Ocean Spray Cranberries

Last night I was invited to a special event sponsored by Ocean Spray Cranberries. The brand is celebrating 80 years as a grower owned cooperative. To mark the occasion, a free-standing cranberry bog with 2,000 lbs of cranberries was installed in Rockefeller plaza and a recipe contest (the winners won $25,000!) was judged by food network dynamo, Tyler Florence.

The event was held on a rooftop garden and loftop near Rockefeller Center – check out the amazing views of the city.

I’ve never seen St. Patrick’s Cathedral from this angle before!

 We had beautiful weather for the event, so I started off on the rooftop with the night’s signature drink. Lewis Thompson submitted his “Tropical Summer Sling” drink recipe to the Ocean Spray cranberry contest and was one of the 4 finalists in the food service catergory. This yummy cocktail featured white cranberry & peach juice, vodka, red wine, ice, and some grapes for garnish. This cocktail was just what I needed after a long day in the office!

The rooftop featured a mini-cranberry bog!

The guys from the Ocean Spray commercials were in attendance – love those waders :-)

While I was mingling, I bumped into Michelle from Taste As You Go! Ever since I made her Montana Whoppers a few weeks ago, I’ve been a regular visitor to her yummy blog. I also met the lovely ladies behind Grace [is] Full, Always Order Dessert, and The Lunch Belle. Hooray for New York City food-bloggers!

Introductions by Tyler Florence! At one point I was standing only a few inches away from him (swoon for Food Network Stars…)

And a few words from Duff Goldman, star of the Food Network show “Ace of Cakes”.

Obviously the lighting was not ideal for photography, but you get the idea!

Along with my vodka cocktail, I snacked on some crudite + dill dip.

And then we were able to taste the recipes from the contest finalists!

We started off with a cranberry trail mix torte. It was ok, but a bit too sweet for me, so I only had a bite.

And then we moved on to wontons stuffed with cranberries & cream cheese with jalapeno-cranberry dip. Loved this! And it eventually won the food service division prize!

There were two contest entries that featured shrimp and scallops, but I passed on those. I’m not crazy about seafood…

 Next, we moved onto the consumer division of the recipe contest. I was very impressed with all 4 entries! We started off with a blue cheese and cranberry shortbread topped with caramelized onion. Loved the sweet and savory combo – would be perfect with wine for a girls night-in.

I think the star of the night was the cranberry, egg, and bacon breakfast scone. Eventhough it had some bacon, I had to try it. I’m still not planning on preparing meat at home, but this seemed like a special occasion. How often do I get to eat contest-winning appetizers with Food Network stars??

Next up was a take on haricots verts: green beans, sliced almonds, cranberries, curry, and cumin. It was good, but I liked the scone better!

Finally, I tried a bite of cranberry-egg breakfast strata. It was OK, but I don’t remember it being spectacular. Give me more cranberry-bacon-egg scones!!!

The centerpiece of the evening was an amazing cake crafted by the talented bakers (artists?) at Charm City Cakes. They created a replica of a real-life cranberry bog that they visited in New Jersey. Whenever I watch “Ace of Cakes” on the food network, I always wonder whether the cake tastes as good as it looks….Well, I have my answer!

Duff and his crew baked up a moist & yummy cranberry-vanilla cake with thick fondant icing. Loved it!!!

After saying my goodbyes, it was time to head home. I was one tired lady, but it was worth it to take part in such a fun event. Yay, cranberries!

Worthy Wednesday Web News:

Check out my guest post about comfort foods on Taste As You Go!

Looking for a little R & R this season? Peruse this guide to Autumn Escapes.

Also, I just happened upon this great healthy-recipe resource: Chobani Greek Yogurt Recipes

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cranberries? I love, love, love cranberry sauce with brie and toast!


14 Responses

  1. i love anything with craisins! yogurt, muffins, oatmeal, etc.

  2. That is so cool! I’m jealous you got that close to Duff, I love Ace Of Cakes! And I was watching them work the bog on the Today show when I ran, they do some cool stuff

  3. I love making my own whole cranberry sauce, a little on the tart side…and eating it with cottage cheese! Yum!

  4. I love cranberries in my salad!

    This sounds like such a fun event! I’m jealous you got to be so close to Food Network stars!

  5. Ah so jealous that you were SOOOO close to Tyler Florence! i have a mega crush on him! :) hehehe Glad you had such a great time! :)


  6. What a fun event, everything looks so yummy!
    I love cranberry sauce that has citrus in it

  7. that event looks like so much fun – i am glad you got to go and sample all the cranberry goodies!

    and i have a HUGE crush on tyler florence – LOVE HIM!

    have a good night love!

  8. Wow! That sounds amazing. A bog in New York City! :-)

  9. I saw that Ocean Spray thing at Rockefeller on my way to work! So crazy and fun…. I met Tyler Florence (swoon, double swoon – I’m obsessed with Food Network) and his family – they are so down to earth and nice. It looks like you had a great night with great food! :)

  10. Love cranberries! Making fresh cranberry sauce is so easy and quick (though I always seem to make a mess). I spread it on toast, have some on my salad, top some vanilla ice cream with it…so good.

  11. Mmm I love cranberry and turkey and stuffing sandwiches after christmas – leftovers are the best!
    Cool that you got to go to this event – I love St Patrick’s Cathedral! And mingling with stars/sampling delicious creations sounds like a top way to spend an evening!

  12. Thanks for the Autumn Escapes link! I’ll definitely have to check some of those things out! A few of them are located in the county I grew up in (Rockland)

    Looks like you had a great time at the event. I love the guy from the commercials!!

  13. Lovely post. sigh. Your blog is so imforimitive. I could spend days reading it. Great info, great pics, great links. Thanks from the Midwest! http://www.gloriadelia.wordpress.com

  14. […] Every Fall, I somehow find myself on the guest list for Ocean Spray cranberry bog celebration (2009 and 2010 recaps). I get free cocktails and the chance to mingle with cranberry growers, so […]

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