A Smorgasbord of CoVa* Food Happenings

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 

Categories: Dish, Restaurants & Food