A Smorgasbord of CoVa* Food Happenings

Mike Farrell, chef/owner of Still in Portsmouth. Background: Jeff Brown, chef/owner of Cotton Southern Bistro in Chesapeake, competing at the Iron Skillet Chef Challenge at the Virginia Bacon Festival in Norfolk.

Makin’ Bacon
They came. They cooked. They conquered bacon.

The first Virginia Bacon Festival was held Oct. 5 at Scope Plaza in Norfolk, with restaurants and other vendors offering everything from house-cured bacon to chicken-fried bacon to margaritas infused with, you guessed it, bacon.

Also a component of the pork-a-palooza: the Iron Skillet Chef Challenge.

Competing were Jeff Brown, chef/owner of Cotton Southern Bistro in Chesapeake and Mike Farrell, chef/owner of Still Worldly Eclectic Eats in Portsmouth. They were each given a couple of pounds of bacon and one single instruction: go hog wild.

Brown unveiled several housemade sausages, among them boudin and garlic. He stacked the large links, slathered with barbecue sauce, and enrobed in a weave of bacon before cooking. The finished product received a drizzle of bloody mary mix.

Farrell had another plan: he wrapped freshly-fileted rockfish in bacon, plunged into a bubbling hot bath of apple cider and rendered bacon fat, and roasted corn to add to a creamy polenta.

CoVa food editor Patrick Evans-Hylton judged with fellow food writers Marisa Marsey of Veer Magazine and David Nicholson of The Daily Press.

In the end, Brown took away two bragging rights: The High on the Hog Award given for best dish presentation, and the Swine-O-Mite Flavor Award for best tasting dish.

Farrell also garnered two accolaids: the Pork-fect Use of Bacon Award for best bacon use, and The Hog Father Award for most bacon use.

The 20th annual March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction took place Oct. 6 at The Founders Inn and Spa, raising funds and awareness for the group’s mission in preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

More than a dozen chefs were on site, dishing up sample plates from the restaurants they represent.

A number of awards were given, including The Dish of Hampton Roads, presented to a chef who creates a dish that captures the unique regional flavor of Hampton Roads through ingredients, preparation and/or imagination.

The award this year went to Swan Terrace Executive Chef Scott Simpson, who wowed critics. We are going to tease you with a little appetizer: the dish comprised a trio of items on the plate, including a Hereford beef steak topped with red crab claw and Chesapeake buerre blanc; peanut-encrusted bone marrow; and honey roasted root vegetables.

More information about the dish, including an exclusive interview with Chef Simpson and a full list of all winners will be featured in the January 2014 issue of Coastal Virginia Magazine.

Mark your calendars now for the first-ever Coastal Virginia Wine Fest, Jan. 25–26 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The fete will feature up to 90 vendors, including 40 of Virginia’s best wineries, as well as a full slate of workshops and seminars that are both fun and informational. Across the region, food pairings with select Virginia wines and packages at area restaurants with prix-fixe menus will be offered.

For more information, visit www.CoastalVirginiaWineFest.com

Baker’s Crust has released a gluten-free menu, augmenting its current offerings. Some 30-plus items are available, from salads, sandwiches and burgers to wood-fired pizza and entrees. Sandwiches and burgers are served on gluten-free buns, and pizza comes on a gluten-free crust baked in a separate pizza pan from other crusts. Some entrees include 
gluten-free pasta, and all are baked in the wood-fired oven.

Baker’s Crust has six locations across Hampton Roads. More information, visit www.BakersCrust.com

Find Coastal Virginia Magazine food editor Patrick Evans-Hylton: the first and third Tuesdays of each month on The Hampton Roads Show on WAVY TV-10 (www.TheHamptonRoadsShow.com); and the last Wednesday of each month on HearSay with Cathy Lewis on 89.5FM, public radio in Hampton Roads 

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