After three-plus hours of award presentations (which sounds boring, and I confess that I did snooze a bit, but I always enjoy hearing acceptance speeches and it was fun to see so many chefs that I recognized from various television programs) the real fun began. Out in the expansive hallways, master chefs from across the country stood at their own gourmet stations and offered delectable tastings for all to enjoy. I can’t remember everything I sampled, but my hands-down favorites were two salads–one of artichokes (prepared two different ways), and the other of shaved asparagus. I also sampled (only small sips!) two different beers, three red wines and two whites. For dessert, I went chocolate–first, cake topped with a dreamy, creamy, whipped mousse and then I nibbled different flavors of gourmet chocolate bars. In fact, I’m enjoying a ginger chocolate bar that they gave in a take-home goody bag as I write this.
I had a secret plan that day–I ate very little for breakfast and lunch in anticipation of eating (and eating and eating) at the event. In fact, I fully expected to overeat and to leave feeling too full. As a pleasant surprise, I left feeling completely satisfied and not at all full. It was a great example of some of the healthful “eating tricks” that we’ve given to our subscribers over the years…
* Use small plates and small utensils. You’ll feel like you have more food than you do.
* Take small portions. This event was all about small tastings, so no serving was more than about three bites, which always taste the best no matter what you are eating. After that, the excitement dies down for your taste buds, and often you are eating to eat rather than eating to enjoy (especially when it comes to dessert).
* Don’t rush. We ate slowly because it took time to travel from station to station…and because we were enjoying the atmosphere…and because we were eating with small utensils. The slower you eat, the more time you give your stomach to signal that you have had enough to eat.
* Dress for dinner. The dressier I am, the slower I eat (actually, the slower I do everything). Two parts to my theory on this one: (1) Feeling fancy slows me down to a more elegant pace, and (2) I don’t want to drop food on nice clothes, and so I handle my food more slowly to minimize that risk.
One additional piece of advice when you are dining at home: Serve yourself the right amount of food–be it a meal or a snack–and put the extras away before you eat. Out of sight, the temptation is minimal.