Scotch Dates

I meant to post about The National Food Experiment Results months ago, but I had some technical difficulties. Better late than never!

I have a thing for the number 12. Mostly because my birthday falls on the 12th. I feel the number is my lucky charm. So much so, I prefer to set my morning alarm on the twelfth minute of the hour when my schedule allows. It guarantees I have a good day. Weird…yeah. OCD, just a bit? Most certainly. So you can imagine how excited I was when the clock struck midnight on the 2012 New Year’s! A great year guaranteed! I was not disappointed. I crushed The Houston Beer Experiment. The magician carried me over our first threshold. We all of a sudden had this crazy family of cats (Don’t judge us.) Then we competed for culinary glory in Brooklyn. Now 2012 will always be known as The Year of the Magic Hops!!! Yeah, 2012 was even better than I could have hoped.

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So how’d we do in the National Championship you ask? Well, we rocked Brooklyn’s socks right off with a solid 2nd place win in the Audience Category. Welcome home Le Creuset grill pan trophy! (You’re even better than those Jet Blue tickets.) No grand Championship or judges’ honors. But who cares? We were treated to a freaking amazing weekend in the most exciting city in the world. Thanks Brooklyn Brewery & The Food Experiments! I’m overjoyed, overwhelmed, and God darn-it people liked our “Scotch Date”.

“Scotch Date”

A Medjool date filled with chive cream cheese, wrapped in chile garlic sausage, breaded with panko, deep fried, and topped with a cilantro jalapeno aioli

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Our dish was out there. A huge risk that I doubted every step of the way. Frying in a catering type situation is a cardinal sin. You don’t do it unless you fry on-site. But in this game, all cooking is done the day before in tight kitchen quarters, and you have little time to prep anything before go-time. You get to utilize a chafing dish and Sterno at the competition, nothing with an electrical plug. Creativity is encouraged. We were advised that a rented oven would be on-site in the brewery to reheat our dish right before the competition started. But surprise, the oven failed. So we gathered extra Sternos and pulled out that torch we bought just in case!

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Thanks to the magician and my friends for encouraging me to stick with the dish despite these challenges! After the first few attendees sampled the date, my doubt faded and the adrenaline kicked in… time to bust out bites to 300 eager samplers. Seeing the smiles, surprising reactions, and satisfaction as the audience tasted the date gave me a high. It made slaving over the tedious prep-work all worth it.

As the crowd grew full and tipsy for the flowing Brooklyn Brewery Beer, we ran out of food. People had circled back to our table for seconds, thirds, and fourths. I was feeling good. My friends gauged the crowd buzz, and we had a shot at winning this! EEEeek…I couldn’t believe it. The votes were counted, the team leaders were summoned, and winners announced. No we didn’t win, but it felt like we did. I teared up and gave a love felt thank you to my magician. I couldn’t have done it without him, and he didn’t say a word about my bossiness the whole time. Plus, I was featured on the “Blue Ribbon Hunter” online t.v. show. Pretty cool.

The Blue Ribbon Hunter

People keep asking me “So “What’s next?” Honestly, I don’t know. I will keep on cooking, keep stirring up mad hatter recipes in my kitchen, keep on blogging, keep on eating like there’s no tomorrow, and most importantly, keep on plotting my culinary empire. More food competitions may come. I can’t deny my competitive nature, but who knows. Life is so curious when you don’t plan it. 2013 could hold all sorts of surprises. Maybe there’s a Food Experiment Cookbook in the works. If not, there should be. I’ll contribute a recipe.

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