Caesars Entertainment presents the fifth annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, which takes place Thursday, July 25 – Sunday, July 28. The culinary portion of this festival will be largely hosted by Food Network celebrity chef Robert Irvine (Restaurant Impossible), and Pat and Gina Neely (Down Home With the Neelys), as well as Rocco DiSpirito (Syndicated Now Eat This! With Rocco DiSpirito). The wine and cocktail segments will be led by award-winning sommelier Laurie Forster, who will take the mystery out of wine during the tastings.
Recently, I joined 39 other women in Atlantic City to promote tourism and #JerseyLove along the shore in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The boardwalks have been repaired, the shops and restaurants are open, the amusements repaired, and the beaches have been cleaned, and all waiting for you! We were generously hosted by Caesars Entertainment, who invited us one evening to the Loft at Harrah’s overlooking their pool. It’s glass enclosed, and has a year-round tropical atmosphere with cabanas, palm and bamboo trees, plus other vegetation. We were invited for a private preview they called The Taste of AC, where hors d’oeuvres were passed and stations awaited us to sample the offerings of the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival. A great way to #DoAC!
There were so many delectables, but standouts for me were mostly traditional dishes with a twist, and creative desserts. The duck spring rolls were stuffed with succulent meat, and the richness was balanced by the brightness of a sweet chili sauce. The empanadas that were made with a black bean crust had a plantain filling with chilis for a kick, and was the overall favorite of the evening for most due to its unique flavor profile. The crab cake bites over field greens and seafood ceviche were classic, but delicious. The attention grabbers were the butter cream shots topped with popcorn and bacon crumble, and the s’mores mini cheesecakes with marshmallow brûlée.
What I like about this food and wine festival, is there’s a theme for each event and they’re held at different venues. If you go to a cooking demo, wine tasting, and brunch, you’ll have unique experiences at each, in comparison to other festivals that are under adjoining tents. Plus you’ll be comfortable in any weather, with exception of the beach. There’s also something for everyone, whether you’re a meat and potato man, oenophile, foodie, cocktail and craft beer fan, party animal, or coffee aficionado.
The festival will be like an ongoing progressive party with stops at Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Showboat, Bally’s, and the beach. You purchase tickets à la carte, which gives you a lot of flexibility. Of course, there are wine tastings, plus sessions about coffee, cocktails and tequila. Additionally, the Chef’s on Stage series features the celeb chefs giving cooking demos, and Chefs in the Kitchen scores you a three-course dinner prepared by Chef Robert Irvine, or a taste of Chef Rocco DiSpirito’s cuisine! There will be 20 separate events, and I’ve listed some highlights below.
Kick Off Party – The fun starts July 25th 8 – 11 PM, where you’ll be indulging in small bites at The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort. This club atmosphere is stylized, with hues of blue, green, and magenta lighting, and a DJ spinning tunes, all making you feel like a V.I.P. You should even be able to spot or meet celeb Chef Rocco DiSpirito. If it’s anything like we’ve experienced at our Taste of AC event, it will be amazing!
The Grand Market – It’s the Food Network’s signature event, and it’s held on three separate days. Besides sampling a wide range of cuisines, plus wine, craft beers, and liquors, there will be celeb chef demos, a food market with over 250 vendors, and you can possibly have a cookbook from one of the featured chef’s signed.
Blues, Brews, and BBQs – This combines barbecue vendors cooking ribs, brisket and chicken, ice-cold beer, blues music and southern hospitality.
Beach Soirée – Long after the sun worshipers have packed up their towels and sunscreen, Robert Irvine, Rocco DiSpirito, and the Neelys hit the beach for a night of cocktails, gourmet passed hors d’oeuvres, and dancing until after midnight.
Gospel Brunch – Meet the Neeleys Sunday morning for a southern-style brunch featuring goodies like hickory-smoked bacon, biscuits and gravy, southern fried chicken, Creole chicken, shrimp jambalaya, pecan caramel sticky buns, and so much more. A gospel choir will sing their hearts out for you while you’re eating.
Island Luau – Aloha! The Neeleys will host the final event of the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival island-style, fittingly at Harrah’s tropical Pool Deck. This evening will capture the essence of the 50th state, featuring hula dancers, flame throwers, and Hawaiian specialities with a twist. This party takes place Sunday, July 28, 6 – 8 PM.
You can purchase tickets online. Go to one event and spend the day in Atlantic City, or stay overnight or for the weekend and make a nice staycation out of it! As a matter of fact, this would make an amazing girlfriend getaway by adding a spa treatment and/or shopping at the Pier Shops and Tanger Outlet stores. Guys can plan a mancation by spending time at the tables, catching a ballgame at the 21 Sports Bar, or scheduling in a round of golf at the Atlantic City Country Club. How could you #DoAC that weekend?
Disclaimer: Lodging and food were provided by Caesar’s Entertainment. All opinions are my own.