I Could Have Dined All Night!

Actually, I could not have; but at least I wanted to dine all night because I was right up there with Audrey Hepburn in the enthusiasm department.  Twenty years ago, I easily ranked in the “T. Rex” category in any culinary competition; today, the stomach doth protest too much.  But by the time you finish devouring  😉  my exploits, I’m sure you’ll agree I gorged with honor.  And at the very end of this post, a very special treat for Audrey Hepburn fans!

Last Sunday was the 24th annual Chef’s Sampler, probably the largest fundraiser of the Children’s Home Society (CHS).  Dozens of Tallahassee’s finest purveyors of hospitality showcase their skills to benefit local children.  Susie and I regularly attended this event after it first began in 1985 and ticket prices were reasonable.  But after the price went to about $30, I felt it was no longer a value and we stopped attending.

This year, the gods of gluttony smiled upon us.  Some friends with “preferred guest” tickets were unable to attend and I received first dibs on their tickets.  Paying just $15 each for $60 tickets was an offer I could not refuse.  Since our anniversary was a few days earlier, this became our celebration feast of dining debauchery.

This year, 49 hospitality businesses participated.  Here are my “winners” in various categories.

Beverage
Liquid refreshment of all manner was available.  Soft drinks, coffee, punches (alcoholic and not), margaritas, beer, wine.  But the award goes to a local Mexican restaurant:  Cabo’s, which provided shots of Sauza Gold tequila complete with lime slice and salt.  Viva Cabo’s!

Appetizer
For me, this was a battle of the wing merchants.  Some of our finest wing providers were there.  My favorite local wings are the hot ones from Beef O’Brady’s and they were there with them.  Winner, winner, chicken wing dinner! (That’s from the movie “21” with a slight twist to fit the situation.)   Hobbit Grill is a strong honorable mention for providing three different styles of their very good wings. (Now if we expand the competition to all of north Florida, I’ll go with Dick’s Wings; and next time we go to St. Augustine, I’ll buy their infamous T-shirt: “I prefer Dick’s to Hooter’s!”)

Meat (excluding BBQ)
Now this was a very competitive category, since  steakhouses were present.  Although local steakhouse Marie Livingston’s steak bites were (as usual) excellent, I’m giving the nod to, of all folks, Harry’s Seafood because of their scrumptious spicy Cajun pork tenderloin.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!  (We’ll be in New Orleans in two weeks…)

“Different” Meat
Johnson’s Meat Market tempted me with two special offerings:  lamb sausage and goat.  The lamb sausage didn‘t do too much for me.  The goat tasted similar to lamb, which I like, but “gamier.”  So I guess I’m now a goat fan!

BBQ
In the rural South, this category is perhaps the most “prestigious.”  The one that demanded seconds was Famous Dave’s St. Louis-style pork ribs.  Large, meaty and lip smacking good!  I didn’t even get around to trying their pulled pork.  I’m planing a visit to Famous Dave’s for more of those ribs!

Seafood
Although there wasn’t a lot in this category, the one that counted most made its appearance: Apalachicola (fishing town about 75 miles west) raw oysters on the half shell, courtesy of Barnacle Bill’s.  I had 5… each on a cracker, with hot sauce of course.  Their smoked salmon dip was a good accompaniment.

Dessert
Another very competitive category.  Melting Pot was there with their chocolate fondue.  I believe it was Peterbrooke Chocolatier who provided the succulent strawberries dipped in chocolate,  a “natural” since this year’s week long Florida Strawberry Festival recently wrapped up.  Because I tend towards dessert snobbery, the award goes to Carrie Ann.  Their Chocolate Kahlua bite was admirable, but better still was their Chocolate Truffle with Grand Marinier.  Magnifique!  Susie enjoyed Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory’s pretzel log dipped in white chocolate.

Sorry I Missed Ya
Our favorite Mexican restaurant, On The Border, had beautiful trays of fajitas but the two times we were there the lines were just too long.  (But if I had any more room, I’d have had more of Famous Dave’s ribs and more oysters.)

It’s not easy being a glutton for charity but someone’s gotta do it! We ate for 75 minutes non-stop, almost entirely standing up as we walked from booth to booth.  At the end, I was beyond full; I was hurting.  I wisely waited five days before weighing and the scales said I only  gained a pound, but no sacrifice is too great for the children… That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  😉

Since I’ve only touched on the highlights, I’m listing some of the other participants I didn’t mention in the post so y’all get a sense of how much good food was there.  This list is from the program; although I did not see all of them there, I may have missed them.

Andrew’s 228    Andrews’s Capital Grill        Anthony’s Italian Restaurant

Applebee’s        Bella Bella                Black Bean Cuban Café

Cabell’s         Crepe Vine                FishBonz

Longhorn        Lucy Ho’s                Miller’s Ale House

Masa            Paradise Grill            Pepper’s Mexican Grill

Po Boy’s        Red Lobster                Shane’s Rib Shack

Tapas Bar        The Loop                Wakulla Springs Lodge

And now….heeeere’s Audrey!  (And that’s her voice you’re hearing;  in the movie, Marni Nixon replaced all of Audrey‘s singing.  Read the blurb at the top right)

And here’s what you heard in the movie….. hear the difference on those high notes?

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8 responses to “I Could Have Dined All Night!

  1. You have made me so hungry! Some observations: my favorite hot wings are Lindy’s, but I haven’t tried either of your recommendations. Barnacle Bill’s is the real deal. They get the best oysters, and you can’t beat them unless you’re actually in or near Appalachicola itself. For fried oysters, Andrew’s is the king, but I’m not sure they even have them on their menu. I’ve only had them at catered events. BBQ–no one in Tallahassee has a clue–other than Wilson’s, which used to be at the corner of Bronough and Tennessee. Don’t know what happened to them. I am definitely going to go to this event next year!

  2. reminds me of my days sampling foods at the taste of washington. i am glad that you ans susie had a great and enjoyable time. i just have one question, you said that susies only weighs 95 lbs; where in the hell did she pack away all that food? i probably would have been forced try goat sausage.

  3. I am hungry……

  4. Nick, Susie and I were both surprised at how much she was able to eat! All we had that day was a moderate breakfast, so we were ready to eat!

  5. No kidding, I had forgotten all about that! Good for Susie for keeping up with the eating marathon! And tell her I said she doesn’t have to catch up to me at 114, but I insist that she gain up to at least 100 so she quits making me feel fat!

  6. FN… neither you nor Susie could ever be considered “fat.” And since you’re taller than Susie, you weight per inch is probably close to Susie’s.

    As for oysters, I only like them “natural”.. not fried, steamed, baked, etc. Well, with a few drops of hot sauce….

  7. Thanks, Anarchist, nothing like angling for a compliment and getting it 🙂 I think you’re right, I’m probably an inch or two taller than Susie.
    As for oysters, steaming is the most disgusting thing you can do to an oyster. How can anybody eat that? I love them raw, fried, and baked, preferably in Oysters Rockefeller…but I’m very particular about that too, like I am BBQ and bread pudding. Has to be done right.

  8. I’m full just having read all that. What a great cause and wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary!

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