March 22, 2013

Competition Dining

Last night I went to my first ever dining competition.  And it was so much fun!
The competition is called Fire on the Dock and it took place at Bluewater Grill on Wrightsville Beach.
We got to taste 6 courses from 2 chefs.  The tastings were blind, the voting was via Smartphone, and the secret ingredients were Pepsi and Peanuts.
We were told to judge on Presentation, Aroma, Flavor, Creativity (regarding use of secret ingredients), and Execution.  I was pretty cutthroat in my voting.  You don't spend the better part of a decade obsessing over food just to giveaway 5's willy nilly.  No ma'am.
My pictures aren't very glamours, per usual, but let me show you what we had in our casual 6 course meal ;)
Andouille & Hillsborough Farmers Cheese Fritter
with Chilled Lobster, Crawfish, Roasted Peanut & Papaya Salad, & Lemon Pepsi Vinaigrette
 This fritter was pretty epic.  So rich and cheesy from the goat cheese.  Definitely my favorite appetizer.
 Five Spice Peanut Tempura Shrimp
with Citrus, Radish & Pickled Vegetable Salad, Sweet & Spicy Pepsi Chili Glaze, & Cilantro Peanut Pesto
I gave this one a poor score for presentation because it looked like two turds on my plate.  I also gave it a mediocre score for flavor because it was highly over fried.  High score for creativity with the Cilantro Peanut Pesto though.  Nice touch.
Spiced Pepsi Marinated Veal Medallions
with Bing Cherry Pepsi Compote, Hillsborough Farms Goat Cheese Polenta Cake, Roasted Oyster Mushrooms & Asparagus Tips
This was my first foray into veal. And might I say that it looks and tastes just like pork, only with much more guilty and hesitation. Hell yes for that Oyster Mushroom. Hell yes.

That cherry Pepsi compote got high scores for creativity from me.  I'm not a big sweets with my savory person.  But I wasn't judging for myself, so I tried to be subjective.  Basically I was doing God's work.
Pepsi Marinated Certified Angus Beef® Teres Major
with Roasted Peanut & Southern Greens Pesto, Rosemary Mashed Potatoes, Truffled Wild Mushrooms & Pepsi Onion Straws
This was DANK.  Seriously the best mashed potatoes I've ever had.  And the truffled wild mushrooms and southern greens pesto were earthy and delicious.  Apparently Teres Major is like the armpit muscle of cows.  I highly regretted that Google search, but enjoyed it nonetheless...mostly.
Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse & Pepsi Cinnamon Rum Mousse
with Espresso Cream, Roasted Peanut & Caramel Drizzle, & Peanut Shortbread Cookie
The description pretty much says it all.  It was delicious.  Grant said he'd had better cookies, but he also fancies himself a very critical Cookie Monster so the chef had no chance against him.
Pepsi Fudge Cake
with Sweet Peanut Icing, Candied Bacon, Peanut Brittle & Pepsi Spiced Caramel
I liked the drizzle of Pepsi spiced caramel.  However, I did not like the presentation (everyone can make an upside down cake in a cupcake tin).  I also thought the candied bacon was too rich.  I just think bacon is too overpowering in general.  Sue me.

The highlights of the night included:
1) Being about to stick your face in your food and smell it, because it was required.
2) Being about to be on your phone the whole night without judgement.
3) The Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma'am style of eating the plates and then immediately judging them.
4) The fact that the person next to me was named Destany.
5) The wasted girl next to Grant who drank 5 glasses of wine and then spilled her drink all over her date.
6) The passion for food and drink of my table mates.  I went to a black-tie dinner last weekend in which NO ONE at my table drank, thus shaming me into not drinking.  They also didn't know what Endive was and thought that the mint on their dessert was grass.  I'm not judging.  I just take my culinary experiences seriously and like to be around those who do too.  You know you're in for a good crowd when you are at a paid dining competition.  No water drinking, gourmet haters in this crowd!
The results of the competition are here if you're interested:
I highly recommend this experience if you get the chance.  There are still dates left in Wilmington and they also put it on in Greensboro, Raleigh, Asheville, and Charlotte.

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