Mini Apple and Cherry Pies: (Kristin)
Devil's Chocolate Mousse Eggs: (Patrick and Shannon)
Cinnamon Apple Ice Cream Tarts: (Shannon)
Hawaiian Chicken Skewers: (Roxanne)
Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus with Butter Sauce: (Rob)
Salami, Tomato, and Buffalo Mozzarella: (Jeff)
Baklava: (Kishore and Karla)
Cheese Bacon Hash brown with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes: (Chris)
Bacon-wrapped Sausages, "Angio-Tasty": (Carl and Jenny)
The Good Time Sandwich (pulled beef brisket with spicy cheese sauce): (Danny and Chris)
Bruschetta Platter: (Mia)
Black Bean and Banana Empanadas: (The Stockton's)
Turnout was great, and there was a loud and jovial atmosphere all night. We had even stronger attendance than the Guacamodown with most of the original participants coming back for more.
Our smallish kitchen prep area grew chaotic at times (ala Iron Chef, Top Chef, or Hell's Kitchen), adding to the ambiance. With crock pots, toaster ovens, the oven, and the microwave running full bore, those who couldn't take the heat were advised to stay out of the kitchen.
The 3 randomly selected judges for each food match up had the enviable task of tasting each food, making comments, and choosing a winner for that round. Judging was definitely not all fun and games. At one point, Carl was forced to resign his judgeship due to a sudden onset of fullness.
A great highlight of the evening was the dramatic reading of the judge's comments. Our MC's, Patrick and Chris would read selected comments, and we all tried to anticipate the winner based on see-sawing praise and critiques.
As we moved through the single-elimination bracket, the tension grew (and the stomachs grew fuller). The victorious food item advanced to the next round while the other entry was served up to the grateful masses.
Tangible excitement filled the air when each successive fallen finger food made the march of shame to the "Devouring Table", where the hungry masses fought for positioning to get the first taste. (hat tip to Chris Floyd for providing this paragraph).
At the end of the night, our kitchen was a low-grade disaster area, but it could have been much crazier considering the amount of food flying everywhere. We did have one small red wine spill and one knife to finger mishap (thanks to our uber-sharp Shun knives featured in an earlier blogging.)
The group brought some seriously good food with really impressive presentation. There was not a bad dish in the house, and the night flew by. The evening was a huge success.
Roxanne and Michelle's Hawaiian Chicken skewers featured a jaw-dropping presentation built from the top half of a pineapple. I would eat the aloha out of this dish if given another shot at it.
Patrick and Shannon's The Devil's Mousse Eggs certainly featured the most unusual culinary concoction of the evening. Chocolate and hard-boiled egg whites is not an obvious pairing. Yet, the richness of the egg worked well with the bittersweet chocolate in a finish reminiscent of a chocolate custard.
The Black Bean and Sautéed Banana Empanadas were perfectly executed. The puff pastry crust was flaky and flavorful, and the rich filling was accented with a little heat from a touch of cayenne. This item could be served at an upscale South American restaurant…totally cravable.
Danny and Chris Floyd brought some good vibes and an awesome sandwich creation with their Good Time Sandwich. It featured tender pulled beef brisket with a tangy cheese sauce served between miniature toasts. I would like to have this again as a full-sized sandwich.
Kudos to Carl and Jenny for creating a clever cartoon character and name for their bacon wrapped mini sausages. Apparently, the bacon in their crowd-favorite appetizer was selected for its prodigious fat content. The name of their dish: Angio-Tasty. How fitting.
Congratulations to Shannon for winning best in show with her Cinnamon Apple Ice Cream tarts. She layered homemade apple cinnamon ice cream and apple dip into from-scratch tart shells to create a winning finger-food dessert. Judges raved about the combination of hot and cold temperatures, the delicious apple flavors, and excellent overall flavor profile. Incidentally, in a "House Divided" finale, it was my savory potato fusion dish that she vanquished.
With the Guacamodown and the Finger Food Fest in the books, we're already looking forward to the next food challenge. In a late-night brainstorming session, we settled on a preliminary working concept for the next event: Soup or Salad Showdown. So, dust off your Salad Shooters and your most soup-er recipes. We'll see you at the next Austin food challenge.