Atlantic City is a fun place for a girls’ getaway anytime you want to go. I had a fantastic experience celebrating my friend Gail’s birthday there a few years ago, but it’s an extra special place to be if you have two birthdays to celebrate and a Food Network Food & Wine Festival to do it at.
My daughter Sam and I have birthdays less than a week apart and decided to head down to the Jersey Shore for the weekend. It all started with the festival pre-party on Thursday night at the Chelsea Hotel, which has a rooftop pool area that was the perfect place to consume some yummy Cruzan Rum drinks. From there we checked in at Harrah’s for the official Kickoff Party at The Pool.
The Pool at Harrah’s is an indoor playground for grown-ups with swimming, imbibing and socializing day and night, but in the evening the lights dim and it takes on more of a nightclub atmosphere. It was a great backdrop to showcase some of the food and drinks we were going to try at the festival over the next few days. Sam loved the Tuna with Sushi Rice sampled by McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant and I enjoyed nibbling on a bit of everything, with a glass of Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon Blanc in hand.
On Friday, we got to see another side of Atlantic City when we moved over to the Boardwalk to stay at the Showboat. It was my first time there and I was blown away by our suite in the House of Blues, with a state of the art entertainment system and a comfy living room fit for a rock star.
Our first event of the evening was called “Sexy Women Eat,” which is also the title of host Divya Gugnani’s book. It was in The Foundation Room (a must special occasion restaurant at the House of Blues) and it was filled with women enjoying delicious low cal cocktails and appetizers, while Gugnani gave some great advice like, “Women are constantly making choices, but one of the most important they make is how to treat themselves.” She then graciously signed books and spoke with every guest.
From there it was off to Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle. Although the weather did not cooperate and everyone got a little rain soaked, it was well worth it to enjoy the energy of Chef Fieri and sample some unusual cheesesteaks. This one was all on me since Sam doesn’t eat beef and I went hands down with the Cheesesteak Eggroll from The Continental as my favorite.
We had a lot of fun Saturday morning interviewing some of the Food Network stars before we headed to the Grand Market. This is the heart of any Food Network festival, where you get to sample more food, wine and liquor than you could possibly consume. Since this was my fifth such event, I was prepared to do it a little at a time each day and we started with the brand new Italian Village section for “lunch” before heading down to walk along the boardwalk to burn off at least a few calories.
The Cooking Channel was out giving away ice cream to celebrate their first anniversary, but we didn’t stop as we knew we had more food to come. That was at Fire and Ice at the Courtyard outside of Caesars Resort. It was a celebration of Latin food and spirits. Though, it was hard to find an appetite, but we both nibbled a bit.
We relaxed (and digested) a bit in our House of Blues suite before heading to The Foundation Room for the Chefs Party. There was quite a crowd, enjoying the open bar, hors dourves and appearances by network stars. We spent some time enjoying our final evening in Atlantic City, vowing to come back soon and check out the many places we didn’t get to on this trip.
Sam had to take off early on Sunday, but I stayed an extra day to enjoy the boardwalk, another walk-through the Grand Market and an absolutely incredible meal at Luke Palladino’s (be sure to order the Caciocavallo Scalloppine appetizer, it is unbelievable), one of the newest restaurants at Harrah’s.
Plans are already underway for the 2012 Atlantic City Food Network Food & Wine Festival. Keep an eye on the official website and make sure you get your tickets.
After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.