Executive Chef Paco Aceves assembled a team of some of the region's top culinary minds to tantalize the taste buds of hundreds of guests at a variety of activities throughout the celebration.
Featuring dozens of tables set up around a large ballroom, Friday night's dine-around gave guests a chance to sample dishes from restaurants and culinary schools all over the state.
It's impossible to pick a single winner among so many fantastic offerings, but a few standouts included pork belly atop pickled honeydew (a fun new take on the classic prosciutto/melon combination) from Ember at Snowshoe, lamb pot stickers from Charleston's Bridge Road Bistro, pepper-smoked salmon from The Greenbrier and a rabbit terrine from Stonewall.
Dessert options were plentiful as well, and people went gaga over chocolate pots de crème from The Greenbrier, homemade toffee from Graceland Inn in Elkins and a decadent chocolate brownie situation from Gordon Food Service.
You could pair dishes with a selection of red and white wines (all quite nice) or Yuengling beers. I have to give a special shout-out to two exceptionally nice brews I hadn't tried before: Yuengling's Porter (great dark roasted caramel notes with a softer, creamier finish than most porters) and its recently reintroduced Bock, a malty/hoppy dark amber beer so good it was actually paired with the closing dinner's dessert course, a crowd-favorite chocolate and hazelnut creation. (More on that later.)
And that was all just on the first night!
To read more about Saturday's cooking demonstrations, an Iron Chef-like cookoff that I emceed (a la Alton Brown) and the weekend's closing reception and dinner, check out my blog at blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.
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More love for the awesome spinach salad at Pies & Pints that I raved about last week - and went back and had again this week . . .
"I read your article about the spinach salad and I could not agree more," writes reader Robbie Miller of Virginia Beach. "It is the best salad I have ever had. All the tastes marry each other wonderfully. I am originally from Fayette County, where Pies & Pints started. I recently moved to Virginia Beach, and when I read your article it made me miss home and most notably Pies & Pints!"
And more love for tasty turkey breasts . . .
"At my home we love turkey, so what my wife does is every now and then she will get a turkey breast and cook it in the crock pot all day," writes Dave Dailey of Scott Depot. "By the time it is ready it pretty much falls off the bone."
Karen Figgatt agrees: "I just use the crock pot, no seasonings or water, and cook it all day. This way, the glorious flavor of the meat shines without any help. I have a crockpot with a little meat rack that fits the bottom. I have fixed beef roast, pork roast and the frozen turkey roasts this way and they all taste wonderful. No browning or special fixing necessary. I have even put frozen turkey breasts in the crock pot and cooked them this way. All flavor and so moist.
"It's a really easy way to have a super supper waiting on you in the evening."
I'm totally trying that. You know, line of duty and all.
Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfood...@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also friend him on Facebook as "DailyMail FoodGuy," follow him on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.
- 1.5 parts Jim Beam Black Label Bourbon
- 1 part fresh sour mix
- 4 parts lemon-lime soda
- Mix all ingredients together and pour over ice in a tall highball glass.
- Garnish with a wedge of lemon or lime.