The 6th annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival hosted by Caesars Entertainment has entered the annals as being a legendary culinary classic. The festival, which took place July 25-27, featured culinary luminaries Martha Stewart, Marcus Samuelsson and Robert Irvine. This was the premier appearance for lifestyle maven and media mogul, Martha Stewart, and Marcus Samuelsson, Food Network star chef and Owner/Chef of Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem. Robert Irvine returns from previous years where he has become an iconic figure at the festival.
The weekend commenced with a marathon dinner hosted by Matorano’s Restaurant at Harrah’s Resort. Philadelphia native Chef Steve Matorano known as the “Godfather of Italian-American cooking,” presented a mouthwatering array of his specialty dishes, which included: his signature super-sized meatballs with ricotta cheese and Matorano salad, fried calamari and shrimp scampi bread and his famous eggplant stack with tomato, arugula, and mozzarella topped with slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Walking through the Grand Market, which was held as an open outdoor market under tents in Bally’s Brighton Park courtyard, was an epicurean excursion in discovering new flavors, foods, wines and spirits. In keeping with the current trend for hot and spicy flavors, several vendors brought on the heat with their sauces and condiments: Bonfatto’s Wing Sauce & Marinade, Red Hawk Premium Peppers and Guy Fieri’s Barbecue Sauce.
Heating up the palate was more than sauce; it was in kicked up in spirits too. Absolut's newly released Texas vodka has hints of cucumber with heat from serrano chili and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, is Old Whiskey # 7 infused with a proprietary red hot cinnamon liqueur.
From the Grand Market, the beach bash continued with burgers of every flavor, fries and a beer garden to quench the thirsty beachcombers. Martha Stewart hosted the event and talked about the “no-no’s” in grilling burgers, *revealed later in an interview with her. The burgers filled everyone’s dietary needs: Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burger for the vegetarian; Lobster Burgers for seafood lovers; Lamb and Sirloin Burgers for carnivores, and Peking Duck and Buffalo burgers for the culinary adventurer.
At an interview with Martha Stewart earlier in the day, she talked about cooking the perfect burger on the grill. Use ground chuck and when forming the patty, make a compression in the middle to keep it from poofing up; season only on the outside just before grilling. *The “no-no’s” are: don’t compress during grilling as this releases the juices and don’t over grill to a char.
When asked about the next food trend after cupcakes have become so hot, Stewart thought that “cutie pies,” making mini-pies in muffin tins, might shove cupcakes off the culinary sweets scene. She also thought we could see a better cookie craze than there has been. Keep your eye on food trends to see if Martha’s forecast comes to fruition.
*Watch for next article about Marcus Samuelsson, his all-American clambake at Bally’s and his three-course breakfast with a taste of his culinary heritage from Ethiopia and Sweden and hints on hosting an elegant brunch.
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