Euphoria: A Celebration of Food, Wine and Music in Greenville
By Lynne Brandon
Greenville, SC- Food, wine and music lovers get a sensory overload when Euphoria rolls into town every September. The four-day event showcases the best-of-the-best in an artistic smorgasbord that has something for every foodie, wine lover and music fan. The event was started in 2005 by award-winning singer/songwriter Edwin McCain who lives in Greenville, and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski, owner of the Soby’s, the five-restaurant group. Combining food, wine and music draws record crowds to the small city with a European-like downtown.
Euphoria is not just about eating, drinking and being merry. It is an event with a heart and funds the “Local Boys do Good” Foundation created to benefit local non-profit organizations. “We started this event for charity,” said Sobocinski. “It has evolved into tourism and put us on the map. People used to drive right through Greenville. Now, we are starting to be a weekend destination for folks from Atlanta and Charlotte.”
McCain noticed the change in the food scene when Soby’s opened and embraced the concept of music, food and wine as vehicles to raise money for needs in the community. The two have grown the event with the help of many volunteers who work tirelessly to bring in acclaimed chefs like Frank Stitt, Master Chef Whitney Miller, and famed wine experts for cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, and other events.
At the 2011 event, local chefs were showcased at the “Taste of the South” food event where Upstate culinary artists wowed all with masterful presentations at the Peace Center Amphitheatre. Regional fare from Soby’s, The Plaid Pelican, The Lazy Goat, and others served up shrimp and grits, seafood paella, pork and steak which pared well with regional rum and other drinks, beer and wine. Decadent desserts like carrot cake cupcakes with goat cheese icing from Stella’s ended the tasting on a sweet note. Afterward, diners enjoyed listening to the tunes of Edwin McCain, Maia Sharp and Will Hoke while lounging on the banks of the Reedy River under the stars.
Chefs like Haley Bitterman, Executive Chef for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, were on hand for the event. The Louisiana based chef is passionate about seafood and the Gulf Coast region. She is the first female chef in the group and says every day is different. “One of the joys of cooking is the immediate gratification,” said Bitterman. “You are nourishing and feeding people and creating great memories.”
Food shares the stage with wine at Euphoria. Wine seminars led by master sommeliers shared years of experience and offered something for every wine lover. Expert Laura Williamson educated about champagne and other bubbly libations, and Wayne Belding made “wines of the earth” come alive with a history of world wines. Belding combined education with humor when he explained the importance of paring food and wine together for the optimum experience. “Mixing dry wine with sweet foods is like toothpaste with orange juice – not good.” Scott Carney taught about “Cabernet Sauvignon” and its position as a “king” in the red wine world
Capping the event was a spectacular Sunday jazz brunch/cooking demonstrations which featured great breakfast foods, breads, desserts such as mini Lavender infused cupcakes, and much more. Superior tasting olive oil from Palmetto Olive Company was on-hand for food lovers to try. And, mixology queen Sly Cosmopoulos showcased mini-Bloody Mary’s and other drinkable feasts.
Before you leave town, visit the nearby BMW Performance Driving School for an adrenalin rush, or learn about the city’s history with a walking tour. Stop by to sample the state’s fist “legal” moonshine at Dark Corner Distillery where co-owner Joe Fenten says moonshine and brew go together like “peas and carrots.” Try their signature “Apple-achian Margarita” dressed up with caramel sauce. Or, just revel in the sights, smells and sounds that are distinctly Greenville. It’s Euphoria!