Pastry Plus Conference

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On Sunday, March 24, we had the pleasure of attending and participating in the Pastry Plus 2019 conference at the ICC (International Culinary Center) in New York. The mission of Pastry Plus is: “To establish a pastry community that promotes a constructive exchange of ideas and information to secure the future of the industry.”

Jansen Chan, director of pastry operations for ICC, is the founder of Pastry Plus. He gave the opening introduction to over 100 fellow pastry students, professionals, and food journalists. Emily Luchetti, an advisor to Pastry Plus, gave the keynote address.

Rose was joined by Ron Ben-Israel and Zoe Konan for a panel discussion on various pastry topics moderated by Mitchell Davis, chief strategy officer of the James Beard Foundation. Francisco Migoya of Modernist Cuisine gave a presentation on their book Modernist Bread.

A variety of classes was offered during the afternoon. We first attended Emily Luchetti, and Beth Nielsen from Nielsen-Massey for a class on vanilla, in which we sampled five vanilla extracts and learned several new facts and information on vanilla and its production. Vanilla beans are graded and Nielsen-Massey only purchases the top tier. 

Miro Uskokovic, Executive Pastry Chef at Gramercy Tavern, and also an advisor for Pastry Plus, gave a highly illuminating class on alternative sugars. We tasted a dozen cookies using different sugars. Granulated sugar was the control to compare with sugars like jaggery, maple sugar, palm sugar, and honey.

A networking session capped the day.

 

We applaud the efforts of Pastry Plus and Miro’s annual Sips and Sweets, both of which provide a means for up and coming bakers and established bakers to connect.

My Most Special Story of Love and Loss and Bridging Boundaries ( and how I went to study at LeNôtre 40 years ago)

My Most Special Story of Love and Loss and Bridging Boundaries ( and how I went to study at LeNôtre 40 years ago)

I was saving this story for my memoirs but decided that in honor of my 75th birthday today, and because my treasured friend Max Brossellet died last month, I would share it now.

It all began with Mimi Sheraton, restaurant reviewer of the New York Times, who came to interview me about my upcoming cooking school. She complimented me on the mini cheesecake which I made for her and the choice of coffee I served (I knew from reading her columns which bean she preferred and where she got it) but she told me that my cake decorating needed to be more elegant and suggested that I study at LeNôtre in France. My response was: “now I can tell my husband that Mimi Sheraton said I should study there.” And I lost no time in enrolling for a class. Part of my rush was that I was pregnant and knew that if I had a baby it would be a long time before I would be willing to leave it to go to go to France.

 

The class on entremets (cakes) happened to fall on the week before Christmas. French friends warned me that the French don’t invite people for dinner and that the most I could hope for is a cocktail hour invitation. They also advised me that at Christmas time there was no chance of invitation at all. Happily, I ignored the advice.

 

The day of departure, as I was rushing to leave, I got a call from my great uncle Nat, telling me I had to call his friend Nadège when in Paris and that we would cook together. I didn’t have time to ask if this was a man or woman or anything more about his recommendation but on arriving in Paris I followed his advice. It turned out that Nadège was a married woman with three children and that she loved to cook. I was promptly invited to cocktail hour at their home on the left bank, a few blocks from Les Invalides.

 

The drawing room, with handmade lace curtains gracing the long French windows, was a study in elegance. I sat perched at the edge of my chair, trying to mind my manners and speak in the best French I could manage. Max, the husband, asked me a few polite questions, but things fell apart when he asked the inevitable question “avez-vous des enfants?” I started to answer but, to my horror, tears started welling up and try as hard as I could they would not stop. So, I explained that I had recently had a miscarriage (I didn’t know the French expression at the time so in error I said abortion!). Max’s response was immediate and gently compassionate. He said “Je pense que vous avez des caffards…” which translates to “I think you have roaches” but actually means I think you are homesick. And, to my total shock, he added that I should move in with them during my stay in Paris!

 

My grandmother, in all her wisdom, had taught me always to look to the wife, which was my first response, and when I did her expression changed from concern to compassion equal to that of her husband’s.

 

So I said: “Oui!” The next step was to write down the exact address to get there by taxi. I got out my prized Mount Blanc fountain pen, the size of a small cigar, and Max’s eyes light up with appreciation. “Ah a Mount Blanc!” he exclaimed and asked me if he could use it to write the address. Now I had been told never to let anyone write with my pen because the gold nib, which had softened to my handwriting, would be altered. So I explained this to Max and instead of his being intimidated he exclaimed with delight “un vierge!” (a virgin). I weakly countered by telling him it was a bit scratchy to which he smiled and said: “I’ll smooth it out.” Realizing that I had just achieved the near impossible of being invited not only to dinner but to live with this French family at Christmas time, it seemed utterly ridiculous to withhold my pen so I handed it over to him. And thus began a friendship that lasted for well over 30 years.

 

But here comes my favorite part of the story: I went back that very night to pack my things and took a cab from the humble hotel where I had been staying. The ride started out badly when I showed the driver the address and he told me that he couldn’t drive into that street which meant I would have to carry my heavy bags for several blocks. By then, the cab had filled up with thick smoke from a gitane cigarette the burley cab driver was enjoying. Timidly I asked him if he would mind putting it out. The response was a wordless grumble of discontent so I followed it up with: “Well anyway, it’s not good for the healthy.” Pas bonne pour la sainté? Not good for the health? He spat out. You can’t eat, you can’t smoke, you can’t drink anymore, what is left? And as always, my sense of humor got the better of me and I replied softly and with a smile in my voice: “En peut toujours faire l’amour.”* The driver stopped the car to turn around and scrutinize what manner of woman, with good French but American accent, would have the nerve to utter those words. And then he smiled and said in a resigned but amused tone: “Oui! En peut tourjours faire ça. Madam! I will take you wherever you want to go.” This was a moment I will never forget. And with that he drove me right up to the door of my new friends’ apartment house--la famille Brossollet.

 

The plan of my visit was that I would return for a few days after attending the baking classes and stay for Christmas, in fact, Nadège asked if I would make a bûche de Noël based on what I was to learn chez LeNôtre. But though Nadège was a first rate cook, she was not a baker and her oven door did not close securely which would not be suitable for baking. By the time I returned, however, just one week later, Max had bought her a new oven for my bûche to be! Nadège got out her collection of tiny toy buglers to decorate it and we all thought it was a great success. But I think what meant the most to her was that as her teenage children were mocking the holiday, saying how bored they were and that it was toujours la même chose (always the same thing), I succeeded in giving them a different perspective by telling them how I had been warned not to expect hospitality of the sort I was enjoying and that I felt it to be a great honor to be included as part of the family at such a sacred time.

 

Nadège, Max, and I were close friends for many years and many visits. Yes, Nadège and I cooked together and shared many intimacies and experiences, and Max, owner of the esteemed Belin publishing company, and also publisher of the French edition of Scientific American Magazine, was a fascinating conversationalist. During my last visit to their weekend Moulin in Normandy, Max drove me over to the ancient nearby church and told me that someday I would be able to visit them there because that is where they would be interned. The thought of losing this incredibly dear man made me very sad.

But also, it was during that visit that I realized it would probably be my last one and for a different reason. When I tried to share with Nadège my recipe for roast duck on the grill, she stopped me short by saying that all I ever wanted to talk about was food. I will always miss both Brossollets and sometimes dream about Nadège. I’m left with the feeling that I must have done something wrong but can’t imagine what. I guess people change. But I prefer the French expression “plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.” I still stay in touch with their son Martin who was always very special to me as a young boy. I will admit that food is my window on the world but it is not all that I am. You will see some of the rest if I ever get to write the rest of my memoirs.

 

* Tragically, this theoretical compensation I had suggested also became bad for the health with the advent of aids.

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Rose’s Baking Basics Production Phase 20: The Eastern states Tour-part 3

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We thought touring was finished for 2018 after Fante’s Kitchen store in Philly. But having seen dear friend Lee White in Connecticut on the way back from Johnson & Wales, and a delightful dinner with friends in New Paltz after the CIA demo, sparked the addition of five more events.

 My Interview with cooking show host par excellence, Faith Middleton on Food Smooze, brought in quite a few people to both of our Connecticut events.

 The Albert Weisner Library in Warwick, NY was awarded Best Small Library for 2016 by the American Library Association. What a happy coincidence that our new book also was awarded the best cookbook of 2018 by the Library Journal! Our cherished Warwick friends, Gar Wang and Ron Gee, connected us with event organizer Kathleen Georgalas to do a PowerPoint presentation and book signing. The event sold out every Rose’s Baking Basics and Rose’s Christmas Cookies that the bookseller had in stock. Rose’s heart was warmed by a surprise meeting of one of her oldest friends, Elaine Kohut Marron, who happens to have moved to Warwick and is a regular at the library. Elaine’s Apple Coffee Cake, for which she won a prize when in high school, has graced four of Rose’s books, each one featuring a different shapes and sometimes a different fruit.

We only had 30 minutes to enjoy a fabulous lunch at Gar and Ron’s which included a hearty vegetable soup, amazing corn bread made with the red corn meal from their own corn, and a mixed green salad from their winter cold frame garden. They packed a few slices of the corn bread for the road and it was still delicious the next day even after having been stored and eaten at close to freezing temperatures in the car. It had to have been made with oil, because butter would have been the wrong texture at such a cold temperature.

Blue Cashew Kitchen Homestead in Kingston, NY has been a regular stop on our book tours. The delightful Sean Nutley, staff, and twenty attendees welcomed us to their new enlarged showroom, equipped with a well-designed kitchen for classes and demos. We made the Linzer Thumbprints using the Ankarsrum mixer to grind the nuts and mix the dough. After the demo we enjoyed a short and freezing walk around town and got to see the four houses built before the Revolutionary War, when Kingston was the capital of New York State. We were joined for dinner at Boison’s with long time friends Susan and Bruce Frank who brought along a bottle of my favorite Chateauneuf-du-Pape from our long ago wine group days, which he still had in his wine cellar. I was touched he remembered. Also joining us was my grandson’s godmother Cathy Schulz and her friend, both of whom have a house in the area.

 Our next day’s first event, at Byrd’s Books in Bethel, CT, involved our tasting and giving critiques of cookies from Rose’s Baking Basics and other recipes from Rose’s book. We also talked about the book and then, of course, signed books for the participants. Alice and her son, owners of Byrd’s Books, were delightful hosts. Attendees could purchase a “pick your choice of treats” box, with the proceeds going to a local charity. Joining us below was Chris Hoelck, senior copy/production editor of Fine Cooking Magazine, who was responsible for introducing us to the book store. His daughter made the most perfect ever peanut butter thumbprints from the book and Chris thanked me for stressing the importance of allowing the dough to rest before making to result in a super smooth texture (see below). (No I wasn’t texting on the iphone, I was taking photos!)

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The Perfect Pear in Chester, CT is a popular new cookware store in a charmingly picturesque town. The store supplies a mix of down-to-earth, everyday goods for cooks and people who love to eat, drink, and entertain. It was our last event for our tour, and what a grand finale. Store owner, Laura Grimmer, made several recipes from our books for our wonderful attendees to enjoy while we discussed our book and answered questions. We enjoyed getting to know Laura and hear about her fascinating background which led to her current and successful enterprise.

We couldn’t resist a return to Sift Bakery in Mystic, CT even though it added an hour to our return home. Last visit we had fallen in love with chef owner Adam Young’s irresistible caramel rolls. Adam is not usually in the bakery on Mondays, but fortunately for this visit, he happened to be there. We showed him the new book, Rose’s Baking Basics, and were so moved that he took time from his busy schedule to go through each and every page, we just had to offer the book. We now have a new friend in Mystic CT and are looking forward to his beautiful young daughter Stella and wife Ebbie baking from the book..

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Rose’s Baking Basics Production Phase 20: The Eastern states Tour-part 2

Rose on set with Food 52’s Kirsten Miglore

Rose on set with Food 52’s Kirsten Miglore

The St Louis JCC’s 40th Annual Book Festival welcomed us to our largest attendance for our PowerPoint Presentaion, with many Q & A’s and books to sign.

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Back to Manhattan and Brooklyn to stop first at our favorite lunch headquarters, Gramercy Tavern, for their perfectly cooked Tavern Burger. Then up Broadway for our podcast interview with Anna Hezel for The TASTE Podcast at Penguin Random House’s studios. Anna was previously with Food52. You can listen to our podcast on the link below.

 

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 And Food52’s video studio was our next stop to do a Food52 YouTube episode with Kristen Miglore. Our Molasses Sugar Butter Cookie was the recipe for the most enjoyable no-stress video that Rose has ever experienced.

Click the link to view the video.


 

Evening was our first time visit to Four & Twenty Blackbird’s main bakery in Brooklyn. Sisters Emily and Melissa have been making hand-made crafted pies for their bakeries since 2010, to international acclaim. We met them two years ago when the four of us were judges for Miro Uskokovic’s annual employee pie contest at Gramercy Tavern, Manhattan. At the shop’s bar-like counter, Emily interviewed Rose while attendees listened, asked questions, and tasted pies from the bakery. Mendy Greenstein, one of our Rose’s Heavenly Cakes and The Baking Bible bake through bloggers chatted with Rose in person for the first time. And Rose was delighted to have several members of her family attend.

Cherrybombe University invited Umber Ahmad-Mah-ze-Dahr Bakery, Deb Perelman-Smitten Kitchen, Patti Paige-owner of Baked Ideas, and Rose to be judges for their team cookie competition. Along with judging the competition event, Cherrybombe U sold books from several authors, including ours.

Umber Ahmad, Deb Perelman, Patti Paige, & Rose with cookie teams

Umber Ahmad, Deb Perelman, Patti Paige, & Rose with cookie teams

 

A return to Miele’s Showroom cooking school, in Princeton, NJ to give a demo of the Apple Walnut Bundt Cake. Vicky and staff made five recipes for the class attendees to enjoy while we did our presentation. We were delighted to meet two of our bloggers, one of whom travelled all the way from Maryland.

Fante’s Kitchen Store, in the Italian market area of Philadelphia, was our final book signing stop before Thanksgiving. Another Alpha baker, Michele Simon and her husband, Smitty, came up from Raleigh, NC, with a basketful full of Rose’s books to be signed and presents for both of us.

Colleagues TV host Pat Nogar and vegan specialist cookbook author Fran Costigan, who had recently moved to Philly came to get books and chat.

Michele and Smitty waited until we were done signing to go to a nearby coffee shop for a wonderful couple of hours of conversation and their giving us some loving gifts of a variety of vinegars, oils, and Michele’s hand crafted glass work.

Our kindred friend, Mariella had two Philly cheese steaks for us to take home.

Rose’s Baking Basics Production Phase 20: The Eastern states Tour-part 1

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Our first venue for our Eastern states was the Natirar restaurant and cooking school in Peapack, NJ. This was the first time that the school actually had an author do a demo and a book signing, which we were delighted to teach to a full house. Cranberry Scones was our presentation, along with an important point which presented itself. Rose was showing the rationale for always breaking an egg in a bowl other than the vessel it would be mixed in, when one of the Natirar’s farm eggs was spoiled.

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We next went to Manhattan to do a taping for the Joan Hamburg show on LIVE RADIO.  Not only was it delightful to have a conversation with Joan, who is one of the best interviewers out there, it inspired our quest to suspend chocolate chips in a marble cake, which was a cake her mother had made but for which she did not have a recipe. In the evening, we did a book signing at the Rizzoli book store. Our dear colleague and friend, Miro Uskokovic, Executive Pastry Chef from Gramercy Tavern, participated in a discussion with us before the signing and tastings from the book. We also, did a surprise walk-in author’s signing of our books at the nearby Whisk and at Barnes & Noble.

Cambridge Culinary, in Cambridge, MA, had arranged a terrific event for our Rose’s Heavenly Cakes tour. Sean Leonard and his staff welcomed us back with the same perfect prepping for our triple demo of the Beer Bread, Triple Lemon Bundt Cake, and Cranberry Scones, along with PowerPoint presentation. We also met our prepping staff at an incredible dinner the night before at The Fat Hen. We were delighted to meet two of the editors from America’s Test Kitchen who attended the demo.

Saturday evening, we had dinner with Rose’s long time colleague Maria Speck at Shepards.

 

 

We then headed south to Fall River for a book signing at Portugalia Marketplace, arranged by a long time friend and colleague, Gloria Cabral, before driving to Providence, RI. Steven Shipley, head of Johnson & Wales University’s Resource Development, gave us a tour of the school before we gave a demo and PowerPoint presentation, while the students munched on Cranberry Scones prepared by the head pastry chef.

 

Rose is always delighted, when in New England, to stop and visit another old friend and colleague, Lee White. We met her at the very busy Sift Bakery, in Mystic, to try some of the pastries before a lovely lunch and conversation at Olio.

 A couple of years ago, Chef Central was integrated into Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Jenna Leder, head of the Chef Central showroom, did a fabulous job making two Apple Galettes for the largest attendance that the store has ever had for a demo.

 A day later, we were at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park, NY). We attended Michael Weiss’s wine class for Rose to give her thoughts on dessert wines and pairings with desserts. We enjoyed lunch in the newly renovated Apple Café. It included several splendid desserts. In the afternoon, we did a demo of the Fresh Blueberry Pie, along with baking tips, for chef Tom Vaccaro’s pastry students’ class. Rose was delighted that her long time friend chef John Zearfoss was able to sit in for a short time. He reported the next day that some of his students complained that they hadn’t been informed of the event saying that while John is an old friend and takes our friendship for granted, they, on the other hand with birthday cakes from The Cake Bible and would have loved to meet her.

Rose’s Baking Basics Production Phase 19: Our Rose’s Baking Basics Book Tour Western states-Part 2

TRISH & ROSE at POWELL’s CITY of BOOKS

TRISH & ROSE at POWELL’s CITY of BOOKS

 

Powell’s City of Books gave Rose an entrance for our PowerPoint presentation and book signing that had Rose doing a double take when she saw her name plastered like a matinee movie above their front doors. This bookstore is humongous, with 4 floors and many sections painted in solid colors for one to navigate easily around the incredible selection of books. Rose’s dear friend Trish Andersen and her daughter Rebecca took us to lunch at a nearby restaurant before the event. As a special surprise treat after the event Rebecca gave us an ice cream tasting at Tillamook where she is the recipe and product developer for ice cream. (This could be the perfect Portland venue for our upcoming ice cream book tour!)

We enjoyed a terrific dinner with Rose’s daughter-in-law Frances at friend Cathy’s Nostrana. Portland is one of our top favorite food cities in the U.S.

Early next morning, Rose was on her first television appearance for the AM Northwest TV show, where she showed making the Triple Lemon Bundt.

Then back to San Francisco for several events, starting with our incredibly gifted Diane Boate pulling out all stops for a party at the Wah Ying Club in Chinatown. As we were meeting friends and colleagues and enjoying many of the potluck entrees, Rose got a unbelievable surprise. A guy wearing sunglasses, a toque, and white satin jacket with “Cake Bible” embroidered on it in hot pink, walked up carrying a cake. It was the one and only Hector Wong! He and his partner Lawrence flew in from Hawaii just for the night to be at the party. Rose realized it was Hector only when he pointed to the writing on the jacket because there is only one in existence and she had given it to Hector on a visit to Hawaii. We were also happy to meet Emily Winston who gave us a goodie bag of the best bagels we had ever tasted. She was about to open her Boichick Bagels Bakery in Berkeley the following week.

Next day it was off to the Foreign Cinema for us to do the PowerPoint presentation, book signing, and lunch, for the Bakers Dozen West, of San Francisco, hosted by dear friends and colleagues Marlene Sorosky and President Nancy Kux. Annie of Annie’s Cookies gave us bags of cookies for our flight home. Then a walk down the street for a podcast at Kitchen View, followed by an evening demo at Miele appliance’s cooking school. Another fantastic surprise was meeting Rose’s brother’s long time business partner Terry for the first time.

We began our “off day” with a visit to 20th Century Café to enjoy some morning treats and to see chef/owner Michelle Polzine. Then off we went to the SF Chronicle for an interview with Sarah Fritchner (who immediately became a special friend and kindred spirit). Lunch was our traditional dim sum at Yank Sing restaurant, on Speer Street, with Rose’s brother and family. In the afternoon, we had a rare treat of walking and smelling our way through Mandy Aftel’s museum: Aftel Archive of Curious Scents. Along with reading about the history of perfumes, one can sniff and take home three samplings of essences from her Perfume Organ. Rose’s cousin, Joan, now lives up the hill from Mandy in Berkeley. We saw her new house and went for our favorite walk at Inspiration Point, followed by dinner at Progress, sister restaurant to State Bird Provisions.

 

Our last day in the San Francisco Bay area had our first stop at the B Patisserie, as we are always looking to taste kouign amann to compare with ours in The Baking Bible. This turned out to be the best one yet, compared to ours, with great flavor, but little explosively hard to eat, with the paper thin flaky-crisp pastry floating to our table top to be swept up to enjoy. Then it was off to the PBS KSRO station, which was awarded Station of the Year for providing the only available source for news when fires devastated the Santa Rosa area this past year. We loved interviewer Steve Garner who interviewed us for KSRO’s Record Good Food Hour. We so enjoyed talking to him after the show we had to dash down to Petaluma to be on time for our lunch date with our wonderful friend, Kathleen Weber in her new Della Fattoria restaurant. She insisted that we come to her house afterwards to take a sorely needed short nap before our last event for the West Coast which was at the new Artisan Baking Center in Petaluma, where we demo’d one of our favorite cookies—Fudgy Praline Meringue Cookies. I also talked about how Kathleen had started me on my sour dough bread baking odyssey years ago by sending me her starter and even the flour. What a great school and delightful staff. We were so delighted to be invited back and next time Rose promised it will be bread.

 

Then it was back to the east coast for the rest of the book tour.

Happy Birthday! Food52 Cookbook Bloggers

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Our friends at Food52 celebrated their first year of bloggers baking and cooking various recipes from their monthly chosen cookbooks. Bloggers were invited to Food52’s Manhattan office for an afternoon of tasting a wide array of dishes and desserts made by fellow bloggers. We were invites as well since, The Baking Bible was Food 52’s book for the year for bloggers to make recipes. Erin McDowell was also at the party as her Fearless Baker book was one of the monthly selections. The savory table had several recipes from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and Plenty.

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The dessert table had chocolate chip cookies and a bundt version of Erin’s lemon pound from Fearless Baker, plus a towering, three tier cake with strawberry and raspberry flavored cake layers and covered in her artistically executed buttercream.

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We brought a 13 by 9 inch version of our “Deep Passion Chocolate Cake” frosted with “Wicked Good Ganache.” We were honored that Food 52’s event organizer, Eunice Choi, had our cake adorned with Happy Birthday candles. The lit candles drew a crowd of smart phone camera clicks.

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A highlight of the party was the drawing of names for two lucky bloggers to win Erin’s Fearless Baker or The Baking Bible.

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This month, The Baking Bible is be one the month’s cookbook selections to kick off a second year of bloggers sharing their cooking and baking experiences.

Sweets & Sips 2nd Annual Event at Gramercy Tavern

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Miro Uskokovic, the much loved by all executive pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern, once again gave our baking community of pastry and food writing individuals a wonderful afternoon to connect and share our love of pastry and people.

As we walked into the special events room, where we had enjoyed judging Gramercy’s Thanksgiving employee pie contest just a few months ago, we were greeted by Miro and glasses of excellent Billecart Salmon champagne and tables of crafted pastry creations by this year’s talented pastry chefs.
We all indulged in pastries byThea Habjanic from La Sirena Restorate, Justine MacNeil from the Del Posto,  Laura Martelli and Matthew Rosenzweig from The Flaky Tart, and Dan Alva from Union Square Café.

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Our favorite indulgence was The Flaky Tart’s Lemon Meringue tartlets, several of which made their way home with usSavory appetizers were served as well.
One in particular was this mini hotdog. Miro adapted the bun from a recipe which I shared with him some months ago from our upcoming book!

This year topped last year’s event with many new guests, including friends of mine I rarely get to see, which gave us a great chance to catch up with each other. Emily Luchetti happened to be visiting from the west coast and Tyler Atwel is back in New York full time at Lafayette Grand Café.

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We were delighted to take home a piece of Mile High Peanut Butter Pie-- last year’s Thanksgiving Pie Contest winning pie, which is currently listed right at the top on Gramercy Tavern’s dessert menu. 

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Some more photos: 

In Memorium, Chef Paul Bocuse

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I don’t know why I was sort of expecting him to live forever because who does. But his legacy will certainly live on.

I have several sweet stories of Paul Bocuse--one that even took place in Germany, on a wine trip, when we were having dinner at the restaurant of one of his best friends. I was given the privilege of visiting the men’s room when it was empty to view a huge photo over the urinals of Bocuse and the restaurateur, as young men, christening a shiny black locomotive with gleeful smiles on their faces, turned sideways to the camera. I will leave it to your imagination exactly what they were using and it wasn’t champagne. 

I have had the great fortune of eating chez Bocuse twice—the first time with a group of engineers from Proctor and Gamble, whom I was escorting on a chocolate trip through the Rhone valley and Paris. But the most memorable story took place after I was after I was visiting the Daguin’s in Auch, Gascony with my brother Michael.

We were planning to continue on to Lyon for a special reason. Bocuse’s daughter is the wife of Jean-Jacques Bernachon, whose book La Passion du Chocolate I had just translated. I thought it would be fun to visit the Bernachons and read to them in French my English introduction to the book that was a few months away from publication. So it seemed like it would be a perfect celebration to have dinner chez Bocuse with my brother.

There was a huge storm in Gascony and our plane was delayed by several hours. I had made a reservation at Bocuse and was anxious to call and tell them we’d be several hours late. I was one of the first in a long line for the one public (and I mean public) phone, but I had to call information to get the number. To my amazement, the operator had trouble finding it and what's more had never heard of Paul Bocuse!

The people behind me in line were getting unruly and impatient, and the business man directly behind me asked me to hand over the phone. At first I refused (I am a New Yorker after all) but he explained that he would speak to the information operator in my behalf. And to my delight he soundly berated her for being French, living in Lyon, and here I was, an American, who knew about one of the greatest chefs in all of France of which she was toute à fait ignorant. He got the number and we got our reservation moved up a couple of hours.

Chef Bocuse made a lasting contribution to the culinary world. You can read about the many aspects of it all over the internet, but only here can you read this story.

The Perfect Frying Pan of My Memory

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This is the little copper-bottom Revere Ware frying pan I’ve been wanting to find for over 40 years and here’s the story why:

In my 20’s, whenever I travelled abroad, it was always to France. But one day I received a letter from an old family friend, Rosalind Streeter, originally from Wales, who had moved back to the UK, inviting me to “come to James Herriot country” to visit her and her husband Ted in York.

I had grown up with stories of the Streeters and their four children as the entire family were favorite dental patients of my mother’s, and we had even attended the same school for two years. So I knew I’d feel right at home with their parents.

It was my first trip to England so I spent two days in London before taking the train to York. I felt like as I was coming home. Ted Streeter, an inspired guide, took me to the newly excavated Viking village nearby. And I was delighted when Rosalind confided that she had always wanted to learn how to make a génoise, so we made one together. I brushed it with my usual Grand Marnier syrup but Ted complained that I hadn’t added enough Grand Marnier, which changed forever how I syrup génoise, and I always think of him when doing so!

Rosalind was a wonderful cook, but what I remember best was breakfast, when she would make me an egg fried and served in the smallest Revere Ware pan I had ever seen. She said that she had always wanted to find more of these pans but never succeeded. All these years I wished I could find this pan and recreate the warm memory of the visit. Two weeks ago I was suddenly inspired to check e-bay! Voila! Or should I say lo and behold. I can imagine Rosalind smiling from heaven. I know that my mother would be so happy to know that I am back in touch with her beloved Streeter ‘boys’.

Gingerbread Competition at Mohonk Mountain House 2017

When I think of something being constructed out of gingerbread, I always think of a  house. Although Rose took house building to the extreme with her made to scale Nôtre Dame Cathedral, in Rose’s Christmas Cookies, with 10 pages of architectural drawings. So when Nina Smiley asked if we would like to judge a gingerbread competition at the magical Mohonk Mountain House, of course we said yes!

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

This was their second year for holding the competition, which had 3 divisions: for juniors (ages 10-17), adults (ages 18 and over), and their employees, with over 60 entries. Some guidelines were: that the entry had to be on a base up to 2 feet square, less than 2 feet high, and edible for all exposed surfaces. A key guideline was that gingerbread had to be exposed for 50% or more of the surfaces.  What we discovered, as we walk around the rows of entries, was that this was way beyond ginerbread houses--it was a competition of highly artistic and imaginative gingerbread displays.

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We were surprised and delighted by the imagination and ways in which the competitors used gingerbread, in both cookie and bread forms and beyond. Besides us, there were several judges including chefs, Mohonk’s own talented pastry chef, the mayor of Kingston, and others.

 Rose called my attention to one of the most displays by Vanessa Greeley, who had worked for years in the finance world before making a career change to run her own specialty cake decorating business. She stopped by our book signing table and Rose asked her how she came up with the amalgamation of gingerbread and chocolate, which was the composition for Mr. and Mrs. Moose. She explained that her goal was to give adequate structural support while maintaining delicious melt in the mouth quality. Clearly her analytic approach from her prior occupation came into play. We gave her high marks, for its uniqueness and precision.

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The winning gingerbread display was Flower Tower, which was sculptor Matt Maley’s first ever dive into making a gingerbread constructed display. Along with his prize from Mohonk House, Rose gave him an autographed Pie & Pastry Bible.

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Other works of art by their title in the order below.

WInter is Coming-3rd place, Lighthouse-Viewers' Choice, Bah! Humbug-2nd place, Night before Christmas

A Christmas Message

A Christmas Story

 When I was a young child, my great aunt Polly Horwitt Kozma gave me this treasure of a little book written by her mentor Eleanor Roosevelt and published by Knopf in 1940.

 What was most extraordinary about this gift was that Polly was the daughter of a rabbi and yet, in the years shortly past World War II, she had chosen to give a book with the message of Christ’s love to her Jewish orthodox sister’s granddaughter.  But Polly was a woman of the world. In fact, she went on to win the Eleanor Roosevelt award as a member of the American Association for the United Nations.

 How fortunate I was to have had my great aunt Polly as such a shining example of intellectual and spiritual values.

 

Thanksgiving Pies from Gramercy Tavern

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Pie Contest # 5 2017 "Fifth year and a big one," Chef Miro Uskokovic informed us about the annual staff pie contest to welcome in the holiday season at Gramercy Tavern. This was to be our fourth invite to judge the talented staff's pies. And the great news is that for the first year, Miro is making two fabulous pies available for sale from Gramercy Tavern for Thanksgiving: Spiced Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie for pick up on either Tuesday 11/21 or Wednesday 11/22. You'll need to order right away as I'm sure there will be a great demand. Ten judges this year, including executive chef, Mike Anthony, general manager Scott Reinhardt, pastry chef/author/director of the baking programs at the Institute for Culinary Education (and dear friend) Nick Malgieri, Merrill Stubbs co-founder of Food 52, and Emily and Melissa Elsen, owners of Four & Twenty Blackbirds Bakery. After taking our seats once again at the 15 foot long table, in the very familiar banquet/meeting room, Miro went over the criteria for this year's judging. Although we had a scoring card, it was to be used only for taking notes, as we would all have our say after a fork full of the last pie tasted to choose the Best Overall Pie and the Most Creative Pie. And this year, all entries had to be made in a pie plate as opposed to a tart pan. Also this year both winners (and the judges!) would receive the same generous gift: a prized blender from sponsor Vitamix. Each contestant was to bring out her or his creation, give the story behind the pie, and then answer our questions as we tasted the pie. The highest number of entries ever, 22 pies, were presented, dissected, tasted, talked about, and a whole pie shown to each of us by Miro and then placed on the table and discussed some more. Miro gave us two breaks to calm our taste buds and give our tummies a temporary relief. Since in most prior years a cream pie beat out the rest, this year was a cavalcade of mostly cream pies. A couple of entries were from the front staff. Also, we were delighted that for the first time Scott was one of the judges. Nick, as always, was a delight, with his charm, honesty, and spot on critiquing of the pies. With all pies tasted, chef Mike gave his choice for his favorite--the Pomegranate Pie--and it made the move to the other end of the table to be with seven of its favored peers. This year, it was extremely hard to decide whether to go with something more unusual or an upscale version of a standard. We discussed, debated, and decided on our winning pies. The awards presentation was done during the staff's family style dinner before the evening crowd. By the time we joined the staff, there were mostly just remnants of those 22 pies on table 61. The Best Overall Pie for this year was made by Heather Siperstein. It was a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie with a whipped cream topping, adorned with chocolate and peanut butter candy pieces. It will be featured on the Gramercy menu at some point in the near future. The Most Creative Pie was awarded to Amanda Taylor for her Figalicious Pie. She was thrilled to receive my signature series Synglas, non-stick rolling pin by American Products Group. I autographed a Pie & Pastry Bible for Heather, which Miro accepted in her behalf. All of us were then invited to my favorite table at the front of the Tavern to enjoy some of Gramercy's wonderful appetizers and a glass of wine or beer with Miro. Epilogue, next morning: Day prior: a wonderful lunch, consuming close to a half of an entire pie, and enough appetizers to make for light dinner. But to my relief, my scale was kind--it showed me that I actually lost a pound. (The new "pie diet" is born! We hope to be there for Miro Pie Day #6 next year.

Pastry Chef Par Excellence Randy Eastman

aIMG_2765.jpgThe last time I saw my friend Randy, was almost 20 years ago, when he volunteered to make all the desserts for the launch of my book The Pie and Pastry Bible. I never forgot his sweetness, generosity, and incredible skill. For the past 17 years, prior to being pastry chef at the Metropolitan Opera Dining Room, Randy has been pastry chef at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Growing up in New York, I spent many a Sunday with my cousin Joan and uncle Bernard, either at the Museum of Natural History or the Met. So it was a very sentimental visit, sitting in the main dining room, with a spectacular view of the obelisk, the park, and the dearly familiar Central Park West skyline. But the best part was when Randy came to the table. IMG_2755.jpg Woody and I had shared a light lunch to ensure that we would have plenty of room to enjoy the sampling of desserts which Randy presented to us. My top favorite was the caramel glazed banana sundae IMG_2772.jpg but a close second was the perfectly silky and delicious chocolate Gianduja custard. IMG_2769.jpg Randy and I had an equally delicious catch up, exchanging news of mutual friends and family. We promised each other that we would not let so many years go by again without reconnecting.

Icing Smiles--an Inspiration

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My friend, Lenny Taub, send me these photos of cakes created by his friend Aimee Lambing for a special charity. He wrote that Aimee has never had a baking lesson but loves to bake and took a cake decorating class at a community college. Not only is the quality of her work impressive, her generosity is on equal par: She is creating these cakes for a charity called Icing Smiles that delivers cakes to critically ill children.

June LeBell--The Loss of a Treasured Friend

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JUNE & ROSY--(not named after me)

June died yesterday with the same grace with which she lived. Her last words to her many friends, fans, and family were to comfort all of us: I am calm and at peace. Her last words sent to me were: I cherish our friendship. Music, food and just plain love. Thank you my friend. June died the day after her birthday and the day before her 8th wedding anniversary to Ed Alley. I'll always remember the day I was on a help line for my computer, waiting for a response from the slow typist on the other end, when I chanced to see an email from June saying: Big News! Then, with great joy, I saw the rest: I got married! This was June's first marriage and she had waited almost a lifetime to find the love of her life. I was so happy for her I 'screamed' onto the computer: June LeBell is married! The tech on the other end responded with: That's wonderful! To this day I'm not sure if he even knew who she was but very likely he did, based on his response and also on June's 'visibility.' June was the first female announcer on WQXR--a career which spanned almost 30 years. Her exquisite voice, knowledge of music, and sense of humor delighted millions of listeners. I'm surprised that there is no obit in The New York Times (WQXR was the radio station of The New York Times.) Maybe it will come. (It did--3-2-17!) Here is the introduction to her first and only book, The Kitchen Classics. June had asked me to write the intro to the dessert chapter, saying that Julia Child was writing the intro to the savory one. But when Julia heard I was writing the one for the dessert chapter she said: "Rose knows you so much better; let her do the whole thing." Thank you Julia! Until I wrote it I had no idea how very much I had to say--how deep was my music background, and my friendship with June.

Introduction to The Kitchen Classics by June LeBell I was born with music in my ears, in my heart, and in my soul. I am sure this is because my mother, who as a young girl studied with Nadia Reisenberg, played womb concerts (the ultimate chamber music) on the piano when she was pregnant with me. She was convinced that even though I had not yet been born, I would still hear something, if only vibrations, and would grow up familiar with and open to music--one of life's greatest joys. Her theory apparently worked, because as soon as I could walk I approached the piano and picked out tunes by ear. If I had been offered the choice of any talent in the world (if I couldn't have been Mozart) it would have been to have a glorious voice and be an opera singer. But since I did not have even a passable singing voice, my instrument became the violin. One summer, when I was at music camp near Tanglewood, studying with the second violinist of the Boston Symphony orchestra, my great uncle, who had engineered this arrangement, came to visit me and posed the dreaded question: "exactly what kind of talent do you possess; concert or drawing room?" The only possible answer was the disappointing truth: neither. As it turned out, despite the fact that I graduated from Carnegie Hall (the High School of Music and Art held all its graduations there) I was an extremely mediocre violin player who preferred listening to performing; but then, the music world does need some appreciative listeners. Our family had its share of them. Legend has it that my great aunt Beck was so moved by a concert at Lewisohn stadium she got up in the middle and started to dance, explaining afterwards that she couldn't help herself. My mother's theory was that since she had grown up in Russia she had the passionate Russian soul. We also had two bonafide performers: Aunt Beck's husband, appropriately named Fiddler and Uncle Tibor (Kozma), who conducted at the Met under Rudolph Bing and then went on to become head of the music department at the University of Indiana. It is thanks to him that my first "grownup" birthday party, when I was twelve, was at a Met production of the Fledermaus. The kids were all very bored (including me--the Fledermaus has never been one of my favorites), but their parents were quite impressed. And it was never really a surprise to run into one of the great aunts during intermission at the opera. This generation had my cousin Andrew Schenck (pronounced Skenk), also a gifted conductor, and perhaps the next generation will have my little nephew Alexander who, when he first started to sing had that surprised look, bordering on awe, which clearly said: can these bell like sounds be coming from me? Ravi Shankar once said that for him music is the bridge between the personal and the infinite. It is my feeling that all acts of creativity, approached with the same reverence of total devotion, offer that possibility. Somehow, though, music soars above all others. My soul has been transported by a bite of still warm from the oven Chocolate Domingo Cake, but no food has given me the total corporal and spiritual orgasm music is capable of inspiring. My mother, whose profession was dentistry, held dear a theory that senses located in the region of the head are the most exquisite and also the ones most intimately connected. As a "food person," I see more and more how true this is. Taste, smell, vision, and hearing have a profound effect on each other's perception. As a very young child, I would not let my mother play the song Ramona because it reminded me of chocolate pudding (which I detested). I suppose I must have experienced it as equally thick and sodden with sentimentality. The connection between food and music is found even in the words used to describe them. In the food industry, the most common word used to analyze flavor is note. Texture is another word food and music have in common. One of my favorite musical memories is of the time I met Isaac Stern at a party celebrating the birth of Jenifer Lang's book Tastings. I had provided the Chocolate Oblivion Cake that was featured in the book. When George Lang introduced me to Isaac Stern, he rose up, took my hand, and bowed deeply from the waist saying: "Your cake was like velvet." My response: "That is the very word I used to describe your playing the first time I heard you play the Tchaikovsky violin concerto when I was sixteen!" (If any breath had been left I would have added that it was at Tanglewood.) When June LeBell and I were classmates at Music and Art, what seems like only a few years ago, it seemed inevitable that her future would be in music. My fate was far less certain. When we met again, it was when I came to WQXR to advertise my cooking school on the radio. I brought with me my then favorite cake: Grand Marnier et Chocolat. I must admit, I felt that I was entering into a musical temple with something, though quite delicious, perhaps not quite worthy. But June did not seem at all surprised or condescending regarding my transition from violin to cake. In fact, to my relief, it seemed that as far as she was concerned, I was still in the "arts." Several years later, when she started "The Kitchen Classics," featuring recipes accompanied by "appropriate" music, I became a frequent guest on the show, which gave us a chance to renew our friendship--often on the air. In fact, we had so much fun catching up and reminiscing, we often forgot that we were on the air! The best part was that we share a similar sense of humor, which is most likely to happen between people whose frame of reference is so similar. Often we felt like we would make a great vaudeville team. I would read my favorite buttermilk cake recipe, to which June would play a recording of what she referred to (with a gleam in her eye) as "Madama Buttermilk"! We laughed almost the whole show through and got lots of delightful "feedback" from the audience. When June told me about her plans for this book, it seemed like the perfect joyful extension of her show. The book turned out to be so multi dimensional and entertaining, it's difficult to do full justice to its depth and breadth. On a personal note, it's great fun for me to find old childhood friends, now famous musicians, between these covers: the guy who teased me at Music camp (Paul Dunkel), the high-school friend who accompanied me home after ice-skating in Central Park, walking his bike alongside (Stephen Kates), the tall dark and brilliant harpsichordist who dated my cousin and whose father was my English teacher (Kenneth Cooper). The humor, intelligence, generosity, and charm June possesses make this book unique. She serves up each "personality" in the most personal of all possible ways: in his or her own voice. These delightful anecdotes, peppered throughout the book, have as their counterpoint favorite recipes contributed by each performer. We know their music but now we know another side of them, and they become friends. And as the proverbial icing on the cake, this book is graced with the incomparable caricatures of our beloved Hirschfeld. It is a great honor to participate in the 150th celebration of the Philharmonic by being a part of this special book. For me, it is a deeply sentimental and personal book and I think in its own way it will be for everyone who reads it and, most of all, for anyone who cooks from it.

Hector's Labor of Brotherly Love

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A wedding cake is a huge production, and if you don't have a bakery to work in, or at least your own home kitchen with reliable equipment, it is a true labor of love and demands meticulous orchestration. Come to think of it, it is always a labor of love. Hector has chronicled his year long process preparing and executing a wedding cake for his brother an ocean away. Here is how he pulled it off (brilliantly): (Written by Hector on Tuesday April 4th, 2017) Sometime ago, my brother Miguel asked me to make his wedding cake. 16 months later, and 10 hours flying from Honolulu to Pasco, Washington, I am arriving to his house to make his cake. I have made many big cakes, and traveled near and far, but this is the first time I will do so on location! All my cakes are always made at my home kitchen! The initial plan was to assemble a passion fruit tiramisu style dessert as the cake, with store bought ladyfingers. But since so much time was available, the project started to walk on its own. A new refrigerator, 2 stand mixers, a chocolate melter, an upgraded turn table, were ordered and arrived! The very best passion fruit syrup, and the ultimate best chocolate were purchased and sent! During the last 3 weeks, I shipped by USPS flat rate everything I need, literally everything. No piece of equipment has been was shorted. No ingredient quality has been shorted. The project is a 6 tier Génoise with ganache. The wedding is Saturday, and I am writing to you on Tuesday, from Seattle airport, during my connection to my final destination! (Written by Hector on Friday April 14th, 2017) Normally, I bake everything at my home kitchen, and travel with a partly finished product. I was on house lock down from 5 am until midnight on Wednesday, to bake all the 12 layers. And on Thursday, I was on a similar schedule to torte and frost all 6 tiers. On Friday, I took a baking break and did family things pre-wedding. I delivered the cake at noon on Saturday, the day of the wedding, and spent 2 hours arranging the gum paste rose petals. The petals were purchased at Etsy, and individually luster glitter dusted in bronze and yellow by the bride and bridesmaid.

Hector and his sister

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The finished cake made me happy. The taste, the chocolate aroma, and the floral design surpassed my expectations. I did all the cake cutting myself, and the moment when I started to disassemble the cake, a line of hungry wedding guests mobbed me. The catering staff was awaiting with carts and serving trays to pass the cake, however they had to step away, and just let the mob throw themselves on me! Literally, people were panhandling for cake, and cake serving went very fast. 300 slices and all. I am home on my island now, and I have many memories to share about the cake, the wedding, and the family gatherings. The only word of wisdom I have for everyone, including myself, and my brother is: You only get married once (or twice), in reference to what I believe is true: no groom or bride will ever ask you to make their wedding cake at their house more than once. The experience is so intense, almost traumatic, yet when love is abundant, I will always say yes. Note from Rose: here's how we differ slightly: I always say "never again" and then, when the occasion presents, I say "yes"!

My Top Favorite Photo & Travel Adventure

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CHEF HIROSHI YOSHIKAWA

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Over the years, I have had many wonderful travel experiences, but if there had been just one to choose from, without hesitation it would be my visit to the Sakumas in Kyoto. Yoko Sakuma was my student when I ran the Cordon Rose Cooking School. She took several of the classes more than once, and when I asked her why, she explained in her now exquisite English: There were two reasons. First, you were so kind and patient to teach an actually novice like me at baking. So, I did not hesitate to avail myself of the opportunity to learn till I understood what you taught. Second, as I had just begun NY life and could not understand English well, your baking classes were also English classes for me. You were not only a teacher of baking but also an excellent English teacher though you might not recognize it. Accordingly, I could learn more English than in the actual English class at NYU. Never have I met a more dignified, truly sweet, and beautifully spiritual soul, who became my life-long friend. When finally Yoko and Ushio returned to Japan, Yoko wrote to me that they would be living for a very short time in Kyoto--exquisite city of artisans. She explained that the apartments were very small and that the only oven she would have room for was a toaster oven, which either burned the bottom of the cake or the top. She said that she could not live too many years in a place which had no oven, and urged me to come and visit them while they were still there. I promised that I would and that when I came, I would teach her how to bake a cake in a toaster oven. When I arrived, Yoko presented me with a carefully detailed itinerary of my stay, saying that it was not a rigid schedule and that if I wanted to change anything that would be fine. I did not! What followed was more than a week of amazing dinners and trips including to Nara, and to a visit to Horyuji--the oldest wooden temple in the world that exists at present, dating back to 607 AD. The dining experience that was most profoundly unforgettable was at a tiny sushi restaurant "Matsu (pine tree) Sushi." There were only 5 seats, all at the counter, and we three watched in fascination as the sushi was prepared. Yoko and Ushio explained to me that the fish, which was white on the outside and black on the inside, was called Sayori. Mr. Hiroshi Yoshikawa told them that there was a phrase of "Sayori beauty? in Kyoto. According to him, "Sayori beauty" means a woman who is very beautiful but malicious at heart. Sayori is very beautiful lean silver fish but its inside color is ugly black. Mr. Hiroshi Yoshikawa, the master, did not speak english so the Sakumas carefully translated everything. They explained that his father before him owned the restaurant and was so respected he had access to the best fish which was a rarity for this inland city. But Mr. Yoshikawa would not allow his son to take over because he felt he did not have the proper spirit. It was when he was deftly shaping one of the sushis, and his hands curved around it like a dancer's, that I started taking photos, hoping to catch that exact moment. I must have tried about 5 times as that was before digital cameras so I had no way of knowing if I had gotten the shot until he said something emphatic which was translated as "she got it!" He had intuited what I was hoping for and with the precision of a Zen archer who can shoot an arrow into his target with eyes closed, knew when it had arrived. Before leaving he asked the Sakumas if I would send him my book which, of course, I was honored to do on my return to the US. Mr. Yoshikawa is now over eighty years old. He has been saying that the climate change has had a serious effect on fish, shellfish, and other seafood. They are often too small or too big, and accordingly not tasty, but also are not caught by fishermen or bay men in the right season. So he has decided the time has come to close the restaurant. Now for the solution to that toaster oven which had two levels. If baking on the higher level the top of the cake burned; if baking on the lower level, the bottom of the cake burned. So I suggested that we try double panning to protect the bottom and to bake on the lower level to protect the top of the cake. It worked. The most special treasure I brought back was this antique traveling sake cup gifted to me by Ushio after we visited a sake manufacturer and museum. The metal stand enables it to swing back and forth so that the sake doesn't spill a single drop during a train ride! Elizabeth Andoh, a former New Yorker and much esteemed colleague who has been living in Tokyo most of her life, writing wonderful books on Japanese cooking, once told me a story which I cherish. She said that there was to be a contest of two renowned culinary sensei (master teachers) but only one showed up. The other sent his best student. If I were in that position I would send Yoko.

The Cake Bible is Inducted into the IACP Culinary Classics

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Scenes from the IACP 2017 ConferenceThis amazing lifetime honor is the International Association of Culinary Professionals Hall of Fame. The award ceremony, which celebrates culinary teachers, cookbook writers & journalists, digital media and photographers, is an event to which we look forward all year. The conference this year was held in Louisville, KY, which was the headquarters of IACP for many years. It was such a joy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. George Geary, once a student at a class I taught in LA, is now a recognized writer of "bibles" in his own right. One of the highlights was a party previewing and honoring the completion of the upcoming book(s) Modernist Bread. There will be 6 large volumes. Nathan Myrvold, of Modernist Cuisine fame, put together a team of 27 notable bread experts, lead by baker/author Francisco Migoya, and including Peter Reinhart. As with Myrvold's previous books, the photos are drop dead stunning. It was great to see Franscisco and the ever delightful Carla Hall, who also emceed the awards ceremony. The ceremony was held in the 'jewel box' Paradise Theater. I thought that only the palaces of King Henry VIII had ceilings like this one! I was so delighted that the amazing photo of my wonderful friend Erin McDowell, taken by photographer Mark Weinberg, won one of the Food Photography & Styling Awards. It was also wonderful to see Sam Sifton, food editor for the New York Times, running up onto the stage 4 times in his tennis shoes to receive awards for his staff on their behalf, a strong statement for the value of the printed newspaper. I was delighted to see that my fellow author and restauranteur, Rick Bayliss was also inducted into the Culinary Classics for his book, Authentic Mexican. It was also a joy to see Vivian Howard winning the Best Cookbook of the Year as well as a couple of other awards for her tome Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South--her first book. You can also see all of this year's award winners, including previous winners on the IACP's website. Another dear friend, Anna Thomas, was a finalist for her Vegan Vegetarian Ominivore, but unable to attend the conference. I asked her to write an acceptance speech as she had given me the honor to accept a possible award in her behalf. This short speech contains such an important message I will follow up this very long posting with a photo of why Anna could not attend and what she would like to have imparted.

A Buswoman's Holiday: Montclair Expedition to Bake a Cake and Taste a Doughnut

1.jpgMy dear friend, Marissa Rothkopf Bates, who is a gifted journalist, baker, and equipment reviewer, invited us to her house to test a new 'smart' countertop oven that she is reviewing. Together, we made one of my favorite 'butter' cakes, the "Whipped Cream Cake," which is in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. This exquisitely soft cake replaces the butter with whipped cream providing both the butterfat and the liquid. It actually contains more butterfat than is present in a basic butter cake. I have been yearning for an oven that is perfectly even top to bottom and front to back and have yet to find one, including the one we were using as an excuse to visit Marissa who lives an hour's drive away. The cake's texture was perfect but it did not brown entirely evenly nor was the top perfectly even. 2.jpg While the cake was cooling, Marissa took us for lunch to one of her favorite restaurants, Villalobos. Chef/owner, Adam Rose, gives an eclectic twist to his Latino tacos. They were served "open-face', using homemade soft tortillas. We enjoyed them topped with an enticing combination of carnitas made with Berkshire pork belly, roasted corn, chipotle morita, and another variety topped with chipotle braised chicken, pork chorizo, potato chips, and onion. 3.jpg Homemade taco chips accompanied chunky guacamole with the most unusual topping I have ever experienced-- fried little cubes of Nuske's slab bacon, jalapeno, and blackened crispy brussel sprouts. For dessert, Marissa insisted that we try the churros served with chocolate dipping sauce, especially when she heard that I had never tasted a churro. Of course I liked it as churros are made cream puff pastry that is with deep fried. We shall return! 4.jpg We next stopped at the Montclair Bread Company. Owner Rachel Crampsey, was a total delight. It turned out that one of the many places where she and apprenticed or worked was Amy's Bread and we both attended a book party there for Amy's book, though at the time we never met. Loving baking bread above all other baked goods, we became instant friends. And Rachel invited me to me to return and fry doughnuts with her. I adore brioche doughnuts and they are very rare to find. Rachel told us the story of how she and her friend were just experimenting with making brioche doughnuts in the early hours one morning and they turned out to be so addictive they ate the entire batch. She put them on the 'menu' and they were an wild success. She says that: The doughnuts encapsulate everything I love in one bite. image1.jpg Rachel has expanded her business to include opening a fish and chips shop next door to her bakery with a clever name, Oh My Cod. Back to Marissa's to enjoy slices of the Whipped Cream Cake with a dollop of non-ultra pasteurized high fat whipped cream (although her son, Oliver, who is the family's most verbal and enthusiastic appreciator of baked goods, seemed convinced that three dollops of whipped cream were the perfect accompaniment. Do I spy a future food writer in the making?).