As once foretold,
When you have had a taste of excellence,
You cannot return to mediocrity.
My life continues to test its palette via the plethora of food festivals that I seem to attend on an annual basis. Having attended the New York Food and Wine Festival’s flagship event, the Grand Tasting, conquered last year (with foods too) and the year before and the even before, with its share of celebrity stalking – a focal point this year – making it a force to reckon with amidst glitterati filled events. With of course, all the social media and food marketing reaching new heights and filters and hashtags year after year.
So I had several morsels of sumptuous treats and engaging personalities. Any Food Network fan will know the privilege of meeting favorite chefs on a channel that has catapulted food into the rankings of the Oscars, Hollywoods and showbiz – all while enlightening on the world of food, nutrition and indulgence.
Starting with my favorite Chopped Judge Amanda Freitag, who I was fortunate to meet and chat about flavorful cooking with too. Hers was a confident, fun-filled demonstration filled with whimsy and characteristic enthusiasm.
Chef Marcus Samuelson also wooed kids and audiences with his manners, charm and accent, cooking up seafood in sizzling pans and serving them live!
Anne Burrell classically drank her wine during her pasta demonstration and promoted cooking while drinking! Hers was a fun show, albeit focused a bit more on hairspray than pasta.
Lastly, the handsome and charming David Burtka had everyone salivating over his decadent bites, and was characteristically clad in a bicep baring shirt to exude some oh his Hollywood charm. Smiling truly never goes out of style, he said to me as we chatted briefly after.
The welcome press lounge had decadent paprika sprinkled plantain fries, the entire length of the plantain at that, with citrusy and sour vodka cocktails to match. Perfect for a break, too.
The Coca Cola lounge was another photo opportunity, what with disco lights and Coke based cocktails to give a caffeine kick.
Of wines, Cupcake wines had delightfully summery whites, while the sheer plethora of Californian and Jersey based wineries boggled my choices and tastes! Especially with the plethora of social media props and photo opportunities by literally every brand, capitalizing on their marketing efforts quite handsomely.
Four Roses Bourbon made an appearance, which I still felt fit best with the Dominique Ansel Dessert fiesta, given the impeccable pairing of the bourbon with chocolate. Same with a new brand I found called Malk, which made milk and coffee beverages out of nuts! The pecan milk was like a nutty shake taste with the consistency of refined and indulgent milk. Who though milk could be indulgent (sans cookies?!)?.
One of my favorite whiskies, a newfound love of life, was the mint flavored Cold Spell Whiskey. Almost tasting like mouthwash, but swallow-able, this was a given in my boudoir.
Moving on to foods, the Italians ruled the roost for alcohol paired bites. One homely dish was a freshly made cannelloni pasta with simple tomato sauce – warm, hearty and homemade right in front of my eyes. The seasonal butternut squash and pumpkin soup with balsamic by Gramercy Tavern was another soothing sip amidst the jolts of liquor. Especially alongside the Rebrandt Dutch cheese collection.
Obviously inching towards desserts as a culinary priority, I gobbled cannoli by the pound – chocolate, vanilla and chocolate chip flavored – almost interchangeably delicious and not saccharine at all! With a health element coming into play, Chobani promoted their yogurts with seasonal add ins like ginger snap, pecans and cranberries, almost as an entry into energy-bar desserts.
The afternoon ended remarkably quickly, partially due to my efficiency in tasting almost everything. My favorite part was not just the quantity of physical consumption, but the ample wealth of knowledge that acquired on my favorite beverage types. And the newfound marketing and social media ideas that I visualized.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. Especially culinary knowledge!