In the fifth annual iteration of a festival destined to become a local legend, Chef Kevin Callaghan – of Acme Food & Beverage Co. – pulled out all the stops to create an afternoon of food and fun at Rock Quarry Farm this past weekend.
“Salt & Smoke is about all these rich traditions of the South turned into a singular celebration,” said Callaghan. “Think of it as your notion of a perfect autumn day. Then multiply that by 10.”
The bonfire is a quintessential part of fall in North Carolina, so naturally Salt & Smoke grew out of an informal gathering in 2013 at John Soehner’s Eco Farm. Chef Callaghan and friends cooked up a big pot of collards, baked some cornbread, shucked some oysters and spent some quality time outside next to a roaring fire.
“I came to last year’s [Salt & Smoke], and I’m back because everything last year was so great,” said Patricia Munn, who was attending the event with family. “The barbeque, the cornbread … I brought some folks along this year, because I wanted them to see what all the fuss was about!”
Guests were treated to a whole-hog barbeque provided by Firsthand Foods, oysters on the half shell from Shooting Point Oysters, classic sides such as mac n’ cheese, hoppin’ John, fresh pickles, white slaw, and bourbon mashed sweet potatoes. Locally-sourced and prepared by some of the best local chefs in the business, Salt & Smoke may be a travelling event, but it brings all the flavors of home squarely into the spotlight.
Outside of hearty BBQ plates and plenty of oysters, Salt & Smoke made sure every guest arrived hungry and left happy with two featured cocktails – the rum-based “Swamp Fox” and whiskey-apple “Porch Swing” – beers from Foothills Brewery and a “S’mores-gasbord” expansive enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.
“I’m glad I came early. I hadn’t, I would have missed that opening brass band,” said Ted Moore. I was mostly expecting to come here and eat, but these concerts are really something else. I would say that I almost forgot to go get a plate, but I definitely did not forget to go get a plate.”