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Tastes at Pawleys: A year off only whets appetites for benefit

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

After a hiatus in 2011, Tastes at Pawleys, an annual food festival fundraiser that benefits food-related charities, is back for its fifth year.

Sponsored by Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church, the event is from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the church’s Parish Life Center on Waverly Road. This year’s beneficiary is Father Pat’s Lunch Kitchen, another project of the church.

The festival’s return is good news for those who have enjoyed it in the past and came to look forward to it every spring.

“The people I have talked to have said, ‘oh, we’re so glad you’re back; we missed you last year.’ They’re very eager for this event, because it’s a good chance to try some restaurants they might not have had an opportunity to go to for dinner or whatever else,” said Sherby McGrath, who co-chairs the event with Dana Arneman.

The event has brought in a packed house every year it has taken place.

“It’s a great event that not only raises money for the lunch kitchen, which serves the community, but it’s a great community event,” Arneman said. “It brings a lot of people together and it’s a nice time to meet and see people, and sample a lot of restaurants in Pawleys Island and try some of their best dishes.”

There are 19 restaurants signed on to participate in Tastes this year. Organizers decided that was as many as the facility could comfortably accommodate and had to start a waiting list when a 20th restaurant wanted to participate.

“The restaurants were also very happy to come back,” McGrath said. “That’s always good.”

A few restaurants that participated in the last Tastes in 2010 have since gone out of business and some new restaurants have come along and will add new flavor to the event. Mama Rue’s will spice things up by adding jerk pork and chicken to the menu.

Café Piccolo, an Italian restaurant that opened since the last event, will serve meatballs with fresh riccotta and toasted pine nuts drizzled with basil oil. Meanwhile, Get Carried Away will offer one of its specialties, crab divine, or a trio of dips and crackers.

“It’s a wonderful menu,” McGrath said. “We have crabcakes again that are going to be served with a summer succotash. We have lamb chops again and those things that are always very popular.

Austin’s Ocean One is doing both. They’ll serve jumbo lump crab cakes with summer succotash, and lemon aioli and rosemary Dijon lamb chops served over mashed potatoes with a mint infused demi glaze.

The Hanser House will bring back its she-crab soup and prime rib. Bistro 217 had a hit at the last event with its Bangkok chicken over steamed rice and will serve that again this year, along with offering a pecan-encrusted trigger fish over spring pea risotto and a lobster carrot sauce.

Shrimp and grits, always a Lowcountry favorite, will be offered up by Louis’s at Sanford’s, while Frank’s restaurant will offer a gourmet variation on that classic with its duck confit over creamy andouille grits.

Roz’s Rice Mill Café will change things up this year by offering only desserts. Roz’s espresso brownies, sour cream pound cake and banana pudding sandwich cookies are all on the menu. Pawleys Island Bakery will also sweeten things up with cookies, cinnamon rolls and cake bars.

And as usual, there will be beverages including wine and beer.

Other than the new restaurants, the biggest change to the festival is the addition of recycling bins and a request for participating restaurants to use only recyclable or biodegradable materials.

“We’re going green,” McGrath said.

The format for the event is the same.

Father Pat’s has been a beneficiary of Tastes from the start and was launched in 2007 with proceeds from the inaugural event, but traditionally other nonprofits, such as Friendship Place and the Outreach Farm, shared the funds.

Tastes at Pawleys has given more than $290,000 to the community through organizations whose missions are to feed the hungry and nourish the lives of people in Georgetown County.

After taking a year off and with the growth experienced by the lunch kitchen, organizers decided to make it the sole beneficiary of this year’s event. The lunch kitchen serves an average of 1,125 meals a month and has served more than 50,000 meals since it was founded. It has expanded its days of operation from one initially to now being open on Wednesdays and Thursdays for lunch and Saturday mornings for breakfast.

It hasn’t been determined if Father Pat’s will remain the sole beneficiary of the event in the future, McGrath said.

Advance admission tickets for Tastes at Pawleys are $4 and are on sale at the church, the Pawleys Island branch of Conway National Bank and Strand Spine Institute. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Once inside, $1 tickets will be sold to purchase food. Tickets at the door are $5.

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