Tag Archives: Amber James

Loco Moco… Tales of an Epic Brunch Party

Food War Brunch Brunch Group
The Brunch Edition of the Food War / Food Throwdown Party took place last Sunday.  For those unfamiliar with the dinner party concept that my good friends Katina and Justin started, it’s basically an episode of Chopped meets Top Chef played out among friends and fellow foodies.  [READ HERE for the specific event details & rules.]  From these parties, I somehow managed to  earn a Simon Cowell reputation for my harsh honest critiques, and am constantly asked to put my money where my mouth is by entering a challenge and preparing a dish.   I have only entered one previous challenge where my Peanut Butter Chicken Chili tied for the top spot.  Truth be told, I will only enter any contest if I know that I will come out victorious on top, hence why I never participated in the homemade pasta and Moroccan challenges.

My friends Jaime and Jaden put so much work into hosting these parties at my dream their house, and creating such fabulous dishes, that it would only be fitting that I participate in this edition.  So the challenge was on: contestants must prepare a Brunch Dish, savory or sweet and not limited to specific ingredients, to be critiqued by all guests, but ultimately selected as the winning dish by chosen judges.  The cocktail challenge: to create the ultimate Bloody Mary, not limited to specific ingredients.  Being that I can barely properly pour a beer, I stuck with preparing a Brunch dish for the challenge.

I have a reputation with my friends and co-workers for not knowing how to cook, solely because I may dine out often.  Truth be told, I am a fine, young cannibal chef in the kitchen, and when I throw down, I throw it the @#$! down.   For my brunch dish, I knew that I wanted to create a hearty dish.  I also knew that I wanted to prepare something from Hawaii or Samoa that didn’t involve spam.  (And yes I can make that joke!)  Although, I may have lost this Food War, I am very proud of my dish and had quite the challenge with all of the wonderfully prepared and delicious dishes.  I am looking forward to DESTROYING Jaime and Jaden participating at the next challenge.

Sunday afternoons don’t get much better than spending it with old friends, new friends, enjoying delicious cocktails and homemade food.

 

Here were the brunch dishes entered at this Food War / Throwdown: 

Food War Brunch Dish 02

Jessica & Amber’s Dish:  Peruvian fish ceviche  made with lime, onions, spicy peppers, fresh cilantro, and served with a sweet potato round and toasted corn kernels

 

Food War Brunch Dish 03

Lauren’s Dish:  Homemade almond, raisin monkey bread  served with creme anglaise

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Food War Brunch Dish 01

Areis’s Dish:  Southwest stuffed breakfast pepper – stuffed with eggs, spinach, potatoes, pepper jack cheese, and topped off with black beans, pickled onion, pickled jalapenos, avocodo scallions, and sour cream

 

Food War Brunch Dish 04

The Best Dish in the Universe My Dish:   Hawaiian Loco Moco: coconut beef patty and brown tapioca gravy served over steamed jasmine rice, topped with a fried egg and bacon crumble

 

And of course for the WINNING DISH:

 

Food War Brunch Dish 05

Jaime & Jaden’s Dish:  Sweet potato hash, tossed in a spicy curry and sundried tomato sauce, topped with an olive oil poached egg, bacon crumble, and fresh herbs, and served with a gin, honey, simple syrup, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice topped with an IPA.

 

Food War Brunch Winners Judges Food War Brunch Winners

 

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Jaime and Jaden for not only winning the Brunch Challenge, but for also winning the Bloody Mary Challenge.  And yes… they won Trophies for their victory.  We foodies take these challenges very seriously!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Nicholas and Allison with NHIE Tampa Bay, who judged the Brunch Portion, and were amazing troopers for putting up with my bribery, harassment, extortion tactics  allowing me to call them un-American graciously being a part of this challenge.  Be sure to check out their amazing NHIE: Never Have I Ever – Tampa Edition BLOG online at:  www.nhietampabay.com

 

Please click on thumbnail to enlarge / view photo:

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The Repeal Day Party 2012

Repeal Day PartyI currently work in the event industry, and have been involved with putting on events for nearly a decade.  I am also an avid event-goer who seeks out any excuse to buy a new outfit and down a cocktail with friends in a social setting.  Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the annual Repeal Day Party at the Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn and was blown away.  The party is thrown by the Left Coast Bartenders’ Guild, an organization of bar professionals and enthusiasts whose primary goal is “to build a better cocktail culture for the Greater Tampa Bay Area.”  Eff the frickin’ weekend Rihanna, I cheers to that!

On paper, the Repeal Day Party is a celebration of the passage of the Twenty-First Constitutional Amendment that ended the Probition Era.  The event became a time machine that transported guests to the late 1920’s decade.  Every single hotel suite of the Don Vicente transformed into a theatrically-themed bar offering shaken and muddled cocktails from a particular region.  There was a London bar, a New Orleans bar, a New York bar, a very fun Miami bar, a Mexico-themed bar.  Specific detail was paid to each and every suite and bar from the decor, music and nosh to the way the staff in each area was dressed and costumed.  There were burlesque and cabaret performances, video screens showing film from the Prohibition Era and a wall-to-wall crowd of patrons dressed and outfitted from that time period.  It was evident to anyone in attendance that a lot of love and labour went into putting on such a grand event, and the Left Coast Bartenders’ Guild should feel very proud for bringing such a spectacular event to the area.

The Repeal Day Party definitely ranks as one of the Top 3 events in the Tampa Bay Area, and needs to be on everyone’s Must-Attend List in 2013.  My only suggestion to anyone attending next year: be prepared by requesting the next day off from work.

Repeal Day Group 1 Repeal Day Group 2 Repeal Day Group 3

Repeal Amber

Repeal LinleyRepeal Robby

Repeal Niely

Repeal Charles Linley

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Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Farewell!

The past few weekends, I have been booked solid.  After reviewing my Google Calendar, yours truly has been on a non-stop celebration tour extravaganza of my friends: most notably, a wedding reception, a birthday gathering and a farewell dinner.

Congratulations to Gary & Kat!

My friends Kat and Gary tied the knot last month in Antigua, but held their wedding reception celebration in St. Pete, FL earlier this month.  I’ve known Kat for a few years now, and can attest to her being my one friend who wanted to get “made an honest woman out of” more than any of my other friends.  Fortunately, she found something special with Gary, and they both seem to be having the time of their lives with one another right now.

The beach-esque reception was a very simple, succinct and standard affair, and had Kat’s unique style written all over the event.  Besides the opportunity to share Kat and Gary’s monumental day with them, it’s always a bonus to have an excuse to dress-up and hang out with friends that you haven’t spent time with in a while.

Happy Birthday Katina!

My old friend Katina held her celebration in St. Pete as well, but her celebration was in honor of her 32nd Birthday.  Just now typing “32nd birthday” reminded me that I have known Katina for over 20 years now.  20 years?  20 years!  That’s just one year shy of a Robby Nichols!

Katina invited a close group of friends for dinner at Snapper’s Sea Grill (which had the most amazing and award-winning blueberry-teriyaki tuna appetizer).  We dined, we drank, we laughed and I was instantly reminded why I’m such good friends with Katina.  The girl is silly, entertaining, love-able and fun.  It also doesn’t hurt that she laughs at every single one of my idiotic jokes.


 Farewell Nathan!

Nathan was my first roommate (that wasn’t a sibling or someone related to me) ever.  He and I first met nearly a decade ago, became good friends five years ago or so later, and lived together for a little under a year.  (And what an entertaining era that year of rooming was!)

Before he flew up to Minneapolis, Nathan held an intimate dinner with his closest friends at Yummy House China Bistro in Tampa.  I never get sad or emotional during friend’s farewell gatherings, mainly because I know that I will still keep in correspondence with them.  In fact, I’ve spent more time with a handful of my former Tampa resident friends now that they’ve relocated somewhere else.  So fluff the guestroom pillows and stock the fridge Nathan, for you will surely have at least one friend visiting you in Minneapolis very soon.

Congratulations… Happy Birthday… and Farewell to my friends!

Oh… and R.I.P. Zombie Jocelyn!

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