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Here's the thing, it takes a lot more than a little rain to dilute the spirits of a couple thousand people drinking wine at 10 a.m. A lot. Regardless of the stormy skies, day three of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival was a happy affair. Finding myself at the tents just in time for Gabrielle Hamilton's (author, chef, owner of Prune restaurant) closing remarks for Basics of the Bloody, I popped in and grabbed two of her tiny Bloody Mary samples. (If there's one book I recommend for your 2012 reading list, it's Gabrielle's Blood Bones & Butter. Read it!) Joining me was Raphael Brion, editor of Eater National. We downed our thimbles, then headed into the Big Bottles Tasting + Auction.

Talk about a fun surprise, speaker Andrea Robinson—one of only seventeen women in the world to have been appointed Master Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers—was a hoot.. She started off the wine pairing lesson with the quote, "If the cork is out, it's a match."  Can I get an amen?

Back in the tents Charleston magazine's demo booth was aflutter with activity. John Ondo of Lana kicked things off with an "mmm"-inducing risotto. I took the mic to introduce MIke Lata next as he prepared farro succotash, a delightfully light dish which he explained excluded the traditional heavy cream. What Mike's cooking lacks in cream he makes up for in flavor by using only the freshest local vegetables. And the chef, who's soon to open a seafood and oyster bar on King Street, explained that there was, long ago, a day he used to hate seafood. "As I young chef I didn't like it, but I made myself cook a different 8 oz. cut of fish each night for a summer and by the end of it I realized I loved it," he shared.

Charleston Fashion Week's Next Top Cocktail winners, Jasime Beck and Evan Powell, of Cocktail Club and Fish respectively, stopped by to give guests a little taste of the hard stuff. Needless to say, samples went quickly. And chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill came in for the finale, preparing her butterbean and mint bruschetta. And that's when I had to dash. Back to my bike, sans rain jacket.

It was a chilly ride down King Street holding an umbrella with one hand and the handlebars with the other. But a small price to pay for a day meeting chefs and guests all super excited for the innovations Charleston is making in cuisine. And of course, I knew I had Hominy Grill Presents 200+ Years of Charleston Classics Dinner coming up. But more on that later.

Stay tuned for my recap of an evening with Julian Van Winkle, the Lee brothers, Robert Stehling, Chris Hastings, and more.

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