Going South, Getting Happy
I may have mentioned my trepidation about the South once or twice before. Turns out all it takes is about three solid days of great food, wine and music and I’m magically transformed. I think I’m officially a booster for Greenville, South Carolina. Then again there were those headlines…sex slave ring exposed, lynching and the local politician caught distributing cocaine.
But let’s focus back on the positive: this town loves its food, its chefs, its music. They have a new state-of-the-art performing arts center. They welcome visitors. Platinum recording artists like Edwin McCain still live here and do good things like pulling this show together.
Southern Exposure Greenville provided an entire weekend filled with great food, top chefs, fantastic wines, and terrific music. Guess who got to meet Thomas Keller? In the photo below, I’m telling him about eating at La Rive years ago, okay decades ago. He says “I used to work at a place called La Rive…” I say, “Yes, I know, it was you in the kitchen then, I just didn’t know it…” He graciously says “You don’t look old enough to have eaten there back then…” Chef, we’re both lucky the years don’t show!
In addition to Keller, I got to meet Barton Seaver of Hook in D.C. Barton is a leader in sustainable seafood choices. Chef Seaver is showing a fish (photo below) he’s about to prepare baked in salt. He’s explaining how to ensure the fish you’re buying is as advertised.
The menu included dishes like:
Pan Seared South Carolina Grouper with White Acre Peas, Tomato Split Creek Farms Goat Cheese Salad Micro Arugula paired with Livingston Moffett 2005 Genny’s Vineyard Chardonnay.
Roast Squab Breast with Foie Gras Mousse, Asparagus and Sherry Wine Vinegar-Shallot reduction. Paired with Livingston Moffett 2005 Willow’s Red Blend.
The desserts were amazing – just large enough to enjoy a couple of bites but not enough to induce guilt. Bourbon Chocolate Bread Pudding Souffle, Homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream; Cornbread Pudding with Blackberry Compote; White Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Caramelized Bananas, Rum Caramel.
I was also surprised to learn how many things Boston and Greenville have in common.
- Greenville is home to the Boston Red Sox Minor League Team – The Greenville Drive. Their stadium even has its own green monster.
- Keith Lockhart graduated from Furman college (where Michael Corleone was enrolled before being pulled back into the family business.)
- The West End of Greenville is home to a beautiful park whose waterfalls are crossed by the Liberty Bridge. The unique curved and angled suspension bridge almost floats over the Reedy River and falls. The Liberty Bridge was designed by Boston Architect Miguel Rosales, who was the chief architect of the Leonard Zakim bridge.
- Sterling Square – the corner of Main Street and Washington marks the site of one of the catalysts of the Civil Rights movement. Black students from Sterling High School took a seat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter before public buildings were legally integrated. Their courage is marked with a statue commemorating the event. It also serves as a reminder of Sterling High School which was never rebuilt after burning to the ground in 1967.
Other notables with Greenville connections:
Tyler Florence – Food Network Chef
Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics
Joanne Woodward – Actress graduated HS in Greenville
Dorothy Allison – Author, Bastard Out of Carolina
Peabo Bryson – Singer
Jesse Jackson – Civil Rights Activist
Shoeless Joe Jackson – MLB player immortalized in “Field of Dreams”