Atlantic City, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival. The only stipulation to the trip was that I get some different experiences this time so I’m not boring everyone with writing about the same things. In a city filled with hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, that isn’t hard to do.
My day began with my flights to Atlantic City Airport. I love small airports and it was nice to get into Bloomington and out at Atlantic City without any hassles, but there were a few minor problems during the trip. The first was the my seat on the plane. I have to admit I’ve been a bit spoiled by upgrades and being in coach – Zone 6 coach, no less – I am not so used to. Watching everyone fight over bin space is interesting. Is there any reason people can’t just store their stuff about THEIR seat? As if that wasn’t annoying enough, I was the lucky one who got to be in the third seat with the world's happiest couple, who spent the whole flight kissing and groping each other! There's a time and a place for everything and this was not what I expected as I tried to work and ignore the giggles and moans! Needless to say, I was thrilled to hit the ground.
Things seem to look up when I began my latest Atlantic City adventure began at Harrah’s with a beautiful room in the Bayview Tower (though I do wish I could find a hotel that appreciated the need for electric outlets). This will be my home base for the next four days so I’m making myself comfortable. That’s not hard to do at a place with 10 dining options; a Family Fun Center and 25,000 gallon pool; an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa; for lounges and The Pool (more about that later).
Dinner was at The Steakhouse and it was one of the best meals I’ve had this year. I started with a glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and a chef’s tasting of the Steak Tartar. Accompanying this was a basket of The Steakhouse’s signature breads – Pretzel Twists and Onion Rolls. It was hard not to fill up on these, but I soon had my French Onion Soup. It was sweet and tasty, with a combination of cheeses that I was sure included cheddar, but the chef confirmed did not. Next it was the Gala Apple Salad with endive, candied pecans, celery root and watercress, topped with gorgonzola cheese and a walnut vinaigrette. I thought the combination of two nuts might be strange, but I was a perfect fit to a light summer salad.
After a blueberry sorbet (which I wish was available to me again on the next hot summer day), I ordered a Rutherford Merlot
to accompany my main course of beef, The waiter recommended it and I couldn’t agree more that it was not at all overpowering to my Tournedos of Beef Tenderloin. There were three, each with their own sauce – Béarnaise, Port Wine Reduction and Green Peppercorn. It was excellent, even in the well-done state I prefer. It was hard to narrow down the side dishes, but I decided to skip the Crispy Artichoke Hearts, Citrus Remoulade, Multigrain Rice Pilaf with Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil and Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes in favor of the Candied Sweet Potato Steak Fries and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil, both good choices. There was also a Lobster Macaroni and Cheese on the menu, giving me one of those moments I wished I didn’t have a seafood allergy. Of course, the menu is filled with steak choices and also includes Crab Cakes, Rack of Lamb and Veal Chops.
Dessert was a tough choice and I had no sooner started the Vanilla Bean Crème Brule – which was very tasty, but a bit cold – before the chef walked over with a chocolate soufflé. I had to take a few bites and didn’t regret enjoying this light, but chocolaty concoction. When I couldn’t possibly eat any more, it was off to my tour of The Pool at Harrah's. I had heard quite a bit about this cross between the ultimate nightlife venue and a relaxing (or romantic) daytime venue. It is set up for both the socialite and the privacy seeker, with small “living rooms” and hot tub areas reserved for those with bottle service (there is a minimum that varies by time, but no fee for this). For additional privacy, you can rent your own cabana for as little as $100 for the day.
I’m looking forward to checking out The Pool during the daytime as I explore more of Atlantic City and get red for the Food Festival Kick-off Party tonight at The Chelsea Hotel.