Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: YOU INSPIRE ME

This isn't a Chocolate of Meats post.

No, get ready for something completely different.

Yesterday, myself and four other LA food blogs turned Foodbuzz 24x24 into a game of culinary roulette and, we hope, raised the bar in the process. This is our Twitter-spawned adventure. And it started with a phrase.


Moved by the prospect of an homage to what really is the core of the food blogging community - how we continually inspire one another daily - Greg (Sippity Sup), Andy (the Wind Attack) and I drew up a plan.

The challenge:
5 Food Bloggers. 5 courses, inspired by - each other.
To help us find our spark we called on one of our favorite Northwest bloggers, Ms. Salty Seattle herself. Or should I say, Madame Saltzmerelda...

The players:
Greg of Sippity Sup
And our Twitter-delivered mystery guests (and lovely new friends):
Melba and Kim of Out A Thyme

And to make things even more exciting, we employed the genius of Jill Bernheimer of our favorite wine store DomaineLA to dream up course pairings, with the help of fabulous wine blogger Whitney Adams (of Brunellos Have More Fun). Furthermore, we were ecstatically fortunate to have Whitney attend the meal and give insight to the pairings as each was poured.
Day of event. Table is set and the kitchen is abuzz.
Our hungry plus ones. Looks they need a cocktail.
Amuse Bouche & Cocktail: 
The Chocolate of Meats inspired by Joy the Baker
Cucumber Sorbet with Herbsaint Sabayon and Vanilla Salt
Joie de Vivre cocktail
So I was fated to start the show. No pressure.
But let's be honest, Joy the Baker couldn't be a more exciting muse.
For the cocktail, I was directly inspired by a spirit I learned about reading Joy's blog: Ransom Old Tom Gin. The caramel-colored gin has been aged in oak barrels imbuing it with a rich bourbon-like mouthfeel, while retaining bright ginny botanicals. Basically it's perfect.
If you've ever taken a gander at Joy's blog, you know it's pretty perfect too. To invoke Joy's effervescent personality, I decided to mix the gin with prosecco, kissed by sweet rhubard and orange bitters.
And in light of Joy's infectious bon vivant nature, I fittingly call this the Joie de Vivre cocktail.

Joie de Vivre cocktail

1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge
dash Fee's rhubard bitters
dash Fee's orange bitters

Shake gin, vermouth and bitters with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or flute. Top with Prosecco and garnish with a lemon twist and [slapped!] leaf of lemon balm.
Whitney on the Prosecco choice, Sommariva Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut, Veneto, Italy:
My favorite prosecco to use for cocktails! The Sommariva has a fun, approachable fruitiness with a very dry, clean finish. And it's affordable.
Life is a LOT about dessert for Joy the Baker.
Perusing the recipes, you'll find every sweet, baked good, and indulgence under the sun. But clearly I can't bake for an amuse bouche, I wanted something light, crisp, refreshing.
I took a lead from Joy's cantaloupe sherbet - Summery and exotic, but familiar, and a little boozy. To keep the course dry I opted for garden-bright Persian cucumbers as a sorbet, challenged by a sassy Herbsaint sabayon and dash of vanilla salt. Dessert in disguise. And palate-cleansing to boot.

Get the recipe here

1st course: 
Joy the Baker inspired by Andy of the Wind Attack
Shaved Brussels Sprout and Poppy Seed Pineapple Salad
Joy on her inspiration:

The essence of Andy's Wind Attack is seasonal surprise... well, that... and bright lime green.
The green of the brussles sprouts, avocado, and herbs represents the lime green walls of Andys website. Sometimes I like to get literal.
This salad is a surprising combination of greens, spring, and tropics. Andy doesn't shy away from odd pairings: Avocado and Stout Cake, Raspberry and Persimmon Sorbet, and Emu Egg Frittata. All of his surprise ingredients and combinations have a distinct seasonal feel to them. The surprise seasonal element in this salad is the first-of-the-season pineapple. The fruit is tossed into the salad and it's both its flesh and juice is used to make a vinaigrette. Combined with both poppy seeds and macadamia nuts, I tried to make this dish a surprising celebration of early spring.

Get the recipe here at

Whitney on the pairing, 2005 Jacques Puffeney Savagnin Arbois, Jura, France:
We wanted to do something a little outside the box for the first course and chose an oxidative savagnin from "The Pope of Arbois" Jacques Puffeney. The nuttiness, acidity and texture of the wine really played well with the macadamia nuts and pineapple.
2nd course: 
Out A Thyme inspired by the Chocolate of Meats
Stone Crab Salad with Watercress, Red Onion, Avocado, Hearts of Palm
Out A Thyme on their inspiration:

Fresh and healthy – but with a sharp bite and more than a passing curiosity about what’s going on below the surface. Whether you’re about to meet Nathan Hazard (aka ChocoMeat), or this seductress of a salad, there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. Arizona-native Chiltepin pepper stays true to its desert character, even in the midst of hearts of palm and watercress… and yes, that’s crab, the chocolate of the sea. All it takes is a fork to appease that curiosity. Now – or you’ll be Out A Thyme.

Get the recipe here at

Whitney on the pairing, 2009 Domaine de la Pepiere Marc Ollivier Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie, France:
After the savagnin, we knew we would need to give everyone's palate a little respite and this muscadet from Marc Ollivier was the perfect thing to do that. It's minerality and freshness was great with the creamy crab and lemon of the dish. And even worked with the subtle spiciness of the chiltepin!
Main Course: 
the Wind Attack inspired by Greg of Sippity Sup
Chuck roast braised in Stone Brewery Smoked Porter with red onion, mushrooms, fresh thyme and garlic. Roasted turnips, parsnips, carrots and mushrooms in a reduction of the braising liquid, fortified with syrah, avocado honey and tomato vinegar. Potato and cauliflower blue cheese mash. Sauteed pea tendrils with garlic, capers, red onion, lemon and grüner.
Andy on his inspiration:

Greg's blog is full of savory treats, but my real inspiration for the entree of this meal came from one of Greg's own blog inspirations: his Mother.

Greg writes about what an amazing cook his own mother was and how that was such an influence in developing his interest in food. Since her passing, Greg's brother took the time to collect some of her recipes, and Greg was kind enough to share some of them on his blog.

My own Mother wasn't a great cook, but I felt inspired to honor my deceased mother in a similar way to Greg... by cooking a dish inspired from her. The one food that she made that I enjoyed most was pot roast, which consisted of three ingredients: powdered onion mushroom soup mix, water and beef.

Naturally, I wanted to make something a little more gourmet and robust, so I braised the beef in porter with lots of real onion and mushrooms. Clearly not my Mama's pot roast, but I think she would have enjoyed it just as much as we all did.

Get the recipe here at

Whitney on the entree pairing, 2009 Donkey and Goat The Prospector Mourvedre El Dorado, California:
Porter braised beef and blue cheese mash! We would need a red that would have enough body and fruit to not get lost. One of my favorite wines that's just arrived to the store, Donkey & Goat's "The Prospector" mourvedre, was seriously gulpable and perfect with this course.
Dessert: Sippity Sup inspired by Out A Thyme
Baby Coconut Lemon Bundt Cakes Swimming in Lemon Cream, topped with a Chocolate Toasted Coconut Surprise
Greg on his inspiration:

What do you do when you are working with some of your closest blogging friends on a FoodBuzz 24 24 24 project about inspiration and one of the most inspiring bloggers in the group has to drop out at the last minute?
You could throw down your spatula and go all diva. Which had a certain appeal I must admit. But wait I thought, the whole point of this exercise is to find new inspiration from the wonderful blogs around us. So I went to Twitter and invited the first blogger fearless enough to respond to join us in our game.
Which was inspiring all in itself, because almost instantly Out A Thyme responded. A few mad volleys forth and these brave bloggers decided to throw themselves into the project, having never met any of the rest of us before!
But I have to admit I was not familiar with this blog. In fact a little research told me that these were new bloggers. Brand new bloggers. So new that when I went to their site– I saw they had but 4 posts. Four!
The spunk alone of these two women was enough to inspire me. Because let’s face it. When I was a newbie blogger I never would have raised my hand in the presence of blogging royalty like Joy The Baker and offered up my scant scribbles.
Right away I decided to find inspiration from the amazing character these women obviously possessed. I needed to find out what makes them tick. So I went to their “About” page to snoop around in their personal lives.
Well not only is their blog a newborn, but these bloggers are moms too. So to honor the spirit of Out A Thyme I became the proud papa to these Bouncing Baby Bundt Cakes with Lemon & Coconut. Hey, I realize it’s not the same thing as having an actual child, but it’s the closest I’ll ever come! Besides aren’t they the cutest thing you ever saw?

Get the recipe here at

Whitney on the magical dessert pairing, Vergano “Luli” Moscato Chinato, Piemonte, Italy:
We took a gamble with the final dessert course. Instead of choosing a predictable moscato d'asti or late harvest dessert wine, we went with a chinato from Mauro Vergano called Luli. It is made from moscato grapes and fortified with spirit that has been infused with typical chinato herbs and spices- cinnamon, orange peel, clove and quina bark among other things. It has added sugar but also that classic undercurrent of bitterness and a cloudy, curvy texture. This was the standout pairing of the evening for me. The risk paid off!
And what comes after dessert? More prosecco cocktails!
With a toast to our success and our incredibly generous hosts Greg and Ken we drank up all the joie de vivre we could muster!

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Video created by the The Wind Attack and Sippity Sup, starring Salty Seattle. Edited by The Wind Attack. Featuring music by Oh Darling.


  1. Oh this all looks fabulous!

  2. OH! I wish I had a time machine. I want to relive this delicious evening again and again. Thanks for taking the lead on this. It was an night to remember! GREG

  3. Okay, now I am truly jealous I couldn't make it! Thanks for the amazing write-up and photos -- it's like I was there. Well, kind time, I hope!

    Seriously, looks fantastic.

  4. This all looks so fantastic - I can hardly believe it!

    Between your sorbet and your cocktail, I am totally smitten.

    And there's nothing like people having fun with good food (and drinks) in hand.

    Thanks so much for the lovely recipes and post!

  5. Wow, looks like an amazing feast. Thanks for posting the recipes!

  6. Such a vibrant post, and I'm having serious FOMO just looking at the fun. Great idea, and the recipes look fantastic. Brava!

  7. Thanks Ruth! It really kinda was..

    I hear you, Greg. Epic. We couldn't have done it without you. (Duh).

    Jill. Never fear. We know where to find you! ;) The Luli and Arbois rocked my world!!!

    Thanks so much for the kind words Meagan! Make the sorbet! Lop it directly INto the champagne!

    Cathy! If we attempt this again you will hear about it - and we can pay that FOMO forward!

  8. I agree with Greg, I also wish I had a time machine. Thank you for your patience Nathan, I am still pinching myself! Melba

  9. I have to leave a comment on your blog, too, even though I already commented on Greg's.
    What an amazing dinner party it was! All of you prepared beautiful dishes, truly inspirational. I spent some time enjoying myself while reading and watching the video, and vicariously lived through you:)

    Great job!

  10. An entirely inspirational evening and post that will carry forward into the mouths of many such as my own. Thanks for sharing. I'm hoping to tackle some of these recipes soon.

  11. So this is what happens when rockstars gather! You put that group of amazing people together and great food and even better times will definitely happen. Everything looked great! thanks for the recap!

  12. What a great idea - and it looks like such a fun and entertaining night. And the food - fabulous! Such a great way to reflect the community of food bloggers - thanks for sharing!

  13. Effing hell, I can't believe I had to go to a wedding at a hippie commune instead of come to the actual party:( You guys clearly had a helluva good time, and your interpretation for le cocktail was divine, my dear. until next time, Saltzmerelda (I like that) :)

  14. you blew me away, nathan. well... everyone did, but you had me at Ransom. Be still my heart.

    and i'm SO going to NoLa this fall. plane tickets in the works.
    thank you thank you thank you for the inspiration.

    i would be honored... so thrilled... to dine with you three again.

  15. Melba it was a pleasure! Thanks again for the extremely thoughtful approach. I was touched!

    Thanks for the comment Lana! I'm so glad to hear the inspiration continues.

    Tackle away, Casey! And let us know how it goes.

    Cuisinerd! Thanks pal, wish you were there!

    Glad you enjoyed it Ethan. Yes I think the name of your blog says it all!

    Life, In Recipes, yes community is exactly what we wanted this to be about. So happy the evening really glowed with it!

    Oh Saltzy, but where would we be without you? Lo.. you were missed at the din. Hopefully those hippies enjoyed their palm readings..

    Joy Joy Joy, you're too kind. And lovely! I think this may be the beginning of a beaut-ee-ful friendship. ;)

  16. Inspiration, indeed! I would love to attend such a beautiful and inspirational dinner party like this!

  17. This was such a great and creative idea! Looks like you guys had lots of fun. The video was hilarious ( and those shoes on Linda, OMG!) and the food looked amazing! Congrats :)

  18. Super idea for a 24X24!
    The menu sounds fabulous but I really enjoyed the people photos most of all. And I love Greg's dinnerware!

  19. One of the most enjoyable 24x24 posts I've ever read! A wonderfully creative idea that turned into an equally wonderful evening. The video was a wonderful overview that had me smiling. Kudos to Out a Thyme for stepping up... I'm So not worthy!!! Well done!!

  20. A food blogging supper club; right up my alley!
    Love your evening~

  21. What a great and fun experience. The result was so well-executed and presented here for all of us to drool. Of course, having the gorgeous Sippity Sup house as a backdrop raises the bar for dinner party venues.

  22. this is beyond amazing. What a beautiful evening.

  23. Congrats on the 24x24! This looks like such a fun party! And the food looks AMAZING!

  24. What a great post. I almost felt like I was there with the great photography and inspirational writing. Beautiful job. The mini bundt cakes were pretty darn cute! I would love to cook in that beautiful kitchen too!

  25. What an absolutely stunning and fun dinner party! Everything looks perfect!

  26. Wow. Great food, great write-up. And I so loved the video. Only problem, I'm hungry now.