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2014 Taste of Charleston Weekend Concludes At Boone Hall with Flourish of Flavor
10/1/2014 4:05:32 PM

Workers representing Nigel's Good Food well with effective teamwork. Photo by Damion Smalls.

The smoked and chilled tri tip dip sandwich with horseradish garlic aioli prepared by Stars Restaurant's Joe DiMaio. Photo by Damion Smalls.
By Damion Smalls

The 34th annual Southern Living Taste of Charleston once again showed why the city is considered one of the premier food destinations in the world with a satisfying and eye-opening celebration.

Hosted by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, the charity fundraiser spanned from September 26-28 with a special affair at three separate venues: Friday’s Iron Chef Competition at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, Saturday’s Sweet & Southern on the Charleston Harbor, and Sunday’s main event finale at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant.

50 of Charleston’s best restaurants featured select samples from their menus at personalized stations and food trucks. Edibles from Southern Brewery, Red’s Ice House, Jim N Nick’s BBQ, Ben & Jerry’s, Mrs. Rose’s, A.W. Shucks and many others fed the crowd with more than enough variety and spice.

The main event aimed to please all audiences as there were fascinating attractions taking place throughout the day such as live music, painting tables, beer and wine tastings, an ice carving, a man on stilts, kids’ area complete with jump castles, and all the food a reasonable person could ask for. There was even a television showing the Carolina Panthers’ game against the Baltimore Ravens for local fans.

Grey skies and sprinkles of rain failed to ruin the outdoor event. Costco, Pepsi, and DirecTV were a few of the corporate sponsors that helped facilitate the proceedings. Local charities that benefitted from sales included MUSC’s Hollings Center, Charleston County School District Science Materials Resource Center, and the Ronald McDonald House. There was an entrance fee for the event and each restaurant additionally sold samples of their products.

The Culinary Institute, Wando and West Ashley High Schools were also on hand providing snacks and gaining experience. The Kids Kitchen Side-Show area kept children well occupied with mini cooking classes, sing-alongs, shows, and a Kona Shaved Ice Truck. The after-party was held at the nearby Wild Wing Café.

The samples I tasted gave me a good indication on what to expect concerning the restaurants’ quality. BlackJack BBQ served me a healthy portion of their tomato-laden red rice. I indulged in Nigel’s Good Food hearty seafood gumbo. Wild Buffalo Steakhouse’s rich bison burger with smoky aioli and jalapeno coleslaw paired well with each other. The Saku tuna tacos from Water Dog Grill were pleasing to the palate. The Drawing Room impressed me with their cool shrimp salad croissant. Steel City Pizza Co. improved upon the traditional pepperoni slice with good dough. And not surprisingly, Executive Chef Joe DiMaio and his team from Stars Restaurant created the most enjoyable grub of the day with a smoked and chilled tri tip dip with horseradish aioli. The dip, which consisted of duck au jus, took the savory sandwich over the top into an exceptional league of its own.

Sometimes, Charlestonians take for granted the bountiful and exemplary choices we have when it comes to food. Fortunately, Southern Living does its best to remind us how lucky we are with a yearly token of remembrance to the Holy City’s excellent cuisine. Keep supporting our fine establishments.

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