This sounds like something I might enjoy judging! The 2014 Bartender of the Year Awards are upon us and begin with regional competitions Sept. 15. Nominations are due by Sept. 1, so if you know of a bartender who has the grapes to compete tell them to submit their information immediately.
Here is the rundown. It begins with regional competitions all over the state. Each contestant receives a list of 20 cocktail recipes once they sign up. On the day of the event the contestant will get a random selection of four cocktails from that list. He or she has 10 minutes to produce those cocktails plus a customized signature drink of his own using one or more of the featured spirits. There will also be a written test so the panel of judges can get a glimpse of the bartender’s mind.
Contestants are judged on taste, showmanship, their crowd interaction, and speed at which they crank out these concoctions. Winners of each regional contest will receive $200 and an invitation to the State Bartender of the Year competition scheduled Oct.27 in Auburn.
Hosted by the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance (ARHA), the sponsors are Casamigos Tequila, Barenjager Honey Liquor, and American Harvest Vodka.
Regional competitions begin Sept. 15 in Birmingham at Todd English P.U.B., Montgomery Sept. 18 at the Eastside Grill, Sept. 24 in Gulf Shores at Lulu’s, Sept. 25 in Dothan at Oak and Olive, Sept. 29 in Huntsville at the Westin Huntsville, and Oct. 1 at The Hotel at Auburn University.
Send in your nominations today. A panel will choose contestants by Sept. 5, so time is ticking. For more information visit www.alabamarestaurants.com or call the ARHA at 334-244-1320.
Italian Fisherman closes out the summer with Around the World dinner
In the Italian Fisherman’s wine dinner series this latest event may prove to be the most interesting.
Tuesday Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Chef John will host his Around the World in Five Wines dinner. I expect 2503 Old Shell Road to sell this one out quickly.
The adventure begins in South Africa with a melon salad, shrimp Mozambique, and baked mushrooms with basil and nuts. Paired with Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa) it should be fairly refreshing.
From there the diner visits the “land down under” for baked Orange Roughy with coconut rice and the lemony notes of Yalumba Voigner (Southern Australia).
The European course will feature five cheese ravioli with marinara and Romano cheese alongside Colosi Terre Siciliane Rosso (Italy) for a dry, medium bodied wine those Italians know so well.
Back across the pond to South America one can rely on Zoral Tupungato Valley Malbec (Argentina) to add a fruity, floral finish to a South American shish kabob with sautéed mushrooms.
A good old fashioned cream pie with northwest berries will round out the dessert course from the United States. North by Northwest Horse Heaven Hills (Columbia River basin) is a remarkable dry Riesling to finish the evening.
Cost is only $60 per person and may sell out fast. Call 251-478-2881 and book your spot today.
Fire up the grill! It’s Labor Day!
You know what that means. Toss the mothballs on the white pants and tuck them away neatly in the attic. We’ll have none of that until Easter. This weekend is a time to enjoy grilling out with lighter refreshing beers in hand. I may fire up the gas and the charcoal grill at the same time. Enjoy a day off with your loved ones. Hang out at the lake with your dog. Feel the breeze of the boat or the shade of a tree. I’ll be sweating it out beside an open flame. Here is what’s cooking.
Bacon jalapenos. Seeded jalapenos halved and stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and stabbed with a toothpick are a great way to start the ceremony. Mine are on the top rack allowing the peppers to get tender and the bacon to render slowly. When seeding these peppers it helps to wear gloves. I’ve been burned before.
I love grill marks on bread, so at the same time as the jalapenos but away from the flame I’ll have sliced French bread with olive salad topped with provolone cheese. I’m just trying to melt the cheese and toast the bread. It’s a winner. I never make my own olive salad because there are too many great store bought versions. Central Grocery is my favorite so far.
It’s still so hot out so I like to keep it light with Shrimp kabobs. Don’t skimp on the shrimp. Larger gulf shrimp go well with red onion, zucchini and yellow squash. Brush these with a little bit of olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar and some Greek seasoning. I use the salt-free.
Sticking to the Mediterranean theme I’m making ground turkey burgers stuffed with feta cheese. I top these with long thin slices of cucumber and tzatziki sauce with lots of dill. Make sure you find some quality bread.
Stay hydrated while sweating over that grill. It is a fact that beer has water in it, but I would advise you drink a couple glasses of tap water every hour. Grill safely. Eat voraciously. Recycle.
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