Food and Wine Experts Reveal Least-Known Secrets at Angel Fire Fest

Steak sizzling in wrought iron fry pan

Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup high in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico

This last weekend I attended the Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup high in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. I was honored to

  • rub elbows with celebrity chefs,
  • taste $80 bottles of wine with international wine experts and
  • learn insider secrets on how to smoke and barbecue.

I picked up a lot of good tips at the cooking demonstrations and wine tastings, and I’d like to pass along the four least-known secrets  to you.

#1 Least-Known BBQ Secret: Never rub a rub

Celebrity Chef Harry Soo stands in front of BBQ grill at Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup
Celebrity Chef Harry Soo at Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup

When TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters reality show’s head cook Harry Soo speaks, backyard barbecue wizards listen. In the fun cooking demo with Harry Soo, one of the world’s top BBQ contenders, he said “Never rub a rub. You should pat the rub in.” Makes sense! I loved his demonstration about smoking meat because Dan and I just bought a smoker and I’ve been a bit intimidated to use it much. With Harry’s encouragement and tips, I now feel confident.

More tips from BBQ Expert Harry Soo

Another lesson learned: shake the bottle of rub before using. “The big particles might have settled to the bottom,” said Harry Soo, the founder of Slap Yo Daddy BBQ Even coating of the rub is one of the secrets to his success. Others are his personal line of rubs and sauces, available online.

#2 Least-Known BBQ Secret: Trim off the bone

Meathead Goldwyn holds Texas Waygu Beef in front of outdoor audience
BBQ expert Meathead Goldwyn holds 20 lbs of Texas Waygu Beef

“The bone cannot flavor the meat,” said Chef Meathead Goldwyn, “but what it can do is muck up your cooking.” The celebrity chef demonstrated grilling with buttery Texas Waygu beef from A Bar N Ranch. “Bones are a heat shield – perfect for the reentry of the space shuttle, but not for cooking. Boneless allows you to cook more evenly.” 
Meathead Goldwyn is the founder, barbecue whisperer, and hedonism evangelist behind the world’s most popular outdoor cooking website, and author of the New Your Times Best Seller Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling

#3 Least-Known Secret: This wine is a steal!

Stacey Wittig stands with Irby Woods, who is holding wine bottle
Wine blogger Stacey Wittig and Irby Woods

At the Wine Appreciation Seminar, I tasted eight superb wines with pricing points from $19-82, but the one that blew my proverbial socks off was the 2009 Chateau Lassegue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France.

Chateau Lassegue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France

The 2009 Chateau Lassegue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru from Bordeaux, France, had an earthiness of mushroom and dark fruit flavors. I tend to enjoy Old World wines best, but why, or why, did I have to so love the $82 bottle of wine? The tasting led by Irby Wood, second generation Jackson of Jackson Family Fine Wines (think Kendall-Jackson) was a way for me to experience high-end wines. And you can, too, at the next Angel Fire Food Fest.

Insider secret? Wine expert Irby, who travels the world from California to Chile to France with his family’s wine business, says this Bordeaux blend is a steal at $82. And with my wine sleuthing experience, I think I might be able to find an even better deal. If not, you could always travel to Bordeaux for first-hand wine tasting.

#4 Least-Known Secret: Spice up Pina Coladas with Radioactive Hot Sauce

Spook Keller holds Pina Colada with Radioactive Hot Sauce
Spook Keller, founder of Atomic City hot sauce

OK, us hot spice lovers have tried hot sauces in Margaritas and Bloody Mary’s, but this is the first time I’ve tasted heat added to Pina Coladas. What a taste treat! Because each variety of pepper has different measures of spiciness and heat activation times, if you blend the precise recipe of many pepper varieties, you can come up with a “smooth” heat. You find this harmonic blend of spiciness in pepper sauces from Atomic City Foods, Los Alamos, NM, The flavor-forward condiments won’t burn out your mouth. Who else but an engineer from the Los Alamos atomic lab could invent such a perfect concoction?

Atomic City Piña Colada Recipe 

4 oz pineapple juice
1 oz white rum
1 oz coconut cream
½ tsp Agave syrup
1 tsp Atomic City Caribe sauce

The annual Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup showcases Western hospitality in a relaxed mountain environment. The friendly and social celebration is ideal for anyone who appreciates the best in exceptional cuisine, cooking demonstrations from top chefs and wine tastings hosted by professional sommeliers.

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was a guest of the Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup as is typical in the food, wine and travel industries. Although that has not affected her opinions expressed here, the Arizona travel writer believes in complete disclosure.

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