Once I had gotten past my panic that we’d never finish our prep I got to enjoy the generosity and comraderie of the other presenters. Talk about a bonding experience!Last time I had the pleasure of seeing Gale Gand was when we were participants at the CIA Pastry Conference in Nappa. She had just given birth to her twin daughters so that had to be four years ago. It was so great to get to show Mary Sue Milliken her contribution to the book: The Torta das las Tres Leches. Anna Thomas, a darling person who has just written a darling book Love Soup bought my new book for her son who loves to bake. David Leite of Leite's Culinary presented a demo from his new first book The New Portuguese Table It was also his first demo which unfortunately overlapped mine but I could see from a short distance that he had admirable stage presence--no surprise as he has a delightful personality. I was already a fan, but after his eating four pieces of my Red Velvet, saying he never liked this type of cake before, I now totally adore him! By the way, you can see by my hairdo just how windy it was.
This is the first time I've met Jennifer McLagan and I got to attend part of both of her demos. Her new book is Fat (the book preceeding it was Bones.) When I heard her say that "fat makes you thin! It is satiating. After all, no one can eat four pieces of pork belly," I knew I had met a kindred spirit. Jennifer served pieces of the braised beef heart she had prepared and it was absolutely delicious. I loved the slightly chewy texture as well. Also fascinating was her butter lettuce salad with butter vinaigrette! Fabulously original and sensationally good. (It's in her new book.) One of the many interesting facts Jennifer shared is that butter varies depending on the season and what the cows are eating. Butter is paler in the winter and higher in water! Guiliano Hazan served a delectable rigatoni paasta with three cheeses. Woody and I went back for seconds. Eve Aronoff, Ann Arbor chef/owner of Eve: The Restaurant, served fabulous ribs and spice coleslaw from her new book The Restaurant Cookbook. The tangy sweet/sour coleslaw was so compelling I've made it already twice since i've been home and confess to drinking any of the leftover juices. Rachel Collins of Collins Caviar gave Woody his first taste of caviar (I'm already an ever appreciative addict). There's a good possibility that she will be willing to provide (ship) the incomparable, hard to find, Michigan sour cherries frozen, in reasonably small consumer quantities! Matt Sutherland, creator and organizer of the event, and husband of Victoria who brought in all the books. A truly lovely couple and gracious hosts. Mark Dressler, Matt's partner, was the most ever present figure--here and there and everywhere he was needed. David Skinner, Trade Marketing Manager, Kitchen Aid, talked mixers with us. We both had a lot to say to each other! Fellow baker/presenter and new friend Tim Foley enjoying a California peach from a box sent to me by Frog Hollow Orchards. Ted Reader served up some fantastic briquet. (OK this is a typo I have to leave so that you may be giggling as I am-I meant to write brisket!) And what a showman (but what pit master isn't!) Ted squirted Jack Daniels bourbon alternating with beer onto the steaks on the grill and occasionally directly into people's waiting mouths. The brisquet (I can't seem to get a handle on this word BRISKET) was smoked for about 24 hours, then shaped into steaks, rubbed with brown sugar and spices, and grilled. The sauce included cherry pie filling. We went back for seconds. Woody went back for thirds but they were all out (no surprise!) It was the talk of the eat around. Student ambassador, the charming, ultra professional, and aptly named Addonis Reyes, cutting slices of the steak. He let us steal a few of the crunchy bits from the side board. Chefs Andy Pforzheimer and Sasa Mahr-Batuz of The Barcelona Cookbook win the prize for the most picturesque display of octopus on a spit entwined with herbs. They said they really wanted a large tank with live octopus. The braised octopus they served was delicious. Crowds of people lined up at each table to sample the offerings. What a polite group--no pushing or shoving whatsoever. Jennifer Blakeslee and Eric Patterson, co-owners of the Cooks' House in Traverse City, served perfect pizza. And there was a lot more--oh yes--Takashi Yagihashi, chef/ower of Restaurant Takashi in Chicago made THE most fabulous pork belly roll. and of course Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's was there with his newly published The Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon (and believe me he knows!) I"m sure i'm guilty of leaving out many people but it was impossible to eat all that was offered let alone write about all the wonderful people we met. I suspect it has taken longer to do these three postings than it took to experience the entire event! But it's great fun reliving and sharing it. Perhaps the most important refreshment that got us through all the work was contributed by one of the sponsors: Mérya bottled water http://www.meryawater.com. There was an unending supply and I was never without a bottle--sometimes two or three as I'd forget where I'd but mine down. Woody wisely marked his bottle with black magic marker wavy lines. The astonishing thing was the flavor of this water. It reminded me of fresh coconut milk and was so delicious I have to say it was the best water I've ever tasted. We were not, however, limited to water. There was a selection of 26 featured wine and beer tables from Michigan and other countries, both Friday night and Saturday at the grand reception. On Sunday afternoon, we visited the wine tent and tasted this Nero Davola 2007 from Cusimano that we enjoyed so much we traded a Heavenly Cakes for a bottle that, accompanied by a pizza, was the perfect ending to a great event. Posting Three is a peek into Tim Foley's Bit of Swiss Bakery.