In my search for interesting food events happening this week, I found plenty of blueberry festivals and watermelon gatherings around the country, a potato festival in South Dakota complete with the standard mashed potato wrestling matches, a hot dog festival in Indiana and lots of wine festivals everywhere. Then I found the two I thought were most interesting and definitely at opposite ends of the food spectrum - a hearth-baked bread event and a hot sauce gathering!!
The air around Skowhegan, Maine must be smelling sooooo good this weekend. The Kneeding Conference gets things started on July 29th and 30th, aiming to revive the practice of locally crafted bread from seed to loaf. Farmers, novice and professional bakers and earth oven enthusiasts are gathering to explore the art and science of growing and milling grains and baking artisan breads.
Then, from 9-3 on Saturday, the public is invited to the Artisan Bread Fair to discover, taste and buy all kinds of artisan breads and related baked goods and foods. The 31st happens to be the Eve of Lamas Day which is quite significant to the event. Lamas Day is the ancient mystical feast day, halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox, when we celebrate the season's first grain harvest and revel in the miracle of real bread from Earth to hearth. (Okay, so I'm giving a wide berth to the term "we".) Anyway, sounds like a good excuse to east some fresh-baked, savory bread to me!
Enough of that old-fashioned homey feeling, let's jump into the fire!
Saturday and Sunday (7/31-8/1) present us with the Weekend of Fire 2010 in Fairfield, Ohio (just north of Cincinnati). Billed as the "Largest Fiery Foods Show in the Midwest," this event features 75 booths of hot sauces, bbq sauces, salsas, marinades, mustards, jerkys, peppers and more, as well as no less than 7 eating contests (complete with trophies) and a cooking class, to boot!So, you think you have an asbestos coated belly? Then check these challenges out:
Bugsicle Eating Contest - 10 minutes to get to the bug inside a Hot Lix Insect Sucker (No, you don't need to eat the bug!); Hot Horseradish Eating Contest - Contestants will be given an equal amount of horseradish spread on 10 slices of bratwurst - first one done, wins!; Peanut Butter and Jelly Eating Contest - Of course, this isn't the normal PB&J - it's HOT peanut butter and HOT jelly!! Hot Ice Cream Eating Contest (both days) - Can you get brain freeze before your belly bursts into flame from the flavoring? Hot Cracker Eating Contest featuring Texas Fire Crackers - Can you yell "fire extinguisher, please?" Hot Lix will sponsor yet another contest with the Hot Lolly Contest - definitely not for children! Finally, the famous Defcon "Death Match" Hot Wing Eating Contest - Need we say more?
Not into competition heat? Why not try the Jungle Jim's Cooking School class that will teach you to make your own hot sauce and 6 other dishes using various hot seasonings. Yes, you will get to eat such dishes as Spicy Grilled Shittakes, Soul Slaw, Shrimp & Tasso with Five Pepper Jelly and more. Beer will be served and the class fee includes admission to the show.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend, enjoy!!
Special Sauce: Daniel Boulud on Making Airplane Food Taste (Pretty) Good - Ed Levine talks to super chef Daniel Boulud about his success in the restaurant business.