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Monday, March 11, 2019

Gorditas and greens punctuate 2019 Charleston Wine + Food finale at the Cigar Factory

Springing Forward

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 11:51 AM

click to enlarge SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
When you walk into a party billed as a celebration of nontraditional Southern fare, you don't expect that to take the form of a lamb cheesy gordita crunch.

Daylight saving time was supposedly started for the trains or the crops or something (they can't even tell time!), but it was especially kind of the clockkeepers to turn things ahead an hour just in time for Sunday night's "Southern Renaissance" W + F finale. In the shadow of the Cigar Factory, Marshgrass Mamas serenaded a sold out crowd as they sampled tastes from chefs tapped by the festival as boundary-pushers in Southern cuisine.

But it was all about that lamb taco, y'all.

Not sure what kind of guidance the festival gave the star-studded lineup of chefs for Sunday's closing party, but it seemed that many cooks took the theme as a mandate to riff on mainstays of Southern fare. With a few deviations, that meant lots of tasty takes on pork, greens, pot liquor, and barbecue.


Even Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani, Asheville's Indian street food hotspot, flexed into Southern mode with lentils, collards, and country ham — a far cry from the panipuri they dished out at the Holi City Shakedown the night before. Next to them, chefs Ashley Christensen and Frank Stitt served up perfect peas with pork sausage. Rounding out what must've been James Beard honoree corner, Miller Union chef Steven Satterfield out of Atlanta plated what his crew literally called "a mess of greens."

But anyway, back to that taco.

Betwixt the barbecue and beans, our friends from Short Grain-Jackrabbit Filly placed in our grateful hands a hot pot lamb cheesy gordita crunch filled with Sichuan pimento cheese, lamb, and tangy pickled slaw.

In addition to Short Grain stalwarts like their OG chirashi bowl, wacky iterations like this should be something to look forward to once Jackrabbit Filly opens on Spruill Avenue near Park Circle. Don't get me wrong, those field peas were nice and toothsome and chef Kevin Mitchell's sweet potato salad with benne seed vinaigrette was a bright bite. Keep those coming.

But can I get three more tacos, please?

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