Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Can you tell me what could top going to a dinner/cooking demonstration put on by two famous chefs in Park City, Utah during a power outage (aka a "dark knight")?
That is exactly what happened to me and 47 other bloggers during the evo'12 blog conference. All of us had obtained highly coveted, limited seating for an evening sponsored by the California Avocado Commission.
The commission brought in Too Hot Tamales, Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger to share their enthusiasm and expertise of cooking with California avocados.
We all knew we were attending a unique cooking workshop. Little did we know how unique it was going to turn out to be. Just prior to the event starting, the electricity went out in Park City. At first, we thought the power outage was limited to the vicinity of our hotel. But when we arrived at the off-site location for the workshop via The Canyon's Orange Bubble Express (a "rise" in elevation a half mile up the mountain) it became very apparent that our "dark knight" experience was expanding to our cooking adventure. Everyone, from the sponsors to the chefs to the attendees, maintained a positive attitude and weren't going to let a little power outage spoil the evening. Luckily, the facility had a generator which supplied enough power to allow for some overhead lighting and the cooking apparatus to work.
The first activity of the workshop was to randomly put the participants (we bloggers) in groups of four. Our charge: to create an original guacamole. The dishes were going to be judged by the professionals for originality of ingredients and for originality of name. There were literally 30 or so different ingredients laid out on a long table for us to choose from. In my group were a mother-daughter combo that hailed from Salt Lake City and Amy Allen Johnson, a staff member with Today's Mama.com. Amy had recently returned from a trip to the Far East so she thought it would be fun to come up with a guacamole dish that had an Asian flare. She and the daughter (of the mother-daughter duo) went to choose the ingredients to add to our beautiful California avocados. They came back with stuff like rice vinegar, sesame seeds, soy sauce, chopped mango, red onion, and some super spicy Chinese herbs and peppers. We mixed everything together and carefully displayed it on a serving dish accompanied with some wasabi and tortilla chips. Pretty impressive if I say so myself.
With just a few minutes left to go in the competition, we had to come up with a name. While our concoction was a spicy Asian version, I didn't want to loose the fact that we were using Haas avocados from California. (We had just learned that the most popular avocado variety is the Hass avocado, pronounced as a rhyme to a "bass" fish not the rhyme to "boss.") The trick then was to combine California with the Far East. I came up with just that: "Bad Hass Guacomole." Bad Haas as in "bad a--" Get it? We credited our guacamole creation to the most "Bad Hass" Asian in Hollywood, California -- Jackie Chan. And just like Jackie Chan, our guacamole had some "kick" to it. Oh, what a little electricity malfunction does to one's brain.
The judges carefully scrutinized each entry. We didn't win for the tastiest guacamole but we did get Honorable Mention for our name.
The rest of the evening had the master chefs creating their original avocado dishes which were served for our dinner. The menu: Bean-Avocado Tostada Salad, Crunchy Avocado Stuffed Quinoa Fritters, and for dessert, Mangos and Avocados with a tasty sweet sauce. I was totally full and satisfied after such a delightful meal.
The electricity still wasn't on when the workshop was over so we had to return down the very dark mountain in a very dark ski lift to a very dark hotel. Before we left, the California Avocado Commission gave each participant a goody bag complete with a California Hass avocado, an avocado slicer, avocado recipes, a stress-relief, squeezable, rubber avocado and even an avocado decorated flash-drive. They sure know how to stick to a theme!!!
Thank you California Avocado Commission and to the Too Hot Tamales for an evening of adventure, good food, and good times. This "dark knight" was certainly a night to remember.
Labels: Healthy Habits