Discover South Carolina was the theme of an alfresco walk around lunch at the James Beard House August 23. Representatives of cities from coastal Charleston to inland Greenville were on hand to tout the glories of their cities, their products, and their natural beauty. Columbia is the proud home of Anson Mills, renowned for its rice and heirloom grains. Greenville boasts that it’s building the best downtown in America, a thriving walkable downtown vibrant with top notch restaurants.
This being the Beard House, South Carolina chefs were busy in the kitchen preparing delicious bites to show off their state.
Forrest Parker, who has just taken over the range at the Drawing Room restaurant at the Vendue Hotel in Charleston, presented cowpea fritters to illustrate the West African influence so prominent in the low country. Parker describes himself as an agricultural archeologist because of his interest in researching and reintroducing heirloom varieties. He gave the example of Bradford watermelons which were thought to be extinct and are now being reintroduced. A spear of pickled Bradford rind garnished the Sumter 75 Cocktail being served in the garden. “It’s the best tasting watermelon you’ll ever have,” he said.
South Carolina peaches were in their glory. Top: Peach cornbread cake with buttermilk whipped cream. Above, left: Battery Punch made with Charleston Plantation Earl Grey Tea, Copper Horse Distilling Bold Rum, South Carolina peaches and Muscadine sparkling wine. Above, right: Forrest Parker’s passion is researching and reintroducing heirloom varieties.
Ramone Dickerson from Columbia made miso confetti corn with a green tomato canapé and kewpie aioli. Teryi Youngblood of Greenville concocted a plantation rice and pea salad with pickled okra. Orchid Paulmeier of Hilton Head Island stuffed a golden arancini with Ossabow pulled pork.
And there were trout croquettes, chicken wings stuffed with Landrace collards and pimento cheese, and pickled shrimp with roasted sun choke aioli. To top it all off a South Carolina peach cornbread cake with buttermilk whipped cream.
What would a Southern feast be without the vin de pays of the South? To fill that bill there were pitchers of iced sweet and unsweetened Charleston Plantation Earl Grey Tea. The tea also took a bow in Battery Punch made with Copper Horse Distilling Bold Rum, South Carolina peaches and Muscadine sparkling wine.
Some of the products featured, such as Windy Hill Orchards & Cidery Apple Butter BBQ Sauce, were said to be representative of the innovations introduced by grown children returning to farms. For example, Windy Hill had always made apple butter but had not concocted a BBQ sauce with it. Nor had they made hard cider until recently.
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