Do you enjoy watching Guy Fieri, Tom Colicchio, and Ingrid Hoffman? Then you should have been at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival that took place all weekend at Harrah’s, Bally’s, Showboat, and Caesar’s. If you couldn’t make it, The Sexy Armpit was there to experience it for you. Oh and some guy named Emeril Lagasse was there too. Now, I’m no Tommy Salami (he’s my Guy Fieri), but allow me to recount the trip, from breakfast through dinner.
Our attempt at a nights sleep at Harrah’s was interrupted by some maniac screaming at his girlfriend in a nearby room at 2 a.m and trying to break a door down, while we were also graced by having a troop of guidos staying in the connecting room who never learned how to speak at normal decibel levels. By some miracle, my girlfriend and I did manage to get some rest in between all the Riff Raff. If only Riff Raff was in an adjacent room maybe we’d actually be invited to get up in the middle of the night to do the time warp with him again.
I was opposed to eating breakfast because I knew we’d be in for a day of engorging ourselves with a variety of different kinds of food and liquor. My girlfriend convinced me that we would need some breakfast because we wouldn’t be eating for a while. I caved in. We went downstairs to the Sack O’ Subs in Harrah’s and placed our order for breakfast. I was excited to find out that they offer wheat wraps as an alternative to regular sub rolls. It’s become a standing joke with my friends at work that I ask if they have “wheat wraps,” everywhere we go, as in “Yo, you got wheat wraps?” in my best, albeit unintentional, Nick Moore from Family Ties impression. “Ay, yo Mallory, you got some wheat wraps?” Roasted peppers and eggs on a wheat wrap was my breakfast of choice and damn it was delicious. It was cooked up perfectly, and I dabbed on what tasted like hot pepper relish that was in little clear containers stacked by the pickup counter. Sack O’Subs’ lineage can be traced back to the legendary White House Sub Shop in A.C which opened in 1947.
It was on to Bally’s where Sunday’s chapter of the Food and Wine Festival was happening. The line to get in was intimidating at first, but it went quickly. Before we knew it we had our wristbands and wine glasses and we were about to wreck house. An interesting tidbit about me is that when I go into these trade show type events, I tend to pretend that I’m in a first person shooter. I want to annihilate each table and leave dust in my path. I have no time for dilly dallying. If mofos want to linger around and ask silly questions then I’m taking my sample and moving on! To make the whole event go quicker, why don’t they just sit me down somewhere and bring me all the samples? That would be a cool overload, which is rare.
From Pinot Noir samples to Magic Hat brews, I downed it. I don’t even drink that much, but we were there and it was free. As I walked through the aisles I wondered how it was possible that people weren’t aware of some of these brands. For instance, does Blue Moon beer really need to advertise and give out free samples? It doesn’t seem like they’re hurting considering every girl and every girly man I know LOVES sipping it. To me, I don’t care if your drinking gourmet beer, strawberry flavored beer, milk stout, or Mr. Fancy Pants Oatmeal Brew…it’s still f–king beer. Beer’s been around for an eon without having all these exotic additives, so let’s cut the crap OK? Of course, I’m joking if you love Blue Moon, you’re NOT a girly man, but on the other hand, I may very well be. Perhaps the best drink I tasted all day was a Pina Colada from Bally’s Bikini Beach bar which was graciously served to me by a young girl in a teenie weenie bikini. Those are the best kind. It was possibly the greatest Pina Colada I’ve ever had.
As for the actual food, there were only a few products that left a big impression on me. All you need to do to get my attention is put “Jersey” in your ad or sign and I’ll stop in my tracks and squint my eyes like Batman does in the intro to Batman the Animated Series after targeting some thugs. And coincidentally, “weed” is also a grabber, so when I saw the sign that said “Get Your WEED at the Jersey Shore” I naturally stopped in my tracks for a taste test of southern style Jeremiah Weed’s Flavored Iced Tea Vodka on the rocks (nothin’ to do with the pigtailed cowgirl with the bare midriff, of course). The flavor I tasted combined two of my favorite drinks, Iced Tea and Bourbon. Scarily easy to drink, it’ll probably sneak up on you and make you sick without even realizing it because it tastes so good. Go easy on it!
The award for best chili ever goes to Pistol Pete’s Steakhouse and Saloon in Pleasantville, NJ. I gulped down a sample cup of chili that the guys at the their table handed to me, and I was immediately sold. Just by that tiny portion I was able to savor the chunkiness and intense flavors their Chili had. Literally amazing. The next time I’m in A.C, that’s where I’m going for dinner.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get into the show Guy Fieri was running, but we were able to sit in on Aaron Song’s demo. I’m like a 5 year old, aside from cartoons and pro wrestling, I actually don’t watch much TV, so I had no idea who “The Asian Guy” from Hell’s Kitchen was. Sweating profusely, Song was entertaining as he cooked, when he wasn’t being buried by fellow chef Guy Mitchell who was clearly trying to live out his dreams of being the next David Letterman. Regardless of his culinary accomplishments, Mitchell had no business with a microphone, especially considering the extremely racist Chinese and Japanese jabs he continuously took at Song (he didn’t even know the difference between Chinese and Japanese). Damn Emeril for making these cooks think they’re all entertaining! This wacky chef routine is getting old! Next thing you know we’ll be heading to the Stress Factory where they feature Stand-Up Chefs. Instead of one liners, he’ll throw appetizers at you. In between his shtick, Song whipped up macadamia encrusted scallops drizzled with wasabi verblanc sauce and asparagus rolled in Italian pancetta. Champagne was also handed out like it was gatorade on the sidelines of a New York Giants game.
Ketchup has always been my favorite condiment, even to the extent of finding it in my stocking on Christmas morning, but barbecue sauce is in my top 3. You can’t really lose when it comes to barbecue sauce because they all have strong points. There aren’t many BAD barbecue sauces out there, some are serviceable and do the trick, while others bowl your mouth over and make you want to jump into the bottle and bathe in the sauce. Upon sampling two pieces of meat dunked in the sweet and spicy versions of Funni Bonz barbecue sauce, it made me want to grab a basting brush and start lathering myself up with it. The only thing that comes close to comparing the feeling I got when I came in contact with this sauce is when Saul first introduces Dale to the Pineapple Express weed in Pineapple Express. Saul hands Dale the bag of bud and tells him to smell it:
SAUL: what do you want to bathe in it?
DALE: I just want to live in here
SAUL: Yes, you want to BE it?
DALE: Oh my God! I just want to shove it up my nose and have that smell all day! That’s amazing…
SAUL: Shove it anywhere you’d like.
Later, after trudging through torrential downpours on our drive home, we dunked some delicious breaded chicken in both the spicy and sweet sauces that I bought. I was literally licking the spoon as if we had just made chocolate chip cookies. Do your damndest to get your hands on several jars of Funni Bonz BBQ sauce! The company was founded by 2 best friends from New Jersey. For more visit http://www.blogger.com/www.funnibonz.com or http://funnibonz.blogspot.com/
I left this event with one complaint. If you’re an exhibitor or salesman for a company at this festival, you need to step up your game. When it comes to food and alcohol, you need to be smooth. People want free stuff when they go to these events, not to be given the hard sell. When they get samples and free swag, they’re more apt to recommend your product to friends. So if I hear you utter the phrase “You want to buy some?” it’s probable that I won’t. I want to hear information as to why I want your product in or around my mouth. Fill my ear with the subtle nuances that make your product better than its competitors. Does it have natural ingredients? Damn, do I have to do your jobs for ya?
The Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival has been going on since 2007, and judging by this years expansive event, it will only get bigger. If you find yourself watching Food Network constantly and you have an appreciation for fine cuisine and liquor, then make it a point to be a part of it next year!