Oh What a Night!!! I had no expectations other than good representation of food and wine and anything else would be a bonus. On arrival I was given my wrist band, book for tasting notes and my own wine glass for tasting that could be worn around my neck. With camera in hand, I made my way to the venue hall.
Tables each had Wine Spectator magazines and floral decorations.
Around the periferal of the venue were booths - plenty of booths, wine and food interspersed. Learn a little about a wine of interest, choose which one at a particular booth you'd like to sample and a representative of the vintner would pour you about an ounce for tasting. With wine in hand you stop at one of the chefs' booths where you are greeted by a table of sample plates for you to ask about, sample, enjoy. You might get really lucky and find one of the friendliest chefs in the place who will greet you with open arms.
I somehow always thought of Michael Psilakis as a very shy individual but actually found him to be warm, charming and extremely endearing. Michael is the owner of three highly successful Greek inspired restaurants - Anthos, Mia Dona and Kefi in New York, NY. He introduced his dish of Greek sashimi made with mastic. I was so excited because now I actually know what mastic is.
Everybody's sweetheart, Tyler Florence was entirely focused on making sure each and every sample dish was properly garnished. Most probably know Tyler from The Food Network where he hosts Tyler's Ultimate and My Country, My Kitchen.
Next stop was Rick Moonen's booth for an absolutely incredible taste of a fish dish that I couldn't even begin to describe short of using the word heaven. Because the chefs are incredibly busy at their booths it's near impossible to engage them other than a smile and hello.
Rick Moonen is the owner of rm seafood in Las Vegas, NV. and co author of the widely acclaimed Fish Without a Doubt.
Michael Symon, Iron Chef on the Food Network and more recently host of Dinner Impossible. Michael hails from Cleveland where he is the chef and owner of critically acclaimed Cleveland restaurants Lola and Lolita.
Michael created a beef cheek perogie and although I couldn't get a photo of it, was a treat I won't soon forget.
On the subject of photos, this was probably the most difficult challenge of all. The population in the room, plus constantly feeling like you could use one extra arm made picture taking problematic.
If I had to chose my very favourite dish, this Porcini Ravioli would be it. Ya ya, I know, the picture doesn't do it any justice but the flavour - oh my goodness.
This roasted red pepper mousse with avocado cream was feather light and silky smooth.
John Besh, named one of the top 10 best chefs in America emerged victorious against Mario Batali on Iron Chef.
If anyone ever gets their hands on the recipe for this Truffled Gnocci with shaved parmesan cheese - trust me - it would be a complete coup.
Named Pastry Chef of the Year in 1995 by the James Beard Association, it's tough to speak of fine French pastry without mentioning his name and noticing his accomplishments.
Anne Burrell created an incredible barley risotto. You probably have seen Anne as Mario Batali's right hand on the Food Network's Iron Chef America.
Susie's Scrumptious Sweets makes creating these cakes and fine pastries ...well...pretty effortness. But we know different, right? Other yummies in her repetoire were out of control dark chocolate hazelnut truffles, pecan praline truffles and white chocolate truffles with fresh raspberries or amaretto cream custard.
After this last stop I was looking for a wheelbarrow to cart me out.
This was only a sampling but I think you get the picture.