By the time my toes sank into the sand at Patriots Point Thursday night for the Wine + Food Festival launch party, tickets were already selling out to dinners scheduled for next March. The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival traditionally kicks off ticket sales with a big party for supporters, and it gets bigger every year. Last week, it was held on the beach at the Charleston Harbor Resort at the tip of Patriots Point, the night after the Ultimate Critics Dinner was hosted at the neighboring Cottages on the Harbor. Board members who attended the previous night’s event could be seen either abstaining altogether or jumping in for a little hair of the dog.

The launch party was designed to give a taste of what’s to come for the 2011 festival with food from the Taco Boy truck, barbecue pitmasters, and plenty of local restaurants including O-Ku and Husk, the new restaurant from Chef Sean Brock and the Neighborhood Dining Group. Brock and his anointed Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes plated up some authentic Southern fare with rice, okra, tomatoes, and shrimp while O-Ku passed out samples of sushi and sake. Lots of sake.

As the sun set over Charleston, the party wrapped up and Executive Director Angel Postell found herself fielding special requests for those who missed out on the hottest tickets of the festival — the Friday night dinner at FIG proved to be an especially attractive dinner with its all-star lineup.