Event Recap: Flip Flop Festivus 2013
September 20, 2013, marked the annual Flip Flop Festivus, otherwise known as Baltimore’s Best Football Party, at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel. This event is put together by The Life and Breath Foundation to raise funds for Sarcoidosis research, a fibrotic lung disease that does not yet have a lead diagnostic test in place.
At the start of the outdoor VIP reception everyone was welcomed with a warm, mild autumn evening and the soft sounds of a jazz band under the gazebo. I started with a Van Gogh Very Berry Punch, a blue-, black-, and raspberry cocktail. Then I perused each island-inspired food and drink station catered by Neal Langermann, Executive Chef and partner of Langermann’s, to see what I had to look forward to tasting before the main event dinner.
I started with a small plate of the Pollo Guisado. It was a braised chicken and pepper dish, stewed in what tasted like a mild tomato sauce. The flavor was excellent, with more “punch” that I had expected. I didn’t want to fill up on heavy proteins, so I went over to the next station and had the Tuna and Crab Tower. It was a chilled dish, with a spicy avocado dressing. I really enjoyed the creaminess of the avocado, although it was still light. The taste of the crab shined through more than the tuna. Being more of a tuna lover, I would have liked less crab. Those who are crab lovers would have found this one to be out-of-this-world perfect!
As I waited in line for the ever-popular scallops, I had the Aruban Cool Island Soup. It was served in a little shot glass, and it was a fruity, thick concoction. I really enjoyed its burst of fruitiness, as it would make an excellent sauce for another dish (take note, Langermann’s). The Seared Dayboat Scallops were my favorite dish of the VIP event. They were dressed in a Trinidadian curry cream sauce. The flavor of the rich sauce was a divine combination of coconut and yellow curry, with just a pinch of spice. The sauce also melted perfectly into the accompanying grits.
Ravens cheerleaders were walking around signing souvenir photos. They were more than happy to sign multiples for guests to take home to their family members. I spotted a few Ravens football and Orioles baseball players walking around, chatting, and taking pictures with guests as well. By this time, people were moving inside, where the main event was beginning. It was time for dinner, so I followed the crowds.
Once inside, I was greeted with music from The A-Town A-List in the next room and a banquet table of delectable Hawaiian foods in front of me. I helped myself to Island Slaw, Luau Potato Salad, Peri Peri Chicken Sliders with Green Tomato Jam, Roasted BBQ Pig, Coconut Ceviche with Homemade Sweet Potato Chips, skewered meats, and a few small savory meat and pastry bites, all catered by Royal Sonesta’s Executive Chef Josean Rosado. Everything was top notch, perfect, and unique. While I have never been to Hawaii, this is what I imagine a Hawaiian cookout to be like, only outdoors on a beautiful beach! I can honestly attest that ceviche was some of the best I have ever had. The coconut-lime sauce made the halibut so incredibly tender and flavorful. The potato chips were perfect for scooping up the pieces of fish. The pig was even juicier and tasty when cut right off of the pig itself, right in front of me (as they were happy to do upon request). I even asked for a chunk of the crispy skin, which was buttery and so sinfully delicious.
The dinner displays were cleared out, and it was time to turn our attention to Sean Hull, founder and president of the Life and Breath Foundation. He spoke about his mother, who was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis and lost her battle after 13 years, the reason that this organization and fundraiser is in existence today. He then invited up some of his other family members and introduced them, as well as some additional supporters of the event, namely the baseball and football stars. Then the live auction began and guests stayed to bid, went into the next room to bid on silent auction items, or headed to the bar or dessert tables.
I was grateful for light dessert selections after eating for so long. I had Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzles, and a Miniature Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The upside down cake was a pineapple soaked in a coconut rum reduction, with toasted coconut shavings and a maraschino cherry on top. It was more of a pina colada meets pineapple cake minus the actual cake. Delicious!
We stayed and danced to some more music, before finally it was 11pm. Every person I met or spoke to thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and we all agreed that we would most certainly come back. If you missed the event this year, keep an eye out come August 2014 so you know when to buy your tickets!
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