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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NYC Food Truck Tour

Don't you wish every day started out with your limo waiting on you?
I certainly do!
Even after the contest and the amazing dinner out Extended Stay wasn't done spoiling us. The next day we woke up to a limo waiting and a reservation for all of us to enjoy a walking food truck tasting tour around downtown Manhattan
Dante Mercadante was our trusty guide
our first stop was an Indian cart that had a very long line waiting. I took that as a good sign and was blown away by how delicious their Chicken Kati Roll was. Biz recreated this dish and I can't wait to try it out myself soon, check out her version here
Next up was a taco truck. Living in Austin for a while, I have had my fair share of tacos and carnitas. While the carnitas taco was good, the Barbacoa tacos were amazing! Louis got the Barbacoa and I was jealous of his pick. I had to laugh that they were selling tortas as well!
Now that we had already had downed two meals it was time to take a breather. It was a beautiful day and I felt so lucky to be in NY with Louis, new friends and delicious food
Speaking of new friends, Biz was nice enough to take a few pics of Louis and I. You have to go to her blog My Bizzy Kitchen and check her out. She has a great recap of the day as well and she is hilarious! Great recipes and a good laugh, what more could you ask for?!
Even though we were feeling full, it was time to hit our next stop
 We had "Hornado" from an Ecuadorian/Mexican truck. For me, the pulled pork was just ok. I really liked the avocado sauce and the sweet potato but didn't care as much for the rice.
From there we went to Absolute Greek for Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce
At this point I am totally stuffed and have resorted to guilting Louis into eating my food after I have a couple bites. Miraculously my stomach managed to find some room after I laid my eyes on the next offering at Wafels and Dinges
"The Throwdown" is a warm deliciously crisp wafel topped with spekuloos and whipped cream and was named for beating Bobby Flay in a wafel throwdown. It did not disappoint!
This was the end of our tour and we had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport so we took the Staten Island Ferry to catch a better glimpse of The Statue of Liberty and beautiful views of the city
On the way to the office where we were being picked up we went to Eataly and was completely overwhelmed by how big and beautiful it was. I could get lost in there for a week and never need to leave
We toasted to an amazing trip and can't wait to get back to NYC soon!