Showing posts with label joythebaker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label joythebaker. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes

You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.

AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.

As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!

To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.

Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)

Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.

Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.

The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.

Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.

Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.

Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.

Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.

Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!

Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!

Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Foodbuzz Blogger Fest 2011

It's a little nutty to look back on the past year and everything that's occurred since my first Foobuzz Blogger Fest in San Francisco. A chance meeting on the street outside the hotel lead to my fast friendship with Andy of the Windattack, and also an introduction to Greg of Sippitysup at the kick-off event. Who knew we'd have a podcast together several months later?? On Joy the Baker's network, no less! This demonstrates that while Foodbuzz Blogger Fest has a lot to do with food and blogging, it has way more to do with casual, social, and fun networking. I approached 2011's fest with a renewed set of expectations, mostly modest set on simply meeting and talking with great people.

Buddies Andy Windattack and Sabrina The Tomato Tart strike a pose.

The kick-off party this year was off to a roaring start before I'd finished my first glass of wine. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the reps from Bonny Doon Vineyard over a lambent glass of their 2010 ¿Querry? Apple/Pear/Quince Hard Sparkling Cider (Delish! And perfect for your Turkey Day). The smorgasbord sampling buffet was topped off with classy immaculate sweet bites by Yigit Pura. A delightful way to finish a festive evening reuniting with friends.

Boat Street Pickles' tangy figs at the Foodzie table.

Saturday's Taste Pavilion offered an intimidating amount to sample, so I zeroed in on the good stuff, and surprised myself by occasionally coming back for seconds. I spent a little too much time at Redwood Hill Farm and Bellweather Farms' tables shoveling goat, cow, and sheep's milk cheeses. I washed the cheese down with drinking chocolate and coins of Tcho's spectrum of cocoa products. Cross-pollinating makes everything more exciting, so I asked House of Balsamic (my favorite) to drizzle their apple balsamic vinegar on my Three Twins Organic vanilla ice cream. Brilliant!

There was plenty to drink and it couldn't have made me happier! New to me was Bloom Gin, a premium London Dry Gin with lush floral notes of chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle. My favorite non-alcoholic delight was the super dry California Brut flavor of the popular Vignette Wine Country Soda. 21st Amendment did it again (their Fireside Chat and Hell of High Watermelon won me over last year) with their newest ale Allies Win The War, a collaboration with Eugene, OR's Ninkasi Brewery. The earthy ale is brewed with dates, lending it a kiss of mellow sweetness. I ended the afternoon getting up close and personal with the Skyy portfolio of brands, including Espolon Tequila, Campari, Wild Turkey and Frangelico... and watching the determination to make them all work together in one cup. Witness the boozy horchata and tequila-based cocktail below, made pink by a splash of Campari...

Greg of SippitySup getting TikiBuzzed.

I probably should have taken a cocktail break, but kept calm and carried on to The Tonga Room to co-host The Table Set's TikiBuzz Happy Hour! We met some listeners and shared wonderfully potent potables with our new friends.

Our gala dinner was set in the bowels of the Grand Hyatt, with an exhibition kitchen worthy of Iron Chef helming the banquet room. Tyler Florence (quickly dubbed #T-Flo by FoodBuzzards on Twitter) demoed a lovely Eastern European-inspired meal, whilst a very different menu was being plated for us backstage.

A butter lettuce salad kit.

Pro photo tip: Candle Saucer bounce!

Kristin The Cuisinerd, ready for meat!

I lucked out sitting with a pretty amazing table really of some of the best bloggers out there. We brandished knives. We awaited delicious food. We spoke of the T-Flo.

Josie from Day Dreamer Desserts and Trevor of Sis. Boom. [Blog]

Andy, not letting his meal cramp his swagger.

Wedding steak surf n' turf does not a T-Flo cider-marinated pork chop make.

Joy the Baker contemplates the intention of her bulgar wheat and braised leek entree.

After a lackluster dessert our table retreated to the top floor of the hotel for liquid dessert, but the bar was a little TOO hopping. Forced to hang at the fringes we couldn't help but notice an open back door to a similarly lackluster wedding reception. Evil comes in many forms, and after an unsatisfactory meal, beware the mind of a foodbuzzed blogger. I won't elaborate, but maybe the reception was crashed by a flash mob, and maybe there was an animated conga line, and maybe their guest book ended up with a few extra John Hancocks. But I couldn't be sure about any of that.

Tracy Shutterbean and Stephanie of Lick My Spoon: total conspirators!

Strolling back to the apartment I smiled at the crisp San Francisco night. Another year! So many accomplishments and yet so much inspiration still untapped. What fruits might the coming year produce? How will the unexpected surprise? And how will I look back at it all this time next year? Well friend, I suppose time will tell.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homefries U!

If these ladies look like they're up to something... That's because they are.

Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean Benjamin are the stars of the Joy the Baker Podcast on a little network I sometimes talk about called Homefries. They like to have fun, talk about doughnuts, relationships, cookies, travel, sticky buns, and wombats. But what if for one weekend they could [literally] share the fun with their listeners?

One house in Palm Springs, some help from some friends, and a freezer full of ice cream later and Homefries U was totally in session!
Guests were greeted Friday night with - what else? Punch! I made up this batch of deliciousness with Krupnik Honey Liqueur, Dolin Blanc vermouth, fresh lemon juice, soda, Fee's Plum Bitters and a healthy dose of Cava Brut. Yowza!
Joy and Tracy made everyone addictively edible soup for dinner - vegan coconut carrot ginger heaven or chunky delish tomato situation. Winners.
After dinner there was, well, more punch to finish! And nails to paint. That's right. Not your average food blogger gathering. SEO? What's that, a sparkly blue?
Morning meant coffee cake, choco-studded banana bread, fresh fruit and lots of coffee.
An informative photo workshop led into the really good stuff - A brunch cooking demo. Joy and Tracy worked out a killer how-to brunch menu from A to Z. Then we ate it, of course.
Frittata time. Tracy doesn't mess around with bell peppers. Lady's got skills.
Breakfast pizza: the way into any sane person's heart.
After brunch everyone took a break for fizzy cucumber spritzers and pool time. Even Joy!
Craft hour included making herbal and fruit sugar infusions. And friendship bracelets. What else?
Happy hour is when things started getting REAL. Spiced nuts, cured salumi, and fresh-popped corn whet everyone's palate for a LOT of booze tasting.
Whitney from The Crush came out to teach everyone how to be a sexy sparkling wine dilettante in four tasty steps. And a frugal one at that, each wine is available for under $20 at DomaineLA.
Trust me, Whitney knows her stuff. And this Grotta del Sole Gragnano rules.
Cocktail time! Still a little loopy from the bubbles, I wasted little time getting everyone in a tizzy about one of my favorite and oft misunderstood spirits - Gin.
And you really can't talk about the history of gin without addressing its grandaddy, Dutch Genever, a malty juniper spirit back on the market thanks to Lucas Bols, the oldest Dutch distillery still in production. A distilled malt wine, Genever resembles a malt Scotch or white whiskey more than gin, and is great on its own, sipped out of a tulip glass alongside a beer (the traditional way) or mixed in an old-fashioned.
We also talked about London Dry, Plymouth, and New American styles of gin. And you can't leave out Hendrick's. If anything will convert a room of skeptics, a chilled sip of Scottish Hendrick's Gin with a cucumber slice does the trick. To lead into dinner we mixed up a bevy of Aviation cocktails with Plymouth Gin, the most winning of the pack.
What would a Sunday morning be without doughnuts? Joy and Tracy couldn't disappoint, and absolutely did not with their chocolate glazed and powdered perfect confections. (Not kidding, this chocolate doughnut was the best I've EVER had. EVER, people!)
After breaky, Tracy raided the spice rack for a expose on the real what's what and when to use it.
And what would a "conference" be without gift bags and a raffle? We wrapped up some goodies for our new friends so they could relive the best weekend ever once they got home. But the Real Housewives DVDs? Those were Joy's, sorry y'all.
Keep an eye out in early 2012 for Homefries U Spring Break! We're just getting started...