Sunday, November 9, 2014

Food and Wine Fest 2014: Round Six

There's nothing like a limited amount of time and, despite your best efforts, a rather alarming number of items not crossed off your list to put a girl in panic mode. So much tastiness still left to try! Let's get down to business.


Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap with Kimchi Slaw.

This has been one of my personal favorites for quite a few Fests now. It's light and flavorful, has layers of texture, and is just very satisfying for me. The one issue is that lettuce leaves are an unpredictable lot. Some years, I've gotten the perfect leaf: just the right amount of flexibility to be a wrap without splitting open, but not so flimsy it just falls apart under the pressure of its delicious contents. This...was not one of those years. Good thing I make it my practice to stock up on a generous handful of napkins at my first kiosk stop of the day. Typically, I just stash the rest in my bag, and then I don't have to remember to grab one at every single stop I make. This rather uncooperative wrap dripped halfway to my elbow and required the use of most of my stack to mop up. Oh well. The price I'm willing to pay for deliciousness!

Off in search of another old favorite...


Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream.

This one is comfort food for me. Truly. Having grown up in a home where German and Polish cuisine were menu staples, and this particular dish remains on the permanent rotation in our house now, this is less adventure and more "warm hug for my tummy." There's just something about the flavors in this dish that make me settle in with a happy sigh.

But after two "visits with old friends" and so much left to try, it was time for something new!


Mocequa de Pescado. Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine.

Oh. Oh ho ho. This nearly didn't make my list in Brazil (there was so much there I wanted to try and a girl has to impose *some* limits, otherwise she will be broke and none of her clothes will fit any longer). I am so glad I reconsidered. Sure, tilapia. That's the fish we have almost exclusively at home. It's light, forgiving, and versatile, you know? But this wasn't even about the fish. The fish was a vehicle. I should stop and explain what I was eating, yes? "Mocequa de Pescado" is tilapia with coconut lime sauce and steamed rice. Now, as I was saying this fish (and the rice) were vehicles for the sauce and the tomatoes, mushrooms, hearts of palm, and whatever else was in that sauce. The flavors were incredible. The only thing that was a little much for me was the addition of the micro cilantro. Cilantro can overwhelm my palate, so I prefer it in very small quantities. As in: just one of those sprigs would have been more than plenty. And that wine? Fabulous. Sweet and bubbly and the perfect complement to that sauce.

Hmmm...stomach real estate decreasing. List still looming large. Onward...



Back to another Fest Favorite. It's so simple but so amazing, I can never pass it up. This is the problem. If I could pass up more "old favorites," I would have more time to tackle all the new stuff. But I can't resist. I just can't. The flaky layers and the spinach and the cheese. Just pass me the spanakopita. I'll make room.

Very nearly at capacity, I had to consider carefully...


Dessert Trio: (left to right) Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Roll. Passion Fruit Coconut Creamsicle. Chocolate Espresso Opera Cake.

I'm not going to lie. This was a struggle. I had to eat slowly. Going in, I expected my ranking to be "cheesecake roll, opera cake, creamsicle" (most to least favorite).

First up, the cheesecake roll. I happen to be a huge fan of blueberry and lemon, so I was thinking blueberry and lime would be a fun new twist. Sadly, the blueberry completely overpowered the lime to the point that I couldn't taste it at all. So...blueberry and cheesecake...not much to write home about there.

I eyed that creamsicle with some suspicion. This was, by far, the prettiest of the three to look at. There were layers, some of them unidentifiable, and that top one was jiggly and shiny...and just...I couldn't figure out what to anticipate. Well, the first layer was a passion fruit gelatin, followed by coconut pudding, some passion fruit puree, (what I think was) a coconut-passion fruit mousse-ish sort of thing, and a chocolate cookie crumb crust. Oh, and the "stick" was a delicate "bar" of chocolate with coconut mixed in. I stared at the layers, trying to make sense of it, then dove in. At first, I attempted to try each layer individually, just to figure out what it was. After that exploratory tasting, the last few bites were layers in various combinations. Somehow it all just worked. From the gelatin to the cookie crumb crust. Lots of flavors but none overwhelming. Just this fruitiness that ranged in intensity.

And finally the opera cake. It was pretty underwhelming. Like a little square of tiramisu, which, to be honest, not my favorite when it comes to texture. A little chocolate, a little cream, a little coffee. Just rather meh. Upon further review, my final ranking of the trio shuffles around to "creamsicle, cheesecake roll, opera cake."

I'm always grateful for the long walk back to the car after a round of Festing. I skip the tram and use the walk to help digest before my 45-minute drive home. I'm going to need to plan creatively to get to the rest, I fear.

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