It’s interesting to hear what people collect during their travels. From postcards to original artwork, the choice of what to carry home reveals an intimate peek into the traveler’s life. As a food professional, it’s not surprising I hanker for edible souvenirs. Unfortunately, they don’t last any longer than the time it takes to eat a sausage sandwich on the cobbled streets of a German village, or lick the buttery crumbs off my fingers from an unbelievably good French croissant. A bottle of Italian olive oil might make it out of the country, but its lifespan is only as long as the number of home-cooked dinners it lasts for. Although the foods may be long gone, the memory lives on.
What do you collect when you travel?
As late winter looks toward spring, this month’s food festivals head outdoors, to the woods and to the shore for sugar highs, creamy mirth and moveable feasts.
Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Fla., March 1–11: The state fair has nothing on the Sunshine State’s Strawberry Festival. The sweet bonanza of fruit-related diversion and traditional food-fair merriment, including a royal court, draws hordes of hungry and smiling Floridians, not to mention snowbirds. All are eager for the simple pleasure of strawberries and cream, after which they can try their hand at carnie games on the midway or test their stomachs on a thrill ride. The Neighborhood Village displays homemade, local food and crafts. Competitions aren’t relegated to only the edible variety. Baking and preserving contests share schedule space with needlepoint and scrapbooking. Of course, there’s also pig racing, ideally paired with strawberry-topped funnel cake.
Cincinnati Wine Festival, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 8–10: Cincinnati is an underappreciated world-class city with a magnificent skyline (it’s important!), so it’s no surprise that the riverside urban center hosts a jam-packed oenophile fiesta, complete with dinners, sampling and an auction. The weekend affair is uncorked with a series of elegant wine dinners, followed the next day by hours of access to the tasting room. Ticket prices for seven sips begin at $40. Chin-chin, Cincy.
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The James Beard Foundation announced today that one of Food Network’s favorite personalities and multiple James Beard Award winning celebrity chef Alton Brown will host the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards on May 7 in New York City.
He won’t be the only Food Network chef making an appearance on stage. On Friday, May 4, James Beard Award winning chef and Food Network Iron Chef Michael Symon, along with four-time James Beard Award winning correspondent Martha Teichner, will co-host the annual James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner.
Read the entire press release »
Miami in February — it doesn’t get much better than that. For four sunny days, Food Network and Cooking Channel personalities traveled from far and wide for a cause: to raise money for FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Now in its eleventh year, this has been the focus of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which brings together the best of the best and celebrates food and drink in its finest forms: barbecue, burgers, desserts, wine and so much more.
We caught up with Alex, Bobby, Michael, Guy, Sunny, Jeff, Marc, Geoffrey, Melissa, Anne and Nadia G. to talk about the festival, the events they were participating in and we even caught them doing a little smack-talking.
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Admit it — you don’t drink tequila because of that one regretful run-in in college. You remember it: Shots were slammed, the room seemed to crater, porcelain was embraced, and the next day your head endured a piñata pounding.
So I understand your hesitation. But please hear me out: Today’s high-quality, nuanced, “sipping” tequilas are a world away from the syrupy firewater that you used to hide from your RA, who, it turns out, had his own stash of the stuff.
In fact, I’m so into fine tequila that I discussed it at my seminar with Food Network’s very own Marcela Valladolid at the South Beach Food Network Wine & Food Festival today. Whether you attended the seminar, or just read on, I aim to make you a convert, too, by dispelling these tequila myths:
1. All tequila is heavy and sweet: Not so. The “blanco” or “silver” category of tequila is clear and pure tasting. Citrusy and herbal, good blancos are like a high-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc — perfect as an appetite or joy-stoker.
Five more tequila myths busted »
If fans are looking for a chance to enjoy a glass of wine (hint, how about Food Network’s entwine) and meet some of their favorite Food Network and Cooking Channel stars, The Best Thing I Ever Ate at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival is for them. It’s one of the few events where the stars don’t have to cook. Instead, the chefs showcase a dish from one of their favorite restaurants in Miami or New York and a band keeps the crowd dancing until 2 am — that’s right, this is a late-night party.
Chefs presenting their favorite dishes included Alex Guarnaschelli, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Melissa d’Arabian, Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sanchez and Nadia G.
Since I was at this event so late at night, I had to ask, “What’s the best midnight munchie you’ve ever had?” Some of the answers left me speechless (watch the video above for real-time reactions):
Alex Guarnaschelli: “It’s a toss-up between a super-spicy fish taco, a hot dog with deep-fried bacon on it or a whole cake of any flavor — but it would have to be layered.”
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“Burger Bash is where it’s at,” Michael Symon said as we started our interview. It’s arguably the most sought after-ticket at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, drawing in crowds by the hundreds. Food writers, bloggers and burger enthusiasts travel from far and wide to watch their favorite chefs vie for the title of Best Burger. (And eat them, of course.)
Last year, event sponsors Allen Brothers provided each of the 26 vendors with meat; this year, they increased that number to 32 — that’s right, 32 burgers (see the full list here).
There are three awards to be had for the night: People’s Choice, Judges’ Favorite and the Heinz Best-Dressed Burger Award. While they are all coveted, there is one in particular that each chef has their eye on: The People’s Choice — the award where the guests get to choose their favorite. How do they vote? As you enter the tent, everyone receives one token. Next to each of the chefs’ booths is a box. Once you pick a favorite burger, you drop your token into the box.
Find out who won
So who won Food Network’s 6th Annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash? Well, that depends on the category:
The People’s Choice Award: Michael Symon (B Spot)
The Porky Burger: A pork and bacon burger topped with pulled pork and slaw.
Judges’ Favorite: Brendan B. Connor (Whisk)
Crispy Shallot, Bacon and Swiss Burger: A sirloin patty with melted Swiss cheese, buttermilk-marinated crispy shallots, pecan-wood smoked bacon, tangy horseradish sauce, ripe Florida tomatoes and watercress on a toasted onion bun.
Heinz Best-Dressed Burger Award: Guy Fieri (Guy’s Burger Joint)
Straight‐Up With a Pig Patty: A ground chuck and bacon patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle with a liberal slathering of donkey sauce.
Whether you tune in to the Academy Awards solely to catch the celebrities strut the red carpet or are hoping to see your favorite summer flick take home a statue, there’s something in the Academy Awards for everyone — fashion, Wolfgang Puck’s food and films. This Sunday, as the stars don their skinny sheath dresses and fancy suits, you have the luxury of watching the drama unfold from the comfort of your living room as you show off your best pair of sweatpants and enjoy movie-themed eats to mark the occasion. Complete with Hollywood cupcakes (pictured above), stadium-style snacks, traditional fried chicken, kid-friendly Chinese food and more, our menus of award-winning dishes and drinks correspond to a few of this year’s Oscar nominees, so that you can celebrate this glamorous event in style.
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In a tent full of bright lights, loud music and some of the country’s best barbecue, chefs like Chris Lilly, Tim Love and Elizabeth Karmel joined The Q, formally known as BubbleQ, to kick off the 2012 South Beach Wine & Food Festival last night. With the air smelling of sweet and smoky barbecue sauces and spices, the event featured chefs’ signature dishes cooked on grills and smokers, and was hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Food Network’s Guy Fieri.
When people think of barbecue, the usual comes to mind: chicken, steak, burgers, ribs and hot dogs. While they were all present, they were all reinvented classics. Pulled pork was transformed into tacos and egg rolls, lamb ribs were served instead of pork ribs and yellowtail even made an appearance.
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