In the Field

Raise a Glass to the Arts at Toast to Spoleto

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

The Local Palate joined a multi-week celebration of arts and culture with our very own Toast to Spoleto in historic Charleston.

Each spring, world-renowned musicians, performers, singers, and artists venture to Charleston for Spoleto USA, a seventeen-day-long arts celebration. The immersive festival fills galleries, stages, and homes throughout the city with events. Gian Carlo Menotti, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, began the event in 1977 when he decided to create a state-side counterpart to the annual Festival of Two Worlds held in Spoleto, Italy. 

The 2022 event was punctuated by performances from Quebec-based Machine du Cirque, Shakey Graves, the Bank of America Chamber Musicians, Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, and many more. The Holy City’s numerous galleries simultaneously featured exhibitions from both established and up-and-coming artists over the course of the festival.

Our team at the Local Palate firmly believes that food falls within the realm of art. After all, chefs, visual artists, performers, and musicians all seek to craft products that engage our senses and evoke emotions. It seemed only fitting that we celebrate Spoleto with gastronomic masterpieces from a few of our food and bev friends.

A table set with orange roses and candles at Toast to Spoleto

We’re Still Savoring Toast to Spoleto 2022

Inspired by the event’s Old World origins, the Local Palate hosted Toast to Spoleto, an Italian-style garden party at a private residence in Charleston’s historic downtown. The garden, complete with reflection ponds, bubbling fountains, and a column-lined pavilion, offered a taste of Italy in the heart of the Lowcountry. 

Michael Gulotta of Maypop and Mopho makes pasta con vongole at Toast to Spoleto

Anthony Marini of The Pass shows off sandwiches at Toast to Spoleto

Throughout the yard, chefs set up stations to turn out Italian delicacies: Michael Gulotta, of Maypop and MOPHO, traveled in from New Orleans to recreate his Cajun pasta con vongole. Charleston-based Anthony Marini of The Pass doled out overstuffed mortadella and prosciutto sandwiches prepared on bread from local bakeries. DoughBoyz Pizza Co. parked their wood-fired pizza oven food truck by the front yard and kept a steady stream of pizzas at the ready. Roving oyster shuckers from Oysters XO and a groaning board-style charcuterie spread ensured attendees always had a snack in hand. 

Head of the local bartending guild Megan Deschaine quenched everyone’s thirst with creative cocktails and generous pours of Umbrian wines. An artist in her own field, she designed these cocktails with Spoleto in mind, drawing on Italian flavors like red bell pepper, tomato, Aperol, white peach, and citrus. Each drink was anchored by various sparkling essences from Mountain Valley Spring Water—key lime, white peach, and blackberry to deliver an undercurrent of summery flavors. Thirsty party-goers kept Deschaine busy, everyone eager to get a drink in hand to properly “toast” Spoleto. 

Megan Deschaine makes cocktails at Toast to Spoleto

Handcrafted scoops of ice cream and sorbet from Kelly Chu of Cirsea Ice Cream lent a sweet finish after the salty cheese-and-meat forward dishes, not to mention a cooling element to temper the South Carolina heat. 

Keep your eyes peeled on in the upcoming weeks for the signature Toast to Spoleto cocktail recipes and Deschaine’s own tips and tricks for crafting Italian-inspired sips.

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