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Gourmands who attended the Ultimate Critics Dinner at the Cottages on the Charleston Harbor truly experienced a night to remember. The event featured capanés and a five-course tasting menu prepared by seven local chefs, selected by Charleston food critics as the best culinarians of 2010, and was hosted by Mickey Bakst of the Charleston Grill.

The evening kicked off with delicious capanés and wine pairings at Casa Lata, where guests nibbled on Wagu beef tartare on Maxine potatoes with micro parsley, and Casa Brock, which offered pickled fried green tomato skewers topped with buttermilk and bacon.

After enjoying the view from the cottage porches, everyone made their way to the main cottage, where they were treated to exceptional service, live music, and five delicious courses served al fresco. Cypress’ Chef Craig Deihl started the evening with corned beef tongue with smoked mustard and pickled onion, which was followed by pan sautéed triggerfish from Carolina’s Chef Jeremiah Bacon. Slightly North of Broad Chef Frank Lee served pigeon breast with shrimp pilaf and okra, and Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill presented dry aged lamb loin over spin rosa polenta with lamb jus, cerinola olives, capers, basil, and cherry heirloom tomatoes.

Savory gave way to sweet as servers brought out Wildflour Pastry Chef Lauren Mitterer’s local peach panna cotta with gingered citrus and toasted almonds, and guests then partook of Coastal Cigars and Cointreau Noir Cordials around the candle lit pool deck.

Not only was the evening magical and a fabulous success, but the event benefitted the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s 2011 Signature Charity, Lowcountry Local First. Lowcountry Local First is an alliance dedicated to promoting and preserving our local economy through uniting retail, manufacturing, and agricultural businesses throughout the Charleston area.

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