As a general rule, I don’t get star-struck. Honestly the only person who might make me so excited I’d be nervous should I meet her face to face is Dolores O’Riordan of the greatest band ever, the Cranberries. Otherwise, I have favorite actors, singers and chefs, but I couldn’t care less about what they do on a day to day basis. No, I’m not a celebrity magazine readin’ kind of girl.
So when I found out that the Kentucky Food Bloggers were invited to attend the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show last weekend with special guests Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, I was thrilled with the offer, but not to the point where I was telling everyone I knew.
Then we got invited to a private meet & greet. Okay, the excitement grew a little. Not because I was star-struck, mind you, but that I thought it would be really great to talk with some chefs with such exciting restaurant concepts like Volt and ink.
Just to fill you in a bit on the Incredible Food Show, this is an event in Lexington, KY that has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. It is the place for Kentucky food producers to shine. Not to mention lots of our cookbook authors, established local chefs and those soon-to be chefs coming out of Sullivan University.
For a food blogger like myself it’s an ideal place to network and learn about more ways to promote dreams that have come to life in the form of Kentucky food products.
So this year’s show included a presentation by the Voltaggio Brothers. I headed to the arena with a few other food bloggers not quite sure what to expect. I thought a simple dish would be prepared with a few tips thrown out here and there.
Yeah, not even close.
Michael and Bryan were given a huge array of Kentucky products to work with – sorghum, soy sauce, produce. They claimed they had no real plan until they arrived at the show. What they decided on as we watched was an edible, vegetable landscape which reflected their expertise in molecular gastronomy.
I can’t keep all the great tips they had to myself, so here are a few things I learned from the show:
- Roast parsnips and puree them with dates for a vegetable based spread for toast.
- Use the greens of leeks by burning them. (Apparently burnt is the new caramelize.) Bake them in an oven like you would kale chips, just take them a step further to bring out more complex flavors.
- Use a food vacuum sealer to tenderize raw foods. Toss thinly sliced kale with olive oil and seal. The olive oil breaks down the chemical structure of the cell resulting in a flavored vegetable that is tender, but still raw.
- Soak fresh, thinly sliced jalapenos in ice water for about 2 hrs. The water will extract the heat and you can eat them like pickles.
Little by little, the vegetable landscape came together and things got crazy when it was time for the dressing. They went with a homemade ranch, but a typical dressing poured over the masterpiece just wouldn’t be good enough.
The goal was ranch snow. So out came the liquid nitrogen!
It was incorporated into the dressing and then put in the blender. Finally the ranch sprinkles finished off the dish. This picture is one of the dish via the big screen, so not super clear, but you get the idea.
The show was so much more than I was expecting. Awesome.
For the meet & greet after the show we were welcomed by the IFS staff into a room with an array of truly Kentucky foods – country ham biscuits, bourbon balls and Kentucky wines. When we finally got the chance to speak with the brothers we introduced ourselves as KY Food Bloggers and I was delighted when their face lit up a bit which showed recognition of what we do.
Funny, our first conversation went to their tattoos – Michael’s ink (his restaurant) and Bryan’s pig and rabbit which represented his son and daughter, one born in the year of the pig and the other in the year of the rabbit. After that we talked a bit about their restaurants.
Bryan shared about how Volt source’s food from several local CSAs in Maryland and often get the overflow which challenges them to use products and always be creative.
Michael told us a bit about ink.sack, the lunch extension of ink restaurant. They make everything in-house such as the corned beef tongue in their Reuben. They focus on small sandwiches so you can order two or three varieties. I have to say I was incredibly intrigued by the sandwich with curried chicken skin!
After the show I had a long time to browse vendors. My husband ran the Bourbon Chase over the weekend, a 200 mile overnight relay through bourbon country. They finish in downtown Lexington so it was a big weekend all around. I got to chat with vendors and authors while I waited to go to the finish line.
I ended the day with a few favorites so I’ll tell you about those. The first is Good Shepherd Sheep’s Milk Cheese from eastern Kentucky. Our first sheep’s milk creamery in Kentucky. I talked with them about a possible tour in the future and I’m hoping to make that happen in the spring when all the baby lambs are around! The cheese was a hard cheese with a smooth flavor. I’m due for a gourmet cheese purchase and this is on the list.
Next was Rooibee Red Tea out of Louisville. I had a nice talk with Jeff who you’ll see in the video if you check out the site. I still have quite a bit to research on Rooibos Tea and its extract, but this stuff is delicious. I tried an unsweetened version – no artificial sweeteners, certified organic. It is so nice to have bottled drink options that aren’t soda!
Finally, on my way out, I ran into Marlowe Granola. To think, I almost missed this booth! Now, I’m all for making my own granola, but when I find a product that uses the same ingredients I would, I have no problem buying it.
Marlowe Granola is also a perfect example of a great story and a dream that came to life. I talked with the owners a bit and the granola is “Mom’s recipe” that’s been made for over 30 yrs. They use local Kentucky sorghum as well. We even chatted a bit about food photography as the owner’s daughter took the photos for the site and they are gorgeous. I guess I should also mention that the product is darn tasty too! We’ve been enjoying it with milk and yogurt all week.
I can’t believe it’s been a week since our fun food blogger weekend, but now we are looking forward for all that is to come with such a great group of people who share the desire to support Kentucky foods!
Disclosure: The experiences and foods mentioned in the post were given to me free of charge. I was not required to post about them and received no compensation for doing so.