New York City Wine and Food Festival ~ September 29 – October 2, 2011

So you know I’m all about the Food and Wine Festivals! They are so much fun and it’s a great place to meet new people. I’ve been to some amazing events at both the Atlantic City Wine and Festival and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.  It’s almost New York City Wine and Food Festival time! Can you believe it’s coming up so quickly?!

The Festival runs from September 29th through October 2, 2011. There are still tickets available to many events, so be sure to get yours before they sell out!

These are the top 5 events (in no particular order) that I think look amazing:

Rock & Bowl with Anne Burrell

Chef Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Worst Cooks in America, is celebrating the release of her very first publishing endeavor, Cook Like A Rock Star, with an over-the-top bash at Lucky Strike, the most luxurious bowling establishment in the city. All guests will get a free copy of Cook Like A Rock Star while competing for lucious prizes and the right to be crowned the first Rock and Bowl champion. Side bets will be taking place inside Lucky Strike’s vast billiard parlor, while a full bar will help quench your thirst as you pursue spares, strikes, and turkeys. Recipes from Cook Like A Rock Star are the featured food.This night of mingling, snacking, sipping, and bowling is sure to be unforgettable, especially with Anne Burrell as the life of the party!

How much fun does that sound?! It’s sure to be a great time!

The Neelys’ Brunch

Food Network’s favorite married couple The Neelys are excited to welcome patrons to their brand new NYC establishment, Neely’s BBQ Parlor, on the Upper East Side. This spectacular southern family-style Jazz Brunch will feature Memphis-style BBQ favorites like slow roasted half chicken and wet glazed port ribs. This is the first restaurant for Pat & Gina outside of their home base of Tennessee. The Neelys’ Brunch will combine sassiness, cocktails, Jazz, champagne and BBQ into a splendid mid-morning affair.

Who doesn’t love some good BBQ?!

Godiva Chocolatier presents SWEET sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Brancott Estate hosted by Sandra Lee

Now in its fifth year, the event that put the Festival on the map is taking the N train downtown to a new venue for an even SWEETER 2011 experience. Godiva Chocolatier presents SWEET sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Brancott Estate hosted by Sandra Lee has relocated to 82 Mercer, a one-of-a-kind Soho locale where pastry chefs and bakeries from across the city will showcase their most scrumptious desserts. Godiva Senior Chef Chocolatier David Funaro will showcase a new dessert inspired by Godiva’s newest truffle piece Chocolate Éclair from its soon to be launched Ultimate Dessert Truffles Collection. From sultry cupcakes to sexy crème brulee, Sandra Lee, of the hit Food Network show Semi-Homemade Cooking, will bring guests into her nectarous sanctuary filled with sugary sensations, candy creations, caramel clusters and much more at this one and only late night dessert party. Just like the hostess herself, this night is always filled with arousing, decadent creations.

I’m all about the desserts so you know this is right up my alley!

George Stone Crab at Dream Beach with Host Claire Robinson

Join Miami favorite, George Stone Crab and Food Network star and host, Claire Robinson, to watch the sun set on the city and the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Seasonal stone crabs, sumptuous sides and delicious cocktails while sitting poolside at The Dream Downtown will have you mistaking the Meatpacking District for Miami.

Stone Crabs and Cocktails?! Yes, please!

Party in Guy’s Garage

Food Network Superstar Guy Fieri wants you to celebrate like your parents are out of town. You’ll need a can of Red Bull for Party in Guy’s Garage: The Festival Closing Party. This night is one part 16 Candles and one part Porky’s mixed with vodka-inspired cocktails, beer trucks, and finger-lickin’ foods to help you rock out way past curfew. The Ronald Reagans 80s Tribute Band will deliver the tunes as clips from some of your favorite movies play in the backdrop of Highline Stages, the newest venue in the Festival’s official home of the Meatpacking District. As with any Guy party, the energy will be intensely electric –making you wish the Festival did not have to come to a close. Casual, funky dress required—torn jeans and t-shirts preferred. So whether you’re an athlete, a basket case, a princess or a geek all are welcome to attend this late-night Breakfast Club.

No explanation needed. This sounds like a blast!

Atlantic City Wine & Food Festival: Guy’s Big Bite Brunch

So this past weekend was the Atlantic City Wine & Food Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I had the chance to attend four different events: Guy’s Cheese Steak Battle, Guy’s Big Bite Brunch, Sunny Anderson’s Sliders Party, and the Sweet & Stylish Party. Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Sliders Party and Sweet & Stylish Party. They were so much fun that we were sure to add them to our agenda this year. But we also wanted to attend a couple of new events.

Last year I had an opportunity to attend the Neely’s Gospel Brunch, which was buffet style. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Guy’s Brunch. But before I get into my review of the brunch, I want to give a shout out to someone on Facebook, Barbara. My friend and I were interested in going to Guy’s Big Bite Brunch, but tickets were SOLD OUT!  Someone else had commented on the fact that it was sold out on Atlantic City Food & Wine’s Facebook page and I also mentioned that I was interested in going but there weren’t any tickets left. Barbara sent me a Facebook message stating that she had tickets but something came up and she couldn’t attend, would I like to buy the tickets from her? Of course I said yes! I thought it was so nice of her to contact me about the tickets and send them to me. So Barbara, if you’re out there – thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

So…back to the brunch. You have to know it’s going to be outstanding when they hand you a Mimosa (or Bloody Mary, whichever you choose) before you even sit down!

mimosa

And then check out this view…is it magnificent or what?!

So we were seated at an empty table. We weren’t sure how it was going to work…would we get our own table? Would they seat two other people with us? It turned out that they sat a couple, about our age, at our table. We lucked out. They were very nice and the conversation just flowed. It was a married couple that was from Wilmington, Delaware. We were happy to be seated with people we had something in common with. And they loved Mimosas as much as we did. We definitely kept our waiter Maurico busy!

Once we sat down, we were bombarded with forks!

With all of those forks at our place setting, we realized that we must be getting all of those items on the menu! We were ready to dig in!

Course 1: Atlantic Grill Breakfast Pastries with Whipped Maple Butter

I had just enough time for a tiny little pastry. I didn’t get a picture of it though.

Course 2: “Claudio’s” Buffalo Mozzarella and “Masters Farm” Jersey Fresh Tomatoes


This dish was absolutely amazing. The Jersey Tomatoes were fresh, juicy and flavorful, and the Buffalo Mozzarella was plentiful. The Balsamic Reduction had the perfect sweetness. This was definitely a great way to start off brunch!

Course 3: Cajun Fettuccini Alfredo


This Cajun Fettuccini (their spelling!) was amazing. It was creamy and not too spicy, which is great because I’m not a fan of spicy foods. The pasta was cooked perfectly. I couldn’t believe how much chicken they gave you! It was so juicy and tender, it just melted in your mouth. The Parmesan & green onions that were sprinkled on it took it to the next level. It just added an extra layer of flavor that made your taste buds dance.

Course 4: “Steak and Egg” – Grilled Filet Mignon, Poached Farm Egg, Homemade English Muffin, Chorizo Hollandaise


I was definitely looking forward to the Steak and Eggs, but I was a bit nervous about the Filet. You see, my meat has to be well done, and Filet usually isn’t. So I cut into the steak and I swore I heard a “Mooooooo!” It wasn’t even a little pink to me, it was kinda red! So I skipped that part and focused on the Poached Egg (which was delicious!) and the Chorizo Hollandaise sauce that I’d love to drink by the gallon! As Guy would say, that sauce was off da hook! And I loved how they weren’t stingy with it! The Homemade English Muffin was soft, tender and chewy. It was the perfect vehicle to sop up that Chorizo Hollandaise!

Course 5: “Guys” Baltimore Bad Boy Sandwich and Crispy Potato Flauta


I’m a huge fan of Rye bread, so I liked this sandwich before I even tasted it. It was a beef sandwich and it was very flavorful. It had a horseradish type sauce on it that kicked it up a notch. I enjoyed it very much, although part of me desired some cheese on it. But I guess that’s not how they roll in Baltimore, lol!

As for the Potato Flauta…I did not eat that. Once I heard what was in it (Black beans, etc) and saw the sauce on it, I wasn’t interested! But everyone else at the table that ate it seemed to enjoy it.

Course 6: “Guy’s Big Bite” French Toast


I must admit that this was one of the dishes I was most excited for when I read the menu. I love me some French Toast and I was so interested to see what kind of spin Guy would put on it. When they set the plate in front of me, I couldn’t wait to dig in. I tasted a piece of banana, expecting something on the sweeter side. But it wasn’t really sweet at all. It was more lemony than anything. I was looking forward to a sweet, velvety maple syrup, but it wasn’t that at all. It was heavy on the acid/citrus side and I was disappointed. This actually turned out to be my least favorite dish on the menu.

Course 7: Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Well look at that! The Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Covered Strawberry was delicious! They came two on a plate, but sadly each person only got one (whaaaaaaat?! I have to share?!), but this is something you can easily make at home.  I love chocolate covered pretzels…it combines the sweet and salty flavors and never disappoints. Just add in a strawberry and it’s even better!  This was the perfect way to end the brunch. It was nice and light, not too heavy. Because after all of those different courses, I was pretty full! And don’t forget the Mimosas – I think everyone at our table had at least 10!

So all in all, this was an amazing event. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to attend, and if they offer this next year I’ll definitely buy tickets right away.

It’s Easier Than It Looks…

…at least that’s what Sunny Anderson said. And she was right!

We had a birthday in our house on Saturday (not mine) and the birthday boy didn’t want to go out to dinner, so I figured I’d make a knock-out meal at home. The only thing I asked for his input on was the starch, and I’m very embarrassed to say that he wanted Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. But whatever, it was his birthday so even though it pained me to buy that stupid blue box at the grocery store, I did.

The birthday meal

The star of the meal was Sunny Anderson’s Sweet Glazed Butterflied Chicken and I made her Easy String Beans and Onions as well. [EDIT: Since the show aired, I included a link to the Easy String Beans and Onions!] I can’t share the String Bean recipe with you though, you’ll have to watch the April 10th episode of Cooking for Real at 11am on the Food Network to see that dish. I can tell you that it’s absolutely delicious though. It’s now my go-to string bean/green bean recipe. You’ll want to make it over, and over, and over…well, you get the point! :)

This was the first time I butterflied a chicken. I saw Sunny butterfly a chicken at her demo at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami and she made it look SO easy. I thought for sure it was going to be one of those things where I go to do it myself and totally screw it up, but that wasn’t the case. It really was easy and I’ll definitely be doing it again in the future.

Sweet Glazed Butterflied Chicken

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2010
Show: Cooking for Real
Episode: Easier Than It Looks

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 pound) chicken, spine removed and butterflied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion (use the smallest side on a box grater, or use a rasp)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated (on a rasp)

    Brushed with Sweet Glaze

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Frank’s Red Hot sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Allow to rest on the counter for up to 2 hours to come to room temperature.

Heat a large oven-safe pan (such as a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Right as the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken, skin side down. Press gently while cooking and allow to sear until a peek beneath reveals golden brown skin, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, flip the bird over so that the skin is on top and place the pan in the oven. Be gentle with the tongs, they could rip the skin; try gripping the legs to flip. Place the pan in the oven and roast about 30 minutes.

The Finished Product

Meanwhile, in a saucepot on medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the onions, garlic and allspice, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Sweat the onions for a few minutes, but do not brown. Add the brown sugar, mustard, hot sauce and vinegar. Cook a bit more to bring the flavors together, and then remove from the heat.

When the chicken is around the 140 degree F mark, about 30 minutes in, remove from the oven and brush on the glaze. Return to the oven and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F, about 15 minutes more. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before serving. Cut off the legs, and then slice the breast off and cut into portions.

This chicken was out of this world!  I’m usually a boneless skinless chicken kind of girl, but I really did enjoy this. I even tasted a little bit of the skin and it was so flavorful and crispy. The chicken was moist and succulent.  When we were done all that was left was just bones. Give it a try – you’ll be happy you did!

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village – South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Clear skies. 80 degrees. South Beach, Miami. Welcome to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival!

On Saturday February 26th I attended the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village. It was held right on the beach only a few steps away from the gorgeous ocean. So you know what that meant – it was HOT! There was so much going on that you forgot your skin was burning at times.


This event was huge. There was tent after tent after tent. Right when you walked in there was a set up for illy. Little did I know that this booth would be one of my favorites of the event. It was quite warm out there on the sand, so this “Coffee in a Can” was just what I needed to cool down a bit.

We got to stop by the T-Fal booth to see Ingrid Hoffman and her Simply Delicioso line of cookware. Aren’t those colors beautiful?! Love them!

There was a little tent area where they had book signings. There was also a tent where you could buy cook books to have them signed by the talent.  Here’s a glimpse of a few books they had for sale, as well as  a picture of Rick Bayless signing a book for the one and only Lys at Cooking in Stilettos.

There was a Jelly Belly booth – yes, that’s right – the jelly beans. I’m not a huge jelly bean fan, but when I saw all of these I HAD to try them. Aren’t they cute?! And they were so good. Who wouldn’t love a little cupcake with strawberry icing and strawberry daiquiri jelly beans?!

 

Have you ever had a Chocolate Covered Jelly Bean? Mmmm, they are so good! And they didn’t even melt in the hot South Beach sun! :)

There were two tents where the Demos took place – the KitchenAid Blue Stage and the KitchenAid Green Stage. These events took place between 11am – 6pm. Here was the lineup:

KITCHENAID BLUE STAGE

JAMIE OLIVER 11:15 am – 12:00 pm
GIADA DE LAURENTIIS 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm
EMERIL LAGASSE 1:45 pm – 2:30 pm
RACHAEL RAY 3:00 pm – 3:45 pm
MASAHARU MORIMOTO 4:15 pm – 5:00 pm
GUY FIERI 5:15 pm – 6:00 pm

KITCHENAID GREEN STAGE

RICK BAYLESS 11:30 am – 12:15 pm
THE SCOTTO FAMILY 12:45 pm -1:30 pm
MING TSAI 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
SUNNY ANDERSON 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
ALEX GUARNASCHELLI 4:30 pm – 5:15 pm
DUFF GOLDMAN 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm

I had the opportunity to catch Sunny Anderson’s demo and I was so glad I did! She was Cooking for Real! Her menu was mouth watering! She made a Sweet Glazed Butterflied Chicken, Sweet Potato Hash, and her Easy String Beans and Onions.  As usual, Sunny does not disappoint! She showed everyone how to butterfly a chicken!  Check out her set-up:

Here are a few pictures from her demo:

All of the recipes she made in the demo will be featured in SEASON 9 of Cooking for Real on the Food Network! You won’t want to miss it!

There were two huge tents at the end for the American Express Grand Tasting Event. There were many restaurants and vendors set up that were serving up appetizers, signatures dishes, desserts, snacks, wine, beer, cocktails, etc. They were there to answer any questions that anyone had and to inform you about what they were serving up. By the time you left the tents you had a bag full of goodies and full stomach!

Stay tuned for more!

Welcome to Miami (bienvenido a miami)

Hello from Sunny Miami! The weather is absolutely gorgeous here in South Beach. I can’t say the same for everyone at home in Philly as they are having some nasty weather up there. So I must say that I’m happy to be down here soaking up the sun at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

I really enjoyed the view while drinking my coffee this morning…

…and my view this afternoon wasn’t too shabby either…