Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend in Charleston, SC {Part I}: Dinner at Circa 1886 Restaurant

at Wentworth Mansion
Charleston, SC
A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Delta Faucet and asked if I would like to participate in a special event that the company was sponsoring that was coming to Charleston, SC - the Southern Living Taste of Charleston. They offered to sponsor me to attend and blog about the event. Since Charleston is a town that is near and dear to not only my heart but my husband's heart, too, I definitely wanted to participate. In addition to attending the event at Boone Hall Plantation on September 29, 2013, as a Delta Faucet blogger, I was also invited to attend a special, private dinner hosted by Southern Living on the night before the event.
The dinner took place at Circa 1886 Restaurant which is located on the grounds of the Wentworth Mansion in downtown Charleston. We couldn't have asked for better weather for the event. It was an unusually pleasant day in the city for a late September evening. There was a cool breeze and the humidity was fairly low. My husband and I arrived at the restaurant a little early and spent some quality time together sitting outside of the mansion and enjoying our surroundings.

This is the view from the back entrance to the mansion. It was absolutely gorgeous and I may have gone a little crazy taking photographs of the place. Since I thought of this as a once-in-a-lifetime event, I didn't want to miss capturing it from every single angle.

Every view from the yard was surreal, much like a postcard. I couldn't help but capture the entrance to the restaurant to show it to you. Love the tree-lined lane. I think this would be a good time to admit that I was a little nervous about this whole event. I'm very shy around strangers and this was the first event that I've ever officially participated in as a blogger. And, to think that my first time would be with two major players like Delta Faucet and Southern Living was quite overwhelming. As I walked this tree-lined lane to the door of the restaurant, I silently prayed, "Please, Lord, help me to be better than I am!"

Just breathe...

Upon entering the courtyard outside of the restaurant, I met everyone who would be part of the evening's festivities. The Delta Faucet rep, Sarah, greeted me immediately and put me at ease. In addition to the kind folks at Delta, I also met several equally friendly people from Southern Living including the Test Kitchen Editor, Norman King, who connected with my husband over the subject of SEC football as men tend to do. I was one of five bloggers invited to the event. All of us were from the general southeastern vicinity with one from North Carolina, three from South Carolina, and yours truly from Georgia.

We spent the social hour in the restaurant's courtyard chatting and munching on a vegetable tray and spicy egg rolls. With each blogger bringing a guest, plus the Delta and Southern Living crews, we had a total of 17 people. Between the friendly and welcoming atmosphere and the intimate number of guests, I immediately felt at ease and knew that there was a lovely night ahead of us.
After the social hour, we all moved into the restaurant to a private dining room. Because we were a room full of food bloggers and our hosts were all foodies, too, we were told to take photos and Tweet to our hearts' content. It was so fun to see so many iPhones and cameras whipped out and in use as every delicious course of our dinner was served.

First Course
A Shot of Shrimp n' Grits Soup
Second Course
Rice Paper Wrapped Romaine Heart Salad
Main Course
Pan Seared Organic Chicken
Sweet Finish
Warm Pineapple Upside Down Cake

As you can see from the photos and menu, we were really in for a wonderful meal of traditional and comforting food. The soup was drizzled with white truffle oil. I have a can of white truffle oil that has never been used. Now, I am inspired to try it with shrimp. The salad was served with a spicy pecan dressing, a perfect choice for a Southern salad. The main course included Hoppin' John risotto that was out of this world. I may even brave making risotto now. That course was also served with one of our favorite sides, grilled asparagus, and was accented with a drizzle of truffle and chive demi glace. Will I ever be so bold as to attempt demi glace? My husband said that was his favorite part of the meal, of course. I've been inspired on so many levels.
Every corner of the dining room was decorated with Southern Living photographs. Since I am a big fan of fall magazines, I couldn't help but be drawn to this one with the magazine's cover featuring a beautiful caramel apple blondie pie. All of the bloggers were gifted with an autographed copy of Norman King's new cookbook, Southern Living: The Way to Fry. When Norman announced that he uses Crystal Hot Sauce on his fried chicken, my husband and I knew that Norman knew his way around some fried food. Delta Faucet also gifted us with a nice swag bag which included our tickets to the next day's big event!
The whole evening was like sensory overload for me from the people, to the food, to the atmosphere. I just kept telling myself, "remember this and remember that." "Take in every moment!" It has all been absorbed and locked away in my memory for safe keeping. In the end, I didn't really have to be someone better than I was, I was just me. And, I think that was good enough.  
The McCallies taking in the atmosphere and anticipating a good night...
Stay tuned for my next post from the Southern Living Taste of Charleston, sponsored by Delta Faucet. More food, more fun...

1 comment:

  1. I dream of getting to Charleston some day...The mansion setting looks idyllic, and I'm drooling over the entire menu -- and your photos! Love the unusual idea of a rice-paper-wrapped Romaine heart salad. I'm so glad that you were able to relax (though I understand the jitters) and enjoy the night as "just" you.


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