If I had this issue to do over again, I would probably dedicate it to the tomato. This summer’s crop has been astonishingly wonderful. Last week, I made a tomato salad from Rosebank Farms produce that still lingers on the memory of my tastebuds — tangy, sweet, juicy, oh-so-yummy. I’m not sure why the tomatoes are so good this year. Could it be all the rain? I’m hoping that it has to do with an article we wrote years ago, bemoaning the mushy, grainy, hard hothouse tomatoes that had become a grocery store staple. Back then, even the local crops seemed to produce those mealy ’maters. But this summer? Every single tomato I’ve sliced through has been firm, bright, and juicy (cue salivary glands). The comeback of the tomato gives me hope.
Last winter, we were in a deep, dark place where our food scene seemed threatened by a bleak economic storm. We were all worried, too scared about protecting our pocketbooks to indulge our love of good food. But here we are six months later, surrounded by the bounty of the Lowcountry, eating the most delicious tomatoes you’ve ever seen, and suddenly, the world doesn’t seem so scary. We are still rich in food. Simple pleasures, right?
In this issue, we put the rough economic winter behind us and celebrate the season. Robert Moss marvels at Charlestons’s embarrassment of riches, from our crops to our cultural history. He also tracks bacon throughout town, and then explores how local species like triggerfish and wreckfish have become so popular. Alison Sher shadows Ken Vedrinski of Sienna and the acclaimed Trattoria Lucca as he goes about a typical day, including, appropriately enough, selecting from the best of the day’s local produce and seafood and crafting it into a custom tasting menu. Angela Hanyak documents the evolving cocktail scene and also explores the incursion of the savory and the spicy on the dessert menu. Erica Jackson takes us on a tour of distinctive local food shops that let the home cook tap into the diverse bounty that makes our local scene great. And, finally, Michelle Weaver reflects on her long journey that has taken her to the helm of the Charleston Grill, which is about as high as a chef can aspire.