“Get Dirty Early” Carolina Dirt Fair Kickoff at Grow Food Carolina

28 Apr

So this is a bit different. I’ll have to create a whole new category on my blog for fairs and festivals. Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the “Get Dirty Early” kickoff party for the Carolina Dirt Fair hosted by Growfood Carolina on Morrison Drive in Downtown Charleston. It was a really great event, and I thank Growfood Carolina for hosting it, and Adrian Barry for inviting me to go.

You had me at "tomato"

So, I forked over my $15 dollars and had one of the cheapest, most delicious, gourmet meals I’ve ever had in one of the coolest, LEED certified warehouses I’ve ever been to…. although I’m not really sure what a LEED-certified warehouse looks like, so this could have been the *only* LEED-certified warehouse I’ve ever been to. But that’s beside the point.

Stare in wonderment and awe at the LEEDiness of this warehouse. Also half of Adrian's face.

They also had this really nifty ice sculpture one display. I think it really added to the LEED atmosphere.

I wonder how much it would cost to have an ice sculpture in my apartment at all times.

My first stop after my arrival was at the Cannonborough Soda Company tent, where I sampled the Lemon Mint Soda, spiked with some vodka. It was delicious. It was even delicious without the vodka (although I quite enjoyed the adult version). I really liked that it was lemony without being tart… it was sweet and the mint tasted like they’d just pulled it fresh out of someone’s garden. It was cool and refreshing, and perfectly bubbly. I could drink one of those on the daily (with vodka, please).

They also had Strawberry Jalapeno, but I'd only had one Adult Lemon Mint soda, so I wasn't feeling brave yet.

I realize that this was also a networking event, but we all know I could give two craps about networking–I was there for the food. I was polite and feigned interest while people talked and politicked at me… but in my head, I was scoping out where and what I was going to eat next. Of course my first food stop was at the Husk table (I have an obsession, I know). They were offering a strawberry soup with sweet peppers and blue crab with local greens and a Southern-style edamame, which I forgot to read/ask what it actually consisted of (since I was preoccupied with eating and pretending to be interested in what my friends were saying to me), so I’ll just say what I think it was: kind of like young sugar snap peas or soy beans (which I guess would make more sense) in what tasted like caramelized onions and bacon or some kind of pork grease (which would also make sense–it is Husk we’re talking about here). I really liked both of them, but I have to say that the strawberry soup felt to me like it was missing something. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be savory or sweet and so it just came out as kind of confusing. I still enjoyed it, I just don’t think I’ll be running to Husk asking them to make it for me anytime soon. As for the southern edamame…. it tasted like it was cooked in bacon grease, so of course I loved it. I think all vegetables should be cooked in bacon grease.
–Sidenote: If anyone from Husk is reading this, please let me know what it actually is, and I’ll correct this asap.

Ooooh. I should've paired this with that Strawberry Jalapeno soda. Maybe that would've helped.

After Husk, I moved on to the 17 North Roadside Kitchens table, where they were serving some delicious looking pulled pork tacos. It was topped with some cabbage, slivered radish, and a green tomato salsa that looked almost like a pesto, but tasted amazingly different. The guys at the booth were really personable and funny and although we didn’t really chat about anything of note, I felt really at home talking to these guys. It makes me think that 17 North would be a really fun place to hang out. Not to mention that taco was friggin’ delicious. It was so simple, nothing crazy fancy to it, but it was so flavorful. It was definitely the tastiest thing I ate the entire night. I’ll be heading to 17 North sometime soon to review their offerings, you can count on that.

After that I stopped by a table that was advertising Carolina Gold Rice (which is delicious, btw). I think it might have been Anson Mills, but I failed to notice anything but the food that was laid out on their table. I was told it was a wasabi squash in a cream sauce over carolina gold rice. It kind of looked like a creamy ratatouille, and I wasn’t too thrilled about it. Squash isn’t really my favorite thing. But it was actually really flavorful and delicious. I would say that it was probably my favorite dish, after the pork tacos. I would love to make that at home on a regular basis. It looks pretty simple and easy to do, I bet I could do it.

Adding wasabi to squash is good, because then it doesn't taste so much like squash.

Following the squash, I stopped at the table for Carter’s Kitchen, Robert Carter’s new restaurant in I’On in Mount Pleasant. It looked like he had students or graduates from the Culinary Institute working at his table, which I thought was really cool. I like it when chefs give students the opportunity to work with them on events and stuff and see what it’s like. My friend Will works with Robert Carter (or “Bob” as he refers to him), and he seems to really like it. But, I digress. This table was serving bruschetta topped with bacon, pesto, and a fried oyster served alongside a spring onion soup. The bruschetta was delicious, even though oysters aren’t my favorite thing. I liked the breading and the different spices/seasonings they added to the oyster, and it really complemented the flavor of the bacon and pesto. The soup was served cold, which I was not a fan of. I don’t think any soup that has onion as the main ingredient should be served cold. So I wasn’t the hugest fan of that, but the bruschetta was good.

"A" for Effort, though, Bob!

My final stop was at the EVO artisan bakery table. I’m so excited for them to open up this bakery. I’ve never been to EVO, but I’ve heard great things. And the only thing I love more than pizza is bread, so I’m all about a new delicious bakery, especially since Rococo let me down so much with their bread offerings. They were offering pieces of delicious buttered bread as well as buttered bread topped with honey, roast beef, and pickled cucumber, all locally sourced. It was amazing. Some of the best bread I’ve eaten in a while. I loved the roast beef and the pickled cucumber, which is impressive, because I don’t usually like roast beef. But this was delicious. Everything was perfect. This is probably tied with the pork taco as being my favorite thing for the evening. I just really liked that it was simple, I wasn’t overwhelmed by ingredients or adjectives in the description. It was just really, really good.

Also, tattoos.

Also, they had a station setup outside where they were pouring Palmetto beers, educating people about recycling, and a string band was playing some crunchy grooves. Everyone was having a really good time.

Although, no one seemed to be getting dirty. I was a little disappointed at the false advertising.

Basically it was a lot of fun, it was for a great cause, and it was possibly the best $15 dollars I’ve ever spent. Even if I had to pretend to care when other people talked to me about their various issues (seriously lady, sorry your son didn’t get his diploma because he didn’t take one of the classes he needed. I’m not a parent, and I graduated from the honors college in 4 years. How do you expect me to relate to your problems). But, in all seriousness, other than that one conversation I had a really great time and I really enjoyed talking to everyone. I really want to get some of that sweet Growfood Carolina swag. I love their logo.

I also want them to come paint that in my room.

Growfood Carolina
990 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC  29403
sarac@growfoodcarolina.com

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