2010 Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival

Those of you who read Messy & Picky might have already seen that I was the winner of two tickets to the 2010 Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival. Thank you, Albert and Kate!

I was very excited about this, because I’ve been on a losing streak with raffles at work (whenever someone travels overseas, they usually bring back trinkets to be raffled off) and it’s always nice to chalk up a W.

(Whoa, check me out with the sports lingo. That’s probably because Jacob, of Colorado Wedding Spectacular fame, has talked me into joining a fantasy football league next year.)

Anyway! I asked Jacob to come with me, because Michael Voltaggio was going to be speaking. Jacob loves Top Chef and was the person who told me I HAD to watch it. And the invitation was not because it was at the Valley Forge Convention Center and I needed someone to drive me. No matter what Jacob tells you.

Danielle met us there and we wandered the hall, tasting many delicious things. I bought a block of horseradish cheddar and some smoked scallops. And a few bottles of wine.

We missed Michael Voltaggio’s session, but managed to get into Fabio Viviani’s (um, he’s William Shatner’s private chef? awesome). He was hilarious and threw together a dish of seared halibut with braised pistachios over polenta with an herby green sauce during his hour-long presentation.

People. BRAISED pistachios. C’mon now. I was already going to make some roast chicken tomorrow night and now we have a side dish. And I’ll be making polenta too, because praise the lord it is finally polenta weather.

Before Fabio’s presentation, we found ourselves at the Union Trust booth, where they were handing out free oysters.

I’ll say it again.


After a brief pause to question whether I’d want to have to tell people that I got food poisoning because I ate an oyster at a convention center, I decided to throw caution to the wind and dig in. So, so good.

When we left the presentation, we found ourselves back over at the Union Trust booth, where I got another oyster. Danielle got a dish from Desi Village and offered me a taste…and it turned out to be full of cilantro. Hidden cilantro! I turned to grab an oyster cracker from Union Trust and that’s when I almost knocked over Michael Voltaggio.

In my defense, he’s smaller than I expected and was in my blind spot.

At this point, several things are happening. I’m embarrassed by our near miss, trying to look at his various tattoos, noticing that he’s standing with Kevin Sbraga, getting nudged by Jacob who’s trying to tell me that Kevin’s standing there, and getting frustrated because DUDES KEEP BLOCKING THE OYSTER CRACKERS. I mention this to Kevin, that I’m trying to get the taste of cilantro out of my mouth with the crackers.


Once they leave and I get my cracker, I’m feeling a little calmer, albeit with a dryer mouth. Which is when I decide to strike up a conversation with the Season 7 winner about his upcoming restaurant preview. Smooth move, right? Showing off my foodie knowledge?

Except I couldn’t remember where it was, only that it was near my apartment, and so just assumed that it was at Union Trust, since he was hanging out at the booth? Nope, incorrect. It’s at the Omni. He was at the booth for the free oysters too. After that confusion, we talked about the event and it was just a lovely chat.

Then I decided to mention I had a food blog that covered the things I ate and things I cooked, but that (and yes, this is exactly what I said) “I work a lot, so recently the posts have just been about me going to the deli across the street and getting liverwurst and crackers” (except I had decided I might lose readers over that admission and so didn’t write that post).

Yeah. I told two past winners of Top Chef AND their friend (who seems to be another amazing chef) that I like liverwurst.

I could hear Jacob shaking his head in disappointment behind me.

Luckily, they all seem to be down with the liverwurst as well. Phew.

After ascertaining that my blog wasn’t just one of those blogs that trashes places to get hits (ha! like I know how to get hits besides emailing my family about recent vacations) (I’m pretty sure there’s an easier way, besides flying to Europe), we talked about where they ate the night before and then moved on before I could embarrass myself. It hadn’t really happened yet, but I’m sure I would have choked on another cracker or something.

Oh, but you guys. I totally told Kevin Sbraga that I was planning to go to his event and now I see that it’s $75.

But it’s $75 for this:

Crudo of fluke with fall spices and apple cider gelee

Pumpkin agnolotti with sweetbreads, pickled beech mushrooms, sage, pine nuts and raisins

Squab breast with basil, purple cauliflower cous cous, sprouted lentils and chocolate orange harissa

Salted caramel pot de crème

(Right now, my brother is making his “chocolate is delicious and oranges are delicious BUT NE’ER THE TWAIN SHOULD MEET” face)

Friends, I want those things. Sweetbreads and purple cauliflower and salted caramel!

But it’s $75.

With wine pairings!

Weeks before Christmas.


So we’ll see.


Thanks again to Messy & Picky for the tickets!


October 30, 2010. Philly.

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