Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It's an honor just to be...
The morning of the competition I got up nice and early to finish the pot pies. I had planned to do it the evening before, but ended up at a friend's birthday party a little later than planned. Luckily I did plan for enough in advance to have all the ingredients needed prepped and bagged in the fridge. While the onions were sweating it out, I was rolling out the pastry dough. Making a much larger amount of filling than I normally do thru me off with the thickener, but it all came together. The potatoes finished cooking just as I finished ladling the filling into the steam trays I was using to make the pot pies in so I could easily keep them nice and hot all day in the chafing dish.
This is the difference that makes my pot pie special... who needs more pastry on top? Mash taters is where it's at! I top off the savory pie with a creamy rich batch of buttermilk mashed potatoes! After making the biggest bowl of mashed potatoes I ever had (all 5 pounds of potatoes!), I topped the pies and into the oven they went. Leaving me just enough time to shower and get ready before my lovely assistant, also known as Catlyn, arrived to help me set up and man my booth.
After the pies came out of the oven, I slipped them into the pizza delivery bag generously lent to me from Paolo's around the corner. I think I may eat there too often cause they handed of the bag with a "sure, no problem." and the only question asked was do I needed a bigger one. Those bags are great and really kept them hot. So even though I endured a little teasing from Catlyn for packing everything I may need (including two jugs of water for the chafing dish - I didn't want to fight a crowd at the bar just to get water) & wanting to get there early, we were set up, ready, & Bloody Mary's in hand with time to spare. Slowly thru the day more competitors showed up. It was a very friendly competition, everyone bringing over their food to the swap with the other cooks. And most of the food was tasty! A personal favorite (and grand prize winner) was the bbq pulled pork with homemade corn bread.
I looked up at the door and there they were... my parents. I have been going to Dirty Frank's ever since I moved to Philly over ten years ago, but never have my parents had the pleasure. It was great to see them out supporting my entry in The Comfort Food Fest, but I didn't expect for them to stay for any more than an hour. Some guys cleared a stool at the bar so my parents could sit together right by my booth. Harold the bartender greeted the warmly. Although it is a dive, Frank's is always friendly. While I worked my booth, I could hear my mom laughing and joking with everyone at the bar. Dad was having a conversation with the older guy Mike who had been chatting Cat & me up earlier. Every time I looked up, there seemed to be a shot in her and her new friend's hand... which he assured me later was all her doing. And just to prove that I don't think my Dad can go anywhere without working, he took the donation tub from Harold and went around the bar, getting a donation from EVERYONE! I think they had a great time and about four hours after showing up, they headed home (before any chance of a parking ticket).
I didn't win, but had a great time. Lots of people said they enjoyed my turkey pot pie & came back for more. We served all but about a quarter of the second pot pie. We enjoyed lots of other food including smoked salmon, pulled pork, mac & cheese, berry pie, & lots lots more.
And watch out for next year's competition... Dad is entering his meatloaf!