Good Wine & Great Chow

IMG_3035

IMG_3045

My first event at the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend was awesome — the Wine, Bread & Cheese seminar. The second, “The Truck Stops Here”? Not great. The majority of the food was fried which is a total non-starter when you can’t eat gluten. There were simply not enough “food trucks” providing food to make the price of admission worth it for me, taking into consideration the fried thing.

As a result of my frustration from Friday night, I’m not going to lie . . . I was not even a little excited about Saturday. But I went to the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village {at Front Street Village} anyway. I’m happy to say that it was awesome. It was much more organized than the food truck event. There was simply no possible way for me to try every wine {although I’m sure there were some there that tried}. And while I was a little overwhelmed at where to start, I came up with a sort-of-ish plan to start with the whites, working around the tent and sampling the awesome food in between.

Here’s what I did enjoy {that I remembered to write down or snap a photo of}:

Charcuterie, Charcuterie Board, Cheese, Southern Foods

IMG_3021

My favorite eats were:

  • Sesame Seared Tuna from the Channel Marker
  • Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream and Caramelized Onions {and ugh…I can’t remember where this came from}
  • Asian Pulled Pork Taco with soy-ginger slaw and sour cream from Circa-81
  • Spring salad with strawberries, feta & basil-peach vinaigrette (Olive Oil & Vinegar from Beaufort Olive Oil Company made by Chef Merrell from Circa-81.
  • The fish & shrimp stew from Sammy’s Seafood House & Oyster Bar
  • The Charcuterie board from Southern Foods

Circa 81, Clarke Merrell, tapas, cocktails, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend

I only saw one cooking demo – from Chef Merrell of Circa-81 {And Dank Burrito. And Beaufort Olive Oil Company.} but it was fun. I learned a few things from the demo. Like for instance, did you know that when you buy extra virgin olive oil from the grocery store, it may have as little as 15% extra olive virgin oil. The rest could be . . . anything. Eww. Kind of annoyed about the olive oil I purchase at the store. I also learned that clear bottles should be avoided which is a shame since I bought clear glass bottles for my olive oil and vinegar.

Chef Merrell made a spring salad that we were able to sample. I had a taste of a really good Sauvignon Blanc, with it, that I cannot remember the name of, for the life of me. Nonetheless, it was a fun demo and like I mentioned, I learned a few things. One of the things I enjoyed about the chef’s presentation was his advice to try stuff out when you’re cooking taking a “no rules” approach. I like that.

Before I forget, I also loved the Gin &  Tonic from Mother Earth Spirits out of Kinston. P.S. I’m a cocktail fan but I had never had a Gin & Tonic before. I’m a new fan. I bought a bottle of Crude Bitters – Rosemary, Grapefruit & Peppercorn. I can’t wait to try it. I also had a sample of their Orange & Fig. So good!

bitters, Crude Bitters,

Overall, it was a really awesome experience. I had a ton of fun. I have been to quite a few wine dinners, tastings, etc., over recent years. But this was the first time attending a wine & food festival of this type. There are things I would do differently next year for sure. But mark my words, at the very least I’ll be back for the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village next year!

Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend – Wine, Bread, and Cheese Seminar

FullSizeRender_1

Today I went to the first of a few events I’ll be attending as part of the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend. As an awesome 40th birthday present, my friend Jackie bought me tickets to the Wine, Bread & Cheese Seminar as well as Saturday’s Vin de Mer Epicurean Village. I bought myself a ticket to the “Truck Stops Here” food truck rodeo.

This was seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given! I had such a great time. The event was at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center which is part of the Beaufort Maritime Museum. The view was awesome. And it was a super fun location for an event like this.

IMG_2964

IMG_2962

FullSizeRender (4)

I arrived early, along with quite a few others and we watched as the room was set up.

IMG_2966

IMG_2968

Because this is the first event I’ve attended during the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The event exceeded my expectations. The only criticism I had is that I would have liked it to be a little longer. Nonetheless, it was a great experience.

IMG_2971

IMG_2975

The cheeses offered were so very good. Southern Food’s Cheesemonger, Sasha Shreders, chose cheeses I have never had before and probably am not likely to have again for some time. However, I learned a lot and confirmed that cheese, is in fact, proof that God loves me.

I’m not sure I could pick a favorite if I had to though the Shakerag Blue and Brabander Goat Gouda were pretty amazing. The wine was excellent and paired perfectly. I only bought three bottles (my budget and wallet thank me). I’m saving the Petite Sirah for a special occasion.

FullSizeRender_2

After the event was over, I spent a little time walking along the waterfront and sat for a bit, enjoying the view across Taylor’s Creek. Overall, it was a great way to spend a few hours of my vacation. I am looking forward to the next two events!

Drunken Mushrooms? Why not?

FullSizeRender_1

I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I really have. I hate that. But it is what it is. Last night, I was alone in my kitchen {Pandora serenading}. That was glorious. Wonder of wonders . . . I cooked. I’m so glad I did.

I haven’t had a mushroom dish in a while so while in Morehead City on Saturday, I found a mushroom mix (oyster, portobello, shiitake) from Harris Teeter that was perfect.

As usual, I used a recipe {found here} as my starting point but deviated from it to fit my tastes and what I had on hand otherwise.

Before I get to the recipe, I have a confession . . . I’m scatterbrained sometimes. I have 50 things going on at once and since I’m not a very good recipe follower, my distraction level when I’m cooking is high. Really.

I used to think prepping beforehand – my ingredients measured out and ready to go – was a waste. But it honestly makes life so much easier for me in the long run. I highly recommend it if you are easily distractible as I am. 🙂

IMG_1724

What could be better than olive oil {and butter}, garlic, onion, sherry & mushrooms? Nothing I tell you.

Ingredients: 

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Butter {actual butter, dude}

Wild Mushroom mix {or whatever you have}

1/2 Half Red Onion

2 Garlic Cloves

1/2 Teaspoon sea salt

3-4 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry {If you’re going for drunken mushrooms, go all out.}

2 Teaspoons of Fresh Thyme

Fresh Parmesan {See recipe above for goat cheese option which would also be DELISH. I just didn’t have any.}

Reserved 3/4 Cup of Pasta Cooking Liquid

Pasta of your choice {I use Barilla’s Gluten Free pasta.}

  1. Heat a skillet over medium to high heat. I have a very hot gas stove and tend towards medium.
  2. Start heating water {with olive oil} for pasta.
  3. I added 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, once hot. This differs from the recipe linked to above. Julia cooked her mushrooms in butter and olive oil. So yeah. I do too.
  4. I thew in my mushroom mix. IMG_1735
  5. Saute until they start to brown slightly. Don’t move them around much.
  6. Add onions, garlic and salt to the mushrooms. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until onions soften. IMG_1738

7. Add the sherry to the mushrooms and then cook until it’s evaporated. I added a squeeze of fresh lemon. I don’t know. It’s a thing with me.

8. Drain pasta {except for the 3/4 cup}.

9. Add thyme to mushrooms and then toss pasta, water from pasta, and mushroom/onion mix.

10. Add fresh Parmesan and toss again.

11. And then . . . eat, ya’ll.

This was so good. It hit the spot. Maybe I’ll cook again tonight?

 

Food Is Love

In the late days of spring, when the chill is gone and when summer sits right at the gate, quietly whispering its promise, I’ll cook a meal, our first to be eaten outside for months. The table will be surrounded by candles and white lights. Whatever flowers I found at the farmer’s market, on the table.
In the kitchen, with Pandora choosing our soundtrack, I’ll dance around, my spirit light and full of hope. I don’t know why it is that cooking does this for me {or maybe I do}, but long before I take a sip of wine, I’m intoxicated.
Coq Au Vin, parsley potatoes and if I want to really Julia Child it, buttered green peas. There’s a joy that takes over me when in the kitchen, but it increases when I’m cooking for others. The routine of chopping, pouring and measuring is better than therapy. And knowing that I’ll serve another increases this soul satisfaction.
When the food is ready and we sit to eat, you’ll pour the Cotes du Rhone for both of us. I’ll wait for you to take the first bite. And then for your approval. Which, I will get. But I’ll wait with anticipation just the same.
There’s something so absolutely beautiful about a meal shared. Food made well, and with passion is sensual and life-giving. It meets a basic need for nourishment. And yet, there’s something so luxurious about the process of creating. And then, the slow process of savoring a meal with company you treasure, begins.