Charleston Gold rice takes center stage at party

Charleston Gold rice cake, crowder peas, mustard greens and sunny side up egg at The Granary in in Mount Pleasant. File/Wade Spees/Staff Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Diners don’t have to eat very many meals around Charleston to become acquainted with Carolina Gold rice, described by producer and promoter Anson Mills as “the grandfather of long-grain rice in the Americas.” But even locals are just getting to know Charleston Gold, a whippersnapper in the rice family.

Charleston Gold was released in 2012, almost 15 years after a pair of rice scientists began collaborating to create a new cultivar based on Carolina Gold genetic material and descriptors of Carolina Long Gold, a lost rice. Anson Mills’ website describes the rice as having “a heady, perfumed fragrance and a flavor distinctive enough to go head-to-head with the racy-hot and complex seasonings of Thai and Indian cuisine, or reveal itself slowly in a solitary bowl with just a touch of butter.”

While grower Jimmy Hagood says the rice has “received remarkable acceptance in restaurants and homes across the Lowcountry and beyond,” its fans are staging a tasting next week to accelerate the acceptance process. Twelve local chefs, three local breweries and High Wire Distilling Co. will provide the Charleston Gold-centric snacks and drinks for the Feb. 6 celebration at GrowFood Carolina’s warehouse.

Hagood expects guests to be struck by the rice’s “aromatic bouquet and nutty flavor,” which contrast with Carolina Gold’s sweet, clean character.

Participating chefs include Andy Henderson of Edmund’s Oast; Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh; Daniel Heinze of McCrady’s Restaurant; Kevin Johnson of The Grocery and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill. In addition to the food, the program will feature presentations by historians, writers and researchers.

“The evening will be engaging and delicious,” Hagood vows.

Tickets to the 6 p.m.-9 p.m. party are priced at $45, with discounts available for military members, students and farmers. For more information, visit growfoodcarolina.com.