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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hurry Up Biscuits

Living in the South, as I have for the past 15 years, you become accustomed to a certain level of quality from a few select foodstuffs. One of them: BISCUITS. Flaky. Doughy. Moist. Fluffy. Dense. There must be thousands of recipes out there, and I've already posted my Grandma Stella's recipe a while back, but this one's a winner in its own right...

Here is your weekly recipe fix, this time courtesy of one of my favorite Chef Friend & pastry pro, Marian Getz. This is right up her alley, since she is a wizard when it comes to anything dough or batter-related! Marian just became a grandma (Congrats, Mar!), and you can bet she'll be rollin' out a few of these orders for the friends & family!

Hurry Up Biscuits

Makes 16 biscuits

INGREDIENTS
I love this recipe because the biscuits taste fantastic and yet the recipe is a simple stir-together. Easy as child’s play. This recipe gets all the moisture and fat it needs from the cream eliminating the step of cutting fat into the flour so common in most biscuit recipes. They are so tender and yummy. No one needs to know how easy they are to make! There are so many tasks in the kitchen that take time and effort that it is a real treasure to have a recipe like this in my files that is fast and easy! Your family and friends will love them.

3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or foil.
3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together with a fork till a ball forms.
4. You do not need to be gentle with this biscuit dough.
5. Drop desired size mounds of dough onto cookie sheets using an ice cream scoop (easiest and fastest) or 2 spoons.
6. Brush the tops with a bit more cream, if desired for a nicer color.
7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Serve hot or warm.


TIP: The biscuit raw dough freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. You can bake the biscuits from a frozen state, just add an additional 5 minute to the baking time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Menu (from FOX 17 Grand Rapids)

http://www.fox17online.com/videobeta/1c46443a-65f2-4c07-b094-154504527b8e/News/Summer-Menu-6-8-10

Burger Mania!!


It's been a long weekend of great eats in my world. Not the least of which is because I went to two of the best burger joints St. Pete has to offer in the span of three days.
First up was hands down my favorite to date, El Cap. This place is about 2 miles from house, and has been serving up nothing but the best down and dirty burgers for decades. It's a family run business and consistently tops everyone's lists of "Best Of"... I tend to go for the "Double" (2 patties), but the award-winner is the "World Champ," which is no more and no less your basic burger, no frills. At El Cap, you order the way you want it, and that includes, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and any other toppings you crave. They serve corn-fed Midwestern beef, and while I've been staunchly on the grass-fed beef bandwagon for a while now, it's hard to argue with this quality... I scarfed down mine, only to be outdone by my 5-year-old daughter and he friend, who each crushed a cheeseburger themselves!






Then I indulged myself and my 3 kids on Sunday with a trip to Dairy Inn. (http://www.dairyinn.com/) This place is also a few short minutes from my house (I bought my real estate strategically to be within a few miles drive of burgers, ice cream, beer and wine!), and while we didn't eat lunch, we did enjoy their signature milkshakes. Dairy Inn was one of the nation's first Dairy Queen franchises, back in the '50s, but it dropped the franchise tag and kept the good eats and drinks. They do it all at this place, but they specialize in burgers and shakes for sure. I will report back as soon as I get the chance to sample a burger there... and that will be ASAP! Regardless, the Chocolate Marshmallow Shake I slurped (with a little help from my 1-year-old son) was reason enough to keep me coming back...
And finally, a quick mention of a new blog I was turned on to just today. It comes from a fellow burger lover and blogspotter. Check out http://www.burgerconquest.blogspot.com/ for the lowdown on all things Burger... this dude Rev is a respected aficionado and his site is a wealth of entertaining information about the topic. If you wanna know the best places to grab a burger...he's your man!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Cheesy Birthday Celebration

Maybe it's because I had Mac & Cheese on the brain from posting Chef Jamie's recipe a coupla days ago. Or maybe it's because I wanted a meal that I knew would be popular with my wife and kids (and our friends, too)...but I went with my own version of Creamy Dreamy Mac & Cheese for my birthday dinner the other night.
I substituted the goat and blue cheese for Fontina and Gruyere, and it turned out amazingly well. The secret's in the mixture of cheeses (sharp and smooth combo -- the other 3 cheeses were white cheddar, monterey jack, and parmesan) and the panko/parmesan mixture that makes the crust on top. I made two batches, and we cleared the first one easily, dipping into the second 13x9 dish, as well. That left enough for two families to heave two helpings of leftovers!
Good times. Good food. Good family & friends (and good wine, too, in this case!). That's how memories are made...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Matt Entertains: Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread

Matt Entertains: Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread
This one is for all of you who have never given figs a fair shake...they are one of my new favorite things to eat, especially this way (or on a pizza). Wolfgang Puck makes an incredible Pizza @ his San Fran outpost, Postrio, that I had not too long ago, with figs and proscuitto....mmmmmmm....

Summer Fest: Easy Tomato Galette

Summer Fest: Easy Tomato Galette
Everyone's talkin' tomatoes this time of year...
How simple is this?? Can't wait to try it @ home... even something the kids can get their hands into!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ultimate 5-Cheese Mac & Cheese

The latest installment of my Chef Friend Series comes to us from a dear friend and multimedia talent, Chef Jamie Gwen. She and I worked together for years on TV, and I learned a lot from her, for sure. But it is without question that her Mac & Cheese recipe is the best takeaway of them all! I hope you will take the time to try this one at home. You may have to invest in a bit more cheese varieties than you're used to, but it's easy to prepare, and it's the little extra touches that make it so delicious and unique. Please visit http://www.chefjamie.com/ to learn more about her, and make sure to check out her weekly radio show, broadcasting out of California! Thanks Jamie! And as she says, "From my kitchen, to yours..."


Ultimate 5-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

  • Cook 1 lb. pasta shells in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well.



  • Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 13x9 baking dish.



  • Combine 1/2c Panko bread crumbs and 1/2c grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside.



  • In a large pot over medium heat, bring 2c heavy whipping cream to a simmer.



  • Reduce heat, and add 1c white cheddar, 1c Monterey Jack, 1/2c grated Parmesan, 1/2c goat cheese. Stir until all the cheeses melt.



  • Add 1c blue cheese and cooked pasta and stir until combined. Salt & pepper to taste.



  • Pour mixture into the baking dish. Spread bread crumb mixture evenly over the top.



  • Bake uncovered until golden brown, approx. 20:00.



Monday, August 23, 2010

Video: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Meatloaf Sandwiches

Video: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Meatloaf Sandwiches

OK, I admit: I haven't even watched this vid...but WTF! -- Bacon-Wrapped Pork Meatloaf?!?!!? Benefit of the doubt, baby...
Lemme know what you think...

Bakin' Whoopie


Had to share this will my fellow food lovers. A chef friend of mine, David Rubell, and his wife, Roxy, have an outta-this-world Whoopie Pie Company, cleverly called Baking Whoopie (http://www.bakingwhoopie.com/). Dave's got one of the more curious and interesting backgrounds I've ever heard. He's worked for Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Brown, cooked for 5 Presidents, and now is a Master Chef/Gourmet Caterer in the LA area...
Anyway, back to the pies. They're based in California, but will ship around the country! It is a confection taken to the gourmet level, using the best locally sourced ingeredients available to them. It will totally take you back to your childhood, and at the same time make you re-think the wonder of the Whoopie!
They also have a savory sensation that has taken on a life of its own: Butternut Souffle. Despite my pleadings, Dave would not give up the recipe for this one. It's been in his vault for 15+ years and he has no intention of releasing it anytime soon.... apparently, it's THAT GOOD! Its reputation precedes itself, so I would check into ordering yours early. He uses a local farmer to source the squash, and that is just one of the keys to this heavenly creation.
So, spread the word about this company and this site. You'll thank me once you taste them!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Favorite Breakfast Date...

My 5-year-old, Lindsey, is quickly becoming my partner in crime when it comes to eating and trying new places to dine. To that end, I (we) finally made it to Skyway Jack's in St. Pete yesterday morning...

This place has a reputation that precedes itself. It was recently written up in Food Network Magazine as a top breakfast spot in the country (http://www.tampabay.com/news/briefs/skyway-jacks-gets-nod-for-best-breakfast-in-florida/1104543), and it is as kitschy as the food is good.


Lindsey got a kick out of the giant Humpty Dumpty and Rooster that greet you outside the place. And inside, it's hog heaven, with a shelf above the counter lined with ceramic pigs. Fun stuff, for sure.

Their food was as I expected, and as you'd look for in a place like this. They specialize in the classics, but also have some things on the menu that will surprise you... like... Brains 'n' Eggs. Yes, Brains. And scrambled eggs. Mixed together. Pig Brains, to be exact. Talk about a "whole hog" philosophy! After some research, I come to find that this is indeed accepted practice, and a type of "redneck cuisine" (not my choice of words!)... Being an adventurous eater, I have filed this one away in the ol' mental rolodex to sample at a later date...


The dish that got them national acclaim is their take on a Philly tradition: scrapple. I went with the Hobo Hash this time around (a mash-up of eggs,bacon, onions, peppers and cheese, with a side biscuit and gravy), but will certainly make this dish my next order when I return. I spend a good amount of time in the Philly area, so I look forward to reporting back on how legit this actually is...


No Sauce, No Problem, on "Daytime"

video

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Which 'Wich Do You Like?

Just entered a Sandwich Recipe Contest... here's what I submitted. What are your favorite sammies? Feel free to comment below!

Italian Umami Sandwich

This sandwich has components that are singularly crunchy, crispy & creamy; salty, sweet, & savory… and sometimes each ingredient has more than one of these qualities. They all balance each other out to create a wonderfully harmonious taste with each bite. I love the combination of the 2 varieties of pork – you can never have enough charcuterie, if you ask me! And I added the sundried tomato to the aioli because I thought it would be too cumbersome to add a tomato slice to the architecture, but I wanted tomatoes to be represented.

Crunchy (toasted Italian bread)
Crispy (pancetta)
Creamy (buffalo mozzarella)
Salty (prosciutto)
Sweet (roasted peppers)
Savory (sundried tomato basil aioli)

· Toast 2 slices Italian Bread (about ½” thick) on one side. Use toasted side on the inside of the sandwich.
· Spread Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto Aioli on bottom slice.
· Layer Sweet Roasted Red Peppers on top of aioli.
· Place 2 slices of Prosciutto on top of peppers.
· Lay ½” slice Buffalo Mozzarella on top of prosciutto.
· Place thin-sliced crispy Pancetta on top of mozzarella.
· Top with Baby Arugula.
· Finish with top slice of bread (toasted side inside again).

BON APPETIT!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roy's Signature Blackened Ahi with Soy-Mustard Sauce



I am so honored to feature this next Chef on RICH COOKS!. He is one of the men in this industry who truly inspired me, and taught me, when all I had was an inkling of an idea of what to do with ingredients, a kitchen, and some cookware. Roy Yamaguchi is an innovator and a legend in the pantheon of chefs. Up and comers and established celebrities alike credit him with blazing a path that didn't exist before he came along. Hell, before Roy became one of the most prolific restaurateurs of our generation, he all but created "fusion" as it relates to creative cookery.


So it with great pride and the utmost respect that I include this recipe from Roy. He is as fine a man as he is a chef...


About this dish, Roy says: "This is my Pacific Rim version (of Paul Prudhomme's blackened fish). It's been on the menu since I opened my first Roy's restuarant in Hawaii in 1988. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I am most flattered by similar versions you'll find in many restuarants across the States..."


And I will add, these two sauces he uses for this signature dish are excellent go-to recipes in and of themselves. You make them once, and you'll want to incorporate them into all of your fish (and other protein) preparations...



Soy-Mustard Sauce
1/4c mustard powder
2 tbsp. hot water
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce


Mix mustard powder and hot water together to form a paste. Add vinegar and soy sauce, mix, and pass through a mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate an hour.



Beurre Blanc Sauce
1/4c dry white wine
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. fesh lemon juice
1 tbsp. minced shallot
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 stick cold unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper


Combine wine, vinegar, lemon juice, and shallot in stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook to reduce liquid until it becomes syrupy. Add cream and reduce by half. Decrease heat to low and gradually add butter, stirring slowly. Season with salt and pepper and strain into a double boiler. Keep warm over barely simmering water.


Blackening Spice
1 1/2 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tbsp. cayenne
1/2 tbsp. chile powder
1/4 tbsp. white pepper

  • Dredge 8 oz. Ahi Tuna fillet in Blackening Spice on all sides.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. EVOO in a nonstick skillet over high heat.
  • Sear fillets for 15-30 seconds (rare) to 1 minute (medium rare) per side.
  • Remove ahi and cut into approx. 20 thin slices.
  • Spoon the Soy-Mustard and Buerre Blanc sauces around the slices.
  • Sprinkle with toasted black sesame seeds.


... Sounds like A LOT of work? Well, it is, especially compared to what I usually post on this site. But, coming from the man who basically invented this dish for U.S.-based eaters, it's worth it! You don't mess with the original... ALOHA & MAHALO

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take that, Paula Deen!

I embraced my inner Paula Deen tonight, minus the sack of sweets, and this Northern boy got in touch with the South! The menu for dinner: Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches! I went for it, inspired by F&W mag's tribute to Southern cooking recently. Lord willin' & the creek don't rise, this won't be the last time I channel some good, old-fashioned Southern recipes...
  • Slice unripened green tomatoes 1/2 thick.
  • In three shallow bowls: 1/2c all-purpose flour; 1 beaten egg w/ 1 tbsp. water; 1/2c corn meal.

  • Dredge tomatoes in 'assembly line' mentioned above. Set aside slices on parchment paper.

  • Heat 1/4" vegetable/canola oil in large sautee pan. Fry tomatoes until golden brown on each side.

  • Meanwhile, prepare 2 strips of bacon per each tomato slice.

  • Spread mayo on whichever type of thick cut bread or bun you choose. Top with arugula.

  • Place fried green tomatoes on bread/bun with mayo, bacon, arugula.

I served my sandwiches with a side of cream style corn, and a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Kim Crawford -- my favorite).

This dinner was light, fun, delicious... and a really nice diversion from the usual, especially from what this Jewish kid from New Jersey is used to cooking!





Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chicken Burgers with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Got back to cookin' for my family this weekend, after so much travel this summer. Went a little bit left of my usual center this time, with a recipe I found from F&W mag. Actually made this once before @ my sister's house, and liked it so much that I wanted a redux in my home kitchen. If you like Thai-Indian-inspired flavors, here's a good twist on a summertime burger for you... and it only takes about 30 minutes...
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add 2 tbsp. chopped red onion & 1 tsp. chile powder; stir until onions are soft (a few minutes).
  • Add 1/4 c coconut milk; bring to boil.
  • Take off heat; whisk in 2 tbsp. each smooth peanut butter, hot water, chopped salted peanuts.
  • Mix 1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken, 1 tsp. each chile powder, garam masala, salt, 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1/4 c chopped red onion.
  • With lightly moist hands, form into 4 large patties.
  • Grill/pan fry chicken patties approx. 8-10 minutes, until done all the way through.
  • Spread the peanut mixture on buns; serve chicken patties on the buns. Enjoy!!

These burgers are great with a dark beer or white wine. Try 'em both, what the hell..!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Green Grape & Wasabi Salsa, by Wolfgang Puck Chef Marian Getz



This is Week 3 of my series of Celeb Chef Friends & Their Favorite Recipes...


Marian Getz is one of Wolfgang Puck's "Go-To" Girls when it comes to baking and cooking. I've had the pleasure of working with them many times back in the day, and Marian is so skilled and brings so much love and care to her kitchen creations. She was kind enough to share this recipe with me (and you!), proving once again, that she's not just an accomplished Pastry Chef, she's also terrific when it comes to savory stuff, as well... if you want to find out more from Marian, check out http://www.mariangetz.com/... thanks, Marian!!

Green Grape and Wasabi Salsa
Makes 2 cups

I love this salsa with tortilla chips but it is really my favorite topping for a freshly seared piece of ahi tuna or even a grilled chicken breast!
INGREDIENTS
2 cups green grapes, (try to find extra green ones as they are a bit less sweet in taste)
¼ white onion, in a large wedge
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 sprigs cilantro
The juice of ½ of a lime
½ of a jalapeno, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Method
1. Combine ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
2. Pulse until texture is chunky.
3. Serve immediately.

TIP: You can prep the ingredients ahead of time but wait to process it until the last minute or the onions get too strong and change the taste of the salsa.

Hurry Up Biscuits, by Wolfgang Puck Pastry Chef, Marian Getz

Living in the South, as I have for the past 15 years, you become accustomed to a certain level of quality from a few select foodstuffs. One of them: BISCUITS. Flaky. Doughy. Moist. Fluffy. Dense. There must be thousands of recipes out there, and I've already posted my Grandma Stella's recipe a while back, but this one's a winner in its own right...

Here is your weekly recipe fix, this time courtesy of one of my favorite Chef Friend & pastry pro, Marian Getz. Marian just became a grandma (Congrats, Mar!), and you can bet she'll be rollin' out a few of these orders for the friends & family!



Hurry Up Biscuits

Makes 16 biscuits

INGREDIENTS
I love this recipe because the biscuits taste fantastic and yet the recipe is a simple stir-together. Easy as child’s play. This recipe gets all the moisture and fat it needs from the cream eliminating the step of cutting fat into the flour so common in most biscuit recipes. They are so tender and yummy. No one needs to know how easy they are to make! There are so many tasks in the kitchen that take time and effort that it is a real treasure to have a recipe like this in my files that is fast and easy! Your family and friends will love them.

3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or foil.
3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together with a fork till a ball forms.
4. You do not need to be gentle with this biscuit dough.
5. Drop desired size mounds of dough onto cookie sheets using an ice cream scoop (easiest and fastest) or 2 spoons.
6. Brush the tops with a bit more cream, if desired for a nicer color.
7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Serve hot or warm.


TIP: The biscuit raw dough freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. You can bake the biscuits from a frozen state, just add an additional 5 minute to the baking time.

Dinner with Schm...


...no, it was with the Millers, actually. A celebratory night out with our good friends, and we hit up what is now St. Pete Brasserie. This space used to be Table, one of our favorite spots, and this was the first time we're back since the name -- and menu -- change...

It is a classic, Euro brasserie-style menu, with a lot of French-inspired dishes. Mussels. Burgers. Pomme Frittes. Short Ribs. I ended up deciding on three of those four!

I started with the Caesar Salad, and it would've been a winner had it not been drowned in dressing. I like my Romaine crispy, and this was on the soggy side. The taste was there, there was just a bit too much of it. We all shared the steamed mussels, served with a heaping side of pomme frittes (gotta love a brasserie's devotion to the French Fry!). The mussels were a smaller variety, and very tasty, bathing in a garlic, wine, and tomato broth. I went with the traditional burger after that -- it came with melted swiss, and sauteed mushrooms. It was juicy and flavorful. The meat served @ St. Pete Brasserie is purely grass-fed, and grass-fed beef is my new food crush. I've been exposed to it before,but came to truly appreciate and understand its significance and quality last month in Decatur @ Farm Burger (which I blogged about). The meat is tastier, a bit gamier, with more texture than other classifications.
My wife ordered the cod, which was surprisingly light and restrained, and the paella got a thumbs up, as well...
We passed on dessert, but the table next to us had a molten chocolate cake, who's scent drifted coyly over to our table, and smelled positively decadent. There's always next time...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Balsamic Martinis, by Fabio Viviani & Jacopo Fellini


This is the second installment of my weekly feature of favorite recipes from chef friends and colleagues of mine. I was turned onto the wonders of the Balsamic Martini at a food and wine fest I hosted in Myrtle Beach a couple of months ago. Fabio gained near-instant fame with his turn on "Top Chef" a couple of seasons ago. He didn't win, but was the breakout personality, and I really appreciate his simplified approach to Italian food. Plus, he's a pisser to hang out with! His partner, Jacopo, is the mixologist, and the yin to Fabio's yeng. They're lifelong friends, and their shorthand communication with each other makes it apparent. Anyway, this martini is what they served a drooling crowd at their invite-only wine dinner that weekend... it's a classic Italian combo of stawberry and balsamic taken to a libation level!


It also happens to be one of the few cocktails I've attempted in my home (I'm a wine and beer guy). Made it tonight, to go with a fave recipe of mine, Flat Iron Steak Balsamico, with sliced baby bellas and sundried tomatoes, parmesan green beans with almond slivers, and parmesan roasted potatoes. All done in honor of a dear friend (and mother to my kids' best friends) who's moving away...

Without further ado, I present the Osteria Firenze Balsamic Martini:
  • Hull 3 strawberries
  • Muddle together, with the strawberries, 3/4 oz. simple syrup, 12-15 dashes balsamic vinegar, and a wedge of lime
  • Add mixture to 1 1/2 oz. Vanilla Rum
  • Add ice and shake well; serve with a strainerDrizzle the inside of the glass with balsamic glaze

We loved this drink, although it didn't quite do justice to the Firenze version. I like how the balsamic from the drink carried through to the balsamic that complimented the steak...

Cheers!

Monday, August 2, 2010

AC...The Place to Be


Well, I made it back in one piece from my less-than-48-hour jaunt to the (almost) swamps of Jersey (another shout out to Bruce...can't help it!). It was quite the memorable time, rolling with Guy Fieri and the group of Lost Boys he calls his Kulinary Krew. Drove in with a private chef buddy o' mine, E, and we basically hung on the periphery of the madness, sometimes dipping out toes in just enough to know that we couldn't handle a whole weekend of it...
Friday night, my job was to introduce Guy as the guest of honor at the Cheese Steak Battle. Over 700 food fanatics swarmed the Caesars Palladium Ballroom. Two contestants from AC; 2 from Philly. Talk about a border war! The winner was a local -- Tony Baloney's. It was a near-consensus amongst those in the know, and apparently the paying public concurred. Their cheese steak was chopped pretty fine, and had a healthy dose of seasoning to spice up the amazing hoagie roll and near-liquefied provolone. In my eyes, it was no contest...
Saturday started by intro'ing Guy at his Big Bite Brunch @ Phillips Seafood Restaurant, on the pier. The views out there are spectacular, and the space itself was very nice. They oversold the event, so I had the pleasure of welcoming nearly 300 peeps to this gathering. The menu was conceived by Guy and his team (led by the unflappably talented Korina), and executed by the two game Phillips chefs, Sean Dufee (does NOT rhyme with etouffee) and Paul Drew. It was, to put it mildly, unique. If you've never experienced food Guy-style, hearing the menu may shock a traditionalist.
Drink ~ Mai Tai oh My – fresh fruit and juices blended with Cazadoras Reposado tequila
• Gratis ~ Garlic Parmesan Crab, with King Crab topped with garlic a lemon aioli (mayo) and panko, then broiled
• 1st course ~Grilled polenta with a crawfish Etouffee “Guy style”
• 2nd course ~ Tequila Turkey Fettuccini with Cazadoras Reposado tequila
• Dessert ~ Coffee Banana’s Foster French Toast with Formica Challah Bread


The highlight for me was the 1st course. The grilled polenta had great texture and held up to the crawfish stew and cherry tomatoes. It was hearty, but not overwhelmingly so, which is of note because this was a brunch, mind you, not a dinner. I also need to mention the wonderful bread usesd for the dessert, provided by local bakery, Formica Bros. They also made the tasty tomato bread that was a welcome to every table upon arrival.

The event was a success, and off we went to Guy's cooking demo. Here's where things get reeeally hairy, if you don't know what it's like to live in this world. The team asked me to warm up the crowd and intro Guy again, and I was thrilled to do so. Turns out he SOLD OUT the frickin' theater (Circus Maxximus) to the tune of 1600 people!! It was surreal and exhilarating, to say the least. Guy had 'em eating out of his hand, pardon the pun, the entire time. To be honest, the food he demo'ed is overshadowed by this guy's personality and charm and energy. For the record, he prepared Duck Fried Rice and Blackened Sesame Salmon.
Image aside... the guy can cook, and knows how to handle himself with a pair of tongs and a wok!
E and I finally made our way to the Grand Market to gorge ourselves on beer, wine, and tastings of just about everything...notables in 2 NJ brews, whose names escape me right now, but I will mention them when my brain resumes normal functionality...

Saturday night featured back-to-back Food Network parties, the first featuring Sunny Anderson, poolside, with some interesting cocktails, like a watermelon mojito, and 4 different types of sliders: lamb, chicken, and vegetarian, and a dessert, which was a riff (unsuccessful as such), with shortbread replacing brioche buns, and melted chocolate (pudding) and strawberry preserves in the middle...
Then it was on to the Sweet & Stylish event. It was a packed house, and there were desserts o'plenty! I took a deep breath, and made my around the entire ballroom. A lot of the treats were underwhelming. The one standout was the deliciously creamy ice cream courtesy of Alex Guarneschelli... and the undisputed star for us were the desserts offered up by Philly resto legend Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin. We were lucky enough to meet the diminutive, feisty chef himself before we walked in, and , unprovoked, he threw his hands in the air and shouted (in his French accent), "I'm done! I'm exhausted!" Apparently, he wasn't kidding. The sad note is that this singular spot will close its doors next spring. But one taste of his smart, sexy, sensational offerings proved undoubtedly that he's still got the magic left in him. Coconut Panacotta with Passion Fruit. Oreo Cookie Mousse. It was heavenly, and I feel fortunate in retrospect to have at least tasted a glimpse at this man's considerable talents...

Those tastings were, almost literally, the icing on the cake of the Festival of Foods...