Stephanie Barna’s Guide to the Charleston Wine & Food Fest
If you live in Charleston and follow the local food movement, chances are you follow Stephanie Barna, editor of the Charleston City Paper, and her entertaining twitter feed @cpeats. Barna has been working the local food scene since way before it was cool, back when there wasn't much of anything happening. She's had a front row seat to Charleston's food evolution. She's also a go-to expert and sometime contributor to national media such as Eater and Food Network Magazine. On most nights, she's found perched at a bar, eating what’s new on the menu, and talking smack with local chefs and professionals about the latest fad or opening.
So when The Daily Meal got the chance to talk to her about her “Guide to Navigating the Charleston Wine + Food Festival” we were thrilled. And even though we were half buzzed during the conversation, we got some good advice on what to do:
- Pick up a copy of City Paper’s DISH: New for this year, Barna and the CP team decided to publish their special culinary focused supplement in conjunction with the Festival. It makes sense as DISH is a trusted go-to-guide for helping decide where to eat and learning about hot trends. It also has a long shelf life for local foodies as a reference. This year’s edition has some new formatting like a Top 50 List of Restaurants. In the past, the listings were done by price and harder to follow.
- Get off the Grid: Barna recommends hitting up the places off the beaten path (and King Street) and less promoted restaurants like The Lot, Home Team BBQ, and the newly opened Lee Lee’s Hot Chicken.
- Start Early: The Festival officially starts Wednesday with the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Potlikker Film Festival and Barna recommends attending this event to see what new films Joe York (filmmaker) has created along with eating well curated food by chefs like BJ Dennis, Stuart Tracy and Jeremiah Bacon. Stephanie really likes this event because it’s not a typical eat, drink, party event but instead a time to “break bread” and have great conversations with friends.
- Be a Party Crasher: We say good luck with that, but Barna is known to crash the fringe events like the Billy Reid Party, Charleston Brown Water Society Launch Party, a Lamb and Clam function or anywhere Julian Van Winkle stops to share his secret stash.
- Opening with a Bang: The Festival’s Opening Ceremonies on Friday is FREE and the only free event of the weekend organized by the organization. Barna points out there is normally champagne sabered and freely flowing and it is always a great time to recognize those who contribute so much to the industry each year.
- Sleep and Hydrate: There is so much gorging all weekend that Barna prides herself on attempting to drink plenty of water and sleeping a full night sleep. Anyone want to take bets on this one?
- Smackdown at the Waffle House: Since the actual Waffle House Smackdown event is sold out, you might just want to head to the real Waffle House on Savannah Highway and get some good hangover grub. Barna will not be joining you as she will serve her second year as judge for the popular competitive event. But never fear, she will be tweeting away, so you don’t miss the action or the food if you take her up on this tip.
- Get into Pluff Mud: There are still tickets to the other event City Paper sponsors during the Festival — the Pluff Mud Oyster Roast at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina Lookout Pavilion. The location overlooks the Cooper River and several seafood focused chefs like Drew Hedlund of Fleet Landing and Charles Area from Fish House will be serving up their version of oysters. Barna leaked that attendees will be getting a special logoed CP oyster glove as a take-home gift.
- Hit up the Kudu: Coffee is another necessity of the weekend and Kudu is local and mere steps away from the main events in Marion Square. It's also open day and night and has an amazing beer menu (for when you want to start drinking again).
- End it on a high note: There is no better way to end the Festival than at the finale event — Rigs, Pigs + Swigs. The event takes place under the Ravenel Bridge and features the best of the best as far as local pitmasters go along with national celebs like Rodney Scott, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Southern Soul BBQ and more.
As you can tell, according to Barna’s guide, be prepared for a whirlwind weekend of drinking, eating and other stuff that we cannot promote on the site. To learn more about City Paper and to follow her escapades, visit the website.