Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bitter is Better - Charleston Wine+Food Festival 2013

In a building crowded with food from every talented chef in Charleston, you’d be pleased to find something refreshing. Between bites of luxurious Sweetbreads and Mempkin Abbey Mushroom Ragu over Geechie Boy Polenta from Chef Jacques Larson of The Wild Olive, or Quail Lasagna with tender Quail Scallopini from Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca, there was something special. An invigorating craft cocktail delivered the perfect palate pepping properties at The Charleston Wine+Food Festival opening event.

If you’ve had the pleasure of imbibing at The Gin Joint then you know that the man behind the cocktails, Joe Raya is creative, talented, and incredibly good at seducing your tongue. His Sharecropper Collins was made from a base of Rhubarb Tea from Art in the Age, Hendrick’s Gin, fresh lemon juice and soda water. All of these sound delicious but Raya drew my attention the moment he mentioned the Simcoe hop infused persimmon simple syrup. Hops are the flowering cone of a plant typically used for adding that bitter, piney, citrusy or often floral aromatic punch to beers, particularly IPA’s. You’ve probably had Simcoe hops if you’ve been drinking Dogfish Head 60 and 90 minute IPAs. Both Coast Brewing and Mikkeller have featured Simcoe in their Single Hop series'. The high bitterness contributed by the Simcoe hop stood in for a more common usage of actual Bitters, those tiny eyedropper bottles of super strong herbal liquor.  In cocktails or beers, bitter flavors on your tongue tell your body to increase salivation, encouraging drinkers to have another bite.

If you want to try the Sharecropper Collins you can stop by The Gin Joint to order a tall boy off their new paired down menu.

Tom Yum Goong with Basil Seeds from Chef Michelle Weaver of Carolina Grill

The Chefs at Carolina's

Gorgeous Guests Enjoying Clammer Dave's Clams from Carolina's on Exchange Street.  

Chef Frank McMahon of Hank's Seafood Slices Paper Thin Sheets of House Cured Wild Salmon

Chef Sean Brock of Husk Restaurant - "Do you need some Bourbon Chef?"

McCrady's Chef Robbie Looney Diligently Prepares the Ember Cooked Pork with Lovage, Peanut and Green Garlic

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