The Taste of Savannah has a long history with local food, wine and spirit lovers.
While the event has morphed from the once-small square soiree to the now multi-staged takeover of the historic railroad museum, one thing has consistently stayed the same — it's all about showing off the best Savannah-based farms, vendors, chefs and craft brews and spirits.
And this year is no different. The 2018 Taste of Savannah will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Georgia State Railroad Museum as part of the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. Tickets are $75 and include beverages and chef demo samples. There will also be food from some of your favorite restaurants available for purchase. Plan ahead; this event is expected to sell out, and VIP tickets are long gone.
Showcasing great local products is a big part of the event, and Hunter Cattle Co. will get the chance to take center stage with the official beer of the event, Guinness, at the new Guinness Tasting Experience, which will showcase Hunter Cattle’s award-winning sausages prepared on Big Green Eggs and paired with beer samples.
Since their start about eight years ago, the family-grown business has made its name across town starting with a partnership with Green Truck Pub and weekly appearances at Forsyth Farmers' Market. They later branched out to Moon River Brewing, and now you can buy their 100 percent grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork locally at Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market. Other local restaurants are now jumping on board.
Del Ferguson and his wife, along with their children Kristan Fretwell and son Anthony, own and operate Hunter Cattle Co. Nine grandchildren are lucky enough to get the run of the place.
Ferguson says they bought the land in nearby Brooklet back in 2004 so they could start to produce their own preservative-free, antibiotic-free and hormone-free food.
“And it just snowballed from there,” he says. “... Then Green Truck Pub came along at a time when we needed to expand production and have weekly sales. … In two days, they sold out and we were making emergency deliveries. We didn’t realize how much everybody would love it.”
This isn’t Hunter Cattle’s first time to appear at the Taste of Savannah. The family team has spoken on panels and participated in cooking demos, including cooking a whole pig during the event.
Fretwell adds it’s important for them to let people know how the food on the farm is produced.
“I feel like as a farming family, it would be so easy for us to never leave the farm because it’s so much work, but we love it. I’m thankful for these events that will stretch us... and help us get our name out. If it weren’t for others in the community being passionate about supporting local products and farmers, we would never have grown. So, any time we are invited out, we are thankful for it.”
Fretwell will be at the Taste of Savannah, but she says if you can’t make it down to see her there, the community is always welcome to visit the team at their farm store, MooMa’s, in Brooklet.
“We named it after [our mom],” she says. “She has proved us all wrong... She said people like the experience of coming out, buying food on the farm and seeing the farm and she was right... We have barn nights when people stay the night and can see where they are buying from... We love having people on the farm.
“We’ve had so many people wanting to come out to see the farm so we are doing farm tours where you can learn about how we farm... The demand for those kinds of farm experiences is growing. I feel like people really want to know where their food is coming from.”
Aside from the Guinness Tasting Experience, this year’s Taste of Savannah will feature a record number of beverage tastings and participating restaurants. Other new events to look for include The Sparkling Garden, presented by Dasani Sparkling Water and the Savannah Morning News, which features sparkling wines and artisan and restaurant booths inside the Blacksmith Shop. The large space will be adorned with sparkling lights and a “bubbly” atmosphere.
There will also be a TasteMakers in the Round stage you won’t want to miss, along with a Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Stage featuring visiting chefs from the upscale hotel chain.
And the crowd favorite, Big Green Egg Stage, returns with Lowcountry talents cooking up Char Sul Pork Steam Buns with Warm Fall Medley Salad, Five-Spiced Pork Belly with Herb Salad with Tamarind Dressing, and BBQ Pork Steaks.
Another crowd favorite, the Georgia Grown Stage, returns to celebrate Georgia farmers and chefs and includes menu items like One-Skillet Soy-Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Ginger and Infused Peanut Oil Sweet Potatoes and Mustard Greens and Gator & Grits.
The list of chef demos and unique menu options goes on and on. Tasting samples are limited to the first 200 people per session, and authors are scheduled to sign their books after their demos in the Celebrity Cookbook Author’s Tent.