Foreshadowing that the festival experience was to be memorable was the moment I walked into the welcome center and saw my friends from The Chocolate Lounge in Asheville. We met at last year's festival over chocolate, Stella, and a hot tent. Since then I have become a frequent shopper of their delicacies and a devoted follower of their business philosophy. The biggest smile was thrust upon my face and we hadn't even clinked the welcome toast for the festival yet.
More on sessions and dinners later.
Here's a list of my favorite bites and sips from the trails within the tasting tents (And now I can read other recaps. I didn't want to be swayed):
|Lamb from the lamb trail|
Overall favorite from the tasting trails: lamb ribs from No. 246. Falling off the bone, tender, seasoned perfect lamb from Drew Belline. No photo, I ate it too fast.
Whole Pig Trail: (1) Scrapple from City House with sorghum poppyseed agrodolce.
(2) Crispy pig ear tacos from Farm Burger and Farm 255 ...I had thirds.
The tacos were made from Anson Mills Carolina Gold cornmeal and fresh masa on site.
Loved talking to Terry Koval about his tour of Los Amigos masa. It gave time for Whitney Otawka to make me another too.
(3) Charcuterie from Table. I loved the slices of cured pig face.
Southern Sweets Trail: Tie between the bourbon caramel and sorghum caramel from French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Beef trail: Beef tongue terrine with Swiss cheese espuma from One Eared Stag. Chef Robert Phalen said it was a play on a Reuben. I could have eaten 20 of them.
Bourbon Trail: First, what a spectacular trail this was to sample. My favorite sip here was the American Spirit Whisky Southern Mule. Gingery and dangerously delicious.
Fried Chicken Trail: 3 way tie among Rosebud and Cardemom Hill's fried chicken and South City Kitchen's fried chicken livers.
Craft Beer Trail: Highland Brewing Razor Wit. Amazing on the nose and tastes of ginger, cumin and orange peel. Such a great summertime beer. It was fantastic talking with owner Oscar Wong about it. I was recently in Asheville when he was announced Small Business Person of the Year. He is pretty beloved. When I described the flavors he nodded, noting that I missed only grains of paradise, something I had never heard of but what gives the beer its kick.