Tuesday, August 3, 2010

AC Food & Wine Festival: Pictures and about a thousand words

Hey there! Well, I've finally recovered from a packed-tight weekend at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival. I had such a great time!! I gambled a bit, sipped a bit and ate a bit. Between all that, I met some nice people and enjoyed what turned out to be some beautiful weather after a rainy start early Thursday. I have so many pictures to share from the last two days, so I guess I'll go in order ...

On Saturday, July 31st ...
I caught a ride on what I call Monopoly way ...
It's my view from a wicker rickshaw. That was my preferred mode of transportation this past weekend along the boardwalk passing streets like St. James Place and Park Place. Sure, it took a bit longer, but I get car sick very easily and it's hard to justify taking a car or taxi just a few blocks when I'm by myself. The weather was perfect for it so that's what I did Saturday morning to get to the Blues, Brews and BBQ event at the Showboat Casino. The event was hosted by The Neely's and musician Robert Cray.Can't see Robert Cray that well there, but I was also trying to get the checkered table cloth in the shot because I liked that it was BBQ down to the decor. Here's a better stage shot...Not too much better of a picture, but I did my best :-). I walked around a bit and got my hands on 2 little cups of beer then stopped to take a pic with the Neely's...They took pictures with everyone that came up to them, then ended the event by signing copies of their cookbook. After that, I took the rickshaw back to Caesar's for a late lunch at the Pier Shops and by the time I was done, it was time to start getting ready for my Sunset, Sliders and Spirits pool party that evening. I got to the party 30 minutes before the official start for a VIP reception and I was so happy to enter hearing the DJ play Billy Idol's Flesh for Fantasy...

I just can't say how crazy it was to hear this song! Brought back memories and I instantly thought how I was about to make some more memories that night. A huge thanks to DJ Sonatra He navigated the 80s, 90s and the 10s, with style. Like I said when we ended the night, there's no party without a DJ. Here are some of the people that stopped by ...That's Jen from the comments section here and the blog "one curly fry in a box of the regular". We've chatted plenty in comments and email, but this was our first meeting. We had a bet that I had to find her in the crowd based on her picture and I'm happy to report not 2 seconds after I stepped onto the pool level to find her, I said aloud to myself, "I'm looking for Jen". She actually turned around and I thought ... "is that her?" I walked closer to get a better look and it was!! Here are her girls ...How neat to finally meet! It got packed pretty fast and the next thing I knew the party was in full effect/swing! ;-)
That's the southern dream-team of the Neely's. Word has it they are expanding, official details to come soon :-). Pat and Gina are always so nice to me. They both often ask how I'm doing and ask if everything is ok. Pat feels like he could be an uncle giving out sage advice at every turn ...
We had a second to chat and then I ran into someone I missed at Thursday night's NFNS: Kick Off Party ...
It's Aarti, Next Food Network Star finalist! She looked like the sunset with her color choice and radiant smile. I kept seeing her throughout the weekend, but this was our first chance to chit chat. It was so nice of her to come to the party! It was sold out, but there were several "lists" so, it was packed to the brim and I made sure to move around to see everyone. I headed upstairs next to catch the sunset and ran into these partying ladies ...
On of them had two drinks and I said, now these are my kinda girls!! I mean, they were tiny drinks so why not have two at a time? Then I headed down the steps and caught a glimpse of one of my favorite rays of sunshine ...
Awwww that's my girl Alex Guarnaschelli of Chopped, Alex's Day Off and her home, Butter. I met her when we were both trying out for Food Network shows. We auditioned together on set and out of all the people I auditioned with I thought she was the most pleasant and interesting, besides being a great chef. I wake up to her show most Sundays at 9:30 and immediately get hungry! Here's someone I just met a few weeks ago ...
That's Serena from this season of NFNS. She was just eliminated last week, but she still has dreams and desires to be on the network, so you never know! She and I both got lucky and caught a tray of sliders and my Summer Corn Salad coming out from the kitchen and hijacked it for a couple of bites. I was so happy with every thing; the food, the music, the weather. Then I met someone I never expected to meet, much less in this setting!
She should look familiar to you if you watch Food Network faithfully. It's Marlie Hall, she once hosted Recipe for Success on Food Network. There's also another special she hosted that I always watch when I catch. I can't remember the name of it, but it's a candy convention in Las Vegas and I can't turn away from it. It was so nice meeting her as I was a fan long before being on the network. Then another face I missed the first night of the festival popped just in time to close the night out ...
That's super mommy Melissa D'Arabian. She had such a busy schedule for the weekend so it was so nice that she made it out. It truly is a busy weekend for all of us with many parties overlapping or closely scheduled, so it was hard to make every event. With that being said ... NOTHING was getting in the way me heading over to Sandra Lee's Sweet & Stylish party right after my pool party was over. I quickly changed and headed over to the ballroom to catch her on stage hosting a fashion show ...I took that standing right next to a table with my offering for the event, my Easy Blueberry Peach Cobbler.That's Gerry manning the table and passing out my desserts with a smile. When Sandra was done working I caught her backstage to say hi and get a photo for the blog. Her outfit was sooooooooo pretty. She looked just beautiful, this picture does no real justice ...Foxy lady and just the sweetest! I finished my night by heading to an after party, sorry no cameras ... and then I went to my favorite night spot "Club Bed", with a bottle of water for bedside table service to combat the dry air of a hotel room. :-)

Sunday August 1st ...

I slowly pushed myself out of bed around 11am and headed over to the House of Blues for a little brunch with Jen and friends at the Neely's Gospel Brunch. I walked in to the sounds of church ...The choir sounded so crisp and full. The acoustics in the House of Blues are great in so many cities. They really put music first there. I said my hellos to the Neely's and promptly sat down at the next table with Jen and her girls eager to get a full pot of coffee in my system lol. We ate and chatted between songs as much as we could, then when it was over and we got up to leave Tony Neely, Pat's brother, stopped by to say hello.I ran into him the day before at the Brews and BBQ event while he was overseeing the menu, this time we had a bit more time to chat. Not for long though because I had plans to quickly make my way over to Alex's Farm to Table Brunch at Caesar's. So, I hopped in a trusty rickshaw and headed back down the boardwalk to another plate of Saturday night recovery food.Looks classy, eh? I got there just in time to sit down and catch Alex's introduction and explanation of the menu ...Next to Alex is a representative from Wild Horse Wines, the featured vintner for the brunch. Here's my view of brunch. No words needed. It was yummy, just wait until you scroll down to dessert ... OMGrizzlyGoodness!! Click on this first pic to read the full menu on the side. I didn't get all the parts and mostly because the beignets came out warm, so no delaying for a photo! They were tender chewy little dough balls filled with raspberry jam. I had one, then split the guilt over a second one with a neighbor... Take a look at the salad when you zoom too ...

JUST LOOK AT THAT!!! The guy across from me killed his in no time flat so I corralled another one and before you know it, it was empty just like the first serving. This is where I try to end simply so this last picture can speak for itself. It was the perfect ending to my weekend. However you think it should taste ... is how it tasted and more. It was pretty darn perfect. After this I went back to my room and headed into a much needed food coma. Thanks for getting through this marathon post and if you were in Atlantic City this past weekend and we met, thank you so much for saying hi! I had fun at every turn and can't wait until the next one ... NYC is on the way!!! Tix are available now here.

16 comments:

Jen said...

What marvelous weekend! I’m so happy I was able to make it. It was so great to finally meet you! I feel like we’ve known each other forever! Your Sunset, Sliders and Spirits party was amazing! Perfect weather! I LOVED the punch and I’m still thinking about it! And that Caprese Slider – it was out of this world!

We also had a blast at Sandra Lee’s Sweet & Stylish party and The Gospel Brunch with the Neely’s! Thanks so much for everything!

Looking forward to hanging out when you’re in Philly!!

Lindsey Christensen said...

Ahh! Your update is jam packed with goodness! Thank you for taking time to post so much detail and let us live vicariously through your adventures :) Looks like you couldn't have asked for a better weekend even if you tried! So happy it all went off without a hitch and plenty of fun was had along the way. And very cool mode of transportation down the boardwalk. By the way, LOVE your mustard yellow dress! It looks like a keeper for sure. And I agree, Sandra looks breathtaking! Food + fashion + friends + fizzy drinks = FUN!!!

Katie said...

Looks like you had one awesome weekend! I'd love to get to one of the food network food festivals! One day! Anyways... thanks for all the behind the scene details! Love reading your blog!

katie
katiescucina.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie,
I can always count on you to make it as vivid as possible and I thank you so much for that. So glad you had a blast and like you I can't wait until next time because I'm soooooooo there. :). Love the dress you wore for the pool side party...too cute. Love you much and hope you are getting some rest.

Linda (B'Ham)

Holly said...

Sunny - your cobbler at Sweet & Stylish was one of my favorite desserts of the night! And how awesome was Alex's brunch?!?!?!!!!

Dolphinfanhg said...

Great recap as always Sunny! I almost feel like I was there! Cute dresses, BTW!

Dave said...

Sunny, what a cool journey! And cool pics, to boot.

Your travels in a rickshaw made me smile--thinking of the "Seinfeld" episode involving Kramer and Newman and a rickshaw...which made me think of your recent references--two that I've caught on your show so far--to Elaine and the "Big Salad" episode.

Seeing your "like" (love?) of "Seinfeld" as such, I thought you might be interested in my blog "Seinfeld-ism" (seinfeldism.wordpress.com), the fruit of two years of research and writing into the place of "Seinfeld" in our culture and daily lives (like mine!). Your "big salad" comments were fodder for that research.

Enjoy! And keep up the "sunny-side-up" perspective you have on the Food Network. My wife and I are Food-Net junkies: your network is the calm, fun presence in our family room (TV) after the kids go to bed!

Take care, you and yours...

Dave Bounds
Hampton, VA

Lindsey Christensen said...

PS - I was really bummed to see Brad get the boot on FN Star. And even more bummed that my cable carrier doesn't seem to broadcast the Cooking Channel!!

Napa Valley Wife said...

Wow, what a fun weekend - I'm so jealous! By the way, how tall is Sandra Lee? She always looks so stylish and fab. Speaking of fab, I loved your green floral dress! I could totally see myself wearing that. :) Alex's dessert looks amazing! That's a concoction I would eat - blueberry cobbler with ice cream. I don't think I've ever tasted buttermilk ice cream before. Having tasted garlic ice cream for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I'm sure this is much tastier!

Cooking Mama said...

Man, Sunny! You live such a fun filled, blessed life. :) Looks like you had a lot of fun. Aarti is the best, isn't she?! I would love to go to the NYC Food and Wine Festival. Some day . . some day . .muhahaha

btw, missed reading your blog. Took off some time to concentrate on my homeschooling endeavors. But I'm back part-time now blogging. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Sunny,

I would look to go on record with a "Thank you" for the extra cobbler! That was a great brunch, so many kudos to Alex Guarnaschelli.It was fantastic chatting with you. My girlfriend will vouch that the sliders under the AC evening sky plus an A-mazing brunch was a fantastic highlight in my weekend. Cheers to great people and great food!

Regards,
Shawn

Anonymous said...

Hi. I love your blog. Just a tip. Try linking your blog to your Facebook page so your posts will automatically hit Facebook.

Thanks,
Fan from NY

Lana said...

Hi Sunny,

Been. For. Ever. I know. Sorry! Don't think I don't pop in and read your posts. I totally do. Just way too swamped to comment with anything even remotely intelligent. :-) Life, you know. It gets in the way.

But wanted to relate a story I think you'll like. So here goes.

I've spoken of my daughter (well, she's not my daughter. But she lives with me and calls me Mom. So she's my daughter). I've been teaching her to cook, mostly as a kind of therapy to give her confidence, boost her morale, etc. She had a tough row to hoe before she moved in with me, and the healing is stop & go.

Anyways, we stumbled across an ancient family recipe for Dutch Baby Pancakes. My girl is thrilled with it! She's taken it to new heights, going both sweet (we've made various fruit compotes: hot curried fruit, grapes & berries, spicy apples, pineapple & banana, etc) and going savory (with herbs in the pancake batter and topped with ground meats, pulled pork or ham, chorizo, pulled chicken in white gravy with aromatics, etc).

Now, FoodNetwork.com only has one recipe for Dutch Babies, Alton's from 2008. And I thought you might like to set your immeasurable creative talents towards updating this awesome staple.

All my best! Keep doin' what ya do. :-D

Sunny Anderson said...

jen, meeting you was the HIGHLIGHT! I was soooo excited to finally meet! i had too much fun and loved doing the kid pics (ahem, cat pics) braggin on our phones. too funny. can't wait to meet you at max's for a cheesesteak!! keep in touch! are you coming to nyc for the fest up here?

lindsey, thanks. as you can tell, sometimes i get backed up. glad i could update everyday during the event. that last night took the wind out of me! btw, got the mustard yellow dress at ny&co. for like 25bux!

katie, thanks so much for reading the blog!!! if you ever plan to attend a festival or an event and you have time to say hello, let me know ahead of time here and I'll find ya in the crowd. :-)

linda, hey girl! glad you liked the details! i do my best and often edit out sentences thinking "that's information overload" lol ... i sometimes have the ability to over share. i'm just trying to give some slice of life and behind the scenes stuff. let me know if it ever gets stale, i know you are here regularly, so you'll be able to tell. :-)

holly, WOOOOOHOOOO!!!! that popcorn was pretty good too, eh? Did you get the shots in the chocolate cups? ooooweeee! Jen, from here in the comments section and I put back a few of them! and yes, alex's brunch was the culinary highlight of my weekend. that dessert, geez ... i can't even describe it.

heather, thanks! love your posts!

dave, I LOVE SEINFELD. i went on the kramer tour before I even moved to nyc. i have script books and often watch a few times a week. I know them all by heart and still manage to laugh out loud. what's your favorite ep? some of my fave moments are elaine getting jujy fruits before visiting the bf in the hospital, the "mandelbaum, mandelbaum, mandelbaum" eps, "serenity now", when george tried to pawn off the cashmere sweater to the office maid - she response makes me laugh every time "awww georgie, when i was a little girl ...", when the guys dare elaine to eat off a stranger's plate, the grassy knoll ep with keith hernandez, "can't stand ya" with the librarian called "bookman", the dead bird from the neighbor and exhumation for no reason, i could go on ... i'm checking the blog you mentioned now. thanks! i really appreciate you watching and commenting. i know it's a busy world, but it's nice to know who's out there. btw, the actual restaurant that is the facade for monk's diner here in nyc doesn't even serve a "big salad" ... they are crazy!!

lindsey, yeah brad is a cool guy. i'm sure he'll be fine, he seems ever the optimist and he has a great presence. as for the cooking channel, call in to your provider and request it. all you need is more food people to do the same and it will eventually happen. until then, maybe i can ask them to stream em when the season is over?

Sunny Anderson said...

napa valley wife, i had a great time there! i don't know how tall sandy is, maybe a wiki search? but she did have heels on. i had on flats so that may also account for the height difference. for reference, i'm 5'5". buttermilk ice cream is something fantastic! i taped a show with paula deen and made some for her, she said it was the best thing she's ever had from a guest, warmed my heart. i'll post the recipe as soon as it airs, it's really easy to make and the tang that the buttermilk adds cuts the sweet and cream really well.

cooking mama! hey! long time! i have to agree, i'm at aarti's party lol. think she'll win? the finale is close, so you don't have to wait long to find out who gets the shot!

shawn, you killed that dessert! I mean in two seconds! I wished so bad i wasn't on my second brunch with a belly full of fun from the night before :-). i couldn't finish it, but on my bucket list now is to beg alex to make it for me again so i can finish it like you did. that was impressive young man!! lol. say hi to your girlfriend for me!

lana, absence is cool, it means life is busy! plus, you know i love ya if you post or not. i see the analytics here and there on the page and mostly use it to figure out when people log on so i can post around good times to catch the rush hour of blog reading, but i also see the hits and you are among many, many people that read and don't have the time, need or want to comment. i get it and it's cool :-). it isss good to hear from you though! *big hug*, i don't have kids, but if the parents don't mind the reference ... i've had a few rescue pets, so i know what it is to work with a situation like that, u r special. thanks for doing something that for some, is impossible. sounds like you have a budding foodie on your hands and i've always counted my love of food as a major part of developing my love of life and new experiences. you go supa mom! i'll look into the dutch babies and see if i can work it in ;-).

Marlie said...

Great to finally meet you, Sunny!