Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sunday Supper #euphoriagreenville

If I marked my lifetime by meals, there would be a few highlights: My mother's Thanksgivings; Maine lobster, steps away from where it was hauled in from the sea; a birthday dinner of fillet and Cabernet Sauvignon in a DC hotel; exotic Sunday family table dim-sum meals when I was the lone 白种人 at the table; and those nights when the larder seems bare, but we are able to find something to throw together and it always ends up delicious.  Magical, memorable meals that are milestones along the way.  Which brings me to euphoria's Sunday Night Supper -  that's on the list now. 
I went to euphoria alone.  Sure, I knew a few people from the industry, got to hang out with some great folks, had a terrific time at all of the events, but little did I know that at the Wyche Pavillion -  the shell of one of Greenville's oldest commercial buildings, on the banks of the Reedy River, I would have one of the most sublime meals of my life.

In a cosmic act of serendipity I found a seat next to Donna, a retired restaurant critic and across from my new foodie guru, Glenda McDaniel and her family.  Glenda, a realtor by trade from Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, knows NYC restaurants and chefs better than I do. She parties with Daniel Boulud  - "Danny". Glenda is a High Priestess in the foodie world, Chef Brock's publicist came over to the table to greet her (they are old friends).  Together with husband Terry and mother in-law Edna, they travel all over the world tasting their way through life.  They gave me tips on visiting the  Bocuse d'Or;  Manhattan's premier Bordeaux tasting event; and Knoxville's Baconfest! (and about the "Party like it's 1699" Night in Manhattan? I am simply green with envy!)  I want to start a blog and just call it "Following Glenda".

Le Creuset was the sponsor of the Sunday Supper and each serving dish was a beautiful example of their products.  I wanted one of each, and we all were sent home with an autographed Mini Cocotte (mine is purple!)

Let's get on to the food, music and drinks... I could hear the Weasel Creek String Band as I was walking to the pavilion.  It was sunset, and well, perfect. With Dean Watson on clawhammer banjo and vocals "The only banjo playin' stockbroker in SC!";  Steve McGaha on guitar and vocals;  Susan Cook  rocked it on standup Bass; and Marion Boatwright almost stole the show on fiddle and vocals. I don't know the name of the man playing washboard, he was the rhythm section, and he was excellent! This was "Heritage" music at its finest.  Bluegrass, mixed with some old time folk, and some rollicking popular standards from centuries past.  My feet were tapping even before I had taken a sip of anything alcoholic.

Drink:  I was met at the door by a waitress who handed me a Bernheim Champagne Cocktail (Bernheim wheat whiskey, ruby red grapefruit juice, Finest Call orgeat syrup, Fee Brothers cherry bitters and LaMarca Prosecco, garnished with a fresh sprig of rosemary) My first sip was delicious, but then I realized that it was the first time that I had tasted real grapefruit in three years.  I had to force myself to put my drink aside, because people with kidney transplants should not drink grapefruit juice - it messes with my immunosuppressives - so I switched to straight bourbon.

The waitstaff were amazing; a professional team who circulated with beer, cocktails and bourbon - Evan Williams Single Barrel Reserve.  They were cool and efficient (and I think having a pretty good time too!)

The food:  A South Carolina Low Country feast by Sean Brock, a James Beard Award Winning Chef; Mike Davis from Terra in Columbia SC;  Frank Lee from Maverick Southern Kitchens and the team from Greenville's High Cotton Maverick Bar and Grille.  There was some serious culinary power in the kitchen and it showed on the plates that were set before us. These were classic low country comfort foods elevated to haute cuisine with a down home twist.

Crispy Chicken Skins with hot sauce and honey....  I officially endorse crispy chicken skins.  They are like potato chips on crack. Seriously, that sauce was tingling and mouth wateringly sweet. Crunching it with deep fried chicken skin - WOW!

Salt and Vinegar Pork Rinds.  You know what, they go GREAT with Single Barrel Bourbon!

Crispy Pig Ears.  I will admit to having no idea what was on the platter as I chowed down.  To me, it was an Asian inspired lettuce wrap.  Glenda's husband Terry clued me in, and then I had a second one.  My first pig ears.  They aren't just dog treats after all...

Vegetables from GRB Farmer's Market.  Ok, so after all of that deep fried goodness, we had some veggies.  They were a crunch of a different kind and most welcome!

Assorted Charcuterie & Home Made Pickles (dilly beans, sweet and spicy red bell peppers, watermelon rinds and pickled Okra)....  mmmm the contrasting flavors of the meat with the crispy sweet and sour of the pickles.  Delicious!

Kimberly's Corn Crab Salad.  I want more.  I want more right now, three weeks later.  I want this salad at least once a month for the rest of my life. (it's good to want right???)

In the picture you can just see the Pama Manhattan cocktail pairing (Evan Williams Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon, Pama Pomegranate Liquor, Finest Call Simple Syrup, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters) I will maybe admit to having two of these delicious Manhattans over the course of the evening....  (I came back from South Carolina with a new found taste for Bourbon)

It got better.  Cornmeal Dusted North Carolina Catfish atop fried cabbage and pickled peppers.  I am still boggled at how the cook staff and wait staff were able to cook and serve all of us and  have this taste like it just came off the stove at Grannie's house (Granny is one of the best cooks I know). It was crispy AND melt in your mouth delicious.  (Since I am writing this weeks later, that is NOT the bourbon talking!)

Our side dishes were beautiful.  Yellow squash casserole and Collard Greens.

There were pit beans!  Delicious, satisfying pit beans (after all, I am a yankee, and the culinary cousin to the Pit Bean, Boston Baked Beans are a go to comfort food for me). We were all getting into the spirit of the meal.  Glenda and Terry indulged us as we took pictures, gave hints on what would look good and were the best possible table companions a blogger could have.  We shared just one meal and I miss them.

Crackling Cornbread and White Lily Biscuits - they tasted just as good as they looked.

Roast Berkshire Pork Rack with Charleston Gold Rice Pilaf and Tomato gravy.  By the end of the evening the sun had set, we were stuffed to the point of bursting, but we found room for more.  The pork was delicious. You can tell that we were fading, the picture isn't very good.  The amazing food, company and bourbon were catching up with me. Donna was smart, between courses, she would take a walk around the pavilion. I learned so much from my dining companions.

I squeezed in some Peanut Butter Pie for dessert paired with Smoke Chocolate Milk Punch (Evan Williams honey bourbon, nutmeg, olive clove and smoked chocolate).  Hugs were given all around and sadly the evening came to an end.

The music and the food never stopped.  It was an amazing evening, one that I will recall fondly for the rest of my life.  And there was dancing...

A Slide Show:

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