Bacon For Dayzzzzzz

4 May

This weekend was all about bacon for me, or at least Saturday was, at the Bacon, Brews, and Brims Kentucky Derby party at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

As the solo judge for the bacon competition, it was my duty to choose from the 7 food vendors who were serving bacon inspired dishes, crowning one of them the best bacon dish of the day.

Up until Saturday, I was pretty pumped and honored to have all of this power in my own hands, but I quickly realized during the event how challenging my job actually was.

I know, you’re probably thinking that I need to quit complaining about having to taste a bunch of bacon dishes, but I promise, I’m not complaining!

The thing is, when it comes to judging competitions, big or small, it’s never easy letting people down. I never understood the difficulty of letting people down and being solely responsible for it either.

But alas, that was the job I was given, and I did it.

Aside from the fact that I devoured SO many things with bacon in them, there were two clear standouts in the competition. This is where things get tricky.

One was a sweet option, and one was savory.

First up:

Imagine this – fried bacon wrapped string cheese.

Druthers

Right?! That’s what Druthers was serving, and it wasn’t short of fantastic. It was indulgent and fatty and I mean, how can you go wrong with what turned out to be a bacon wrapped mozzarella stick? Come on.

On the other hand, picture a thick cut slice of bacon, cooked to perfection and then paired with craisins and sea salt, all covered in dark chocolate.

Berrylicious Bouquets

And THAT is what Berrylicious Bouquets was serving.

Rather than just savory tastes, this was sweet but slightly bitter because of the dark chocolate, mixed with the sweet craisins, salty bacon, and sea salt.

Yeah, now you see how my decision became really challenging.

When it came down to it though, I had to make a decision, and that decision and the winner of the very first Bacon, Brews, and Brims competition was…..

Berrylicious Bouquets!

Bacon, Brews, and Brims

As difficult of a choice it was for me, I chose the chocolate bacon bark because it was the most bacon forward food I ate throughout the day. Every other dish I tried had something that took away from the bacon flavor. But for the chocolate bacon bark, the bacon itself was highlighted perfectly, and that is why Berrylicious Bouquets won my vote.

Even better news? They just started selling the award winning bark on their website – http://berryliciousbouquets.com/product/berrylicious-bacon-craisin-bark/

I had such a fun time (aside from the anxiety of being a judge) at this event, and there’s really no better way to watch the Kentucky Derby than in the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

Were you at the event this weekend? What was your favorite food that you tried? Comment below!

Kentucky Derby Parties 2015

29 Apr

2010 Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a pretty big deal in a horse town like Saratoga, but I feel like no other year has had so many fabulous parties happening all on the same day.

While I’m already spoken for and totally looking forward to the Bacon, Brews, and Brims event taking place on Saturday, May 2nd, I figured I might as well make a list of all that’s happening that day throughout Saratoga.

Bacon, Brews and Brims at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame (3:30pm-7:30pm)

“Join us for the inaugural Kentucky Derby Party to benefit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame!

This year’s theme is Bacon, Brews, and Brims, featuring delicious samplings of local brews and spirits, as well as signature bacon dishes from local restaurants. 

While exploring the Museum and its local connection, guests will enjoy the hip sounds of Funk Evolution in the prestigious Hall of Fame before a live airing of the 2015 Kentucky Derby race.

Guests are encouraged to dress to impress, as an award for the most fashionable Derby attire will be presented. Also win a chance for a day at the races with a private box at Saratoga Race Course and dinner on the evening of the 88th running of the Whitney stakes race. 

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is excited to offer an authentic experience with a unique twist for the racing and foodie enthusiast. All proceeds from this year’s event will support the notable exhibits and educational initiatives at the Museum here in the heart of Saratoga Springs.”

Prime at Saratoga National

“Join us for “Prime on the Rail”…
Cash Concession Food Items | 4pm – 8pm
Beer, Wine & Spirit Vendors | Cash Bar
Ron Bill’s New Orleans Stompers | 4pm – 6:30pm
No Reservations Required
$15 Admission | Prime will make $5 donation to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Jumbo-Tron TV featuring Live Race!
Frivolous Boutique Display
Habana Hand Rolled Cigar Station
BeerTruck
Looking for a Derby Outfit to sport? | Mens Ware by The National | 385 Broadway
Hot Shaves for Men by Hair Creations + Shoe Shining available by SNGC
deJonghe Original Jewelry cleaning station
Helicopter Tours by Independent Helicopters | Reserve at 518.796.4006 | 5pm – 7pm

“VIP In-field ” | Blue Stone Tent
$75 inclusive | featuring Prime Steakhouse Buffet | 4pm – 8pm
Private Cash Bar
Complimentary Mint Julep Drink Ticket
3 TV’s with Live Derby Race
Guaranteed Seating
Vendor Liquor Tasting
Reservations Required | This space will sell out | 518.306.2330”

The Brook Tavern (4:00pm)

“Join The Brook Tavern for a Kentucky Derby Day Party! Featuring Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps, Bourbon Flights, and Veuve Cliquot by the glass.

Complimentary Appetizers from 4pm to Post Time, including Kentucky Favorites: Baby Hot Browns, Pickled Shrimp, and Louisiana Deviled Eggs.”

Sperry’s (Doors open at 2:00pm, party beings at 4:00pm)

“Sperry’s will be open at 2pm on Saturday May 2nd in Celebration of Kentucky Derby. At 4pm, Blanton’s Bourbon will have a tasting table set up in the patio, as will Reyka Vodka. The patio bar will be featuring $5 drink specials with Blaton’s and Reyka. Stella will be in the patio giving away chalices and sampling Cider. At 4pm we will also be offering free live entertainment by Out of the Box featuring Larry Gravett (Jazz Blues).”

Max London’s (3:00pm-7:00pm)

“Local celebrities will go behind the stick to help raise funds for Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.) at Max London’s in Saratoga Springs. The celebrity bartender event will take place on Kentucky Derby Day, May 2. Max London’s will donate 100% of tips as well as 5% of sales from the event to B.E.S.T. Guests can enjoy specialty cocktails, including a fresh take on the Mint Julep, the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby.

Celebrity Bartenders Include:

Joanne Yepsen, mayor, Saratoga Springs – 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Doug Sherman, sports anchor, CBS6 – 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Marisa Jacques, sports anchor, TWCNews – 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Chad O’Hara, radio host, B95.5 FM – 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Nancy Underwood, program director, B.E.S.T.”

The Bourbon Room (6:00pm – 2:45am)

“After the ponies are done racing, the party begins. Join us after the Kentucky Derby for the Official Woodford Reserve Derby After Party. Live Music, Bow-ties, Juleps, Big Hats & Bourbon!”

Derby Day at The Horseshoe Inn (3:00pm)

“Come celebrate horses returning to the track, spring, the tent being up and most of all, THE KENTUCKY DERBY! The bar will be open at 3:00 pm with all the day’s races leading up to the big one.

There will be drink specials and live music!”

Kentucky Derby at Fortunes (12:00pm)

“Enjoy their buffet while you wager right from your table!
Opening at noon - $32.95 per person. Call (518) 581-5790 for reservations.

Fortunes will open for regular buffet dinner following the last race.”

Lakeside Kentucky Derby Party at Dock Brown’s Lakeside Tavern (4:00pm-10:00pm)

“Featuring:

  • Live Music by The Accents
  • Handicapping Contest
  • Hat Contest Judged by Michele Riggi
  • Team Horse Racing Trivia
  • Tons of Fabulous Prizes throughout the Day!”

Kentucky Derby at Vapor Nightclub (4:00pm)

“Watch the heart-pounding action larger than life on our 16′ screen.  Enjoy a special race-day menu featuring sliders, wings, hot dogs and more!  Plus, $3 Coors Light and $4 Captain Morgan specials all day. Opens at 4pm – FREE Admission.”

8th Annual Kentucky Derby Party at Wheatfield’s Restaurant & Bar (4:00pm-7:15pm)

“Complimentary appetizers and drink specials for guests.  Dress to impress; a Best Hat Contest will take place during the Derby Party. Guests can participate in a 50/50 raffle during this event. Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to STEP-Saratoga Theraputic Equestrian Program.”

What is South Broadway Drive-In?

24 Apr

I drive past Ice Cream Man pretty often, but for some reason I haven’t noticed since Papa John’s left the spot next to it.

And NOW?

South Broadway Drive-In

Now there’s a sign up that says “South Broadway Drive-In”, and while I briefly did some online stalking to come up with some answers, I can’t seem to find ANY information on it whatsoever.

I mean, I suppose I could go to Ice Cream Man and ask them if they know anything, but I’m saving my ice cream intake for warmer weather.

It’s for this reason that I’m coming to you, my food fanatics. Do you know the story with this new place?! Any details at all?

If so, please comment below!

Shopping on a Budget: Healthy Living Market Spring Challenge

20 Apr

Remember a couple posts back I mentioned that Healthy Living Market had announced they’ll be cutting down their prices to be more competitive with other local grocery stores?

Soon after I received that press release, I was invited to participate in a little challenge they were working on to help spread the word about their lower prices.

The challenge? Well.. it was to purchase the ingredients to feed a dinner party of four for under $30.

Here’s how it worked:

  • We were given $30 dollars to spend on anything in the store, excluding seasonings or condiments (typical pantry staples that most of us have already at home).
  • We had 15 minutes to run around the store to pick up our ingredients.
  • Our goal was to purchase the ingredients for a spring inspired meal that would feed four people.

As soon as I got the invite, I was sucked in. I knew that I could easily make this happen, with a unique recipe that uses really different ingredients.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

At first, I thought maybe I should make a roasted chicken with spring vegetables. But then I thought, that’s really not very original, and anyone can come up with a chicken recipe on the fly.

So instead I did some research, and I came across an awesome looking spring roasted vegetable taco with quinoa and guacamole.

Before I get into the recipe, it’s important to note that the list of ingredients relied heavily on the bulk section of Healthy Living Market, as well as their fresh produce. In fact, there was really only one item that I didn’t purchase from those two areas.

If you haven’t explored the bulk section of Healthy Living Market before, you certainly should soon. I’ve been obsessed with it since they first opened, because you can control the quantities in which you’re purchasing. Don’t need an entire bag of flour? No problem. Don’t want to buy a tub of oatmeal? They’ve got that too. And what about those dried fruits? The organic dried mango they have legit rocks my world. It’s a must try!

Okay so back to this challenge.

My list of ingredients went a little something like this:

  • 3/4 cup of quinoa
  • green onions
  • asparagus
  • fennel
  • avocado
  • lime
  • green onion
  • dill
  • radishes
  • tortillas (corn or flour)

In 15 minutes time, I was able to get all of these ingredients, PLUS a quarter of a watermelon, two tomatoes, and an organic basil plant to make an appetizer for my meal as well.

Healthy Living Market Spring Challenge

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Yes, I know, I’m a boss.

Guess how much I spent for all that food? $29.99.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

I STILL had a penny to spare after buying all of this:

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

The great thing is, most meals are not THIS heavy on produce, which is where a lot of my costs went. There are also other opportunities to save on little things, for example I could have gotten pre-made guacamole from HLM that would have been less expensive than buying two avocados and the ingredients for guacamole.

The moral of the story is, it is possible to buy healthy ingredients for not a lot of money, especially at Healthy Living Market.

So now that you’ve gotten the low down on the competition, it’s time to check out the complete ingredients and recipes:

Tomato and Watermelon Salad:

Ingredients

2 tomatoes
1/4-1/2 of a watermelon
6 basil leaves

Directions

Dice the tomatoes and watermelon and combine in large bowl. Take three basil leaves and do a rough chop to mix them in the salad. Once combined, top with three remaining basil leaves for a sweet presentation (shown below). Sprinkle with kosher salt:

Watermelon Salad

Spring Vegetable Tacos (Recipe by Laura Wright)

Ingredients

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

for roasted veg
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 bulb of fennel, cored + cut into 2 inch lengths
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper

for the guac
1 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
juice of 1 lime
1 green onion, sliced
3 sprigs of dill, leaves chopped

for assembly
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
12 small corn tortillas, warmed
hot sauce to serve

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Place the rinsed quinoa, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus and fennel pieces on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables to coat and slide the tray into the oven. Roast until the vegetables are just soft, about 12-13 minutes.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

While vegetables are roasting, mash the avocado in a small bowl with the lime juice, sliced green onion and some salt and pepper. Once you have a chunky puree, check it for seasoning. Adjust accordingly and mash in the chopped dill. Set aside.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Start assembling tacos: lay a warm tortilla down and top it with 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa. Top the quinoa with a small handful of the roasted vegetables and a tablespoon or two of the guacamole. Finish with a few radish slices and hot sauce if you like. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Roasted vegetables tacos

Roasted Veggie Tacos

Roasted vegetable tacos