Beast Feast proved to be a belly-busting highlight for me this past weekend. The 40 minute drive through the winding country took me to Historic Scotchtown (where Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech went down). As I stepped out of my car, I was hit with the fragrance of grilled meat as I watched a light cloud of smoke linger in the warm fall air.
Tanya Cauthen, meat enthusiast and owner of Belmont Butchery, teamed with Preservation Virginia to celebrate a 2nd Beast Feast. The event was meticulously catered around eating, drinking, and eating more by providing a constant rotation of grilled and smoked meat, hearty sides, desserts, and drinks. Tickets sold at $50 for unlimited food, beer, and wine and a $80 VIP ticket included Rappahannock oysters and specialty cocktails.
While Honky Tonk music lingered in the smoke-drenched air, drinks flowed from Blue Bee, Center of the Universe Brewery, and Blenheim Vineyards. In the VIP tent, craft bartenders from Rogue Gentleman, Saison, Balliceaux, and the Roosevelt whipped up southern-inspired cocktails. My Moonshine Mule, made with moonshine, ginger beer, and lime paired well with my juicy hunk of pork and greens. Later, my rose cider was smashing with an apple stuffing.
Standing in my first line for whole roasted pig, I listened to conversations of others who had smartly planned ahead by skipping breakfast that morning to make belly room for the smorgasbord of grilled goodness. Folks were determined to enjoy it over and over again.
Local Richmond chefs including John Maher and Aaron Hoskins (Rogue Gentleman), Dylan Fultineer (Rappahannock), and Kevin White and Jason Kane (Aziza on Main) collaborated with skilled butchers to prep, grill, and dice for a hearty-sized crowd. We’re not talking hot dogs and burgers here, folks. Whole duck, lamb, pig, chicken, beef, and turkey all made their way from flame to mouth quite literally, from the grilling area steps behind the serving tables where it was sliced and plated. In addition to the beast, there was an abundance and constant rotation of sides made from local ingredients ranging from venison pecan butternut stuffing, to apple and beet salad, to a smoked grilled pepper medley.
The food was outstanding, and everyone else seemed to agree. The freshness of the meat – from the preparation to the “just grilled” essence – was perfection. Folks weaved their way back into line for seconds, thirds, and fourths.
I finally hit my limit going back into line for a 4th trip but my food-loving friends continued to brave more fare including beautiful giant butternut squash halves and duck.
Dessert was not forgotten (even though I head back home before it was served) with mouthwatering creations like chocolate-drizzled cream puffs with bacon and bourbon and grilled gingerbread-stuffed pears made a perfect sweet finale to the gluttonous day.
The event was perfect and well-planned for the hungry and anxious crowd. A post Beast Feast perk? My hair and clothes lingered with a delicious smoky smell the rest of the night (so much so that I was forced to change my outfit because my dog, Grant was licking my clothes).
If the event holds true for a 3rd Beast Feast, I’ll be there with a beer in one hand, plate piled high with smoked or grilled goodness in the other having a grand ole time.