Written on February 20, 2014 at 10:00 am , by Sheena Chihak
Hi all, it’s Sheena, editor with BHG.com joining today. On day three of the Sochi Winter Olympics, I attended day one of the 3rd annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked food and wine fest on the white sand beach of Clearwater, FL. Unlike Sochi there were no extreme downhill slopes or frozen ice rinks, but temperatures in the mere 50s and 60s had weather-spoiled Floridians shaking in their boots (they were literally wearing boots in the sand!). I admit it did look strangely like snow with palm trees jutting out.
The chilly temps and wind didn’t stop hundreds of people from lining up to get into this much-anticipated food and wine fest. In the spirit of the Olympics, I broke down Uncorked into three events and scored myself against the crowd.
Event 1: The line.
My score: Gold!
Just look at all these hungry mouths salivating with thoughts of cheese, seafood, and wine. I blissfully wore my VIP badge like a gold medal and walked right in. Note to future Uncorked attendees: This is a major perk of the VIP ticket.
Event 2: Getting through the crowd.
My score: Nowhere near the podium.
As you can tell, Uncorked is a hot ticket for foodies. When the crowd became too much for my figure skater-like height (I come in below the 5’3” female figure skater average) I escaped to the VIP area where I enjoyed lobster mac and cheese from The Lobster Pot and sipped on Mount Gay Rum and Four Roses Bourbon. I learned a bit about the extensive histories of these two liquor brands. Mount Gay dates back all the way to 1703 and wow, their Extra Old rum was amazing! Four Roses was able to keep operating through prohibition because bourbon was considered medicinal. Doctors would actually prescribe a pint of bourbon every 12 days for various “illnesses,” such as having the vapors, a hurt back, etc.
Event 3: Eating!
My score: Bronze. (Much like Bode Miller in the super-G, I put forth an impressive effort that only a few could beat.)
Those who know me well know my ultimate favorite food is cheese. Thanks to Tillamook, Cabot, and Kerrygold, I indulged in some of the most delicious cheeses I’ve tasted. My personal gold-medal cheese sample was Tillamook’s Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar. YUM! The folks from Tillamook told me this product is trickier than some of their others to find, but I will definitely be on the hunt. Every few steps through the tents of the festival brought another scrumptious nibble. Crab dip with hot sauce, scallops on a creamy risotto, pasta tosses, gelato, bruschetta, smoothies, and on and on the list could go.
It was a truly delicious day sampling food products and chef creations in a setting that can’t be matched. As a parting gift for all of Uncorked’s attendees we were treated to a breathtaking sunset. Anyone who’s interested should start planning for next year’s 4th annual Uncorked event.
Written on December 6, 2013 at 10:05 am , by Sheena Chihak
Hi all, Sheena Chihak, digital food editor at BHG.com here. Just two weeks before the biggest food holiday of the year I was given stomach-stretching practice in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida at their inaugural Enjoy Arts & Tastes Food and Wine Festival. Thanks to HSN, which is based in St. Pete’s and was a sponsor of the event, the festival was swarming with celebrity chefs such as Curtis Stone, Ming Tsai, Scott Conant, Donatella Arpaia, Ingrid Hoffmann, and Lorena Garcia who all have product lines with HSN.
My first stop was a behind-the-scenes tour of HSN.
Yes, that is Curtis Stone standing mere feet away filming a LIVE TV segment. Let me tell you, HSN is a well-oiled machine. Those counter-tops Curtis is working are on wheels so when his segment is finished they simply roll the table out into the hallway and the next chef rolls his tables in. Above you can see Curtis working at the counter that I saw afterward sitting in the hallway waiting to be cleaned. The craziest thing though, is how many people come and go with doors to the studio opening and closing while filming live TV. Curtis and the HSN host are definitely pros, they tuned everyone out and proceeded as though no one else was there. After filming, I got to sit down with Curtis for a brief interview.
Insights gleaned from Curtis:
- Look for the continuation of the kale trend. Curtis thinks you’ll be seeing more chefs getting creative with hearty, intense veggies such as rutabaga, celery root, and kohlrabi.
- If you’re in the Beverly Hills area, you’ll soon be getting a new Curtis-operated restaurant named Maude after his grandmother who taught him how to make fudge.
- Curtis is on the juicing trend. Each morning (when he’s home) he and his 2-year-old go out to their garden, pick some produce, and make juices to start their day.
The rest of the festival was full of food and cooking demos by the chefs. Duff Goldman hosted a huge late-night dessert tasting party at the Dali Museum. There was a Grand Tasting with 60+ local restaurants, wineries, and artists. Ingrid Hoffmann hosted an event called Sip, Savor & Swing with Latin-inspired dishes and dancing. The festival was capped off with a burger showdown called Battle of the ‘Burg hosted by Donatella Arpaia.
Here’s just a taste of my food samplings.
A few more things learned:
Donatella’s Tips for Perfect Pasta
- Give pasta room to dance (use lots of water)
- Add salt to your water (and don’t be stingy)
- Maintain a rolling boil
- Bonus tip: Do NOT add oil to your water. It keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta later
“Iron Chef is the most real of reality TV,” Donatella Arpaia
Based on my own observation, Ingrid Hoffmann is a fantastic dancer! It felt like that needed to be shared.
Written on June 25, 2013 at 8:30 am , by Sheena Chihak
It’s here, it’s here, Fresh cookbook is here! Hello again, it’s Sheena, digital food editor for bhg.com, joining in. I have not-so-patiently been waiting for this book, and warm summer-like weather to get here so I could start cooking from it. This weekend I dove in with the Orecchiette in Creamed Corn with Wilted Tomatoes and Arugula recipe. I’m here in Iowa, where, in case you haven’t heard, we have stellar sweet corn! So I grabbed my fresh-from-the-market sweet corn and got shucking. With the husks removed, I made easy work of cutting the corn off the cob with my handy Oxo Corn Peeler.
I do my best to cook healthy. This summer recipe is loaded with fresh produce, hence, lots of good-for-me vitamins, but it’s also got quite a bit of cream and cheese. I made an easy swap of fat-free half and half which saved me 49 calories and 9 g fat per serving. I didn’t touch the cheese amount. For me, the cheesier the better – and not just as it pertains to food. It might not be quite as rich, but it was darn good. If I had been willing to share this meal with anyone else, they would agree it was deliciously indulgent.