Monday, September 25, 2017

euphoria Greenville

Greenville has been vaulted into foodie fame in recent years, earning top spots in travel journal top-ten lists with rave reviews of up-and-coming chefs, hot new restaurants, local-sourced dining options and dozens of food-oriented festivals and events. However, what is possibly the most famous foodie festival here in the Upstate and one of the reasons for Greenville’s culinary acclaim is now in its 11th year - & still growing; euphoria shows no signs of slowing down, the 2017 festival once again selling out a majority of its events and attracting top chefs from across the country.

Founded in 2006 by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski, the four-day event in September includes exclusive tasting events, live music, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and multi-course dinners. Attendees have a wide range of events to choose from, and can select based on favorite chefs & restaurants, type of cuisine, budget and/or other interests.

Clockwise from top left: City Limits Barbeque (TX style prime brisket & sweet jalapeno cornbread waffles), refreshments, Biscuit Head (mac&cheese biscuits, pork belly beans, smoked local brisket & red pepper jelly), shredding pork

We saw the combining of Greenville’s two great loves – cycling and food – on Thursday’s “Cycling with George Hincapie” event at Hotel Domestique. A 30-mile bike ride with the cycling legend was followed by drinks and lunch prepared by Chef Graves at Restaurant 17. Thursday evening brought elaborate dining experiences at Grits & Groceries in Belton and American Grocery downtown, as well as a musical event at Revel and the kick-off party at the Old Cigar Warehouse.

Friday had a little bit of everything… A bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail that started at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe ended at the Traveler’s Rest Farmer’s Market Pavilion with TR’s favorite eats. A walking tour of downtown Greenville was topped off by a multi-course wine lunch at Jianna. Taste of the South at the TD Stage and Wyche Pavilion featured 17 Chefs from Virginia to Florida & live music from Kakalacki Jones and Edwin McCain himself. On Saturday there was the Feast by the Field in the West End, with 60 breweries, wineries, distilleries, local restaurants and regional chefs. During the day “classroom” events taught attendees the secrets of barbecue, biscuits, Italian wines, chocolate-liquor pairings and pre-Prohibition cocktails, and in the evening the “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner” held at the Commerce Club featured nationally-renowned pianist, Emile Pandolfi with multiple Chefs serving food & drink pairings. Other dinner options included Bacon Bros. Public House, Halls Chophouse, Stella’s Southern Brasserie, Jianna and the Loft at Soby’s, and a new event this year was the “Big Easy Bash,” a New Orleans themed party in Trailblazer Park in Travelers Rest complete with 10 chefs, a New Orleans-style jazz band and two food trucks & a dessert cart.

Carrot, sweet potato, raspberry and salted caramel mini cupcakes by Couture Cakes of Greenville

In addition to local restaurant celebrities, Greenville saw the arrival of famous chefs from around the world. At the “Seeing Stars: Michelin-starred Dinner at The Lazy Goat,” three Michelin-starred chefs were dishing up their cuisine: Curtis Duffy (3 stars; Grace, Chicago), Dominique Crenn (2 stars; Atelier Crenn, San Francisco), and Michael Mina (1 star; Michael Mina, San Francisco). In addition to the dinner event and other appearances, Chef Dominique Crenn made a special appearance at Michelin’s HQ to talk about her career, her life and the ingredients that have gone into her recipe for success. One of only three female chefs in the US to earn 2 Michelin stars (and one of only 25 total), Chef Crenn is a pioneer in her field and truly an inspiration.

Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn!

One event that offers the euphoria experience in a laid-back atmosphere that’s a good fit for families is Sunday Brunch: Fired Up! For the second year in a row, eight pit masters gathered in the West End for a BBQ brunch that included 15 local and regional restaurants, Bloody Marys and mimosas, music from Crooked Pine, and a culinary stage. The outdoor event was a great opportunity to sample food from a variety of chefs, and the portion size ensured that we all went home sated but not stuffed. This year a family 4-pack retailed for $120, and children 4 and under are free.**

Greenbrier Farms and the 'Savory Snow Cone' w/ tomato, cheddar grits, smoked chicken,
roasted okra & pablano ceam

Festival objectives, from the euphoria website:
To create a destination event for food, wine and music lovers across the country
To highlight the Culinary and Arts Community of Upstate South Carolina
To promote tourism in Greenville, SC
To raise money to give back to the community*

Omelette station by The Spoonbread Restaurant at the Westin Poinsett Hotel

* Proceeds from euphoria fund Local Boys Do Good, the 501c3 created to benefit local non-profit organizations that focus on: providing sustenance to those in need (food, hunger, and health), educating (through music, performing arts, or otherwise), or supporting children.

Richard's Southern Fried with their hot & smoked chicken 'n waffles

** Ticket prices for euphoria events range from $35 (classroom events) to $150&up for most of the events that include food. The Upstate's foodie festival Fall for Greenville is a little easier on the budget, and is coming up quickly, taking place from October 13-15.

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