By bouts of good fortune I had one of the best weekends of my life this month during the New York City Wine & Food Festival October 7th through 10th.
First and foremost my good friend Marlie of Marliese's Sweet Treats offered me the awesome opportunity to work the American Lamb Board table during the second session of Sunday's grand tasting and the opportunity to attend the first session on Sunday as a guest. The chance to participate in this important part of the festival got me throughly excited for the upcoming weekend! I was living in New York last year during the festival but since I did not have tickets to events I did not even think to go loiter around Chelsea Market (which I recommend you do with or without tickets during the Festival-- lots of activity and foodie celeb sightings!l!).
During the week leading up to the event my Twitter feed was a-buzz with #nycwff attached to all tweets about chef appearances, events, details, and the most fortunate tweets for me-- giveaways! My love of Twitter and Whole Foods combined to bring me what would become great fortune....
Whole Foods has been celebrating their 30th Birthday this year and has been doing a ton of Twitter giveaways. To finish off a month full of giveaways they handed out tickets to Culinary Demos during the Food Festival which they were hosting. The first 15 Retweets of the following status:
1st 15 RTs get 2 free tickets 2 WFM culinary demos #nycwff
would be the winners-- I was one of those lucky 15!!! I won two tickets to see Alton Brown's demo Saturday morning at 11:00am. I immediately called my culinary-inspiration-- my mom! to demand that she get bus tickets to come see me for the Festival weekend!! She was ecstatic! My whole family are big fans of Alton-- even the least gourmand of us- my dad! He learned how to roll out lobster tentacles with a rolling pin, which we did together when I slayed my first lobster, from watching Good Eats!
So I was set to be a multi-part participant in this year's festivities and I could not wait! My mom came in Friday night and when we went to sleep it felt like Christmas! I was buzzing with excitement over my first live culinary demo with a Food Network Star and to attend my first grand tasting on Sunday with Marlie.
We got up bright and early to make it to the Tishman Auditorium on time to see Alton and get good seats. The plan was to go to the demo, have lunch at Tartine in the West Village and then head over to Chelsea Market (for my mom's first visit there!) and maybe go to a book signing.
Alton started out his demo by giving the audience of choice of just talking or just cooking-- naturally half the crowd shouted "Both!" Both we got for certain! The whole demo was focused on bourbon (a bottle of Maker's Mark, to be exact) and a laugh-out-loud examination of Southern culture and cuisine. To begin the morning (yes, morning) Alton made a traditional mint julep in a silver mint julep cup (which comes in the welcome package once you move south of the Mason-Dixon line along with a muddler, bullets and an 8-track among other things!).
Alton's Mint Julep
10 Mint Leaves
1 tsp sugar
a splash of club soda/seltzer
Next up we made some bourbon ice cream. Naturally Alton taught us that using alcohol in ice cream really doesn't work due to the chemical make-up of ethanol. Instead, Alton said it is best to detect the flavors you are after and mix in a little bit of the real deal to get your ice cream to taste like the alcohol in question. Using some nutmeg (which apparently could ward off the plague and therefore should be kept in your pocket), some bacon (yes, bacon!! yum), buttermilk, and more Maker's Mark Alton mixed up some bourbon ice cream in a KitchenAid stand-up mixer using liquid nitrogen. This was an awesome process to watch and listen as the ice cream froze and thickened around the paddle.
After this foggy creation was complete we made yet another dramatic dessert-- bananas flambée! Mouth-wateringly splayed out in a frying pan was sliced bananas in a flower-like spiral with a packed mound of brown sugar as the pollen center with a nice dollop of-- Alton's words-- "Paula Deen" on top! Yes-- as he said "Now she owns butter!"
Fortunately I was able to capture the flambée part of the demo thanks to my cameras video feature and Alton's request the the stage lights be lowered so we would be able to see the flame of the bourbon clearly. Enjoy the video!
Watch First THEN Read Below!
[Because you are wondering after you watch this-- I am laughing so loudly because Alton kept mentioning Giada during his demo because she was up after him, he repeatedly called himself the "Opener"-- anyway the flambee got a little messy on the stove and when he is leaning over he is saying that Giada will be mad because when she leans over she's going to get all sticky!]
This completes part one of my NYCWFF adventure-- next up.... The Grand Tasting and a surprise!