This year’s edition of The Charleston Wine + Food Festival is just 228 hours away, but it’s not too late to score a ticket.
As of Friday, tickets were still available to 54 events, or exactly half of the advertised programs. The events on offer range from the relatively affordable ($70 for locals’ admission to the Culinary Village on Sunday, Mar. 8) to the wildly extravagant ($750 for a Saturday night dinner prepared by talents including Frank Stitt and Gabrielle Hamilton.)
In previous years, procrastinators have had fewer options: Last year, only 14 events weren’t at capacity two weeks before the festival’s kick-off.
Three of the events named to Eater Charleston’s “10 Tickets to Grab Tomorrow” list, posted on the eve of the festival’s Aug. 27, 2014 ticket release, remained up for grabs this weekend: Rye History of Charleston, Southern Betty Brunch and the Two Boroughs Larder Signature Dinner. According to festival spokeswoman Cathryn Zommer, the latter two events have since sold out.
A few other signature dinners remain for the taking, but only one is classified as “available,” as opposed to “limited quantities,” the designator applied to most of the available events. There’s apparently a fair number of tickets remaining to Joel Watanabe’s signature dinner at Xiao Bao Biscuit, which is baffling, considering how frequently Charlestonians carp about the lack of good Chinese food around here. To clarify, Watanabe is hailed for his Chinese cookery in Vancouver, B.C., a city which many experts believe is home to better Chinese food than China. Buy those tickets, folks.
Other very available tickets worth snagging include the Wines + Ciders of Virginia, organized by the Virginia Wine Board, and featuring hard cider maven, Diane Flynt, another James Beard long-lister this year. Virginia is producing some exceptional wines, and Southern drinkers should be fluent in them.
Eric Asimov’s class is probably also worth the $65 investment. The New York Times wine writer is hosting a beginners’ class, which is well within his wheelhouse. Asimov last year launched his fantastic “Wine School” series of columns, in which readers virtually drink together a selection of bottles representing a single region or varietal. As he explained in the series’ introduction, the goal is “to help create an atmosphere of pleasure, attentiveness and curiosity about wine that will lead to knowing what you like, what you do not and why.” Same goes for this class, I’d bet.
What else is worth buying? I’d check out the Pecha Kucha program, featuring local culinary influencers such as Brandon Plyler, Frank Lee and David Thompson speaking very, very briefly about their creative processes. The Friday night program is $40, and you get fed.
I’ve never attended the closing Sunday supper at Euphoria, the Greenville food festival formerly headed up by Wine + Food’s new director, but features editor Teresa Taylor swears by it. It’s an easy enough format to adapt to Mount Pleasant, so sounds like a wise choice for eaters fond of Southern cooking. That said, Zommer e-mails to say the event bears only a superficial resemblance to the popular upstate program: “Toasted is not Sunday Supper at Euphoria, which was seated for 150 guests and featured bourbon and beer,” she clarifies. “Toasted will be strolling, with Southern staples at stations throughout an event for 500 guests with live music, Champagne, wine and beer.”
And if eating regional food outdoors is your thing, perhaps check out the Cross Culture BBQ at Royal American. The Thursday night event is staffed by local fire tamers including Jimmy Hagood, the Home Team crew and Tank Jackson. North Carolina’s Sam Jones and Atlanta’s Fox Brothers are planning on being there too.
Finally, I’d consider the $70 locals’ ticket to the Culinary Village. You won’t get through the gates until Sunday, but keep an eye on this blog to learn how to wring every buck of value from your ticket: I’ll be back with tips as soon as the Village opens for business.
For more information about available tickets, visit the festival’s website.