Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. ~ Jim Valvano
We recently attended Gourmet & Grapes, an extraordinary culinary event at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. In its sixth year, this weekend filled with fabulous food and wine has special meaning beyond the fine dining and great wines; it is a benefit for cancer research at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
If you’ve read the “About” section on this site or the article from attending Gourmet & Grapes last year, you will know that we have dealt with cancer on a very personal level. After battling Stage 4 colorectal cancer beginning in January 2005 and again in 2008, we are all too familiar with this terrible disease. Far too many of us have family members and close friends whose lives have been dramatically changed by a cancer diagnosis.
We were honored to attend this year’s Sixth Annual Gourmet & Grapes Weekend and support their efforts to raise money and awareness for cancer and cancer research. It seems that each year there are several new culinary events added to the already long list around the country and the established food and wine events grow in size and congestion. However, this event is very different. The elegant affair hosted at The Sanctuary is focused on giving and not just consuming food and wine. The monies raised during the event and the proceeds from the auction go to a very important cause.
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It’s exciting to see the Gourmet & Grapes Weekend expand and the growing success of this Kiawah Island affair. Raising approximately $650,000 over the past six years, this year’s auction is sure to add significantly to that total. We attend many culinary events and in our opinion, this ranks as one of the premier food and wine events in the South.
To kick off the weekend in style, the culinary team from Kiawah Resort combined their talents for Friday evening’s Epicurean Affair. Featuring wines from Jordan Vineyard and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, highlighting Antinori Wine, this black-tie dinner was the perfect start to the weekend-long festivities. From the first course of Rabbit Chop with Heirloom Squash, Candied Pumpkin Seeds, and Pomegranate created by Chef de Cuisine, Ryley McGillis of Jasmine Porch (The Sanctuary), to the dessert finale of Chocolate Cherry Slice, a Flourless Cake with Cherry Cremaux, Dark Chocolate Sorbet, and Caramelized Katafi ,executed beautifully by Pastry Chef Robert Brehm, the food and wine pairings were outstanding.
A very special wine, 2010 Antinori Guado al Tasso, was particularly memorable when paired with the third course of 130 degree Palmetto Beef Tenderloin, a local beef, served with Cabernet Braised Georgia Vidalia Onion, Pan Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and Ocean Room Black Truffle Bordelaise. This course was beautifully prepared by Chef de Cuisine of the Ocean Room, Jason Rheinwald.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the Gourmet Culinary Luncheon on Saturday afternoon with Executive Chef Colin Bedford of The Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Chef Bedford has also earned the distinction of being named a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef. We have had the pleasure of working with Chef Bedford in the past and waited with great anticipation for his cooking demonstration and dishes prepared along with his Sous Chef, Thomas Card, and the culinary staff of The Sanctuary. They did not disappoint. The flavors were outstanding and each course was paired with Mira wines from Napa Valley. Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez, of Mira Winery, took guests through the selection of wines with each of the courses.
Three beautiful dishes were served at lunch. From a Celery Root and Apple Soup with Smoked Crab Salad and Spiced Cake paired with a 2011 Mira Chardonnay (Oak Knoll) to the stunning Chocolate Soufflé with Bitter Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Whipped Cream, paired with a 2009 Mira Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford Valley, guests enjoyed the dining experience while Chef Bedford entertained everyone with his British wit and culinary expertise.
An afternoon of champagne tasting with Laurent-Perrier’s Southeast Manager, Sarah J. Halstead, or a wine tasting with Jordan Vineyard & Winery’s winemaker, Rob Davis, followed the culinary luncheon. For those guests wanting a break from food and wine, a stroll around the property or other outdoor activities such as bike riding, golf, or nature hikes around Kiawah Island are always an option before the last evening’s event.
Saturday’s Wine Odyssey Gala was a lively and festive affair. With incredibly talented and well-known chefs from around the Southeast preparing small bites and wine tastings offered from wineries around the world, guests also had the opportunity to bid on items at the silent auction as well as participate in the live auction. Some of the live auction items were truly one of a kind opportunities featuring private dinners prepared by several chefs, a Five Star Experience at The Sanctuary, and an ultimate wine getaway in France. The dinner and auction were followed by a champagne party, dessert, and music while bubbles flowed and dancing continued into the late hours of the evening.
The Farewell Brunch on Sunday concluded the weekend as chefs from Kiawah Resort created a menu showcasing local cuisine and fresh seafood from the coast of South Carolina. With views of the Atlantic Ocean from the dining room at Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary, it was the perfect end to a spectacular weekend.
If you are contemplating attending a food and wine event next year, consider the Seventh Annual Gourmet & Grapes Weekend at The Sanctuary. Kiawah Island is a very special place to spend a few days and with plans for next year’s event already underway, you can be sure the staff at Kiawah, volunteers from Hollings Cancer Center, and their guest chefs and wineries will once again serve up an extraordinary weekend.
* Note – These photographs are courtesy of Andrew Cebulka Photography in Charleston, SC. The images were also included in the video.
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