The Beetnik was getting plenty of looks and quite a few takers as well Saturday at the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
The bright red concoction being offered at the table of The Original Ms. Rose’s Fine Food & Cocktails offered an intriguing mix of ingredients that dared a try — house-infused beet vodka, cucumber and lemon juices, rosemary syrup and Jamaican ginger beer.
“I like to say we think out of the box,” said a smiling Jared Alverson, general manager of the West Ashley restaurant.
Traffic was brisk but not jammed inside the Grand Tasting Tents within the festival’s Culinary Village, where people were sampling everything from Cackalacky Spice Sauce to Chicken Liver Mousse Crostini. They were washing nibbles down with all sorts of liquids, soft and hard.
Among the most popular stops was Grill 225, which was handing out sliders stuffed with prime tenderloin, arugula, pickled onions and horseradish aioli. The restaurant offered the same thing last year.
“I didn’t want to change it because I didn’t want to mess it up,” said Executive Chef Demetre Castanas.
He estimated that the restaurant would hand out about 5,000 over the course of the weekend.
Jason Russell, of Southampton, N.Y., was jacked up about the beef cheeks bourguignon at the Library at Vendue Inn. “It’s phenomenal. I absolutely love it, love it.”
Angela Faulkner found her favorite at Cory’s Grilled Cheese. It was a taste-layering of muenster cheese, bacon, honey and cinnamon-swirl bread. “By far this is the most delicious thing I’ve had today, and I’ve been around,” said Faulkner, who lives in Minnesota.
Marc Taft, chef-owner of the Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Ga., who was serving the crostini, was a part of the festival for the first time.
While Atlanta also has a festival, Taft said that city is not as food-focused as Charleston, at least not yet. “The people attending here are more interested. They are asking a lot of questions.”