "W+F is an exciting time where all the chefs get to finally see each other again after the winter," says Chef Mathias. "But this weekend is great time to try out new dishes."

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