Saturday, October 25, 2014

NYCFWF day 2 and Le Bernardin

 For me, going into this trip, Saturday was the day I was most excited about. Being featured by Extended Stay at their booth, doing interviews, demo-ing my dish and getting to chat with Sunny was such an honor and I truly felt like I was in a dream.
Christa, the gorgeous girl next to me, had prepped my dish for me and it looked so beautiful we had to take a picture with the sandwich!
 As always, I was nervous when I first got there seeing all of the camera people setting up, but once we got rolling it was so much fun!
 I was interviewed by Real Food Real Kitchens and as soon as they post the video I'll share it!
Family, food, culture and history; these are the essence of Real Food Real Kitchens, a cooking series that goes into the real kitchens of everyday people and explores one of their most cherished traditional family dishes.
Real Food Real Kitchens tells the intimate story of a person, their family, and their culture and how food creates an emotional bond that connects them all together
 Sunny, as usual, was beautiful and so sweet. She totally lives up to her name!
 I didn't even realize until looking through all of the pictures that we matched!
 In the afternoon Rachel Ray was on the stage right behind our booth and her demo was packed! I just love her!
 After the Festival closed we made it back to the hotel and got ready to go to Le Bernardin for dinner
The inside of the restaurant is absolutely stunning and very serene. Please forgive the quality of the pictures but I was trying to not make too much of a scene while getting shots of each of our dishes throughout the meal. They started us off with an amuse bouche trio of goat cheese filled crisp topped with roasted beet, a tuna tartare sweet potato crisp and a shot of velvety carrot soup topped with a yuzu foam
 Louis started with the Tuna and looked like he was going to lick the plate at the end. Layers of Thinly Pounded Yellowfin Tuna, Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette, Chives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 My starter was the King Crab Medley with warm Matsutake Custard and Seaweed-Shiitake Broth. I had to laugh when our waiter explained the dish to me and then said "be sure not to eat the seaweed under the bowl". Uuummmm, ok? I wasn't planning on it but thanks anyway!
Y'all that custard came straight from heaven. There is just no other explanation for how good it was. If you ever decide to have dinner here GET IT. I promise, it was the highlight of the night!
 Next up for Louis was the Olive Oil Poached Escolar with Niçoise Olive, Grilled Maitake Mushroom and Citron Vinaigrette. We have had escolar before and really love it so it was no surprise how good this one was.
 My next choice was the Sautéed Langoustine with Truffles, Chanterelle and Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette.
If I see truffle on a menu 9 out of 10 times I will order it. I just can't help myself so let's pause a moment and look at the large slices of truffle on top of my dish. Total delicious decadence. The langoustines were so tender and perfectly cooked it really reminded me of a scallop, the sauce was one of the best butter sauces I've ever tried and even though I usually don't like frisee, it was the perfect bitter bite to cut the richness of everything going on on the plate
 Louis' entrée was the Poached Halibut with Razor Clams, Aki Nori and “Sweet Corn Chowder”
While the dish was very good, neither of us were blown away by this one. The deconstructed chowder vegetables and broth were beautiful, but overall I think we would order differently next time.
 My entrée was the Pan Roasted Monkfish with Tarragon Scented Pea Purée and Armagnac-Black Pepper Sauce. While I loved the way the monkfish was cooked and seasoned I felt like the rest of the dish just fell flat. I didn't taste any tarragon, and while the Armagnac sauce was delicious I wanted it to be thicker so it would cling to the fish better.
 Louis chose the Hazelnut Praline dessert with Flourless Hazelnut Cake, Gianduja Mousse, Orange Curd, Praline Ice Cream
I didn't taste much of Louis' so I can't say exactly how it was but there was nothing left on the plate when he was done, so he must have liked it
  I got the "Maple" - Maple Candy Cap Crémeux, Maple, Huckleberry Confit
I adored the huckleberries and the crisp wafer on top. I felt that all of the pieces worked really well together and nothing was overly sweet which I really appreciated 
 As a sweet surprise from the kitchen our waiter brought us this gorgeous Kataifi Filled Squash Cremeux, Bourbon Sabayon, Candied Cranberry, Spiced Ice Cream
The little bundles are crisp phyllo strands that are fried and just shatter when you cut into it. It was fall on a plate!
 To end there were gold chocolate and peanut butter truffles, the most divine light and airy lemon macaroon I have ever had, a guava gelee and a square of puffy light and airy raspberry chocolate cake
We left stuffed and utterly happy

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New York State of Mind

The past few weeks have really flown by and before I even knew it, it was time to hop on another plane to New York for the Extended Stay America trip to the New York Wine and Food Festival
We flew in early Friday morning and as soon as we dropped our bags off at the hotel we headed straight to the Festival site. I couldn't believe what a great job Extended Stay had done recreating a hotel suite in the middle of a warehouse! It looked great and was so fun to see the behind the scenes set up of the booth. Friday and Sunday were the best days at the Festival crowd wise. Saturday was really busy and very crowded. I highly recommend doing one of the less crowded days if you ever get the chance to go it was much more enjoyable!
And look what they were going to hand out to everyone that walked by:
 After looking at the Extended Stay display we made our way through the walls and walls and walls of food, wine and liquor samples
 There was a healthy mix of food companies serving samples of their products
Liquor companies serving delicious cocktails
and plenty of stops that had samples and cute little activities to participate in to win prizes at their booths
The offerings were delicious and I was so glad we had a few days at the festival so we could pace ourselves 
Part of my prize package was tickets to the Grand Tasting for the weekend and passes to the exclusive GEMs room:
The Southern Wine & Spirits of New York Trade Tasting is an exclusive invitation-only experience for SWS’ top clients and partners. Network with industry peers while sampling dishes from top New York City chefs and learning about new trends and products in the food and beverage industry. For the first time ever, NYCWFF is proud to present the Wine GEMS Collection Room presented by Nespresso and the Boutique Spirits Collection Room, where guests can taste rare, exclusive, or limited vintage wines and the finest craft, artisanal spirits from Southern Wine & Spirits’ and Lauber Imports’ portfolios.
 This was my kinda place!
They had a huge Nespresso display and walked you through a chocolate, wine and espresso tasting
 it was delicious and informative and I wish my espresso was always served like this!
 This duck Baklava was Sooooo good, I had to stop myself from getting another
 and I really loved Cupcake wine's walk up booth! Super cute!
 Barilla was serving numerous pasta dishes and I loved their pasta filled line dividers
 After the festival, we headed back to the hotel and changed to go to the Skylark
 My sweet husband made a reservation for us here and it was perfect! Gorgeous views of the city and we were able to just relax and take it all in
 I tried their Sommelier Cocktail which was vodka, malbec, st. germain, crème de cassis
plum bitters, ginger ale & champagne grapes
It was very yummy and reminded me of a lighter, less sweet sangria
 We ordered the deviled eggs with cilantro, lime, mild chilies,
tamarind, crispy shallots- totally delicious! I've never met a deviled egg I didn't like and we tried the herbed fries with truffle aioli I practically scarfed down by myself.
 I also tried the CoCo- a stylized fruit & botanical infusion, peach, violet, chartreuse, st germain, nolet’s gin, sparkling with prosecco, floating strawberry pearls.
On the menu the "floating strawberry pearls" were the selling point for me, but this one was just ok. I've had way better bubbly cocktails before. Louis got the Fort Knox- elijah craig bourbon, reposado mezcal, yellow chartreuse, honey syrup, grilled lemon ice block and it was SO good! I had never tried chartreuse before and I really enjoyed the grilled lemon that came through once the ice started to melt.
 After leaving the skylark we took a walk through Times Square
 The fall weather was so perfect coming from muggy gross Texas heat and it was the perfect first night in NYC!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Dog

A few weeks ago, within 10 minutes of landing in New York I got a call from a number I didn't know. I usually never answer those but it was a NY number so I picked up. I was shocked when I was told I had been selected as the grand prize winner for the Crazy Hot Dog Contest by Berk's Foods! Their challenge was to come up with your best twist on the all American favorite- the hot dog.
I actually made three entries, a Bloody Mary inspired hot dog, a buffalo wing hot dog and a loaded baked potato dog 
This is the one they chose, and it was also my kid's favorite!
8 Berks All Beef Franks
8 slices bacon
8 potato bread hot dog buns
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
1-1/4 cup sliced green onion

Preheat a large grill pan over medium high heat.
Wrap each frank with one slice of bacon, tucking the ends of bacon in to prevent unraveling. Cook the bacon wrapped franks in the grill pan for 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown all sides evenly.
While the franks are cooking, lightly toast the buns.
To assemble, sprinkle an equal amount of cheese on each toasted bun. Place a cooked hot dog in each bun and top each with an equal amount of sour cream and sliced green onion.
Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Check out Berk's page to see the other recipes that made it into the top 3

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still Away From Home and the Riunite Chili Cook-Off

After getting home from the Extended Stay America cook-off things have still been quite busy and exciting! I was asked to go to Charlotte, NC to demo my recipe and talk a little bit about the contest. The flight was a little bumpy, but I made it and I felt like I did a good job once I got there. I get nervous every time before being on camera, but this time it felt a little more natural and the host was very nice, which always helps! 
Here's the link to the segment if you'd like to watch:
 Charlotte News Segment
The interview was very early in the morning, and I went straight from the news station to the airport to fly directly to Dallas to participate as a finalist in the Riunite Chili Cook-off!
I probably looked like a crazy person hopping out of a cab with all of my luggage at the tailgate site to throw on an apron and start cooking!
There were 5 competitors for our region and we all made our chili for the judges in the hopes of winning a spot in the final cook-off in San Diego! The winner of the final cook-off will win Super Bowl tickets and a game day prize pack, so I don't think I need to tell you how hopeful Louis is that I win this one!
Riunite put on a great tailgating event with a catered BBQ lunch, free flowing wine and the most awesome glasses to ever exist. Can we just discuss for a moment how much I love these glasses? I wonder if it would be ok to wear them in carpool line?
Part of the finalist prize was two tickets to the Saints vs Cowboys game
The Saints were an embarrassment and ended up losing 17 to 38
Lucky for me, I did much better than my team and my Chili Al Pastor with Pineapple Cilantro Relish beat out the others! I made my version of tacos al pastor in a bowl and I was glad to know the judges liked it as much as I did! I am so excited to go back to San Diego in November, wish me luck!
Tomorrow morning I will be leaving bright and early to head to the New York Wine and Food Festival! We have reservations at Le Bernardin and The Skylark to keep us busy when we're not enjoying the walls of food, drinks and celebrity chefs at the NYWFF!
I am not packed, my house is a mess and I have 18 loads of laundry to do but I made a point to get something shiny to take with me on the trip.
Priorities y'all
 and this happened.....OMG!!!
I still giggle like a 5 year old when I see posts like this