Food events can brighten your world even in the depths of winter. If you have any kind of trip planned in the coming weeks, check out if any food events are happening in that area.
Here's a few you might consider: Some of the finest chefs in the Southern United States will join Sea Island's executive chef Todd Rogers for the 19th annual Sea Island Food and Wine Classic Feb. 26 to March 2. Located in Georgia, the four-day festival includes culinary demonstrations, education and exploratory wine tastings, and a Great Gatsby-themed dinner at the Lodge on Thursday night, the Grand Tasting on Friday night, and a Wine Gala and Auction on Saturday. To participate in all the events, a Gold Medallion package is $566 per person (room additional). Participants can also attend programs a la carte. Visit the Sea Island website at www.seaisland.com. In the 18th century, Virginians savored chocolate made with ambergris, a perfume agent derived from whales. Flavoring is only one of the differences between chocolate made today and in the 1700s. Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Foodways team discusses the differences at a program “Chocolate” seen at the Governor's Palace Kitchen March 11. (It will be offered monthly during the spring and fall.) The event is included in the general admission pass for one day, which is $37 for adults and $18.50 for children. For more information call 800-HISTORY. Colonial Williamsburg is 150 miles south of Washington. In Cleveland, Chef Kimo Javier will show the art of sushi preparation when he makes hand rolls and sashimi at 10:30 a.m. to noon March 15 at the Century Restaurant and Bar's sushi demonstration class at the Ritz-Carlton. Those attending will receive a Ritz-Carlton apron, chef's hat, and a sushi cookbook. Cost is $30. For reservations, call 216-902-5255. As the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (1803) is being celebrated, Mardi Gras season begins the third week of February and ends with Fat Tuesday March 4. If New Orleans is your destination, think about the Southern Comfort Cocktail Tour, which features visits to many of the most famous restaurants and bars in the city at 4 p.m. daily. This is a collaboration between Southern Comfort and Gray Line Tours located at Toulouse Street at the Missisisippi River. Admission is $24. For reservations, call 800-535-7786. If you can't hang your Mardi Gras mask at the legendary party in New Orleans, you can catch the spirit of the party with Louisiana-style food like Crawfish Pie. This elegant pie is actually crawfish etouffee served atop a flaky puff pastry crust.
Etouffee is chopped onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic cooked slowly in butter and barrel-aged Tabasco pepper sauce. Add crawfish tails or shrimp along with lemon juice and parsley and heat through. Thaw packaged frozen puff pastry shells and flatten them before baking to make the underpinnings of the pie.
Rohr's has frozen pre-cooked crawfish meat at $9.95 for one pound. Or use shrimp to make this tasty Mardi Gras entree.
1 10-ounce package frozen puff pastry shells, thawed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce, or to taste
2 pounds shelled crawfish tails (about 6 to 7 pounds in the shell) or 2 pounds small shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions, green part only
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll each puff pastry shell into a 7-inch round with a little rim. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until shells are golden.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion, pepper, celery, and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Tabasco pepper sauce; cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the crawfish tails or shrimp, lemon juice, and parsley. Cook 10 to 15 minutes longer. Just before serving, stir in chopped green onions.
To serve, place cooked patty shells on platter; spoon some of crawfish mixture into each shell.
Yield: 6 servings