I love to eat and really enjoy the chance to try out new foods, restaurants, etc. Plus, it happened to be between two of our favorite restaurants, Southern Lights and 1618 Seafood Grill. When we arrived, we found out the secret ingredient .... BACON! They have been using all local NC products as the secret ingredient, so it has ranged from seasonal blueberries, goat cheese, watermelon, chicken from local farms, etc. Needless to say, thank goodness we aren't vegetarians!
I am not a food photographer so some photos are from the Competition Dining Facebook page.
Here are our six courses:
Pork belly with a turnip puree and cheese crisp (Southern Lights)
Braised pork shoulder with a jalepeno popper (1618)
Pork tenderloin with bacon and brie puff pastry. The sauce is a mangalista remoulade
(Southern Lights - please put this on your menu.)
Filet with collard green "sushi" that included tasso. (1618)
Bacon bread pudding with blueberry ice cream and basil sauce. (Southern Lights)
Again, please add this to your menu, or just something with that amazing sauce.
Cheesecake with mangalista bacon covered in chocolate. Ice cream was pecan and bacon. (1618)
My favorites of the night were the braised pork shoulder, pork tenderloin, and the bacon bread pudding. That basil sauce was AMAZING. If I could have licked the plate, I would have. I wasn't familiar with mangalista bacon, but it is wonderful. Apparently, they are fattier than other pigs since so much of pork has been leaned down. Delicious!
The collard green sushi was creative, but overall, I wasn't impressed with that dish. The steak just wasn't that good. I felt the same way about the cheesecake - while I love sweet and salty combinations, biting into the cheesecake or ice cream with a large piece of bacon was strange to me.
It is all blind voting by the audience and guest chef judges and 1618 was declared the winner, but the bacon bread pudding had the highest overall scores of the evening.
A fun night and a great way to celebrate NC's great foods and wonderful local restaurants. We heard that there will be a state-wide competition between the four regional winners. That should be amazing!
All for now ... going to keep drinking more water since I probably consumed my weekly allotment of sodium yesterday!