How do you make a girl like me very, very happy?
Send her out for a night on the town
with one of her favorite food personalities!
Me, Ted Allen and Eddie G. outside Mercy in Addison
I was pleased as punch to attend a private dinner with Ted Allen of Chopped and Food Detectives fame last Friday night. (You may also remember him as one of the Fab Five on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.) Ted was touring through town with the folks from Robert Mondavi wines, and he joined me, Eddie G. and several other local food-lovers at Mercy Wine Bar before we all headed over for front-row seats at his Taste Addison appearance.
The crowd was comprised of contest winners (myself included) and their guests who had written in with a culinary question for Ted to tackle. There were also a couple of local media-types in attendance, including Kim Pierce of the Dallas Morning News and Arnold Wayne Jones of the Dallas Voice. (Eddie G. and I shared a table with Mr. Jones, who kept us in stitches throughout the evening!)
Ted arrived at the restaurant with little fanfare - no entourage for this down-to-earth guy - and proceeded to set everyone at ease with his friendly, outgoing personality. Clad in a sport jacket, jeans and those trademark specs, he mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and signing cookbooks before we all settled in to a multi-course feast. Ted, unfortunately, didn't get more than a few bites of the meal (which included, among other treats, tuna tartare with avocado and grilled filet mignon) as he discussed our prize-winning questions while we ate.
My question centered around my new pal Eddie G. of Dallas Vegan and our mutual love of wine. Choosing a perfect bottle is rarely a problem for yours truly, but I wondered if Ted had any suggestions for vegan food pairings we could enjoy alongside. While he admitted that veganism was a relatively unfamiliar concept to him, Ted seemed genuinely interested in learning more about the animal-free way of life, and even encouraged Eddie to "vegan-ize" a few recipes from his new cookbook and share the results. Cool!
Speaking of wine, our dinner dishes were paired with four wines from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line, including a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a luscious Meritage blend that was the favorite at our table. As Ted pointed out early in the evening, these wines drink much more "expensive" than their actual price tags. Coming it at around $10-$15 each, they are definitely a great bottle for your buck. I also enjoyed the Chardonnay, which is light on the oak and pairs well with food.
Ted Allen cooking for the crowd at Taste Addison
After dinner, we all headed over to Taste Addison (in a private luxury bus!) to watch Ted's live demo. He cooked Shrimp Scampi over Zucchini Carpaccio for the crowd and took additional questions relating to food, wine and his days as a judge on Top Chef (he left the show when he got his own gig on the Food Network). Afterward, Eddie and I headed back to Mercy for a little debriefing session and reflected on the evening. We both agreed that Ted is a great guy - knowledgeable, approachable and engaging. The whole night was a treat, made all the better because I could enjoy it with a dear friend. Big thanks to Ted Allen and Robert Mondavi and Eddie G., my favorite vegan!