Saturday, May 12, 2012

NRA 2012

Instead of my usual M.O. of following celebrity chefs, I decided to track the food just to see how many samples I could pass up. This would be a true test of will power which at this show has always gone straight out the window whenever I catch the first glimpse of a dessert.
This agenda also connected me to some very real people… Leslie Roark Scott, the self-appointed “Barbeque Princess” from Ubons BBQ and Rosario Gonzalez Toso, the charming vintner from Argentina’s Hacienda Del Plata. From two different world’s but both so passionate about their product.

I was amazed at the selection of food that was presented - everything from Boar sausage to spices,flavors and fruit bases to sparkling whatever it was.

Then to wash it all down with a pint-size Ghiradelli dark chocolate make everything…well… actually perfect.
Speaking of celebrity chefs…

The chefs from Rational and Barilla brought their A game to their kitchens again this year.
I was surprised to find Seasons of the Heart, a cooking school in Oaxaca, Mexico there. I have been thinking of going to this school for months now.

Susana Trilling has a class curriculum that includes visits to markets, bakeries, mezcal producers and other suppliers as well as a late night taco hunt. It’s the ideal place to go if you seriously want to perfect your Mexican cooking skills.


There were so many Wisconsin cheesemakers there, I lost count as I turned the corner and stared down another pile of cheddar. The temptations were endless.

My favorite bite of the show came when I stopped at the Fermin booth. It was perhaps the best Iberico that I have ever had and I’ve had more than my share. Need to find out where I can buy Fermin in Chicago although the last time I saw one like this was at Publican Meats where it cashed in at just under $200 per pound.

Bring on the chicken...

Broaster Chicken is always a favorite of this show. What makes people stand in line just for a bite? The Broaster staff will tell you that “the chicken is placed inside a pressure fryer, designed to cook each individual piece of chicken "under pressure" in the chicken's own natural juices, limiting the absorption of cooking oil and driving the marinade deep down to the bone while searing the chicken with a golden, crispy-crunchy coating. “

From hot sauce to BBQ, I ran across the family at Ubon’s BBQ who uses their sauce to spice a Bloody Mary mix.

The result: AMAZING! This was the best bloody mix I’ve ever tasted and I tried it again this past weekend.
Out of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Leslie leaned to cook from her Pitmaster dad Garry and at age eighteen, was the first woman on the Memphis scene to win a Grand Champion title. In fact, she won the title three times.

Garry has taught many amateur grillers the art of cooking Memphis style, competition quality barbeque.
I am hoping to pick up a few dozen pointers when I join this fun loving group of chefs in Memphis this coming weekend at the World Championship. Stay tuned.
Internation Wine, Spirts and Beer Event…

Who didn’t love this event? From moonshine, to Hacineda Del Plata to that great taste of a cold beer or tequila beer.

I loved the Restaurant Pairing programs where Chefs worked with sommeliers, mixologists and brew masters to generate a wide range of tastes and flavors. Two of my favorite restaurants, Saigon Sisters and Zed 451, were participants.

I stumbled upon some out-of-the-ordinary stuff- although keeing with the popularity of SMASH- and a lucky parcel where my fortune read:

"You deserve a treat this month. Enjoy dessert."...
and I did have my choice of just about any indulgence that I wanted.

On my way out, I saw a cookbook that pretty much summed up the entire show for me.

Temptations? Guess I had better go back to chasing celebrity chefs.

Bon Appetit!