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Taco Wars at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival

Taco Wars at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival

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Charleston's Wine and Food Festival continued Friday and Saturday with events that welcomed chefs from across the country but retained the charm of the Holy City.

Friday's big daytime event was called Taco Turf Wars at Lowndes Grove Plantation. While I expected an event of this name to be a competition of some kind, instead, keeping with the Southern gentility of the weekend, the "war" consisted of nothing more than six chefs making tacos and sharing in the beauty of the location.

Chef Anita Lo (Annisa, New York) cooked a Szechuan chicken and peanut taco with a Chinese green bean salad. She said the Southern element came from including fried chicken skins. Melissa Perello (Frances, San Francisco) cooked a delicious herbed crêpe taco with blue crab salad, grain mustard, and crème fraîche. It might have been the winner of the event in my book, except that I don't think a crêpe really passes for a taco.

The stand-out taco came from Rene Ortiz (La Condesa, Austin) who made "Tacos Arabicos" with seared Cervena venison, pickled cucumber, chipotle harissa, fennel pollen yogurt, and a house-made bacon-fat tortilla. If it were a true war I would have declared Ortiz the winner (although Michael Laiskonis' desserts might need to take a serious honorable mention, despite also having nothing to do with tacos).

In the evening, the big after-party was held at chef Craig Deihl's Cypress, which sported oysters and locally made hot dogs, while guests Sean Brock (Husk, Charleston) and John Besh (August, New Orleans) hugged so excitedly that they ran into a wall.

On Saturday, rain overtook the festivities, but it didn't stop any events. The "Ode to Goat" at Bowen's Island celebrated local oysters and featured pots of freshly steamed oysters from the Lowcountry. In the afternoon, an array of chefs including Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, New York), Bill Smith (Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, N.C.) and Hugh Acheson (Empire State South, Atlanta) held court at the Thomas Bennett House and signed copies of their recent cookbooks for fans.

The festivities continue today at the seventh annual BB&T Charleston Wine and Food Festival. Follow #chswff on Twitter for more updates!

Grouper Tacos

Grouper Tacos:
2 6 oz. grouper fillets, cut into one-inch pieces
1 lime, juiced & zest reserved
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
12 corn tortillas, heated
6 Tbs. cilantro soy aioli
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1 head lettuce, chopped
3/4 cup tomato/cucumber pico

Cilantro Soy Aioli:
(Makes 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic
1 pinch sea salt
3 Tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
2 egg yolks
1 lime, juiced & zest reserved
1 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Tomato Pico:
(Serves 4-6)
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled & seeded
1/2 purple onions
2 tbs cilantro
1 tsp. crushed red peppers
splash of red wine vinagrette

For the Grouper Tacos:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place first three ingredients in a bowl and fold to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add fish and sear for 30 seconds on each side. Dust with salt and pepper. Place sauté pan in oven for three minutes. Stack two tortillas per taco. With a slotted spoon, place fish on center of tortilla. Pour one tablespoon aioli over fish. Top with two tablespoons cheese, lettuce, and two tablespoons pico and serve.

For the Cilantro Soy Aioli:
In a blender, pulse garlic and salt. Add soy sauce, eggs, and lime juice and zest. Slowly add oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and stir. To serve, in a crisp tortilla scoop aioli, sharp cheddar, lettuce (romaine or green leaf) and grouper. Top with tomato pico.

For the Tomato Pico:
Mix together in food processor and serve.

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Looks delicious! I’ve never tried making tempura at home, but this looks pretty uncomplicated. I’ve heard that using seltzer water instead of regular water in tempura batters is supposed to keep the batter very light. Maybe something to try?

No lime in the “chipotle lime mayo”? Seems odd. This sounds really good anyway, though! I love shrimp!

Boys and girls, as warned, the mayo is SPICY. If you don’t like as much heat or don’t tolerate it well, maybe you could cut down to one or two peppers instead of the whole can. I may try that next time.

I wish they’d sell Chipotle peppers in a jar…most of the time I see them in cans and I only use a couple.

If they had these at the 2013 Festival we skipped them (I make shrimp and fish tacos at home and we wanted to try new things). I will save this recipe and give it a try. it sounds delicious.

I just need to find the Lamb Chop /Pesto Mint recipe and a few others to bring back some tasty memories.

I only used 2 chipotle peppers and a couple of teaspoons of the sauce out of the can. It gives it a little kick without being overpowering. Little kids were able to eat it.

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Charleston Fashion Week – Day 1 (or Lust)

Lust? Why Lust, you ask. Well my darlings, Charleston Fashion Week, is something akin to the Cardinal Vices, better known as the Seven Deadly Sins, for any fashion-loving lass or lad. Why? Because we’ll experience nearly every vice this week, and by Saturday night, we all be nearly dead as well!

So what about the Lust? Let me tell you. Emerging Designer Samantha Hyman‘s first look down the catwalk literally made me say, “Yes, please, oh my God, NOW!” I wanted to jump on stage and steal that jacket right off the model. As she was only the size of an elongated pixie, I probably could have gotten away with it.

Remember Daniel D? Crazy-awesome violin boy? Yes, that talent was back. It didn’t wow me quite as much as last year, seemed like there was more back up music than necessary, but whatevs. He can fiddle anytime he wants.

Another musical note. Holy Bass, Batman. Turn it down please! The whole place was vibrating, I thought we were at PURE Theatre for a second.

Style Lounge: Was great to see Angie of rosita jones in the tent…snagged another bottle of nail polish–make sure you 1. read my profile on her and 2. go visit her in the back of the Style Lounge, conveniently near the bar!

It’s all about the kids this year. There’s like, quadruple the amount of children’s clothing this year. Barbara Beach clearly started something in 2011. (check out this video from last year!)

Pint-sized model for Poe Studio

Poe Studio‘s kiddies were cute enough to almost make you want to have children. They used copious amounts of tulle to make “cotton candy” and “popcorn,” as the circus theme is getting some serious play in Charleston lately. (time for something new, whatdaya say, folks??)

Palm Avenue was decidedly less Lilly print and more color block, with hints of Lilly. Very wearable clothes. The bathing suits were killer. I will be getting one soon. Nice work ladies.

Mikasa LaCharles wants you to own who you are, and she sure does. This sparky gal from Chesapeake Bay, Virginia won the crowd over with sheer enthusiasm and ownership. Rock it, girl.

As I mentioned already, Samantha Hyman was by far and away my favorite. She had a Victorian look, with a slight Helena Bonham Carter flavor, which gave the clothes just enough sinister to walk the line between staid Victorian and sleek, chic modern. Why she didn’t win is beyond us. Truly.

Tsvetelina Gerasimova McAuliffe of Concord NC won the night, and while the images of her clothes look great, the details from the front row left me a little less wowed. For instance, this fantastic blue gown was sullied with some silver chain that looked like an afterthought. Sans that, we have a solid A+ Winner. Congrats Tsvetelina.

Locals Gil Tisdale & Dominique Verona were the People’s Choice winner, with some obvious crowd support in the audience. Nothing like cheering for the home team.

Check out Olivia’s favorite emerging designer, Adrienne Antonson:

I had to peace out before the Featured Designer show, for the Faces For Radio show at Voodoo, but The Digitel’s Katie Thompson has a good run down of the rest of the evening here.

Okay, loveys, I’m heading to Marion Square to pick up my media badge for tonight’s madness. Stay tuned for videos, pics, interviews…what will the Cardinal Vice be tonight.

Follow me on Twitter for up to the minute musings and more: @chasartmag (follow @shuggins1229 for more snark)

Charleston with a Baby and Food Allergies

My husband and I have never been to Charleston before and are excited to be spending memorial day weekend there and at Kiawah Island with our daughter who will be 7.5 months old at the time. We live in NYC and she is no stranger to eating out and well behaved but it would definitely stress me out to have her in a formal dining setting that is very quiet or where kids are frowned upon of where it's mainly a business crowd etc. She tends to do better (not make any noise and just try to steal food off my plate and smile at everyone) at lunch so I was hoping to try some of the nicer meals at this time. Our other major caveat is that I cannot currently eat any dairy or soy (soy oil, butter, cheese, milk, edamame, miso, tofu, etc.) Soy oil especially has been a really hard to avoid since it tends to be the oil of choice for fryers and greasy spoon type establishments. If anyone out there could help me vet/ narrow down this list I would be very grateful, especially since it is currently way too long for such a short trip right now anyway. We tend to prefer eating lighter meals, but also want to make sure we get to try foods that are different then what we can eat at home. Does anything seem too out of the way to bother with or will have crazy lines? Are we missing something amazing?

• Husk
• Obstinate Daughter
• Hominy Grill or swig and swine bbq or hometown bbq or glass onion or fat hen (I realize these are pretty different but I’m worried about finding food choices at any of them and I feel like any of them could induce a major food coma)
• Callie’s little hot biscuit (I can’t imagine this won’t have dairy but wanted my husband to at least try one while I stare sadly at it out of envy like a food creeper)
• The Ryder Cup Bar, Kiawah Island (less for the food and more for the setting)

• Fig (I'm guessing this one won't work out with a baby, it just sounds to good to leave of an initial list)
• Wild Olive
• 167 Raw (could also do lunch)
• Artisan Meat Share
• Tattooed Moose (erm it's the sort of bar you can bring a baby too right? Or I am I really misinterpreting this one?)

Charleston’s Culinary Scene – Why Chefs Are Flocking to Charleston

Charleston’s culinary scene is booming, and chefs from across the country are flocking here to put down their roots. If food is your passion, then Charleston is your dream destination.

Who can blame them? Charleston’s food scene is hot right now. Restaurants are popping up everywhere, featuring both traditional and modern dishes bursting with flavor from farm-fresh ingredients. The city’s diverse neighborhoods and unbeatable hospitality only enhance the culinary experience.

Charleston is a vibrant dining destination that is luring food enthusiasts from all over with its delicious food and southern charm. Here is a deeper look into why the Holy City’s expanding food scene is causing chefs to pack up their knives and move to Charleston in droves.

A Diverse Food Scene

As a historic port city, Charleston was destined to become a mecca for aspiring chefs. Spurred by the Spoleto Festival in 1977, the Holy City quickly became a prominent food destination to accommodate the influx in tourists drawn by the performing arts scene.

Today, many chefs, bakers, craft brewers, local food artisans, and more have found their perfect home in Charleston. This has made the city not only the ideal setting for aspiring chefs to flex their creativity, but also a great place to live and explore the diverse food scene.

A Taste of Lowcountry Cuisine

Whether you’re ordering shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, oysters, okra, or Frogmore stew, you won’t be disappointed with Charleston’s traditional Lowcountry cuisine. With its fertile lands, coastal location, and varied cultural influences, Charleston was destined to stand out with its own exceptional culinary dishes.

Traditional Lowcountry cuisine draws from African, French, English, and European influences to create a one-of-a-kind comfort food that locals and tourists can’t stop craving. Here, you can find local chefs cooking up Lowcountry classics, while others branch out and put their own unique spin on traditional dishes.

Award-Winning Restaurants

Foodies come from all around the globe to taste the flavors of the many award-winning restaurants in Charleston. From fine dining to casual restaurants, Charleston has made a name for herself by offering some of the best food in the country.

Husk, FIG, and Hominy Grill are culinary hotspots in Charleston, and all are winners of the James Beard Award. Many restaurants in the city have also been featured in prominent food magazines, such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine.

Food Trucks

Want to take your culinary skills to the streets? Food trucks are expanding in Charleston, as both locals and tourists demand greater variety in their street food.

Whether you’re looking to nosh on Caribbean Creole, Southern BBQ, gorgeous Greek food from the beloved Platia food truck or a tasty dessert from Sweet Lulu’s Bakery, there are some amazing food trucks here—and room for more if you act quickly.

The Tourism Industry Continues to Thrive

Each year, Charleston attracts more than 5 million visitors for its historic downtown, bustling art scene, and culinary offerings!

In fact, South Carolina’s tourism is now a $19.1 billion industry, driven largely by the Charleston metro region. According to the 2016-17 Outlook Forecast from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the city’s economic forecast shows continued growth in the tourism industry over the next two years.

The thriving tourism industry is great news for chefs in Charleston. Locals and tourists alike are hungry for a taste of Charleston cuisine, and they have no shortage of options when it comes to exploring the city’s eclectic food scene. From guided food tours to the highly-anticipated Charleston Wine and Food Festival, the Holy City provides many reasons for foodies and chefs to visit year after year.

Culinary Tours

You know you’ve reached culinary success when your restaurant is one of the stopping points on a Charleston food tour. The city’s burgeoning food scene has grown so much over the past decade that tasting tours are a must for people visiting the area.

Charleston is a walkable city, making food tours extremely popular here. Give your taste buds a thrill and take a culinary tour on historic Upper King Street to sample the city’s finest food offerings.

Legendary Oyster Roasts

Ready to shuck some oysters? The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is the world’s largest oyster festival and attracts people from all over to devour steaming pots of oysters.

Of course, it isn’t the only oyster roast that is popular in Charleston. From Kiawah Island to Folly Beach, there are plenty of legendary oyster roasts scattered around the peninsula.

The Charleston Wine and Food Festival

Each year, foodies descend upon Charleston to attend the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival to sample the rich flavors from the area’s best chefs, beverage makers, and artisans.

Now in its 35 th year, the festival brings people from around the globe to celebrate and experience Southern culture and cuisine. This five-day event is just one of the many festivals that attract tourists to America’s Best City, with the Spoleto Festival drawing approximately 70,000 visitors each year.

Food Inspiration Is Everywhere in Charleston

If you need a bit of inspiration to fuel your passion for food, you won’t have to look far in Charleston. Inspiring figures are everywhere you look, from prominent chefs to local food artisans and Lowcountry farmers.

Top Chefs in Charleston

Charleston has already attracted the top culinary talent from across the country and currently boasts many famous chefs, including James Beard Award-winning chefs Sean Brock of Husk, Mike Lata of FIG, and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill.

Other notable chefs include culinary legend Nathalie Dupree, Michelle Weaver (executive sous-chef at Charleston Grill), and Frank Lee of S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad Restaurant). Each of these culinary experts has left a lasting mark on Charleston and has helped shaped the city’s food scene.

Local Food Artisans and Farmers

Nothing beats the taste of freshly caught seafood and farm-to-table ingredients. The local food artisans and farmers in Charleston take pride in providing locals and visitors with ingredients that are locally sourced and bursting with flavor.

Visit the Charleston Farmers Market held at the beautiful Marion Square on Upper King Street, and this passion will be on full display. Charleston locals are fiercely dedicated to supporting the community, and it’s an inspiring sight to see.

A Taste of History Through Gullah Cuisine

There is something special about eating a dish that was passed down in someone’s family for generations. Many restaurants in the Lowcountry have kept the recipes of their ancestors near and dear to their hearts, including the Gullah people, the direct descendants of the West African slaves.

Traditional Gullah restaurants are hard to find in Charleston, but places such as Bertha’s Kitchen in North Charleston still offer traditional Gullah dishes, such as stewed greens, okra soup and fried pork. Gullah recipes have been passed down for centuries, reflecting their collective memory through their delicious cuisine and preserving the Palmetto State’s rich culinary heritage.

The Perks of Living in Charleston

Whether you are an aspiring chef or not, Charleston is an undeniably attractive place to live, work, and play. In addition to its booming food scene, the city offers residents a wide variety of perks that makes living here a dream come true.

History Is Everywhere You Look

With over 300 years of storied history, Charleston is a history lover’s paradise. Many of the neighborhoods in Charleston are easily walkable, allowing you to stroll along cobblestone streets and view the stories etched in stunning works of art and architecture.

From its original settlement by English colonists in 1670, Charleston has been home to patriots, artists, and pirates. The city has also survived wars, fires, and natural disasters, making its history particularly diverse and enthralling.

Mild Weather

In addition to its historical architecture, Charleston residents also get to enjoy mild weather for most of the year. While summers can turn uncomfortably hot and humid, winters are mild, and residents love how sunny it is year-round.

If you plan to visit Charleston, consider coming in the spring. Not only are temperatures perfect this time of the year, but its food, architecture, and culture are on full display with the Wine and Food Festival in early March and the Spoleto Festival USA in May.

A Great Place to Raise a Family

With its beautiful communities, friendly atmosphere, thriving economy, and excellent schools, it’s not surprising that Charleston is consistently named one of the “Greatest Places to Live” by Outside Magazine. If you’re looking to raise a family, you couldn’t ask for a better place to settle down.

In fact, that’s exactly what former NYC chef Michael Toscano did when he left Manhattan for Charleston and opened Le Farfalle in 2016. The Holy City’s reputation for Southern hospitality does not disappoint.

Big City with Small Town Vibes

Despite being the second biggest city in South Carolina, Charleston has managed to retain a charming, small-town feel. This is partly due to the friendly nature of the locals, but also because Charleston’s historic architecture makes you feel as though you have been transported back in time.

Charleston has managed to preserve much of its history and is bursting with culture. This is a source of pride for residents, many of them actively trying to preserve the many qualities that make the Holy City a unique place to live.

Beautiful Beaches

After working hard all day in the kitchen, chefs can unwind on one of stunning barrier islands and beaches that surround Charleston. Whether you are looking to catch some waves on Folly Beach, have fun with the family on Isle of Palms, or take a day trip out to Sullivan’s Island, there is a Charleston beach that will fit your mood.

Thriving Art Scene

One of the biggest reasons why Charleston’s food scene is so remarkable is because of the city’s thriving art scene. Although the city has been making delicious food for centuries, it wasn’t until the rise of the Holy City’s vibrant art scene that foodies began descending upon Charleston.

Spurred by the Spoleto Festival in the 1970s, Charleston’s art scene has been growing steadily ever since, bringing in both international artistic talent and local artists. Today, visitors and residents can catch a performance at the Dock Street Theatre or find a piece of fine art in one of the many art galleries in historic downtown Charleston.


Food and culture have always been intertwined, and this connection has never been more prominent than in Charleston. With over 300 years of culinary history, the Holy City has made the national press in recent years, thanks to its eclectic mix of new and old dishes. From traditional Lowcountry favorites to modern takes on classic dishes, you will delight in every dish.

Charleston is full of culinary opportunities. With its Southern charm, mild temperatures, and historical beauty, it’s not difficult to see why so many chefs are putting down roots in the Holy City.

5 Mexican Food Festivals Worth The Trip

Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Credit: Alfredo Estrella/Afp/Getty Images


January 6, Mexico City
Eaten to celebrate the Epiphany, the wreath-shaped rosca de reyes, or king’s ring, is baked with a figurine inside. Whoever finds it must host a party on Candelmas Day, February 2. In Mexico City’s zócalo, or main square, 200,000 portions are doled out, made with more than 1,700 pounds of butter.


March 22, Tulyehualco
The pre-Hispanic people of Tulyehualco, now part of Mexico City, harvested ice from nearby snow-capped volcanoes to make frozen treats. At this 127-year-old fair, more than 80 ice cream producers pay homage to the tradition, offering flavors ranging from mango and lime to sweet mole.

Courtesy Office of Social Communication Xochimilco Mexico City

Credit: Courtesy of Office of Social
Communication Xochimilco Mexico City


May, Santiago Tepalcatlalpan
In Xochimilco, a borough of Mexico City where farmers grow corn on man-made islands called chinampas, this annual fair celebrates Mexico’s staple grain. Along with tortillas, visitors sample foods like tlacoyos (masa cakes stuffed with beans and other ingredients) ponteduros, a honey-and-cornmeal candy and esquites, kernels fried in butter with chili powder and epazote.


Early summer, Papantla
At the annual Corpus Christi festival in Veracruz, food stalls overflow with fragrant vanilla pods and bottles of extract, vanilla-flavored ice pastries, and xanat (vanilla liqueur). A highlight is the Dance of the Voladores, acrobats who suspend themselves from a 100-foot pole and twirl midair to music.


August, Zacatl´n
This Pueblan town fetes its diverse apple crop—from the tart, green-striped rayada, to sweet, golden peruana varieties. Attendees savor treats like manzana hojaldra, a flaky apple tart. The fair culminates in a parade of floats from which hundreds of apples are thrown to the crowd.

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2021 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival Index

We are awaiting details on special events for the 2021 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival.

To book all special events and demonstrations, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) starting on a date TBA . Culinary Demonstrations and Beverage Seminars and general admission for some special events may be bookable online at as well as by phone.

Early booking for Disney World Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members will open on a date TBA.

Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents may be eligible for a $2 discount (per person, per event) for beverage and seminars and culinary demos taking place Mon-Thurs during the festival. Discounts are by phone only at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).

Stay tuned to and the Disney Food Blog Newsletter for details.

Because Chase is no longer a Festival Sponsor, Chase Disney Visa Cardholders have no access to early booking this year.

Watch the video: Solo Jazz: Charleston Accents