Visit the Slow Food Charleston home for news and upcominig local events.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Meredith Adams grew up near her father's farm in Snow Hill, North Carolina, and learned early to respect the land and all it supports. For her family, dealing on the local level was a way of life.

"My Dad was an independent hog farmer," she notes, "always giving back to the local economy."

Independent and competitive herself, Adams is one of few female executive chefs in the region with a partnership stake in a fine-dining establishment. And lessons she learned growing up form the foundation of her Mount Pleasant restaurant, Eurasia Cafe & Wine Bar.

A proud member of the Certified SC Grown Fresh on the Menu initiative, she stocks her kitchen with produce from more than a dozen Lowcountry and regional farms. Pork and cattle come from pastures in North Carolina.

Adams' entrée into the culinary world began at Johnson and Wales University, where she eventually traded studies for an opportunity to work in the kitchen of the AAA Four Diamond Award winning restaurant, Todd Jurich's Bistro in Norfolk, V.A.

She is also an accomplished show horse trainer and rider, a diver, has managed a herd of Black Angus Cattle, and competes in bill fishing tournaments every year.

Chef shares a dish that showcases the prolific sweet potato, a vegetable that speaks to her Snow Hill roots - her Dad worked closely there with Bobby Ham, the largest sweet potato producer east of the Mississippi.

Her award-winning recipe can be adapted for the vegetarian palate by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock, or made vegan-friendly by using only vegetable stock as the liquid base. The milk and cream can be replaced with more stock but the soup will taste less rich. Without the honey and truffle, adding sherry gives the soup a seafood-bisque quality and 6 ounces of crabmeat or cooked, chopped shrimp may be added. The cooled soup may be frozen and reheated in the microwave.

Sweet Potato Bisque with Virginia Wildflower Honey & Truffle


1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
4 cups rich chicken stock or broth (if using store-bought stock, add a chicken bouillon cube)
1/2 cup heavy cream (or whole or fat-free evaporated milk)
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
1/2 ounce white truffle oil
4 ounces Golden Angels Apiary unfiltered Virginia Wildflower Honey
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish (optional)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, pepper and sugar and cook until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, stock or broth, milk and cream. Cook with bubbles just forming on the surface.

Remove from the heat and puree the soup until smooth. This can be done in the pot with a handheld stick (immersion) blender or in a blender or food processor. (If using a blender or food processor, strain the soup, puree the solids and add the hot liquid back slowly in small batches, pulsing between each addition.) Adjust the thickness by adding more stock, milk or cream. Add sherry, if desired, stirring to combine.

Serve in individual bowls drizzled with truffle oil and honey and garnish with chives, if desired.

Makes six 8-ounce servings.

Monday, August 8, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Jeffrey Robinson looks at unused space and envisions squash blossoms and pea shoots. A locavore before it was a movement, he can’t recall ever living in a home without a few acres of vegetables, planted and tended by his Dad.

“As soon as we’d move in, he’d tear up the ground with a rototiller,” notes Robinson, executive chef of the Charleston Marriott’s Saffire restaurant. “My father’s garden supplied us and many of our neighbors.”

The Ohio transplant fully appreciates South Carolina’s long and fruitful growing season. Under his tutelage, Saffire became one of the first restaurants to participate in the Fresh on the Menu initiative. Determined to have his own production garden, and undeterred by the constraints of the nearly 350-room hotel property, Robinson has taken urban farming to its logical extreme.

After conversations with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture about what to grow, Robinson put in the first seedlings last winter – watermelons, squash, leeks, onions, and herbs. The initial plan called for planting in a fleet of boxes atop the hotel roof, but this was abandoned because irrigation was an issue.

With few other options available, Robinson, whose innovations inside the restaurant have won numerous corporate accolades, took his inventive approach outside – commandeering any nook or cranny on the hotel perimeter that looked as if it would support life.

Ornamental flower planters along walkways, lush poolside burms, and green spaces bordering the hotel parking lots now share space with thriving young vegetables, bringing new meaning to “local sourcing” at the restaurant and new inspiration to his kitchen staff.

“Everyone, especially the younger kids in the kitchen, thinks it’s really cool,” says Robinson, whose culinary career includes apprenticeships under Certified Master Chefs Hartmut Handke and Victor Gielisse. “When you’re on the line preparing the ingredients, it’s fun to know where it all comes from – you have more respect for it.”

Robinson likes to let his house-grown ingredients speak for themselves, in simple preparations, with no more than three concentrated flavors. He shares a recipe for a pasta dish showcasing ripe, heirloom tomatoes that requires minimal cooking - a summertime must-have!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jeff Robinson's Lemon Chevre Ravioli with Sahuaro Pepper and Heirloom Tomato

1 pound heirloom tomatoes, ¼" dice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 shallot, sliced thin and rings separated
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup all purpose flour
pinch of Kosher salt
10 lemon chevre ravioli
1 Sahuaro pepper, sliced thin
2 scallion, white end only, sliced thin
a few sprigs flat leaf parsley

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the diced tomato for garnish at service. Toss remaining tomatoes with the salt & sugar. Set the tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid. Press tomatoes gently every 30 minutes or so to extract the liquid for roughly 2 hours. Soak the shallot rings in the buttermilk milk for 1 hour. Drain the buttermilk from the shallots before tossing the rings in flour. Shake off excess flour and fry at 350 degrees F till golden brown. Season the shallot rings with a pinch of salt as soon as they are lifted from the oil. Heat the ravioli in simmering, salted water till warm, strain, place ravioli in bowl. Ladle the room temperature tomato broth over the ravioli. Garnish with the pepper, scallion, parsley & reserved diced tomato. Serves two as an entree.


Rio Bertolini's Fresh Cut Pasta

Split Creek Farm Goat Cheese

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More on the Downside of Industrialized Farming...

NPR article showcases new book by Barry Estabrook on the forces driving industrialized tomato production. Read more...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Nate Whiting learned to respect all things green as a youngster, working at the side of his grandmother. Whether helping out in her vegetable garden or simply picking dandelions from across the road - he was a child who loved his vegetables.

Whiting's culinary fate was sealed when his Dad recruited him to wash dishes at a local eatery in his hometown of Rochester, New York. He realized that "he just wants to be in the kitchen", and followed his passion to the former Charleston campus of Johnson and Wales.

Now executive chef at Tristan, Whiting's path has taken him to some of the country's top kitchens - Peninsula Grill, The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, and Maestro in Washington, D.C.

In 2008, he left his post as executive sous chef at The Dining Room at Woodlands Inn for a chance to travel to Italy and study at the renowned cookery school of Da Vittorio, a Relais & Châteaux property in Bergamo.

"I told them it was one of my biggest dreams to go there and cook," he recalls. "I'd worked on getting over there for years."

Whiting says he learned some of his favorite techniques at the culinary school. "It was a great experience."

The chef shares his recipe for a simplified version of the Caprese Salad served at Tristan. The dish showcases heirloom tomatoes picked at their peak.

Nate Whiting's Simple Tomato Salad

A few heirloom tomatoes (best quality)
2 bunches of fresh basil (about 2 cups)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 can tomato paste (we use Cento San Marzano)
1 cup neutral vegetable oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Coarse sea salt (we use a Spanish Flor de Sal)

For the basil vinegar: Pick the smallest basil leaves off the basil bunches. Reserve them for garnish. Bring the vinegar to a simmer and pour it over the basil. Press the basil down so the vinegar wilts all of it. Let it stand until cool, then strain.

For the tomato oil: in a blender at low speed, mix the tomato paste and the vegetable oil. Run until the oil turns bright red, and the blender hopper is warm to the touch (10-15 minutes). Drain the oil through a strainer, and then hang it in a coffee filter.

For the tomatoes: take a hand-held propane torch. On a fireproof surface (like a sheet pan on a stove top) blister the tomato skin with the torch’s flame. When the tomato is black all over, run the skins off with a clean towel. If torch is not available, blanch tomatoes and peel off skins.

To complete the salad: cut the tomatoes into attractive shapes (exactly how will depend on which tomatoes you used - get creative). In a bowl, toss them in a little oil, a little vinegar, some sea salt, and some cracked pepper to taste. Arrange them decoratively on a plate, and drizzle a little more dressing from the bowl around them. Add a twist of pepper, garnish with the little basil leaves, and you’re done!

If you want to dress it up a little bit, you can add some croutons, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, or whatever else you want, but all you really need are great tomatoes, simple dressing, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Food Matters

Slow Food USA is hosting a webinar at 2pm on May 17. Read more about it - Why Food Matters

Monday, May 2, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Micah Garrison’s farming roots run deep – he grew up in a family of Upstate dairy farmers and took for granted dining on fare harvested from his grandfather’s land.

“To look back now,” says Garrison, “and know how fresh the products were – to have been able to literally pull the corn off the stalk before supper – it’s almost unheard of these days.”

With the help of an uncle in Charleston - a marine biologist who got him “hooked” on the life cycles of the Low Country waterways, the Columbia native soon expanded his passion for the land to the sea, and aquatic sustainalbility.

“For me to now be able to give back as a chef by simply making smart purchasing decisions is a great feeling,” says Garrison, Middleton Place Restaurant executive chef and two-time winner of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative Award.

The Middleton Place kitchen is also sustainably supplied by a 6,000 square foot production garden managed personally by Garrison and his staff. The majority of the plot contains heirloom plants, with a section dedicated to companion plants for promoting pollination and growth such as marigolds, nasturtiums, jasmine, sunflowers, berries, and herbs.

Garrison, whose culinary portfolio includes Boone Hall Plantation, Cypress, and 82 Queen, feels fortunate to preside over the kitchen once headed by renowned Southern chef Edna Lewis. The undisputed queen of country cooking, Lewis made her mark on the Middleton Place Restaurant menu with her classic plantation offerings, and he feels they share a common thread.

“One of the great things about Southern cuisine is the simplicity of it,” he notes. “Fresh, local ingredients, simply prepared – it really lets the love shine through in the dish.”

Garrison shares a newly updated recipe for locally sourced shrimp and grits...!

Micah Garrison's Shrimp and Grits

2 pounds local shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, julienned
¼ pound tasso ham, julienned
2 cups white wine
2 cups local goat cheese
3 – 4 sprigs parsley and thyme
1 quart local grits
2 cups local heavy cream
¼ pound unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the grits:

In a large pot, bring 1gallon of salted water to a rolling boil, slowly whisk in the grits and lower the heat. While stirring, add heavy cream and half the butter. Cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the grits are tender, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

For the shrimp:

Pour olive oil in a large hot saucepan and add onions. Sweat the onions until tender, and add the ham and shrimp with a pinch of salt. Once the shrimp begin to color, deglaze with white wine, add the rest of the butter and herbs, and simmer until the shrimp are cooked through. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

If timed correctly, the grits should be ready when the shrimp are cooked. Ladle grits into a bowl, add the shrimp sauce, and garnish with desired amount of fresh goat cheese. Depending on the appetite of your guests, this should feed five to ten people easily.


Adluh Brothers Milling Company |

Giddy Goat Cheese |

C.A. Magwood Jr. & Sons |

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Opening Today!

Finally - for everyone East of the Cooper longing for all things farm fresh but unwilling to venture downtown, our local farmers market swings into action today, 3:30 til dark! See you there!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Keeping the Green Movement Alive

Slow Food USA cited as "one of the most dynamic of the food movement groups" in TIME more.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

For Chef Renata Dos Santos, liming is a way of life. In her island home of Trinidad, it is part of the culture. There, liming is local slang for a casual getting-together of friends to share good food and good times.

A winner of the 2009 Laura Hewitt Culinary Legend Award, Dos Santos was shocked when she first landed in the United States and was unable to find locally sourced products readily available.

“In Trinidad, the majority of our food is local,” says Dos Santos, “either grown in the backyard or on local farms.”

She also found the concept of the “family table” lacking in the American mindset, and looked for a way to share her cultural heritage and bring people together in her new hometown.

The pieces fell into place during her studies at The Culinary Institute of Charleston. Dos Santos had watched a program on nontraditional dining concepts in China where people opened their homes to friends and family to share meals.

She loved the concept of getting back to basics, and L.I.M.E. was born. “We created the acronym,” explains Dos Santos, “local, impromptu, moveable, evening, to express the idea behind the event and bridge the two cultures.”

L.I.M.E. dinners unfold with an emphasis placed on mingling and networking during cocktails, and then gathering at a common table for a social feast centered around farm-fresh products. The venue is kept secret until shortly before the event.

“It’s become a huge extended family,” says Dos Santos. “Many of our guests come to all the dinners.”

Dos Santos shares a recipe for a cauliflower dish she learned from Chef Sean Brock, noting how a unique preparation can transform even a non-favorite into a winner. “It’s a long process, but definitely a labor of love.”

Brown Buttered Cauliflower

1 large cauliflower head intact, greens removed, 1 inch of the stem intact
8oz to 12oz butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
white pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese- optional

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Place butter in a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet on stove over medium heat. Butter will melt, then foam, then start to brown. Stir it carefully, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Add the entire head of cauliflower, stem down to the heated pan with butter (you can use a cookie cutter or ring mold to hold it upright and in place). To scoop the butter, tilt pan towards you and gently ladle butter over the cauliflower. Repeat until entire cauliflower is golden brown (about 20 - 30 minutes).

Once golden brown, place pan in oven and bake till just tender in the middle (about 15 minutes).
Transfer cauliflower from pan to a plate and sprinkle lemon zest,
salt and pepper. Slice into four portions and serve warm. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Can be served as a side dish or as the main entree.

Short cuts: To reduce cooking time and eliminate the use of an oven, pre-slice the cauliflower or just use the cauliflower florets for basting step.

Sources: Farmers' Markets, Fields Farm, Kennerty Farms, Legrare Farms

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More on the lionfish-

How to conquer the invasive lionfish? Saute it.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lionfish makes for a stunning sight underwater, with its vibrant red hue and long, venomous spines. But it is also a relentless predator in U.S. and Caribbean waters, a trait that threatens coral reefs in the Southeast, Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Click here to read more...

Saturday, January 29, 2011


by Wendy Swat Snyder

Chef Ken Vedrinski established himself in the early 1990s as an advocate for farm fresh ingredients heading up the kitchen of the acclaimed Opus Restaurant in the former Swissôtel Atlanta. He went on to garner the only Mobile Five-Star ranking awarded to a South Carolina restaurant at the Dining Room at Woodlands Inn. With the opening of hisTrattoria Lucca, Vedrinski, who learned to cook at the side of his Italian grandmother, has brought his culinary journey full circle.

Lucca - named for the town in Western Tuscany that produces his favorite olive oil - is a tribute to Vedrinski's Italian heritage. A semi-finalist for "Best New Restaurant" in the 2009 James Beard Awards, its menu showcases Lowcountry staples, particularly freshly-netted fish and local produce.

Recently, Slow Food Charleston asked Vedrinski to help raise awareness of the predatory lionfish now patrolling the waters of the East Coast, and he was completely on board.

"I'd just read an article about the lionfish," says Vedrinski. "They eat everything, and are threatening to wipe out the natural species unique to South Carolina."

Vedrinski also read that the lionfish is delicious, and that the best strategy for controlling it is increased consumption, so he's teamed up with guest chefs Mike Lata of FIG and Celina Tio of Julian to prepare a four-course dinner to support this sustainable initiative. The lionfish will be the centerpiece of the January 30 event, "Eat the Lionfish", as well as a new dish on Lucca's menu. Local lionfish hunter (and Lucca lionfish supplier) Vic Depuis will give a presentation.

Ken Vedrinski's Lionfish

Lionfish with Fregola Sarda , Lambrusco , Guanciale

Four 6-oz Lionfish filets
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz Fregola (large cous cous)
1 btl Lambrusco
4 oz Guanciale, cooked & chopped
1 qt chicken stock
2 shallots, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 small carrot, diced
1 fresh bay leaf
1/3 cup olive oil
1 beet, peeled & chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Saute shallots, garlic, and carrot in olive oil till soft. Add Fregola, Lambrusco, beets and bay leaf, and simmer until wine is almost gone. Add chicken stock and cook until Fregola is al dente. Remove beet pieces. Add salt to taste. Keep warm. Put Guanciale crust thinly on top of fish and bake at 350 for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve over Fregola.