Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The American Fine Wine Competition & The Sonoma House present the 3rd annual 
AFWC Wine Carnival
  & Consumer Challenge

TASTE!      PLAY!     WIN!

The AFWC continues celebrating the best wines produced in the U.S. and prepares for the most prestigious All-American wine event of the year, the AFWC Charity Wine Gala.
At the Wine Carnival, visit Sponsors of the AFWC at their Carnival Booths where you'll play their wine-themed games like Ring the Wine Bottle, Toss the Ping Pong Ball, Pull a Winning Cork, See if You Can Guess...non-stop fun!  :-)   

Taste more than 50 all-American wines supplied by Total Wines, the official AFWC retail wine sponsor, and from this years American Fine Wine Competition.  You can also expect surprise tastings from visiting wineries who will pour even more amazing wines!

Indulge in fabulous delicacies from area restaurants like Segreto, Terra Fiamma, Publix Apron's, and others. Try wine pairings with a Flair For Fudge and Cabot Cheese.  

AND... How well do YOU know wine?  Ten guests will have the chance to win a seat at the AFWC Consumer Challenge Table to see how much they really know about wine.  The most wine-knowledgeable (or best guesser) will win two tickets to the AFWC Charity Wine Gala (a $600 value)!

This is a fun, exciting and unique evening for all wine lovers to experience the AFWC, network with area professionals, and help raise funds for this years benefiting charity,
Deliver the Dream.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
6:30- 9:00 PM
The Sonoma House, 220 NE 11th Street, Boca Raton
$50 per person includes everything! Plus lots of great networking 
($60 at door)

Deliver the Dream 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The 12th Annual Boca Bacchanal - Unleash Your Inner Wine Connoisseur

Hello Foodie Friends,

In this blog, I bring you info on the highly anticipated, creme de la creme of Wine & Food events in Boca Raton, the Boca Bacchanal. Now in its 12th year, this weekend-long epicurean party boasts award-winning, highly acclaimed international vintners and chefs and is recognized by national media outlets including Esquire Magazine, the Food Network, Forbes Travel Guide and Oprah's, The "O" List.

A festive weekend which celebrates and enhances the appreciation of wine and food, Boca Bacchanal brings together world class chefs and vintners, offering their finest specialties, while supporting the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum and their historical preservation and heritage education programs.

Celebrate Everything Food & Wine at the 12th Annual Boca Bacchanal
Benefiting the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum

Boca Raton, FL – February 2014 – Get ready to indulge in a weekend of wine, food and luxury at the 12th Annual Boca Bacchanal benefitting the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum. Guests will savor wine produced by top vintners from around the world and delectable cuisine prepared by an elite group of renowned chefs. This year’s stellar lineup of vintners and chefs will excite both foodies and wine enthusiasts alike. 

World Class Vintners

Boca Bacchanal has invited highly acclaimed, international vintners to showcase their exclusive wine selections. Boca Bacchanal 2014 vintners include:

·         Cakebread Cellars – Napa Valley
·         Darioush Winery – Napa Valley
·         Chateau Tanunda – Australia
·         Hollywood and Vine 2480 – Napa Valley
·         Benziger Winery – Sonoma Valley
·         Champagne Piper-Heidsieck – France

·         Matthias Mergt: Yusho, Chicago
·         Chris Jakubiec: Plume at The Jefferson, Washington DC
·         Joanne Weir and Gonzalo Rivera: Copita, Sausalito
·         Ian Schnoebelen: Mariza, New Orleans
·         Brian and Shanna O’Hea: Academe, Kennebunk
·         Daniel Zeal: The Cloister, Sea Island

The weekend begins with the Vintner Dinners on Friday, March 28, 2014 at six magnificent venues in Boca Raton. Each dinner will feature a vintner and chef working together to create an unforgettable five-course dinner that perfects the art of food and wine pairing.

The excitement continues the following Saturday, March 29, 2014, with the Bacchus Bash at the historic Boca Raton Resort & Club.  Guests will enjoy an interactive food and wine experience when they meet award-winning chefs and vintners while savoring their signature cuisine and wine selections. Silent and live auctions will offer fabulous wine, travel, cuisine and lifestyle lots; music and dancing will round out this unbelievable evening. 

On Sunday, March 30, 2014, Boca Bacchanal’s Grand Tasting will be an afternoon, open-air event at the Mizner Park Amphitheatre. Attendees will enjoy over 140 wines, by-the-bite specialties prepared by exceptional chefs from South Florida restaurants as well as the back-by-popular-demand beer garden that will include craft beer, ales and lagers. New this year will be a live performance by the popular Miami band – PALO!   Early booking discounts and specials to The Grand Tasting are $85 in advance and $100 at the door. You can purchase your tickets here:

“The annual Boca Bacchanal event benefits the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum’s mission to preserve and share our local history,” states Mary Csar, executive director of the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum. “By offering the community the opportunity to celebrate Boca Raton’s history and lifestyle through exceptional wine and food tastings provided by world-class chefs and vintners and our local restaurants, we strive to raise funds to continue our heritage education and historic preservation programs in the community.”

12th Annual Boca Bacchanal Event Times

·         Vintner Dinners:       7:00 pm  
·         Bacchus Bash:           6:30pm   
·         Grand Tasting:           1:00pm – 4:00pm

12th Annual Boca Bacchanal Ticket Options

·         Vintner Dinners:                               $325
·         Bacchus Bash:                                   $225
·         Grand Tasting:                                   $85 in advance / $100 at door
·         Patron Ticket:                                    $600

o   Includes tickets for one to a Vintner Dinner (first or second choice), the Bacchus Bash and the Grand Tasting
      Grand Patron Ticket:                                    $1,500
o   Includes ticket for one to a Vintner Dinner (first choice), the Bacchus Bash, and the Grand Tasting with transportation provided to the Vintner Dinner and Bacchus Bash as well as recognition as a Grand Patron sponsor of  Boca Bacchanal.

Whether you’re looking to expand your knowledge on the art of food and wine pairings, or looking for that one-of-a-kind gift to give your loved one for the holidays, the 12th Annual Boca Bacchanal Wine Weekend Getaway is the perfect gift for all. The Boca Raton Resort & Club is offering an exclusive weekend package to Boca Bacchanal that include deluxe accommodations at the resort. Find out more information by visiting

12th Annual Boca Bacchanal Chairs

Boca Bacchanal has named Robert B. Campbell as the honorary chair of Boca Bacchanal 2014.  Event Chairmen are Joyce DeVita and Betsy Fletcher. Vintner Dinner Chairmen include Yvette Drucker, Julia Johnston, Lauri Saunders and Kirsten Stephenson. Bacchus Bash Chairmen include Thom DeVita, Kathryn and Bo Gillespie, Joni Goldberg and LouAnn Such. Grand Tasting Chairmen include Jamie and Eric Sauer and Kathy Qualman.

12th Annual Boca Bacchanal Partners & Sponsors

Founding sponsors of the 2014 Boca Bacchanal include the Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton Magazine, and Republic National Distributing Company. Additional sponsors are Cendyn, Saks Fifth Avenue Boca Raton, JM Lexus, City of Boca Raton, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Crown Wine & Spirits, The Schmidt Family Foundation, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, Palm Beach County, Champagne Taittinger, The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, Atlas Party Rental, Saratoga Water, and

For more information about Boca Bacchanal, including a full list of attending vintners, chefs and participating restaurants, or to purchase tickets, visit


About the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum

The Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the past to enrich the future. Now in its 42nd year, the Historical Society & Museum actively promotes historic preservation and education through its archival services, guided tours and educational programs. For more information or to become a member, go to

Yours truly will be covering The Grand Tasting on Sunday, March 30th, which coincidentally happens to be my birthday and I couldn't think of a more perfect way to spend the day!

Until we eat again...
  I send you delicious wishes, xo


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The 7th Annual American Fine Wine Competition

The AFWC, now in its 7th year, is the world's largest and most prestigious American-only Invitational and Gala in the country devoted solely to fine wines produced in the United States.

Wines are personally invited, after being sampled by nationally renowned experts, insuring that only the finest wines produced are included in the Competition. Many of the participating wineries are boutique, family owned operations;
others are larger more recognized labels. Each wine is personally invited once it is recognized as being medal worthy by the AFWC acquisition team.

The AFWC is much more than a single event; it is a series of events including monthly "Wine Socials", a VIP Kick-off Reception, a Wine Carnival, and the world-class fundraising Charity Wine Gala. Each event is created with the goal of introducing participants' wines to enthusiasts in the trade, media and public and promoting those vital businesses who become sponsorship partners. Sponsors of the AFWC are savvy local business leaders who understand the magnitude of exposure these events brings to their business as well as the benefits to the community. We rely on these businesses to help make incredible events come to life. 

The seventh annual AFWC took place on January 19th & 20th, 2014 at Florida International University, Biscayne Campus. The judging took place over a two-day period and is open only to judges, sponsors, and invited media.

The Charity Wine Gala, a fundraiser and celebration of all the spectacular wines submitted into the competition, will take place at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on April 4,2014. Over the past six years AFWC has raised more than $600,000 for local non-profits.

AFWC judging system, organized by Chief |udge, Monty Preiser, facilitates a four-member panel, consisting of the best possible mix of industry professionals. Wines are poured in private and then taken to the judging tables by AFWC "Wine Angels". Glasses are numbered to correspond with the individual numbered wine bottles, which are kept secret in the staging area. In order for a wine to be given any particular medal, at least 75% of the panel must agree. The consensus necessary for individual awards may well be reached through discussions led by the Panel Leader, who changes periodically throughout the judging. Double Gold medals are given when 70% of the panel agrees the wine is worthy of a Gold medal.

AFWC judges have no fiduciary interest in any commercial winery distributorship or supplier. They are professionally recognized as wine educators, wine writers, restaurateurs, and sommeliers. This is truly a dream team of judges each possessing top qualifications, independence, and the ability to bring a wide variety of experience to the table in the wine & food industry. It is the combination of judges, wines, and the award system, that makes this a unique competition rivaling all others in prestige.


The Sonoma House, Tuesday, March 11, 2O14

AFWC Sponsors and charities will host "carnival booths" where guests can play wine-themed games like Ring the Wine Bottle, Toss the Ping Pong Ball into the wine glass, Wine Trivia, Pull a Winning Cork and other fun games. Wine tables are supplied by Total Wines & More, our retail wine sponsor and AFWC will pour some very special wines from The Competition. Expect surprise tastings from visiting wineries. Enjoy delicacies from local restaurants paired the fabulous wines. Enter the Consumer Challenge Table to see how much you really know about wine and you could win two tickets to the Charity Wine Gala! This is a fun and exciting evening for all wine lovers to experience the AFWC and help raise funds for Deliver the Dream. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at

The Boca Raton Resort...April 4,2O14

The AFWC CharityWine Gala is a night of indulgence, discovery, and giving. Guests will delight in visiting "Winery Tasting Rooms" hosted by 30 of the top US winemakers. These winemakers will be pouring the highest award winning wines of the competition. Guests will also dine on a five-course gourmet feast, prepared by the Chefs of the Boca Raton Resort & Club distinctly created to pair with the 750 wines from
The Competition. Wines are poured tableside by 50 volunteer "Wine Angels".
Silent and live auctions will take place with the proceeds going to this year's selected charity, Deliver the Dream ( Our emcee and live auctioneer for the evening is Alan Kalter, announcer for Late Night with David Letterman. The stunning Hilary Kole, whose voice is known and loved around the world, will also entertain. Attendees of this fabulous event are South Florida's top business professionals, philanthropists, wine enthusiasts and collectors. Special rates for the weekend of the Gala are available through the Boca Raton Resort. A ride home can be arranged through Red Cap, a membership-car service, who are offering a special to guests of the AFWC. Tickets for this event are $300 and can be purchased online at:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cochon 555 Miami


Chef Jose Mendin of Pubbelly was crowned the Prince of Porc at the 6th Annual Cochon 555 Miami on Sunday, Feb 9th at the Four Seasons in Brickell.

Cochon 555 presented by Goose Island Beer Co., is the nation’s premier culinary tour touting the benefits of eating heritage breed pigs. The kickoff event featured an all-star lineup of chefs, judges and sponsors to celebrate breed diversity and family farming.
This year’s competing chefs included Jose Mendin of The Pubbelly Group, Conor Hanlon of The Dutch, Bradley Herron of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Dena Marino of MC Kitchen and Host Chef Aaron Brooks of EDGE Steak & Bar. They battled it out by preparing show-stopping dishes using whole heritage-breed pigs from snout to tail for a crowd of pork-loving gourmands. The swine laden menu included Arepas of Head Cheese, Pig Sushi Nigiri, Neapolitan Terrine, Mofongo with Chicharron Powder (one of my faves), Gnocchi with Pork Ragu, Swine Infused Carrot Cake, and Pig’s Blood Chocolate Bars (my personal favorite).
A pack of notable judges, including Nina Compton of Scarpetta, David Thomas/The Bazaar by Jose Andres, Timon Balloo/Bocce Bar, Chef Adrianne Calvo/Chef Adrianne’s , Tony Guerra/Citrus Miami, Cesar Zapata/The Federal, Nick Betancourt/Extraordinary PR, Todd Erickson/Haven Gastro Lounge, Darren Brass/Miami Ink, Jose Santiago/Miami Ink, Jamie DeRosa/Tongue and Cheek, Elad Zvi/Freehand, James Strine/Cafe Boulud, Steve The Chowfather and Gio Gutierrez, Chat Chow TV and Suzy Buckley of Ocean Drive, had the arduous task of selecting the ultimate winner to be crowned Prince of Porc. Chef Mendin will go on to compete against the other 9 cities’ winners in the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June. The winner will be deemed the “King or Queen of Porc” and will win a four-day wine excursion to Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region.

This epic porc event is over 1200 pounds of heritage pig packed with 100% flavor! 

Four Seasons Brickell

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 9th 2014  from 4pm to 8pm




Over 11 tons of heritage pork raised by family farms will be served across the country in a nose-to-tail touring culinary competition.  In each city, five local chefs will each be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts.  A panel of 20 expert judges and guests of the event will vote for the city’s “Prince or Princess of Porc.”  The winner from each city goes on to compete for top honors in the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June.  The winner of the finale receives bragging rights as the Over 11 tons of heritage pork raised by family farms will be served across the country in a nose-to-tail touring culinary competition.  The winner of the finale receives bragging rights as the “King or Queen of Porc” and a 4-day wine experience to Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. 
cochon 555 2014

NEW YORK (Jan. 24, 2014) — Cochon US Tour and Goose Island Beer Co. humbly present Cochon 555 Miami onFeb 9, 2014. Going on its sixth year, Cochon 555 is the nation’s premier culinary tour touting the flavor and health benefits of eating heritage breed pigs. The kickoff event features an all-star lineup of five chefs, five pigs and five wineries to celebrate breed diversity and family farming. Learn more about the epic porc feast and buy tickets at

This year’s competing chefs are Jose Mendin of The Pubbelly Group, Conor Hanlon of The Dutch, Bradley Herron of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Dena Marino of MC Kitchen and Host Chef Aaron Brooks of EDGE Steak & Bar. The five chefs, champions to the pig, will battle it out in a friendly competition by preparing a maximum of six dishes each created from one whole heritage breed pig to win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges.

The pack of judges who will select Miami’s “Prince or Princess of Porc” include:
        David Thomas, The Bazaar
        Tony Guerra, Citrus Miami
        Cesar Zapata, The Federal
        Nick Betancourt, Extraordinary PR
        Todd Erickson, Haven Gastro Lounge
        Darren Brass, Miami Ink
        Jose Santiago, Miami Ink
        Jamie DeRosa, Tongue and Cheek
        Elad Zvi, Freehand
        Timon Balloo - Bocce Bar
        James Strine - Cafe Boulud
        Steve The Chowfather
        Gio Gutierrez, Chat Chow TV

The winner will go on to compete in the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June for bragging rights as the "King or Queen of Porc” and a four-day wine experience to Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region.

A 1200+ pound showcase of heritage pig carved into 30 chef-prepared dishes will also include:

        The Goose Nest, an area featuring the Vintage Ales of Goose Island Beer Co. paired with Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

        Live butchering demonstration at the Pop-Up Butcher Shop, benefiting Johnson & Wales University with the support of Williams-Sonoma.

        Different ages of Prosciutto di Parma ranging between 14 and 30 months, sliced by a roaming Berkel and by hand off a bone-in leg.

        Five local barkeeps in the Punch Kings cocktail competition presented by Breckenridge Bourbon.

               A welcome cocktail from Four Roses Bourbon.

        The Bourbon Bar presented by Breadcrumb by Groupon featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Hirsch, Templeton Rye and Luxardo.

        Libations include the portfolio of Crispin Ciders table, the Wines of Rioja, Elk Cove Vineyards, Barlow Vineyards, and the infamous Mezcal Bar featuring Fidencio andMezcales de Leyenda.

        TarTare Bar featuring Creekstone Farms and Timon Balloo of Bocce Bar.

        An artisan cheese bar with Rogue Creamery and La Brea Bakery.

                  Swine & Sweets signature dessert course featuring Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

        A 6th heritage breed pig prepared in a late-night Asian Speakeasy style by Rick Mace of CafĂ© Boulud

All guests are invited to visit and sign up for the newsletter for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Rioja Wine & Tapas Festival in New York City on May 3rd, or more than $3,000 in prizes from tour partners, including a Smart-Scoop Ice Cream Maker fromBreville, a $1,000 bottle of Reserve Bourbon from Breckenridge Distillery, a chance to be a Punch Kings judge and 2 VIP tickets to Cochon 555.

Where:             Four Seasons Hotel Miami
                          1435 Brickell Avenue
                           Miami, FL 33131
When:              Sunday, February 9, 2014
                          4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Tickets:           $125 general admission and $200 VIP (early admission and premium access to limited experiences, wines and spirits); to purchase tickets visit


Four Seasons Miami Hotel 1435 Brickell Avenue, Miami, Florida 33131
sponsors cochon

About Cochon 555
Cochon 555 was created in 2009 by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. The festival is a national event series that takes place in 17 major markets. In addition to its flagship event, Cochon 555, the Cochon brand now offers a variety of experiences each year in the family of events. The events with national followings include Heritage BBQ, Heritage Fire, EPIC Cochon, All-Star Cochon and Cochon Island. Since its launch in 2009, Cochon 555 and its programs, such as Chef’s Course, have supported responsible family farming across the country by allowing 50,000 people to taste heritage pigs and by donating more than $300,000 to charities and more than $500,000 directly to great farmers across the country. For more details about the events, visit or follow @cochon555 on Twitter.
About Heritage Breed Pigs
Heritage breed pigs come from bloodlines going back hundreds of years when livestock was raised on multi-use, open-pasture farms. Because of their lifestyle and inherent genes, different breeds became known for a variety of characteristics, including the rich and hearty taste of their meat, distinct marbling, bacon flavors and creamy fat. Today, these breeds still carry excellent qualities, but many are not suited for commercial farming practices and as a result, are in danger of being lost forever. We can help preserve heritage breeds by consuming them. Their future is reliant upon farmers who can afford to raise them and the enthusiasts that create a demand for their treasured meat.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Foodie Field Trip to Miami

Hello Foodie Friends,

This past week I had ventured down to Miami, not once but twice within a 3 day period. The first occasion that brought me down was to attend a culinary walking tour of Wynwood, an eclectic artsy part of town which is home to Art Basel and is one of the largest open-air street art collections in the world.  This tour, conducted by Miami Culinary Tour's founder, Grace Della did a superior job of serving up both Miami's diverse food scene and its cutting-edge contemporary culture.

Chicken Empanadas & Sweet Maduros
Miami Culinary Tours Founder, Grace Della
Our group of 8 gathered at our meeting point, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, where Grace began to explain what we could expect on the tour. A nice table was set out on the lawn for our group and soon we had some delightful Nuevo Latino bites skillfully prepared by Chef Miguel Aguilar, formerly of Alma de Cuba in Philly. The chicken empanadas were set atop a cilantro crema and the sweet maduros with queso frito were fantastic- both paired well with the La Rubia beer which came from a local brewery 5 blocks away.

Wynwood is considered an ever changing street museum, according to Grace who gave us some history about the area. She explained that a gentleman by the name of Tony Goldman brought street art to Wynwood in 2009 after doing so in NY. Prior to 2009, this area was a Puerto Rican neighborhood.

Grace explained how every year the Wynwood art walls are changed for Art Basel. She also pointed out along our walk the difference between street art, graffiti (text based) and vandalism graffiti.

Our next stop was The Butcher Shop, an abandoned warehouse turned old-fashioned butcher shop and beer garden. Here we experienced a "symphony of Eastern Europe's finest cold-cuts paired with a rare Russian Beer". The warm pretzel with cheese sauce was A+ in my book!
Awesome German pretzel with cheese sauce
A cone of Sopresata, Kilbasa, Capricola

Our next stop, Jimmy'z Kitchen, paid homage to long-time local favorite Chef, Jimmy Carey, who celebrates the district's Puerto Rican heritage by serving up Mofongo, his country's National dish. This specialty consisted of sliced and deep fried green plantains and mashed and incorporated with chicken stock, tomatoes, peppers and a drizzle of olive oil. Superb!
Chicken Mofongo

The next stop we strolled into was a rustic Southern hot spot known as Pride & Joy BBQ. The moment we stepped foot into this place, I could tell we were in for a treat. The aromas alone that permeated the room, were off the chart. We headed to a reserved section of the bar which had lots of charm and flair. Our tasty bite was a deviled egg made with chopped homemade pickles and topped with their scrumptious bbq pulled pork. It was recommended that we top it off with their homemade hickory bbq sauce, which I did, and it was da bomb!
Deviled egg with pulled pork

Our final stop of the tour was at Su Viche, an creative fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. The Causa, looks like a sushi roll, but is actually made with potato. (There are 200 varieties of potato in Peru). The causa is made with a lime and aji amarillo-infused mashed potato and topped with a finely diced chicken salad and served with canchita (toasted & salted corn seeds). The combination was so unique and just amazing! For dessert, we were treated to a cheesecake lucuma. Lucuma is a tropical fruit imported from Peru. It tastes like a cross between an avocado and sweet potato. Served on a torta negra crust.


Cheesecake Lucuma


At the conclusion, each of us were handed a map of the area highlighting some of the places to come back to visit. The tour lasted for 3 hours and was packed with fun, interesting history and tidbits and I am looking forward to experiencing both the South Beach and the Little Havana tours in the future.

For more info on Miami Culinary Tours, visit their website at

Next up: Simply Italian Great Wines Americas Tour 2014...

Until we eat again...
  I send you delicious wishes, xo


Chief Foodie Officer,
Denise's Foodie Events