Never stop learning, they say, because life never stops teaching.
I can't tell you where I was a couple of years ago, because frankly, I don't remember. I was, however, listening to a wine maker talk about Champagne and the other sparkling wines of the world. At some point along the way, he brought up the food that pairs best with sparkling wine. "Does anyone know?" he asked.
No one responded.
"Fried chicken," he said. The giggles and laughter trickled across the room. "No, seriously," he added.
He went on to explain how well the acidity of a nice glass of Champagne is perfect for cutting through the heavy flavors that come with a nice piece of battered and fried chicken. A few of us around the table looked at each other with raised eyebrows and all agreed. Yep, it makes all the sense in the world.
Our speaker went on to tell us there is a restaurant in New York City dedicated to the pairing. Chef Sarah Simmons has made quite a name for herself with Birds & Bubbles on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In fact, if you Google fried chicken and Champagne, it seems like the first 30 entries that come up are about either Sarah or her restaurant. Additionally, she owns City Grit in New York City as well as Rise Bakeshop in Columbia, S.C. Her hometown.
Since that visit with the wine maker that day, it seemed like every time I turned around, someone was doing a fried chicken and bubbles pairing event somewhere. I've seen them done in Charleston, New York and Miami, to name a few. It was just one of those things in the back of my mind that I thought we'd like to do some day here in Savannah. I mean, why not? You can't toss a golf ball out of a window here without hitting some kind of fried chicken. Most of it very good. Better than that stuff they offered us in New York once I finally got there, by the way, but I digress.
A couple of months ago, I had dinner at a new spot in Savannah on Montgomery Street. Kitchen 320 inside of the B Historic Hotel is one of Savannah's newest hotel restaurants. If you don't recall exactly where it is or have trouble picturing it, it is the hotel immediately to the right when you come down off of the I-16 flyover into downtown Savannah. A couple of years ago, it was the Country Inn & Suites. All that is gone now and trust me when I tell you, this place is anything but "country."
The vibe inside B Historic and Kitchen 320 is straight out of South Beach. The remodel is gorgeous, the space incredibly inviting and the food and drink right on par with what is happening with food in Savannah.
Chef Will Herrington offered us a few courses. The Pickled Shrimp with Ricotta, Green Tomato and a Dill Vinaigrette was great. As were chef's chicken wings. Brined in sweet tea and fried crispy, served with pickled vegetables and Lowcountry aioli. There was a lot of good food that night, but the wings were memorable. Have you figured out where I am going with all of this yet? Of course you have.
Not too long after that, I had a chat with Chef Will about his chicken. I mentioned to him that I'd been thinking about putting together Savannah's first fried chicken and bubbles event. I thought his space at Kitchen 320 was the perfect backdrop and his fried chicken would be the perfect pairing for something special. The result is Bird and Bubbles Savannah, our city's first fried chicken and sparkling wine event. It's happening Jan. 19.
The evening we are putting together will be fantastic. Sixty guests will join us for unlimited amounts of chef's fried chicken and unlimited pours of the best bubbles we can find for the event. Additionally, Chef Will will be passing around some nibbles from his already very popular small plates menu. There will be great music, great conversation and most importantly, great food for a couple of hours in downtown Savannah.
I think it is important to mention what kind of bubbles we will have. As I write this, we are in search of the best pairing for this particular evening. It would be easy to throw a "big-name" Champagne at this event for a wow factor, but frankly, that doesn't mean we will get the best pairing. At the same time, it would also be easy to back the truck up to Trader Joe's for a bunch of Two-Buck Chuck sparkling wine and call it a day. I'm not going to do either of those.
If you enjoy the process in purchasing wine, then you know getting the best fit for the best value is far more important than wowing your friends with a label. That is what we are aiming to do. The evening will be special and a portion of the proceeds will go to a local charity. It's not another stuffy wine dinner. It will be different. It will be a whole lot of fun. If you have attended our Eat It and Like It Foodie Awards at any point in the last few years, then you know of what I speak.
Of course, said evening comes with a price tag: $60 per person gets you all you can handle that night. The fried chicken, the bubbles, the additional hor d'oeuvres and a partridge in a pear tree. I'm not exactly sure anyone will want one, but we can make it happen if you insist. Tickets have been on sale for about a week now and they are moving a little better than I thought. We are fully expecting a sell-out, so if you are thinking about it, don't delay. Parking is not an issue, as one of Savannah's largest parking garages is directly across the street. You'd be hard pressed to find a more convenient location.
We hope you will make plans to join us. The only place you can find tickets is at eatitandlikeit.com. It's right there on the home page.