Forget that New Year’s Diet ... Restaurant Week starts Thursday! Jan. 8-18, check out participating restaurants in Columbia, and around the state, and their special menus and pricing at restaurantweeksouthcarolina.com. Enjoy the best of local food, and put off that diet for another week.
Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours, led by Gloria Freeman and Janet Jordan, take you on a 21/2- hour walking tour of the Vista, visiting five of the area’s top restaurants. Upcoming tours include a partnership with Historic Columbia for two tours on Jan. 10. Choose between the 11 a.m. Brunch and Munch Tour and/or the 4 p.m. Sites and Bites Tour. Tickets: $38 per person (groups of 4-9 pay $35 per person, groups of 10 or more pay $30 per person) Information, www.twogalsfoodtours.com or (803) 260-7992 or (803) 360-0578. Ask about customized tours or Vista Crawls for you and your friends.
World Beer Festival returns Jan. 17 to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Last year, at least 10 new breweries opened in South Carolina. The World Beer Festival will highlight these along with national and international breweries and feature specialty cheese and beer pairings, beer education seminars ... and the return of the silent disco experience. General admission tickets are $40 (includes tasting glass and unlimited 2-ounce tastings); VIP admission is $75 (private hospitality area, private bathrooms, bonus selection of beers and 3-issue subscription to All About Beer Magazine). Tickets available online at www.worldbeerfestival.com and at Green’s and Morganelli’s locations.
Speaking of beer ... Soda City Suds Week is a new, independent weeklong celebration of local craft brews presented by Midands Craft Beer Supporters. The week starts March 21 with the Soda City Suds & Spuds and ends with the Cream of the Crop Beer Fest, March 28, at City Roots. Expect local restaurants to participate with special events during the week. The Cream of the Crop event will feature SC and NC breweries and food from Bourbon, Rosso, The Oak Table and Low Co BBQ. Tickets to this event are available at eventbrite.com For more information, follow @sodacitysuds and @FarmToTableCo or check out their Facebook pages.
Truffle season is upon us ... Celebrate the Piedmont Region of Italy and its cuisine with Chef Carlon Zarri during his North American Truffle and Hazlenut Tour. Chef Zarri will be making three stops in the Midlands for multi-course dinners featuring winter truffles. Make reservations now for Jan. 19 at Alodia’s in Irmo, Jan. 20 at Figaro’s in Newberry or Jan. 21 at Il Giorgiore on Devine Street in Columbia. More information at tastetruffles.com or call Chef John Militello at Let’s Cook Culinary School, (803) 348-5874 or letscookculinary.com
Let us eat cake! The Columbia Museum of Art presents a lecture and demonstration by author and dessert designer Caitlin Freeman at 6 p.m. Jan. 23. Freeman is the resident chef for Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco and wrote the book, “Modern Art Desserts,” based on her art-inspired desserts. Tickets (includes cake!): $15 general public, $12 for members, $5 for students. Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main Street, (803) 799-2810, www.columbiamuseum.org
Mark your calendars! Farm to Table Event Co. has released dates for 2015. Highlights include: Jan. 24, Pig and Oyster Throw Down: Low Co Barbecue & Catering and Bourbon will prepare pigs from Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork and Our Local Catch will supply the oysters, $45 covers food, cash bar for drinks; March 8, Bartender Challenge; April 18, Cream of the Crop Beer Fest local brew event (see above); and April 26, Dinner on Main: dine in the middle of Main featuring food from The Oak Table, Bourbon and The Whig, $125 per person. Also, for the first time, Harvest Dinner Season Passes are available. More information at www.farmtotableevent.com and www.eventbrite.com
32nd Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival is 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Jan. 25 at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. Join in the fun with oyster shucking and eating contests, live music, beer and wine and 80,000 pounds of oysters. Tickets $17.50 per person include entry, entertainment, viewing of Boone Hall Plantation and access to Pluff-A-Palooza children’s area. Oysters, drinks and other food for sale at market price. Chairs and blankets welcome, no coolers. VIP tickets, $100 per person, includes above plus one bucket of oysters, easy entry, VIP tent with food, beverages and seating area. Tickets available at www.ticketfly.com
... or try the Good Catch Oyster Fest, 6:30-10:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston. Locally sourced oysters from St. Jude Farms,;sustainable seafood dishes from Fish, Fleet Landing and Pane e Vino; craft beer from Holy City Brewing and bluegrass from The Bluestone Ramblers. Proceeds support Good Catch (the program previously known as the Sustainable Seafood Initiative). Tickets $35 per person, call (843) 577-FISH (3474) or online at e.scaquarium.org
Learn to make charcuterie down on the farm! Walker Century Farms, in Anderson, is hosting a charcuterie class at the farm’s Pavillion 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 31. The beginner’s class will feature sausage and salami recipes from Italy, Greece and North Africa without the use of nitrate or nitrites. Tickets $100 per person (includes lunch and meat to take home), register at brownpapertickets.com event 878473. Walker Century Farms specializes in grass-fed and finished purebred Rad Devon cattle and several varieties of heritage pigs and goats. 110 Walker Rd., Anderson, www.walkercenturyfarms.com
Cork Shuckin’ Festival kicks off Sippin’ Saturdays at Irvin-House Vineyards and Firefly Vodka, 1-5 p.m. Feb. 7. Admission is free, but oysters are $20 for all-you-can-eat or $10 a bucket, Firefly tastings are $6 (for six spirits), Irvin-House wines are $5 (five wines), food vendors include Coastal Crust, Stono Cafe and Chucktown Mobile Seafood. Park-and-ride trolleys will run from Mt. Pleasant Towne Center, Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park and Charleston Visitors Center [reserve space at www.lowcountrylooptrolley.com or call (843) 654-5199] to the vieyard on Wadmalaw Island. More information at irvinhousevineyards.com
Take them to BBQ School! Learn the art and techniques of preparing award-winning pulled pork, beef brisket, pork ribs and chicken during the Carolina Outdoor Cooking BBQ Class, Feb. 7. This all- day class (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies in Chapin is taught by S.C. State Chanpionship Pit Masters and will include lunch and all-day barbecue samplings for $299 per person. Preregistration required and class size is limited. Download a registration form at CarolinaOutdoorCooking.com or contact Garland Hudgens, (803) 360-4700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Bacon and Bourbon ... in Charleston! Enjoy bacon-inspired bites from 12 Charleston restaurants and sips of bourbon from 25 local and national distilleries 6:30-11 p.m. Feb. 7 at Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St. in Charleston. Tickets: $70 per person (includes unlimited samples of bacon dishes and bourbon, live music, laser skeet shooting, bull riding championship and Cigar Cabana) or $90 VIP (includes all of above plus Early Preview Access and $10 pour credit for the Rare Bourbon Bar). Get tickets and check out list of chefs, distilleries and more at www.baconandbourbonsc.com
Charleston Wine + Food Festival tickets are on sale for this renowned event March 4-8. Many of the signature dinners have sold out but there are still tickets available for wine tastings, beer events, the SC BBQ Tent, and to the Culinary Village (our favorite event name: 50 Shades of Earl Grey: High Tea with Nathalie Dupree, yowza!). Tickets available at charlestonwineandfood.com
Hilton Head Wine + Food Festival at Sea Pines Resort March 9-14. Now in its 30th year, the festival celebrates the culinary culture of the Lowcountry as well as international wines. New additions this year: Par for the Cork, a pro-am-guest golf tournament on the Ocean Course; Guest Chef Vintner’s Dinners; and Barnyard Ruins Pig Picking with guest chef and local craft beers. New to Sea Pines, the festival’s Grand Tasting moves to the 18th lawn of Harbour Town Golf Links and the Public Tasting around Harbor Town Yacht Basin with chef demos at Sysco Outdoor Gourmet Pavillion. www.hiltonheadwineandfood.com
Columbia Food Tours, owned by Kristin and Brian Cole, take you on a walking tour of downtown Columbia to experience the culture and cuisine of the Capital City. Sign up for a tour, gathering at the State House steps, and visit six to eight of Columbia’s finest restaurants and sample items from the menu. Tours last 21/2 hours, rain or shine. More information and ticket reservations at www.columbiafoodtours.com
Greenville Brew Tours offers Saturday tours of breweries, an overview of the brewing processes and tastings of craft beers with a final stop at The Greenville Growler Station, a leading craft beer tavern in Greenville. Participating breweries include Thomas Creek, Brewery 85, Quest Brewing and Swamp Rabbit Brewery with occasional excursions to Asheville, N.C., Charlotte and Athens, Ga. Tickets $55 per person. Private tours available. Information, schedule and ticket reservations at greenvillebrewtours.com
Cocoa Lab at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. Dessert-oriented workshops led by Bar Cocoa pastry chef Heidi Kabath include: Jan. 17, healthy desserts (Citrus Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, Vegan Banana Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Pecan cookies and Healthy Granola Bars); Feb. 7, chocolate lovers (Double Chocolate Cream Pie, Rocky Road Chocolate Mousse and Warm Chocolate Cake with Brandied Cherry Center); March 14, St. Pat’s desserts (Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake, Irish Banana Bread Puddong, Chocolate Hazelnut Potato Candy and Bailey’s Marshmallows). All classes run 9 a.m. to noon and cost $75 per person. Register at (704) 547-2244
Providence Cooks! Providence Hospital’s award-winning cooking class teaches how to prepare flavorful, heart-healthy food. Taught by Providence chefs, registered dietitians and special guests, upcoming dates and locations include: Feb. 3, 6-8 p.m. Providence Hospital, Small Cafe, 2435 Forest Dr.; March 3, 6-8 p.m. Providence Hospital, Small Cafe, 2435 Forest Dr.; April 7, 6-8 p.m. Providence Orthopedic Hospital, Main Lobby, 120 Gateway Corporate Blvd. Classes $20 per person, pre-registration required. Call (803) 256-5381 or toll-free (877) 256-5381.
Charleston Cooks! at Cross Hill. Wednesday, Jan. 7, stocks, soups and stews; Thursday, Jan. 8, Greek; Friday, Jan. 9, couples French; Saturday, Jan. 10, Kids Class: French; Jan. 14, classic sauces; Jan. 16, couples French; Jan. 17, sushi; Jan. 19, Asian noodles and soups; Jan. 21, everyday sauces; Jan. 22, Sustainable Feast featuring foods from Terra Kotta Farms, City Roots, Humble Farms LLC, Sunny Cedars Farm and Carolina Honeybee Co.. For information or to register, call (803) 509-8111 or www.charlestoncooks.com
Chef Francois Fisera hosts cooking classes at Fleur de Lys Home Culinary Institute. Friday and Monday, Jan. 9 & 12, filet of beef flambe Martell Cognac dijonnaise; Jan 16 & 19, mussels with Pernod; Jan. 22 & 23, Alaskan halibut with vegetable confit; Jan. 27, Canadian Bay scallops with mornay sauce; Jan. 30, Argentine Malbec with Manchester Farms quail; Feb. 3 & 6, pork with wild mushrooms; Feb. 10, French Cooking Goes to the Dogs (bring your four-legged friend). Fleur de Lys is at 3001 Millwood Ave. (803) 765-9999 or fleurdelyscolumbiasc.com
Let’s Cook Culinary Studio events: Thursday, Jan. 8, Italian supper; Friday, Jan. 9, tapas; Jan. 15, Restaurant Review of Past Restaurants (menu items selected from long-gone Columbia favorites including Elite Epicurean, The Market Restaurant, Cinnamon Hill, Columbia’s and Le Petit Chateau); Jan. 16, couples pasta; Jan. 20, Wild Women; Jan. 23, couples paella; Jan. 27, raclette (similar to fondue); Jan. 30, Italian small plates. Detailed listings at letscookculinary.com. Let’s Cook is at 1305 Assembly St. (803) 348-5874
McCutchen House at USC. Chef du jour classes (9 a.m.-1 p.m.): Feb. 7, quick breads; Feb. 14, Chocolate 101; Feb. 21, Essential techniques: Saute; March 21, basic sauces; April 4, basic knife skills; April 25, sausages. Wine classses: Jan. 27, Italian wines; Feb. 24, wines of Chile and Argentina; March 17, 10 for $20; March 31, Dinner with Conquest Brewery; April 14, wines of Australia and New Zealand; April 28, wines of Oregon Culinary Institute Certification: a yearlong series of classes designed to support your success by including lectures and hands-on application of each skill set. Classes begin March 24 with graduation on March 14, 2016. Registration for all classes at http://www.hrsm.sc.edu/mccutchen-house or call (803) 777-4450