December 2017

Field Notes from Music to Your Mouth 11

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Bonjwing Lee

Let it never be said that Palmetto Bluff can’t party. The eleventh annual Music to Your Mouth hit all five senses with a gastronomic, multisonic series of events that, once again, proved why this event sells out in the blink of an eye each year.

Four days in November were stuffed with culinary events, featuring some of the Southeast’s biggest names in dining—not just chefs, but master distillers, mixologists and more. You’d find them at the smorgasbord of events that ran throughout the event, from the bourbon & bacon cruise aboard Palmetto Bluff’s yacht, Grace, to the “Kiss the Pig” feast at Moreland Landing.

Delightfully different (not just from one another, but in a general sense), each event offered up some unique spin on Lowcountry culinary tradition and let you hobnob with the biggest culinary rock stars.

I was fortunate enough to weasel my way into two of these events. The first was Big Carol’s Big Dinner, a culinary cotillion in which Palmetto Bluff’s first food truck had its de facto coming out. Manning the grill in Big Carol was all six-foot-eight-inches of Chef David Carrier from St. Simons’ famed Certified Burgers and Beverage. Despite his frame, Carrier had plenty of headroom as he served up chorizo sliders, cheeseburger sliders and high-end corn dogs (yes, they exist and they’re incredible).

Among Big Carol’s food truck friends was Bluffton’s own Downtown Catering truck, with Ryan and Leah McCarthy on hand serving up delicate brisket with potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Savannah’s Service Brewing Co. was also on hand. Co-founder Kevin Ryan fed me pairing suggestions all night (including the so-crazy-it-worked pairing of their Rally Point Pilsner with a cinnamon fritter), while Meredith Sutton snuck me into the Big Bon Pizza tent so I could try my hand at tossing dough.

But half the name of the event centers on the music, and Atlanta’s Yacht Rock Revue didn’t disappoint, with a sound that, in their words, blurs the lines “between a tribute, an original act, and a comedic troupe.” Let’s say their cover of the theme song to “The Golden Girls” was the surprise hit of the night.

Which brings us to the main event, Saturday’s Culinary Festival, held beneath a massive tent erected over Wilson Village Green. Music from Charleston’s The Bushels filled the air, peppering a savory atmosphere in which aromas from every culinary demonstration and table from dozens of talented chefs coalesced into low-lying cloud of gourmet bliss. Discerning foodies from all over the world walked the green between the tent’s blend of gourmet cuisine and sophisticated wine and cocktails, and the bluff itself where a “bacon garden” demarcated the biergarten.

After years of “running propane canisters around” as Palmetto Bluff’s executive chef, Brandon Carter was behind a table at Music To Your Mouth for the first time, representing his restaurant FARM. “I got set up and realized there was a James Beard award winner to my left, and a James Beard award winner to my right,” he said, adding with deadpan humor, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘I have to establish some dominance here,’ so I unhooked their propane.”

Chef Orchid Paulmeier, the island’s famed One Hot Mama, was also there for her sixth MTYM. It was not lost on her that she’d now attended the majority of these events ever held. “I mark the date on my calendar, and then I pray every year that I receive that little box in the summer that says save the date,” Paulmeier said. “That is our family ritual to go get together and open the box.”

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