When I walked into the restaurant to meet up with The Girl and Captain Awesome, their reaction was the same. Pork smoke rolled off me like cheap cologne. To find out how this happened you have to back up a few hours on this freezing cold Sunday to the start of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival Rigs, Pigs, and Swigs BBQ event ($85).
This Sunday event, bringing together 10 fantastic pitmasters, promised more pork than you can shake a hunk of cornbread at. I made the brutally poor tactical decision to dress light on what would be one of the coldest days of the year, but the free pouring Canadian Club Dock 57 did a great job warming me up. Please don't lecture me about the quality of whisky, it was free and I was freezing.
That sign above, proclaiming the presence of Rodney FREAKING Scott, made the cover price worth it. Free alcohol and I don't have to drive to Hemingway SC? Winning! Why am I so excited? Mostly because Rodney Scott is one of the true heroes of the South. Whole hog, a dying art, is the center of his culinary universe. There is nothing fancy about his BBQ, but what it has is love and authenticity. There is a timeless nature to the meat that comes from his pits. Oh, and when he hands you pork rinds, you eat every one of them.
The most surprising, and amazing, dish was the Brunswick Stew from Southern Soul BBQ. This tomato based staple of coastal cuisine was perfect for such a cold day, and Southern Soul's version may be the best Ive ever had. If you want the recipe, check out our friends at Garden & Gun Magazine.
From BlackJack BBQ's amazing brisket to the surprisingly tasty jalapeño cornbread from Smoky Oak Taproom, one would be hard pressed to leave this event any less then 10 pounds heavier. The other fun reason to show up for the closing event of the CW+FF, meeting Twitter friends in real life. Those people on the internet are real!!!
My two big take aways, though, were on the negative side. I am officially over pork belly. The last five years of increasing appearance on menus everywhere has all but destroyed the power pork belly has on me. The other take away, I still HATE mustard based sauces. Seriously, you can tar and feather me and run me out of South Carolina, but no.....just no.