It was a first for me and having never been a camper had no idea what to expect. I'm not as stringent as a high school classmate who declares she won't go anywhere she can't tip, but I like my bathrooms en suite. I wondered what the food would be like. Wine sauced beanie-weenies around the campfire? S'mores with dark Belgian chocolate?
Hardly. Today's campground cooks are a sophisticated bunch and so are their RVs which do have en suite bathrooms.
The campground is in an idyllic setting, wooded points overlooking the large stretch that is Lake Russell and the Savannah River. There are campgrounds only, no cabins or rooms.
Tip: Levelers, we're in the toe hills, not the foothills, so any great change in elevation is man made and infrequent. Western South Carolina is hillier than the low country of the east, but not challenging.
There were 23 teams vying for $2,000 in prize money and they, plus several batches of onlookers, arrived Friday afternoon and were treated to a live band that night.
I spent the night at Hickory Knob State Resort Park about a 25 minutes drive away. On the same lake, Hickory Knob has cabins, motel-like rooms, camp sites, tennis courts, volleyball, a pool, golf course and several boat ramps as well as a lodge and restaurant.
|Judge Beth D'Addono|
|We looked, photographed, tasted and scored.|
Emcee Jayne Scarborough kept a running commentary going, explaining the recipes used.
Bacon was perhaps the most popular added ingredient, but many who used it liberally forgot its saltiness and over-salted with the table stuff.
Having judged the South Carolina Peach-Off for several years, I was surprised to see only three cooks entered in the dessert category. Probably a good thing; after tasting 23 entrees, don't think we judges could have managed an equal number of desserts.
Sitting around the unlit campfire at the campsite of friends of the organizers, watching the action on the beach and lake, comparing notes and anecdotes and imbibing in an adult beverage after it was all over was the perfect ending.
|Judges and friends relax and digest the day.|
A steady breeze blew off the lake, kids fished and swam and poked around the shore, boaters motored by, we laughed and relaxed and looked forward to next year. A lovely afterglow. I suspect the same scenario was being played out at every other campsite.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy, by all means sign up. It's scheduled for the third weekend of September 2011 and campground cooks from any state - or country for that matter - are eligible.
You'll meet a group of fun-loving people, their families and friends. You can learn more about it at www.sccampgroundcookoff.com. You'll find the recipes for all of the 2010 there too as well as the top ones at my other blog, www.foodafar.blogspot.com.
Thanks to Shafer Huguley for some of the photos.