Last night I was invited to a special event sponsored by Ocean Spray Cranberries. The brand is celebrating 80 years as a grower owned cooperative. To mark the occasion, a free-standing cranberry bog with 2,000 lbs of cranberries was installed in Rockefeller plaza and a recipe contest (the winners won $25,000!) was judged by food network dynamo, Tyler Florence.
The event was held on a rooftop garden and loftop near Rockefeller Center – check out the amazing views of the city.
I’ve never seen St. Patrick’s Cathedral from this angle before!
We had beautiful weather for the event, so I started off on the rooftop with the night’s signature drink. Lewis Thompson submitted his “Tropical Summer Sling” drink recipe to the Ocean Spray cranberry contest and was one of the 4 finalists in the food service catergory. This yummy cocktail featured white cranberry & peach juice, vodka, red wine, ice, and some grapes for garnish. This cocktail was just what I needed after a long day in the office!
The rooftop featured a mini-cranberry bog!
The guys from the Ocean Spray commercials were in attendance – love those waders :-)
Introductions by Tyler Florence! At one point I was standing only a few inches away from him (swoon for Food Network Stars…)
And a few words from Duff Goldman, star of the Food Network show “Ace of Cakes”.
Obviously the lighting was not ideal for photography, but you get the idea!
Along with my vodka cocktail, I snacked on some crudite + dill dip.
And then we were able to taste the recipes from the contest finalists!
We started off with a cranberry trail mix torte. It was ok, but a bit too sweet for me, so I only had a bite.
And then we moved on to wontons stuffed with cranberries & cream cheese with jalapeno-cranberry dip. Loved this! And it eventually won the food service division prize!
There were two contest entries that featured shrimp and scallops, but I passed on those. I’m not crazy about seafood…
Next, we moved onto the consumer division of the recipe contest. I was very impressed with all 4 entries! We started off with a blue cheese and cranberry shortbread topped with caramelized onion. Loved the sweet and savory combo – would be perfect with wine for a girls night-in.
I think the star of the night was the cranberry, egg, and bacon breakfast scone. Eventhough it had some bacon, I had to try it. I’m still not planning on preparing meat at home, but this seemed like a special occasion. How often do I get to eat contest-winning appetizers with Food Network stars??
Next up was a take on haricots verts: green beans, sliced almonds, cranberries, curry, and cumin. It was good, but I liked the scone better!
Finally, I tried a bite of cranberry-egg breakfast strata. It was OK, but I don’t remember it being spectacular. Give me more cranberry-bacon-egg scones!!!
The centerpiece of the evening was an amazing cake crafted by the talented bakers (artists?) at Charm City Cakes. They created a replica of a real-life cranberry bog that they visited in New Jersey. Whenever I watch “Ace of Cakes” on the food network, I always wonder whether the cake tastes as good as it looks….Well, I have my answer!
Duff and his crew baked up a moist & yummy cranberry-vanilla cake with thick fondant icing. Loved it!!!
After saying my goodbyes, it was time to head home. I was one tired lady, but it was worth it to take part in such a fun event. Yay, cranberries!