This past weekend was SO much fun. The four days were jam-packed with incredible activities thanks to Sea Island’s Southern Grown Festival. The festival highlights the South’s best food, music and drinks–making it the perfect showdown for me and the thousands of other folks who attended the events! If you didn’t have a chance to attend this southern celebration, then you have to mark your calendars for next year’s Southern Grown Festival which is already scheduled for June 16th thru 18th. You won’t want to miss it!
Today I’m sharing highlights from the Garden & Gun Dinner and Show, which kicked off the Southern Grown festival. The evening was truly magical and captured a speakeasy vibe, given that the guests did not know the dinner location. They were told to come to Sea Island for a cocktail, and then were transported to a rustic barn-like setting on St. Simons, known to the locals as Bennie’s Red Barn. My husband and I frequent Bennie’s not only to enjoy their steak and seafood, but also because each night a gentleman walks around the restaurant while singing old school gospel hymns to the guests. It’s been a tradition since the 1950’s and it’s the main reason why we love Bennies!
Garden & Gun and Sea Island infused some of Bennie’s Red Barn’s traditions by greeting the guests with gospel singers as they entered the restaurant and were seated at their table. The Vine Garden Market and Sea Island event staff enhanced the space by decorating it with long farm tables and beautiful blooms. Rebecca Darwin, the Founder and CEO of Garden & Gun, welcomed everyone and then the night began with the first course prepared by chefs Nico Romo (Charleston), Chef Jonathan Jerusalmy (Sea Island) and Chef Mike Lata (Charleston). We sipped on Terroir Life Family of Wines, listened to live music and enjoyed the conversation around the table over four delicious courses. Some of my favorite dishes throughout the night were the soft shell crabs, upside-down watermelon pie, zellwood corn pie, whole grilled snowy grouper and black-garlic-rubbed NY strip. It was an exquisite and memorable start to the festival.
After we dabbled in dessert, the large barn doors opened to reveal another location with an outside bar centered around a hundred-year-old oak tree. The Sea Island bartenders suspended pre-mixed cocktails in old mason jars from the branches of the tree. When you picked out your cocktail, the bartender cut the string and poured your drink of choice over ice. It was such a wonderful idea that I ended up snapchatting it (on @LavinLabel) so you could see it in action! The only thing that made it better was that each cocktail included Richland Rum, Tito’s Vodka or Bulleit Bourbon — it doesn’t get better than that! We finished the night by heading home in style in Kelli’s new Volvo XC90.
Lastly, I’d like to give a special thanks to Garden & Gun, Sea Island, Kara Ann Paper, Vineyard Vines and Kelli Boyd Photography. It’s always a pleasure to work with such talented + passionate women! Stay tuned for more highlight’s from Southern Grown throughout the week.