Showing posts with label burgers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label burgers. Show all posts

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Party Time with at Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival

After a morning of checking out the Grand Market, my daughter Sam and I still had a full day and night ahead of us at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival.

We got back to the press room at Caesar’s Resort in time for a fun and candid conversation with Martha Stewart . It was a press only round table. I had never met her before and was surprised how relaxed she was.

One of the things she talked about is a subject close to my palate – infusing vodka. Ms. Stewart, who has a farm in Bedford, New York, said, “Black currants are the basis for cassis. It flavors the vodka very nicely. Within two months, the vodka is great and it only gets better and better. “

She also added, “I use raspberries in vodka. I use strawberries. I grow a lot of citrus on my farm, lots of lemons and limes. I use that a lot for the drinks."

"When I have a lot of lemon or sour oranges, I squeeze them and freeze it for ice cubes, and keep that in the freezer for drinks. That makes delicious drinks. The orange and lemon peels make very good vodka infusions.”

We left the press room and headed to the tent on the beach at Caesar’s for the Burger Bash. I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

They ran out of burgers pretty quickly and seemed to bring more sporadically. What did come in was terrific, however.

Our favorites were: Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burger with roasted beets, tarragon aioli and pea tendrils; Roasted Lamb Burger with feta, fresh herbs, oven roasted tomatoes and Kalamata olive oil; Lobster Burger with crispy potatoes and peppered may; Black & Blue Burger stuffed with blue cheese and steak sauce and topped with crispy onions; and the Peking Duck Burger with Hoisin Sauce, pickled cucumbers and green onions.

I was also impressed with the burger-shaped desserts.

We had a short rest to get an appetite back before the Clam Bake. It did work out that Sam doesn’t eat red meat so she didn’t have much at Burger Bash and I can’t eat seafood so I didn’t have anything at the Clam Bake.

The band playing at the Clam Bake was excellent. We had a good time listening to music from the last 30 years while we sat at long tables and talked to the other guests.

Everyone (except me) was given a Corona bucket that contained a whole lobster, clams, corn on the cob and potatoes. There were also salads and clam chowder on buffet tables.

I was careful not to touch anything other than a Malibu and soda and a Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey with iced tea from the bar.

Marcus Samuelsson stopped by and greeted the guests for a few minutes before we left to shower and get ready for the final event of the day, the Beach Soiree hosted by Robert Irvine.

We were a bit early so we went up to Nero’s Steakhouse in Caesar’s Atlantic City and had cocktails. I really liked their Sucker Punch (Belvedere vodka, triple sec, simple syrup, passion fruit purée, and cranberry juice).

After we finished our drinks we went back to the Caesar’s beach tent. Sam and I both felt that it was the best event of the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival.

There were lots of cocktails and gifts for the guests. Viniq made some delicious drinks and the DJ was great. Although the description of the party said “passed hors d'oeuvres,” there were stations with food such as Bacon-wrapped Wasabi Stuffed Shrimp with habanero tartar sauce, South Florida Stone Crab Conch Fritters with passion fruit, and Mini Cuban Pressed Spring Rolls.

My favorite was the Cuban Roasted Pork Empanadas with golden raisins and salsa verde. Sam loved the Jerk-spiced Mahi Tacos with mashed avocado in sambal aioli with green apple slaw.

For dessert, we had a replica of one of my favorite treats growing up – Coconut Snow Balls.

Robert Irvine greeted the audience and spent a while on stage interacting with the audience and taking selfies with many of the guests. Marcus Samuelsson also joined him on stage.

It was a long day, but we made it through and finished with a great time at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Burgers, Cocktails, Wine and Banderas in South Beach

I have been known to schedule some pretty busy days, but I think I outdid myself for the first full day of the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival (and I got the blisters to prove it).

I started bright and early at The National Hotel, where I ordered a fruit and yogurt plate from room service to get me going for the day. It gave me a sense that the day would have at least something low cal and healthy in it!

First on my schedule for the day was an interview with David Burke. I had loved everything about my visit to David Burke Primehouse at The James in Chicago and have been looking forward to trying his new restaurant in Chicago. We had a fun talk about his Dining In the Dark event (look for my story at Cocktails & Joints for more) before I took off to the beach for the Food Festival’s Trade Tasting.

Originally, this tasting was a chance for the trade and the press to check out the booths before the big crowds arrived on the weekend. Unfortunately, the number of tickets increased and it seemed to be as crowded as the regular tastings got. Still, armed with my welcome glass of Simply Naked Unoaked Chardonnay (light and fruity), I headed into the Barilla tent for some great pasta before grabbing a Skinny Girl White Cranberry Cosmo (a new low cal go to for me).

The Cosmopolitan of Vegas once again created a modern building to give out treats, drinks and even a stay at their hotel, which I really need to get to in the near future.  From there, I made a stop taste taste Diageo’s new Q Dream, a deliciously creamy liqueur that is also low in calories, but I gained them all back at the Fiji Water booth where they were making fresh donuts and giving out water  with fortunes.

I put my aching feet into a cab to the Perry Hotel (formerly the Gansevoort) where the event to sell out the quickest was located --- Matador! An Introduction to Anta Banderas Winery with Antonio Banderas. I have to admit it was probably the thing I was most excited for and an assignment for Los Angeles Confidential Magazine enabled me to stay as one of the few members of the press in the room. Banderas was as charming offscreen as he is on and was quite candid when talking about his career and his wine.

The Anta Banderas Chardonnay is not yet available in the U.S., but I urge you to check it out if you do make it to the winery in Spain. In the meantime, you can purchase the Anta Banderas a10, a fruit-filled blend of temparillo, merlot and cabernet sauvignon as well as some of his other reds.

I didn’t have long to change for the evening and get to the Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers Steaks and Diet Pepsi hosted by Rachael Ray. It’s hard to describe this event to anyone who hasn’t been there, but it’s a fine line between comfort food heaven and gluttony! I tried to tackle as many as possible by eliminating burgers that were too rare or on bacon overload and going for a few special ones. Even then, I couldn’t take more than a bite of each.

A few of my favorites stops were…

Good Stuff Eatery Blue Cheese Burger with French Fries and Bernaise sauce, served with a Crème de Casis Milk Shake;

The Meatball Shop Chili Flavored Meat Patty smothered in Grafton cheddar cheese sauce and topped with caramelized onions with a sweet and sour taste;

NoMI Kitchen '800' Burger made of  Ground waygu mixed with Nueske bacon and onion,  topped with smoked tomato aioli, comte cheese, watercress, pickled shallots and garlic, and tomato confit on a rosemary ciabatta bun and served with VodkaNInfused Watermellon (my favorite overall);
Rachael Ray’s BBQ Burger with Sweet 'n Spicy Pickles And Smokey barbeque sauce, a simple, but appealing combo;

And the fairly healthy and tasty South Beach Diet Feta Stuffed Sirloin Burger with Smokey SunNDried Tomato Aioli served on pita.

I also loved the Jack Daniels Milkshake served by Guy’s Burger Joint and the Truffle French Fries Abe and Arthurs was giving out.

Michael Symon, whose B Spot served a Pork and bacon burger topped with pulled pork and slaw (I was not really a fan), won the contest for the third year in a row. It should also be noted that all the burgers tasted fantastic when eaten with the Frozen Hot Chocolate Serendipity 3 was pouring!

After the Burger Bash, I went to 1111 Lincoln Avenue for Robert Irvine’s Party Impossible. This rooftop soiree and a ton of food, from seafood to meat to decadent desserts. I was starting to regret the burgers as I couldn’t get more than a few bites of an out of this world Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar from Ready, Set, Cupcake! with a few crumbs of scrumptious cookies.
I walked back to The National Hotel at about 1:00 am, I walked back to hoping to do some digesting before catching some much needed sleep. There was still a lot more of the South Beach Food Network Wine and Food Festival to come. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

25 Degrees Arrives in Chicago

No, winter hasn't come early. In fact it's nearly 100 degrees in Central Illinois right now. 25 Degrees refers to a brand new burger lounge in downtown Chicago that's filled with mouth-watering food and plenty of wine and spirits.

The Chicago restaurant was opened by  Joe and Mac Boumaroun, brothers who had previously owned the Lebanese restaurant  Aladdin's Eatery in Chicago. They were intrigued by the concept of an upscale burger place and this particular chain had taken off on the west coast. They are putting it all together with acclaimed chef Tim Goodell, who has added a few things to the menu (like the Potato & Three Cheese Fritters) that are unique to this location. The official opening was just last week and it looks like a place the windy city will see around for a long time.

The 25 Degrees is the difference between a medium-rare burger and one that is well-done. The latter is my preference and the Wisconsin sirloin was cooked to perfection, juicy without any red. I topped it with roasted tomato, avocado and a Winelaise, an aged cheddar-blue cheese combo that completed the taste. It was a perfect choice, but the key here is that each person gets to make their own perfect choice with 15 different toppings, 15 unique cheeses and 15 different sauces.

While i waited for my personally designed burger, I had an incredible salad of heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese and watermelon in Parmesan truffle oil. I also tasted some of the French fries, onion rings and sweet potato fries with three of the sauces -- Garlic Parmesan, Tarragon Remoulade and Pesto. They were all tasty, but my favorite combo was the Sweet Potato Fries with the Tarragon.

I couldn't even come close to finishing the monster burger (which is priced only around $10 to start) and brought it home along with the fries for two more lunches.  I also took an (unspiked) Double Chocolate Milkshake for the road, which satisfied my cocoa craving for the week!

If you aren't in the mood for burgers, 25 Degrees also has small plates with items like Spicy Tuna, Bacon Wrapped Figs, Hot Dogs and more.  It's also worth a trip for drinks in their comfy booths. It's quite a selection, with about 20 unusual wines by the glass (or jug), hand crafted cocktails and spiked milk shakes. I had to drive over two hours home or I would have been tempted to try one, like their Guiness Shake with Vanilla Haagen Das and Chocolate Sauce.

You can find 25 Degrees, which also serves brunch in front of their large TVs, at North Clark Street. visit their website or Facebook page for more information.