Friday, October 4, 2013

Euphoric in Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC - In its seventh year, the festival founded by local restaurateur, Carl Sobocinski and singer/songwriter Edwin McCain, was the scene of national chefs, winemakers, distilleries, and famous musicians last week when Euphoria hit the town. The 3-day food and wine festival is not like others around the country — music is in the mix making it a “total eat, sip, listen” experience. Events and a myriad of chef-owned restaurants make it clear why the culinary destination was recently voted Top Ten on the “South’s Tastiest Town” list from Southern Living. The aptly named festival continues to bring in crowds annually from across the U.S. in celebration of culinary, beverage and musical talent with all proceeds going to local Upstate charities.

 The 2013 concert headliner was Grammy award winner Kim Carnes and her longtime band. Carnes treated the energetic crowd to the original sound the Nashville star is known for with “Betty Davis Eyes” and other hits. “It is our first time here,” said Carne’s guitarist/songwriter, Greg Barnhill. “We love it here and want to come back as tourists.”

The Taste of the South highlighted local and national chefs in the historic former Duke Mayonnaise factory building: Nose Dive, Bacon Brothers Public House, Tupelo Honey, The Lazy Goat, Roost, and other eateries showcased exceptional cuisine. From comfit of chicken wings with peanuts, cilantro and Thai sauce (Nose Dive), bittersweet chocolate barbeque spare ribs (Roost), braised duck pot pie with jalapeño cornmeal crust (Stella’s Bistro), smoked Manchester farm quail with pimento cheese grits (Bacon Brothers Public House) and others, it was all worth sticking a fork into. Fresh, local greens dressed up salads, roasted brussel sprouts and watermelon feta tarragon salad cleansed the palate. To wash it down, breweries were on tap with Stella’s, along with Firefly moonshine, Six and Twenty whiskey, and wines from across the U.S.

Chef luminaries in town are too many to name but to name drop a few: Clay Miller,(Yardbird, Miami); James Boyce (Cotton Row, Huntsville); Rob Newton (Seersucker, Brooklyn). Charleston chefs brought a brigade with famed kitchen kings: Craig Deihl (Cypress), Frank Lee (SNOB), Kevin Johnson (The Grocery) and Mike Lata (FIG/The Ordinary). Culinary rock star Ed Lee of Magnolia 610 attended in 2012. Executive Chef, Anthony Gray said the inspiration for the name Bacon Brothers Public House literally came from a plate of bacon as investors and chefs sat down to talk. Meat is smoked for three days in the back for a guaranteed superb taste, and all ingredients are made in-house. Known for its exceptional charcuterie program the restaurant gets it right with chicken and waffles, voted “Best Chicken and Waffles” in Travel + Leisure.
Food trucks are on the rise in Greenville and a few made a stop during Euphoria at the Cigar Warehouse where music, food, and drink made the cool South Carolina evening one to remember. From sophisticated to sublimely simple it was all for the taking. Assad’s sautéed tuna basket and green plantain cups was worth the wait in line as was the roasted carrot tomato with pesto crouton soup at Thoroughfare. Simple but good was the BBQ sundae with pork, beans and coleslaw topped with a french-fried potato stick. I finished the night with a caramel salted cake from the Chocolate Moose.

Wine aficionados learned about the history of Bordeaux wines taught by wine expert Wayne Belding. A beer seminar at Soby’s educated the brew loving crowd. After party’s promised more culinary craft laced with designer cocktails, moonshine, beer and wine. The “Lambs and Clams After Party” at the Trappe Door showcased Border Springs lamb from the hand of Craig Rogers, aka “The Shepherd.” Lamb stew, braised lamb belly, and glazed lamb ribs were some of Roger’s highlighted recipes along with seafood from Rappahannock Oyster Company. Co-owner, Travis Croxton shucked Stingray and Olde Salt oysters on the half shell as fast as people could down them.

A culinary demonstration and cook-off, beer garden, Jazz Brunch with Bloody Mary’s, and Sunday Night Supper left festival goers sated and happy with plans to return next year. The setting in the destination city is a recipe for success with plenty to see and do for visitors. Before you leave town, rent a bike and ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail, walk across the suspension bridge in Falls Park, visit Bob Jones University Museum, or race around the track at the BMW Performance Driving School. For the perfect ending to Euphoria, spend the night at the Hotel Domestique, where old meets new in an upscale setting. The city finalist for “2013 Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine attracts more than 2.6 million visitors annually.

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