Apr 13, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
Woody and I met Jim and Marie Wolf (head of the Beta Baker testers for the upcoming book) for dinner at one of our mutually favorite Minnesota restaurants, Alma.
The restaurant features a three course tasting menu. Some of my favorites were:
The deliciously beefy Bison Tartar with celery root, hazelnuts, and truffle-verjus dressing:
The Ricotta Gnocchi with Maine lobster, shitakes, spinach and truffle oil:
and the Braised Beef Shortrib with squash orzo, swiss chard and fresh horseradish cream:
Pastry Chef Anne Bridges had to leave early but she sent out four delicious desserts. Our favorites were the Meyer Lemon Curd Tart with lemon crème and lemon speculous ice cream:
and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with vanilla bean, dried cherries, and saba
I hadn't seen the NordicWare factory for many years and what amazing expansion has taken place since my last visit. Mike Quinlan gave us a tour of the facilities. I was delighted to see the return of a long forgotten by most pan--the Mary Anne--with its recess designed to create a cake with a depression perfect for acomodating fresh berries.
NordicWare is also now an outsource factory for major companies such as 3M and medical suppliers. We got to see all manner of machinery including the one below which finishes the edges of the pans. I felt right at home surrounded by so many of my favorite Bundt and fluted tube pans.
We made a quick visit to the Wolf's to show them photos on the Ipad from the upcoming book while enjoying a glass of excellent red wine.
Marie made a great dinner recommendation for us--112 Eatery in downtown Minneapolis. The moment I walked in the door of this cozy and well-designed restaurant, and met our wait person Erick, I knew we were in for a treat.
We ordered a whole array of small dishes starting with Lamb Scottadito with Goats Milk Yogurt:
Spicy Fried Shishito Peppers in a delicious sauce of pumpkin seed, cilantro, and cotija (Mexican goat cheese):
Merquez Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Israeli Couscous and Clams
And fabulously melting and tender Foie Gras and Chicken Meatballs with Tagliatelle
Dinner was accompanied by a complementary malbec.
Although no longer hungry, we could not resist sharing the Nancy Silverton's Butterscotch Budino. I love both butterscotch and Nancy so it was a sure bet! It was a perfect balance of the creamy, sticky, and ever so salty.
This photo tells it all:
And just when we thought the dinner was over, along came this great presentation of spicy caramel popcorn.
Although technically we have finished the upcoming book, there's always just one thing and that happened to be a fabulous raspberry butterscotch sauce that I wanted to retest one last time:
As a grand finale, Woody invited me to my first broomball game. The blur with the yellow helmut that you see below is Woody speeding along to try to knock the ball into the goal.
Broomball is similar to hockey only using special tennis shoes instead of skates and a small soccer ball instead of a puck. Woody's first connection was an email sharing with me that my biggest fans were his fellow broomball players and T'ai Chi practitioners. It was freezing cold but well-worth being there to see world-class players at play.
Apr 06, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
As Minnesota is relatively a hop skip and jump from Chicago I planned a three day stay with Woody to finish tweaking the manuscript and to visit some of my many friends in the Twin Cities. Due to weather in New York, the stay was extended for two extra days. No one was complaining.
It's been many years since I've seen Tim Bennett, father of this blog and now father of two adorable children. Tim suggested we meet at his favorite bakery, Rustica.
The breads and pastries all looked very inviting and promising.
While waiting for the Bennett family to arrive, out of the corner of my eye I spied the very familiar cover of The Cake Bible and three people sitting at the counter with a big pile of my books smiling big smiles. The two women were pastry chefs at Rustica and had heard I'd be coming. I was delighted to sign each book.
It was so wonderful meeting Tim's wife Ina, his son Simon, and daughter Ani. Ina is from Russia and both kids speak Russian. Both kids bake and I learned that Ani slept with The Pastry Bible when she was so young she could barely lift it. She wants to be a chef.
As we were too late for a savory dinner at the bakery, we opted to have dessert for dinner instead.
Simon is going to a french immersion school so we had fun having a conversation in french. No surprise, he is a super bright, confident, and most engaging child and I was thrilled when Tim said he would send him to NJ to spend a week with me (I hope he was serious!).
A visit to the Twin Cities is never complete without one or two pizzas at Punch's. They've been rated number 1 for authentic new-style thin crust pizza for years and justifiably so. The crust is crisp and tender with a puffy rim, resulting from the intense heat of the wood-fired grills.
I hadn't seen my dear friend Michelle Gayer for five years. I am so proud of her. When first we met she was pastry chef at the famed Charlie Trotter restaurant in Chicago. She now has the very successful bakery The Salty Tart, in the International Market Place and has just been nominated for a Beard Award for best midwestern chef!
Mar 30, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
I look forward all year to the March International Housewares Show. Not only do I get to present my product line, I also get to see old friends, and see what has evolved and what is new in kitchen products. This year was especially important to me as I'm so involved in designing the new baker's kitchen and wanted to make sure I would be the best equipment.
The magnitude of the show is enormous. It features 2100 exhibitors showing thousands of new products so I knew it would be a challenge to hit all the places I wanted to see. Here are the highlights (as photographed by Woody Wolston):
I was thrilled to meet William Tan, Gary Fallowe's designer for NewMetro Design. Gary had been singing his praises for years and I was utterly charmed by his sweet and forthcoming personality in addition to his creative talent.
Woody's peppered spice cookies provided an additional attraction for our booth. He made over 400 of them! Most people noticed the incredible explosion of time released flavors from the different spices. (These will be in our upcoming book!)
Chef Tom Woodbury did a really fun interview for his show The Daily Meal.
Another major highlight of the show was meeting Steve Quinn, Special Sales Representative for my new publisher Hougton Mifflin. I learned that he sold my book The Cake Biblewhen he was at WIlliam Morrow years ago. I was delighted by how enthusiastic he is about our upcoming Baking Bible.
Mar 23, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose
Zach told us that after the exhausting but gratifying class at Central Market he was planning a low key dinner at Smoke, the place where his brother always requests to go on his visits to Dallas (and which we will now as well). Exec chef Tim Byres makes the best pulled pork and coleslaw with blue cheese ever and I've tasted many! It was deliciously smoky. His margarita, made with smoky tequila, was also one of the best.
And you can see from this plate that his key lime pie was also not bad.
Most unfortunately, Woody couldn't take the next day off, so the next surprise treat was just for me. Zach took me for lunch to a restaurant called Rise, which specializes in soufflés. And he told me that owner Hedda Dowd, was eager to meet me because she had washed dishes for me 25 years ago when I came to Dallas on tour with the Cake Bible and did a demo where she worked at Sur la Table. Her partner, executive chef Cherif Brahmi, was originally from Lyon and we knew so many people in common we sat and talked to them for a good hour in addition to eating some amazingly original and tasty food. The decor, by the way, was equally amazing such as this chandelier made of wine bottles
and the large metal domes designed by chef Cherif to minimize the sound of the electric mixers when continuously beating the egg whites for the soufflés.
We started with the Artichoke Andrée with their famous lemon vinaigrette, a family recipe from Hedda, in the hollowed center.
Next was the very popular marshmallow soup. No, not sugary marshmallows but don't they resemble them?! They're made of goat cheese, and float atop a base of tomato and carrots.
For my main course I couldn't resist the escargot soufflé which was beyond fabulous! The snails in garlic butter were nestled in their little cup depressions and covered with puff clouds of flavorful soufflé batter.
Hedda most generously comped our entire meal, gave me their cookbook (Rise to the Occasion, Pelican 2011), and invited me to come back when our next book comes out for a book signing at the restaurant (yes!)
I told Hedda that I was next heading for a shopping expedition to find a replacement for my outgrown Luchese boots and they both directed me instead to a nearby place called Romano's that make boots to order. So mid April I should be receiving my handmade pair of cowboy boots made with a skin called pin ostrich brandy.
Zach Townsend, master chocolatier, creator of La Bomba in Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and cherished friend had invited me to visit him in Dallas for several years. This past February it finally happened and Zach really went to the 'ends of the town' to make it a 3-1/2 day culinary adventure so packed with amazing details it seemed more like several weeks. By the end of the visit I suspected that Zach knows ever chef in the Dallas area!
Zach invited Woody and me to stay in his drop dead gorgeous condo. Not only was it decorated with impeccable taste, it was the sole of comfort. In the living room we admired two incredible model ships built by his Dad, Ray Townsend. The details are amazing, such as the 1000 or more planks were individually hand cut and mounted, on a replica of the French Chebec, and the rigging was hand knotted, and all connected with turnbuckles. Zach told us that it took his Dad as long as three years to contruct each ship and that he is now doing a huge replica of San Felipe that Zach has his eye on.
Zach's kitchen was beautifully designed and I could tell it would be great in which to bake and cook.
The night of my arrival Zach took me for dinner at FT33 owned by his friend chef Matt McCallister. As typical food enthusiasts, we tasted all of each other's dishes.
At the end of a fabulous dinner, pastry chef Sabrina Hunt came out to meet me and then offered us an array of her specialties.
Our top favorite was a peanut butter rif on sm'ores, using smoked chocolate.
The following night, Zach took Woody and me to Stephan Pyles hot new restaurant--Stampede 66. It had been many years since I visited Dallas with "The Pastry Bible" and chef Pyles had done a terrific book event at his restaurant. So not only did we have a fun and delicious meal, we also had the joy of seeing chef Pyles again.
We loved the decor and ambiance of the restaurant.
Zach ordered the house margarita made from the juice of prickly pear and frozen very dramatically with the aid of nitrogen.
One of the highlights of the visit was our baking class that Zach arranged at the famed Central Market--Plano--one of the enormous high-end Texas grocery stores chains known for its excellent cooking school.
Dinner Theater at the Bearfoot Bistrôt in Whistler, BC
Here is what made this dinner one of the most delightful, delicious, and extraordinary I've every experienced:
The perfect preparation
The quality and harmony of the ingredients
The exquisite pairing of the wines and food
The pacing of the courses
The company of good friends
After enjoying the oysters and champagne aperitif on the deck, as the sun disappeared behind the mountains and the night air started to settle in, we were escorted to the main dining room where the tasting menu began.
The first two courses (Malpeque Oyster with asetra caviar) and the pictured Albacore Tuna Toro Tartar) were a delicious and gentle introduction to the ever-increasing intensity of flavors and textures to come. I have to admit that I was prepared to be disappointed with the third course as I've found swordfish, in recent years, to be tough and flavorless. Also, I couldn't resist sipping a bit of the white Côte de Rhône before the food arrived, and found it disappointingly bitter, but I was mistaken on both fronts. As soon as I tasted the Hawaiian swordfish I discovered what an inspired pairing it was with the wine. The bitterness of the wine disappeared entirely and enhanced what was the best swordfish I've ever tasted--tender and flavorful.
This past August, Elliott attended a radiology conference in Whistler, BC. We had been there once before but this time we were awestruck anew by the splendor of the setting. Towering snow-capped mountains cradle the town yet the altitude is only about 2100 feet so we barely noticed the difference--i.e. we were never out of breath or headachy.
Several of Elliott's colleagues encouraged us to do the zip lining but we opted instead for a "canopy walk," rationalizing that it would be a bit less thrilling but more exercise.
We walked through the Douglas Fir and towering Cedars trees, suspended from them by wooden scaffolding and rope bridges and watched as others zip-lined just beneath us. I found a bush bearing a few huckleberries. PHOTO They are much more intense than blueberries and wildly delicious. No wonder the bears enjoy them.
My dear friend and colleague Nathan Fong, who lives in Vancouver but has a house in Whistler, decided to drive up for the day. Our mutual friend, cookbook author and journalist from Toronto, Lucy Waverman, coincidentally also was in Whistler, accompanying her husband who was attending a lawyers' conference, so Nathan organized a day and night of food related activities. He also gave us a list of his favorite places to eat before he arrived so we got a head start, having dinner one night at Bearfoot Bistrôt and the next night at Araxi. We were delighted to be returning to Bearfoot Bistrôt with Nathan with the intention of having dessert at Araxi but after an amazing multi-course dinner at Bearfoot we never made it. Luckily Nathan was able to get me the recipe for Araxi's fabulous Lemon Tart. It's in their cookbook and will be appearing in mine as well!
Woody and I had a great fun adventure as participants in Tom Douglas's Culinary Camp in Seattle this past July. We arrived a day ahead to avoid jet lag which gave us the added benefit of visiting this beautiful city.
The first night was a very special reunion with friends Arnie and Judy Bendich whom I hadn't seen for about 45 years! (Arnie and I had been classmates at the University of Vermont.) It was, of course, thanks to the internet that we found each other again.
The next morning, first stop was the famed Pike Place Market where we sampled a wide array of seasonal thornberries, including humongous blackberries, purple and black boysenberries (a cross between raspberries and blackberries), and incredibly flavorful strawberries.
We have the great good fortune of having Shelly Tilly, who lives a five minute ride from my Dad, looking in on him as a care-giver. Among Shelly's many virtues is her ultra-green thumb. She is a master landscaper. When we stopped by her house to say goodbye to her and her mother Pat, they were busy in the garden making a video.
SHELLY FILMING HER GARDEN IN FULL BLOOM
ELLIOTT RELAXING ACCOMPANIED BY SHELLY'S DOG OREO
A SURPRISE VISITOR BY THE POND
BLUEBERRY PIE FOR DAD
DAD NOT MINDING TOO MUCH THAT'S IT'S NOT CHERRY PIE
COUSINS BILL AND JOY HOWE AT A PARTY AT THEIR HOME "DAY'O" IN CHATHAM
HAPPY ME PHOTOGRAPHED BY THEIR SON DANIEL
A SURPISING ROOFTOP HERB GARDEN ATOP A WATER PURIFYING BUILDING BY THE HIGHWAY
We enjoyed both lunch and dinner at Max's restaurant, which included many desserts from the adjoining Mrs. London's Bakery that were pictured on the preceding posting. We also had roasted pineapple with a most intriguing flavor that turned out to be rosemary!
The photos below will give you an idea of the glorious savories that are offered here:
FABULOUS MUSHROOM AND POACHED EGG PIZZA
RUBEN WITH HOME-MADE PASTRAMI
CAPPELLETTI WITH SHRIMP AND CHORIZO
CAPUCCINO ELEGANTLY SERVED IN A RIEDEL OF AUSTRIA CUP
Next posting, part 3 will be of The Chocolate Mill in Glen's Falls.
My parents were both born in New York City in the early 1900's. My mother always loved it and my father was always looking to move to the country. But when, in their 80's, my father finally bought his dream property in upstate New York, my mother chose to join him on his land (which meant living in an airstream trailer in the snow belt) over staying in New York City.
Gradually she convinced herself that upstate New York had its charms both cultural and culinary. So when she reported the discovery of a terrific bakery in Saratoga Springs called Mrs. London's, and told me I must come to visit I was suspicious. I thought it was merely a ploy to get me to come up and visit her and my father! How wrong I was. After all these years I got to visit not only Mrs. London's, but to meet the whole London family. Suvir told me I was going to experience the best croissants in this country. He was wrong: They were the best croissants in this world! Look at the crumb! And this wasn't one of many Michael London cut to find the best texture--it was a random one he pulled out of the display case.
Forgive me as I rave rapturously, but truly I was stunned by the quality of both the brick oven-baked breads and the desserts.
The day before the conference we hiked up to just about every water fall in the Columbia River Gorge.
Rose standing in awe before the famous and grandest Multnomah Falls
Woody on the Top of Moltnomah Falls
I could live here. It is grander and more savage than the east coast. Not more beautiful but more dramatic. I'm glad we had the chance to explore the countryside as once the conference started we wanted to stay in town.
My long-time friend Nathan Fong, aka Mr. Vancover Food, always arranges a special dinner for his friends at IACP and this year it was at Nostrana, an Italian restaurant that was nominated for a Beard Award, which was amazingly good. We also joined Nathan at Paley's two night later and that was one of the best meals we had in the entire trip from the exquisite salumi to the beef marrow bones. I was delighted to discover that chef/owner Vitaly Paley will be participating in Tom Douglas's summer camp this July as I also will be one of the presenting 'chefs.' Portland is known for being a great food town. Did you know that James Beard was born in and grew up in Portland?
The pinot noir of the region's Willamette Valley is one of my favorite of all wines. The 2008 vintage is heralded as the best in Oregon's wine-making history.
The IACP was a schmorgesbord of old and new friends. My favorite seminar was given by Madhur Jaffrey and Judith Jones in which they told stories about James Beard and I couldn't resist adding one of my own.
Madhur Jaffrey and Judith Jones
My favorite part of the IACP is always the Information Expo where new equipment and food and wine products are on display. Shirley Corriher was making biscuits with Tenda-Bake flour and they were the absolute best ever. By the end of the expo she had biscuit flour powder on her nose.
Shirley and Her Famed Biscuits
Gary Fallows was exhibiting here for the first time, presenting not only his ubiquitous beater blade but also his brand new zestnest--a perfect device for grating and containing citrus zest which we will all want to have.
I was stunned by the purity and intensity of Tourangelle oils from California, especially the sesame seed, pistachio, and coconut and will be putting them to good use in the months to come (stay tuned)!
Nick Malgieri and Rose just before the Awards
Ceremony Opening with Julia Child Video
I also got to meet two people whom I have communicated with only by e-mail. One is the very talented fellow blogger and Heavenly Cake Baker known by her blog name as Evil Cake Lady and who turned out to be the delightful Jennifer Steele!
Rose Signing Jennifer's Book
I've also started knitting with the phenomenal hand died and hand spun yarn from Tanglewood Fiber Creations which I purchased in NY. It turns out that Trish Anderson spins these yarns from her farm near Portland so we finally met in person at the famed Portland bookstore Powells where Trish bought two of my new books which I autographed and I ordered enough of her 'Columbia Gorgeous' yarn to make a sweater.
Columbia Gorgeous Yarn Just Dyed
Knitting with this cashmere/silk blend is as comforting as kneading the silkiest bread dough. It is the colors of the Columbia Gorge so when I wear it I will be reminded of the magnificent landscape of this amazing region.
San Francisco Events Prior to the IACP Portland Convention
In between events we managed to visit favorite old haunts including Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Building. The pork belly, which Woody had the wisdom to order, glazed with wasanbun sugar from Japan and accompanied by couscous was enviable!
We loved hiking to Inspiration Point in the Oakland hills with my cousin Joan, which provides a view of SF and the entire Bay area including the rolling hills which were deep green from all the recent rain.
Gene Burns Radio Show was being broadcast live from the Intercontinental Hotel in the midst of a New Zealand wine event. Producer Joel Riddell offered to 'squeeze me in' and I was delighted, as Gene Burns is one of my favorite radio hosts of all time. We managed to have lunch at the event which included fantastically fresh oysters, and I ran into great friend and colleague Loraine Jacobs who was also soon to be on her way to IACP in Portland.
Next we were off to our final book event in S.F. at Omnivore Books in Noe Valley. Celia and Paula own this terrific book store and their book events draw a huge crowd including my brother who had called me after hearing me on Gene Burns warning me to slow down as I was "no longer in NY!" This advice was well taken and I was able to relax and have fun talking to the group, answering questions and sharing stories.
One of the highlights was finally meeting Rachelino, who wrote up the Baker's Dozen event on the previous posting but whom I missed because there were so many people at that event.
Our last day was a return to Napa where we finally got to see my brother Michael, sister-in-law Mia, and niece Mariella for a lovely relaxed lunch at Ubuntu (which friend Diane Boate recommended as "a vegetarian Daniel Patterson place."
And then we walked over to show them Cedar Gables Inn.
We started the event with cappuccino but Turkish coffee was served with the desserts--a good choice as I consider cappuccino to be a dessert unto itself so Turkish coffee was a better balance to the cakes.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Turkish coffee is one of the most traditional preparations of coffee. Thrice boiled, it has been described by one of our lovely employees as "Black as death, strong as hell and sweet as love". Typically prepared with cardamom and sugar, we've decided to make a delicate experience, meant to be sipped black.
Albers Cake (in 3 parts) Caitlin Freeman & Leah Rosenberg
Original Recipe: Chocolate Tomato Cake
Original Recipe: Classic Carrot Cake
Dreamy Creamy Frosting
Fondant (The Cake Bible)
Original Recipe: Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake
White Choc Lemon Buttercream
Fondant (The Cake Bible)
We chose three complete cakes that we wanted to make exactly as Rose directs - every filling, frosting, and cake. We covered them in fondant and stacked them to look like a Josef Albers painting - if it was made of cake!
Caitlin Freeman & Leah Rosenberg
Original Recipe: White Velvet Cake
At the SFMOMA we make cakes inspired by the art being shown in the museum. We took Rose's cake, cut it into bits and re-assembled the whole thing in homage to the De Stijl master!
Lemon Cloud Cream
Original Recipe: Chocolate Apricot Roll
Cream Cheese-Stabilized Whipped Cream
Nicole was inspired by the Cream Cheese-Stabilized Whipped Cream and originally had planned to make a roulade with the filling, cornmeal cake, and apricot - sort of "Rugelah roulade". Once she made the filling, she decided it would be more interesting & delicious if it was deconstructed and paired with olive oil, nuts and toasted vanilla bean
Caitlin Freeman & Leah Rosenberg
Original Recipe: Saint-Honore Trifle
Seeing the Diebenkorn painting, Ocean Park #122 in person, it's absolutely clear that if it were a dessert, it would be a trifle. So, of course we' took Rose's beautiful Saint-Honore Trifle and mixed it up a bit! Genoise cake, lemon mousse, lemon curd and pomegranate gelee.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
with Stout ice cream & rhubarb
Jake Godby, Humphry Slocombe
Original Recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding
Jake was inspired by Rose's use of beer and his love for our San Francisco treasure - Magnolia Brewpub. The cakes are soaked in wart syrup (unfermented beer!) and then paired with a Magnolia Imperial Stout ice cream and rhubarb.
Rose Geranium and Strawberry Pinch Cake
Amy Brown, NOPA
Original Recipe: Catalan Pinch Cake
Amy Brown took the perfectly perfect Catalan Pinch Cake and paired it with Rose Geranium Crème Anglaise and roasted strawberries. There might not be anything more deliciously springlike!
Caramelized Chocolate Cake
with raw milk ice cream
Daniel Patterson, Coi
Original Recipe: Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
Daniel did what he does best: deconstruct and make perfect!
Original Recipe: White Gold Passion Genoise
Paul Massey's delicious original cake appears in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. That didn't stop him from playing with his own creation! He has re-imagined it with Coconut Bavarian, mango and passionfruit gelee and a passionfruit macaron. Second time's also a charm!
Bombay Chocolate Cake
Sarah Cox, Dynamo Donuts
Original Recipe: German Chocolate Cake
Sarah was inspired by the fact that Saffron and Chocolate is her ultimate favorite sweet combo. The German Chocolate cake inspired her to create something in homage of her love of Indian Food. She made the cake just as Rose directed, but took her own liberties with the topping, replacing the pecans with pistachios and adding saffron and lime to the coconut.
Caitlin Williams Freeman, formerly of Miette Bakery, whose signature cake "the Tom Boy" graces the new book, is married to James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee--my favorite coffee in the world. She cooked up this imaginative idea to have Bay Area bakers make their interpretation of my cakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and some from The Cake Bible in James's new roastery.
Rose and James
We arrived early and were treated to coffee!
My 'Girl' Cappuccino
Woody's 'Boy' Cappuccino
Diane's Coffee (Note the crystal clear bubbles)
There was an endless stream of visitors and I never stopped signing books or talking during the entire event. I was delighted finally to meet Marc Cohen who so generously trained me on Dragon voice-activated software and his partner Dave Hogue who made their wedding cake from The Cake Bible. And I was overjoyed to see my good friend Cheryl Lew, on Montclair Bakery which my brother still frequents despite his move from Oakland to Mill Valley.
Here are photos of almost all the cakes taken by Woody and my dear friend Diane Boate, with fascinatingly detailed descriptions by Caitlin.
Greeting Dear Caitlin
Books for Signing
Mutual Friend Daniel Patterson of Coi Restaurant with Staff
Preview of the Cake Table
Detailed photos and descriptions to follow in the next posting.
Bake Napa Valley
Bake Napa is a spin off group from Baker's Dozen organized by Annie Baker (yes that's really her name) for those who live in the Napa area. The meeting is hosted by Susie and Ken Pope at their magnificent B & B Cedar Gables Inn. The concept of this group of bakers, both professional and avocational, is to bake from the the guest author's book and to be as true as possible to the recipe.
Winning book of the year at IACP in Portland was the icing on the cake of two of the most terrific weeks of my life. Months of planning on the part of all involved went into these events and it was one of those rare times when things went not only just as planned but even better than I could have imagined. It was beyond gratifying to have the support of so many of the most loving and creative professionals and friends. Each event included cakes baked from the new book and each was entirely different in concept. Oh brave new world with all the wonderful bakers in it. I was blown away and am still on Cloud 9. Between the photos, video, and descriptions provided by Caitlin of her event at the roastery, guaranteed you'll feel like you were there.
The Baker's Dozen Event was held at the foreigncinema on Mission Street. They also provided a delicious lunch culminating with strawberry shortcake with Meyer lemon cream (not that we needed another dessert but who could resisit! )
Last week I posted a link to Rachelino's write-up of the event. I've just received another write-up by fellow baker Patricia Kline that is so delightful i'm adding it here.
My Brilliantly Creative Friend Diane Boate, aka the Cake Lady of S.F. Who Baked up the Idea for this Event (and also made her beautiful outfit)
Dearest Friends Flo Braker and Marlene Sorosky
Flo organized all the recipes, giving the group a choice of which recipe each member wanted to bake from my suggested list. There were over 100 attendees and lots of cakes, though not everyone baked for this event or there would have been over 100 cakes!
Cakes Being Sliced
Cakes Being Served
The first hour of the event was devoted to chatting and tasting!
Celia, co-owner of Omnivore Books, provided books for purchase and signing.
I spoke to the group for an hour. The time simply evaporated.
I'm looking forward to sharing with you details of the many wonderful events starting with San Francisco and culminating with the International Association of Culinary Professionals in Portland. Fortunately Woody took terrific photos of the cakes and locations so there is much to share. It will take a little time to organize all this but not to worry--the adventures of the events are quite unforgettable! In fact, so much happened it was near impossible to process or digest it all at the time so this gives me a great excuse to relive many of the best moments.
There will be 5 postings (one each week) as follows:
1) Baker's Dozen Event in S.F.
2) Napa Bakes in Napa (with Video)
3) Blue Bottle New Roastery in Oakland (part A & B)
4) Gene Burns Radio Show and Omnivore Books Signing in SF
5) Portland and the Columbia River Gorge
Meantime, i think you'll enjoy this write-up that Rachelino, a member of Baker's Dozen and one of our own Heavenly Bakers did for the Baker's Dozen blog and has been given permission to share with all of us.
The Island of Ischia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a short ferry ride from Naples.
The numerous hot springs on the island, resulting from its proximity to the volcano Mt. Vesuvio, create a unique tropical climate. The exceptional produce available on the island is a direct result of this climate and the rich volcanic soil. The lemons, for example, were the most amazing I’ve ever experienced. They were so sweet and flavorful we ate slices of them plain, but I sure would love to try them out with some of my dessert recipes.
Inevitably, Ischia is home to many spas and invites both tourists and locals to come for curative treatments from the thermal-mineral waters or just to enjoy the beautiful beaches, charming fishing villages, and spectacular panoramic views.
Ischia, whose highest elevation is 788 meters, is second in altitude only to the island of Elba.
As we traveled down the winding road from the mountain top I was most intrigued by the ancient houses and wine cellars built right into the mountains.
Ancient Stone Walls and Gardens
Ischia is called the green island because of the preponderance of green stone. It is the only place in the world where this green stone exists other than one location in the central western part of Africa.
Our first lunch in Ischia was at sea level, at Un attimo DiVino. Sicilian chef-owner Raimondo Triolo was a 3 star Michelin chef in Turin who opted for a ‘simpler life.’
Lunch was served family style in this small restaurant.
One of the beautiful dioramas on display at the Festival Pane, Amore, e Fantasia
The Chiesa (Church) di San Vincenzo all Sanità below which lies the catacombs of Catacombe di San Gaudioso.
Who would guess that below the exquisite décor of this church lies the dark, grey, cold chambers of death. True it’s part of life and history but it’s one thing I don’t appreciate being reminded of.
But life is for the livings so on to one of the most luxurious and special hotels--the the Hotel Vesuvio. This is luxury without intimidation. The Caruso Suite requires $1900 a night. Of course the balcony has a view of Mt. Vesuvio. Everything is of the finest quality, from exquisite pink Murano crystal lamps and chandeliers to the finest granite in the bathroom, and beautiful woodwork. Pavarotti also stayed in this suite. It is said that Enrico Caruso died here but I distinctly remember my friend Judy, when we were in high school at Music and Art, telling me Caruso was her Uncle and he died on stage, I think at the Met! Be that as it may, I’m sure Caruso stayed at this hotel, even if he may not have died there, and I would stay in a heart beat (perhaps an unfortunate metaphor in this case).
The dignified but friendly Maitre d’ at Ciro a Santa Brigida where we enjoyed fabulous pizza for lunch.
lovely wine and label
I’ve ordered mussels Posillipo in NY never realizing that the name derived from a region in Naploli!
I don’t usually take many photos when I travel but in iNapoli, everywhere I looked there was something I wanted to share with all of you. I’ve narrowed down the best to about 20 of Naples and 23 of the enchanting island of Ichia so I’ll divide Naples and Ischia into three postings of photographs with short commentaries.
One of the first things we learned from our guide was that the engaging funicular song was written in Naples as an ad to get people to use it who were initially reluctant! Another thing, dear to my heart, was the discovery that St. Genaro is patron Saint of Napoli (dear to my heart because one of Elliot and my first dates was at the St. Genaro festival in NY which is held just down the Street from where we have lived since our marriage).
My friend Marlena told me that the sfogliatelli at the grand hotel on the breakfast buffet were fantastic, and she was right. I had a minimum of one every morning.
But I have to say that the sfogliatelli at the famed pasticceria Scaturchio were more exquisite still.
Scenes from the Market Place
The Natale (Xmas) melon resembles a Crenshaw. When shrivled on the outside it is white inside and ready to eat.It is bought in Novemeber, dried, and eaten as an appetizer Christmas Eve.
A gorgeous squash
store vendor displaying her vegetable salad, a specialty of the region
When one hears the word Naples or Napoli, most think immediately of two things: the world’s best pizza and having one’s purse snatched by sexy Italian guys on a motor scooter (I hope in that order). But as my dear friend and colleague Faith Willinger says: People are afraid that when they come to Naples their money or purses will be stolen but in fact what will be stolen is their hearts.
I must tell you a little about Faith. She has been living in Florence for longer than I’ve known her which was before either of us had written a cookbook. She raised her son Max there, married a terrific Italian named Masumo (Max in Italian), and has long been the voice of Italy in America. In fact, the Italians credit her for bringing together awareness of the various regional cuisines within Italy itself. Of course she was one of the founding members of the Slow Food Society and despite the fact that (I think wisely) she still doesn’t drive, she manages to appear at every conference I’ve ever attended there. One look at Faith and all is revealed—the face of a woman in love—with life, with food, and most of all with the people of Italy. Her eyes twinkle with humor, curiosity, andthe well-being of one living where she should be and doing what she should. The congenitally open and welcoming Italians warm to her and reveal all their culinary secrets without hesitation.
I also must tell you a little about another dearest friend—Marlena Spieler for it was she who invited me to this press trip to Naples. Marlena is another expat who grew up in Sacramento, Ca. and has been living for many years with her Scottish husband Allan outside of London. Marlena travels all over Europe writing about food and was given a special award in Naples for all she has done to promote the region. Marlenais the most prolific food writer I know (try googling her name!). She has published over 20 cookbooks, writes a regular column for the S.F. Chronical, recently for the New York Times, and many other publications. There is no one I know more loving, giving, and joyful than Marlena and this is reflected perfectly in her unique and personal writing style. To read her is to love her. So, as you can imagine, hanging out with her for 5 glorious days in Naples and the Island of Ichia was a shear delight, filled with history, art, delicious food, delightful people, and hilarious adventures.
We had been invited by the Naples Chamber of Commerce to cover the event whose name was loosely based on the 1950’s Gina Lolbrigida movie “Pane, Amore, e Fantasia” (Bread, Love, and Imagination). My article on the event will be appearing in Food Arts Magazine but the rest of the trip and photos will be here on the blog.
I wish I had had the foresight to take a picture of Heinz Morgenegg who, together with his wife Doris , runs an amazing organic farm in Hemishofen near the exquisitely beautiful town of Stein am Rhein. But I was too much living in the moment to take many pictures at all. His intensely vibrant eyes reminded me of that poem “tiger tiger burning bright, in the forest of the night.” The intense passion, we immediately discovered, is directed toward the sustaining of his organic farm, which he explained is becoming more and more of a challenge with the encroaching mega markets, even in Switzerland.
We arrived in Appenzell to the clanging of bells—the cows were coming down from the mountain. This spectacular and strangely stirring event only happens once a year, the first Tuesday of October and all the farmers of the region join in this procession.
Children, dressed in traditional costumes, join the procession carrying switches to keep the cows in line. At what I thought was the end of the procession along came the bull. Then came the goats and then still more cows.
There was a wonderful milky smell and occasionally moos! A small black and white dog leapt among the cows biting at their heels to help keep them in line.
Children are allowed to smoke cigars on this one day of the year which is said to cure them forever of the desire to smoke!
After the procession we went for a guided tour around the lovely town.
When I was about to embark on my first trip to Europe at 16, my mother, who had never traveled abroad, suggested that I visit her first cousin Will Horwitt who was a sculptor and widely traveled. I still remember the embarrassing moment when he asked me what was the focus of my travel. Seeing my panic frozen face he made some suggestions: art? architecture? ruins (definitely not)? he might have mentioned people, but when he got to food I knew that was it and wasn’t about to admit it. It turns out that food is one of the wonderful windows on culture and civilization. My great aunt Polly later taught me the Brillat-Savarin quote “tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are.” But in those days food had less dignity in our country, in fact, I thought I would have to live in Europe to follow my bliss! Inevitably, my interest in food opened my eyes to many other things of culture, and beauty and this posting will start with those, but if it’s food you are after I can assure you that when it comes to me and my first love, it’s always there waiting—this time toward the end of this posting!
Reluctant though I was to leave the beautiful Ticino, where I was able to enjoy using my smattering of Italian, I was richly rewarded by our stay in St. Gallen and Schaffhausen that will be in the following posting. St. Gallen has some of the most amazing architecture and fascinating sacred history in all of Switzerland. A synagogue dating back to 1881 is the oldest in the Lake Constance area. The gorgeous 1755 baroque style cathedral has two old organs and a huge newer organ that was added in 1970 so there are over 200 pipes and when all are played for special concerts the effect is awe inspiring. (In June 7pm every Sat. organists from all over the world offer free concerts.) When I stepped into the cathedral the organist was playing and it was magical—like entering heaven--I didn’t want to leave for the rest of the tour of the city! Make sure to put this town on your itinerary when you visit Switzerland. It is a less know wonder though 10-25-08 marked 25 years since it was designated a Unesco World Site. And when you visit the cathedral, be sure to check out the confessionals. They are carved in walnut and each is unique.
It was six months since I met my little great nephew and niece in Germany for the first time. Marly Jane at 8 months is already walking and Haydn is talking a blue streak but he does have his calm and quite moments!
Departure to Tuscany: What was projected to be a short hop from Frankfurt, turned out to be a day and night-long adventure due to a ground workers strike in Florence. We were rerouted to Bologna where a bus was supposed to take us to Florence but no one at the airport knew anything about any bus. There were 20 of us in the same predicament and by the time we got to Florence the airport was closed and our car rental Sixt didn’t wait for us.
Digging deep into my high school Italian, opera, art history (as in pieta) and phrases from the God Father part 1, 2 and 3, I managed to persuade the police to call a nearby hotel and find us a reservation. When he told me there would be collazione I thought this meant that the hotel would ‘collect’ us by taxi ma non, it means breakfast is included! (see what I mean about my Italian.) But nowhere more than Italy will people sympathize with a stranger who is struggling to communicate in tormented fragmented phrases.
Next morning we collected our car and managed to wind up almost in Rome due to a combination of construction and Elliott’s disbelief in my navigation. (We now own a GPS!)
It seems these days, especially in Fall, that when I go away for 10 days it takes at least 30 to catch up! I took so many wonderful photos of our trip to Tuscany in October that I couldn't decide which to post so I posted nothing! But luckily Ruth (of the magnificent white faced ibis photo a few postings back) make this montage of photos which captures the spirit and mood of our stay. three bottle men (i always thought it should be three bottle boys but it was an allusion to something in literature) is the name of our wine group.
The sunset photo was taken the day (or should I say twilight) of our arrival and Elliott proclaimed it to be the most spectacular he had ever seen.
The group photo with the chef was taken at Arnolfo, in nearby Colle Val d'Elsa Alto, where we had an exquisite lunch.
The man with the white beard is Elliott if you haven't already guessed.
after leaving normandy, i had only the afternoon and next morning in paris before departing for frankfurt. after a few bouts of phone tag clotilde dusoulier (of the wonderful chocolate & zucchini blog) and i made a date to meet at an ice cream parlor near where i was staying in the 7th arrondisement. i felt as though i knew clotilde but i’m sure millions of others who view her blog feel the same way. as fellow blog hosts and cookbook authors, however, we found we had much in common and endless things to exchange. she complimented me on my french (nothing pleases me more) and i complimented her on the unique charm of her voice on the blog and congratulated her on her upcoming first book. she is even more delightful in person than on her blog! we walked over to a nearby chocolate shop that she is writing about in her next book. the background in the photo is not wall paper—it’s antique chocolate molds. then we visited a cheese shop which also sold goat’s milk butter which i read about in her blog a few weeks later! it’s wonderful to have found another special friend in paris!
my friend max brossollet is publisher of the scientific american in france, called pour la science, and he reads what he publishes. despite his great appreciation for technology (they even cook by induction in their paris apt.) they claim they will never have a computer so i can assume they will not be reading this blog. therefore i can confide that though i know they love me, they always find some little thing to criticize. last visit it was my running shoes so i made sure to bring more conventional walking shoes this time. max told me he now accepts that running shoes are the fashion. so this visit’s reproach was my lack of capitalization in the blog posting article i printed out for him on their friend the molecular gastronomist hervé this. my dear friend nadège brossollet was especially horrified when she saw her name without capitalization. at least this time i finally got the spelling right (i managed to fail at this in both mentions in two of my cookbooks).
after several years of thinking about little more than the book and the blog, what a departure it was to take off to france with no computer or manuscript! and after months of little sleep, to meet the deadline of book submission, i felt as if i were sleep walking until i arrived chez my friends the chouards in a little village of st. méard de gurçon. actually i fell asleep in the tgv to libourne until i heard an enchanting little voice calling to me: “cou cou madame!” i opened my eyes to a 4 year old little girl with blond curls and blue eyes wide with daring at speaking to a stranger—a sleeping stranger at that. (i had noticed early that her father was working on a computer and answered her in polite don’t bother me monosyllables when she cried out “regard papa, le chateau!”—which was probably responsible for her daring approach.) i asked her if she lived in the town where the train was approaching and since no answer seemed forthcoming i fell back to sleep. moments later came the response: “oui”! i fell back to sleep secure in the knowledge that i was home at last to one of my favorite places on earth where children are more often than not especially charming.
I’m two vacation reports behind! so before launching into last month’s trip spent with friends in the Dordogne and Normandy and then my nephew and family in Germany I must first post some great photos and a sensational hamburger recipe from our annual March ski trip to our beloved Deer Valley Resort in Utah.
Julie Wilson, directory of food and beverage at the Deer Valley Resorts, told me they were the best burgers she had ever tasted. This was so true I had a second order the lunch before our return flight to NY. along with an equally exemplary “Blue Mojito” containing lime, rum, and blueberries. Recipe for the burgers appears below.
It worked out perfectly to escape from April showers into May flowers two weeks early. When I arrived in the Dordogne the day after the huge storm in the Northeast, everything was in flower. The ground was covered with these tiny daisies and the fields with golden culvas from which the ubiquitous cooking oil arrachide is made. They seemed to capture the sunlight. May in France and Germany began two weeks earlier than in New York.
I'm eager to catch up on postings as there have been many highlights this past month, the trip to France where I had the great pleasure of meeting Clotilde Dusoulier whose terrific blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, is linked to mine, meeting my nephew's new family in Germany, and this coming Monday the Oscar's of the food world—the 20th anniversary of the James Beard Awards which will be held at Lincoln Center. Stay tuned!
P.S. Three days before leaving for France I turned in the manuscript for the new book—815 pages weighing in at under 1 ounce on a CD. (My editor at Food Arts, Jim Poris, tells people I weigh everything—even air! Actually the weight of air is known as altitude.). Here's the presentation:
My friend Lisa Yockelson is always telling me how lucky my husband is that I cook dinner every night. We’re both lucky because it’s a wonderful way to live. It’s healthy and nurturing on many levels. And it takes no longer than it would to go out, sit in a restaurant, wait for the food to come, and then get home.
When we were married, almost 31 years ago, Elliott had been widowed for 9 years and was very independent as a sole parent and provider. In all these years he has never asked me to do so much as sew a button on a shirt and I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology!
So it was very pleasing that he put in a request for me to leave him two breads in the freezer for the two weeks that I’ll be away in France/Germany. I asked him which ones he would like and here is the result of his request—already sliced and sitting in the freezer. The famous No Kneader and the challah. I’m not leaving 'til Monday but he’s already started on the challah. (Believe me I’ve been tempted to steal a piece or two and managed to restrict myself to one little one under the pretext that I had to see exactly how it came out. One of the most perfect ones I’ve ever made!)
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to leave him for more than a few days so it helps to leave behind what feels like a piece of myself. Bread is just that way.
When I read today’s tribute to Paul Bocuse in the New York Times, which mentioned how his name is known all over the world, it made me think of a very funny and delightful story which proved the reverse in his very own backyard!
About 16 years ago, I invited my brother to visit my friends the Daquin’s in Auch (Gascony). The plan was to continue on to Lyon where I wanted to read the Bernachon’s the introduction I had written to the revision/translation of their book “A Passion for Chocolate,” and then enjoy dinner chez their Bocuse in-laws .
The weather was bad the day of our departure and the inter-airplanes were delayed in their departure. I knew we would have to make a later reservation at the restaurant and dashed for the phone. A long line had already formed and I, at the head of it, was responsible for holding it up significantly. This is because when I called Lyon information, to my absolute astonishment, the operator had no idea who Paul Bocuse was and couldn’t find the number for the restaurant. Finally the gentleman behind me in outraged and indignant disgust asked for the phone and nearly screamed into it: “Madame—this woman has come all the way from America to eat at this chef’s restaurant and VOUS, you—a French woman living in the same town as this restaurant has never even heard of it. For shame!” Clearly national pride was at stake here. No one on the line objected to our taking the time to deal with this issue--if anything, there was a murmur of assent. Somehow the operator was motivated to come up with the number, I made the reservation for an hour and a half later, and had my second memorable meal Chez Bocuse with an unforgettable story to tell on the side.
I've had many reasons to be thankful for my ability to speak French--but never more than to have been able to enjoy this rare and amusing exchange!
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but almost did. October 17, 2006 Elliott was recovering from hip replacement surgery and not driving and I was recovering from sympathy back pains with four bulging discs. There was no way either of us could drive to New Jersey. But the ever gracious and generous Knowles sent a car for us so we got to participate in this unforgettable event that I’ve been wanting to post but have been waiting for some very special photos and for the courage to do it full justice.
My connection to the Manor goes a long way back to when my then 92 year old grandmother had her wedding ceremony there. (She married a younger man of 89!) It was a very intimate celebration so I wasn’t actually included, but only a few years later I had the good fortune to meet the owner of The Manor Harry Knowles, the family patriarch of the 6 generation restaurant family, at an event of the Chaine de Rotisseurs. And when the Cake Bible was published over 18 years ago, it was Harry who hosted the first press party for it at the Manor. By the time the Pie and Pastry Bible was published I had celebrated several more of my book publication parties at the Manor. And the incomparable Mary Jane Frankel, who is responsible for all the publicity including their publication “Manorisms,” always did a fantastic job rounding up all the local press and organizing the events.
At our first dinner at The Manor Elliott and I enjoyed a tour of the kitchens and we were both awed by this Utopia that addressed every possible comfort and indulgence not just for the guests but also for the staff. I had never before nor since seen a kitchen that had carpeting to make it easier underfoot. When I asked Harry how they maintained it he said “we just tear it up and replace it whenever necessary. It’s worth it because it makes the staff happy.” The pastry chef had a separate air-conditioned kitchen all to himself (believe me this is not the usual case—pastry chefs are usually relegated to the bowls of the restaurant where it is the most hot or an equally hot corner of the kitchen.) We learned that the Manor even has it’s own metal shop which produces and repairs all the copper cookware. And Elliott rejoiced over the substantial dining room chairs with arms which add so much to comfort for dining pleasure.
This is a photo I will always cherish of my new editor Pam Chirls's family's first visit to my house in Hope. They asked for a cake baking lesson and here are the proud results of their just having unmolded a chocolate cake baked in Lékué silicone molds designed with children in mind (though I adore the cute shapes as well).
Since cakes baked in silicone need to cool completely before unmolding, it makes it ideal for kids as it eliminates the danger of burns from hot pans!
Allix and twin Julia are in the back and Isabelle is the one holding the little loaf cake. We also had a cake tasting of Gateau Breton and they were all amazingly helpful comparing the salt version with the no salt.
The best part is that after taking the cakes home, they cherished every crumb making the little cakes last several days and now want to bake their own. This is what every lesson hopes to inspire!
But I suspect that what they'll remember best of all is the big black bear we encountered on a drive through the back roads. Happily we were all in the car at the time. We wanted to take a photo but he moved far too quickly and all we saw was as Allix remarked "his butt," to which I added: "yes—his bear butt."
This is the view of the Delaware River and the Gap as seen from atop the old trestle bridge spanning the Delaware between Columbia, NJ and Portland Pa. Most of the bridges between NJ and PA up here are closed due to flooding. I've never seen the Delaware so high, cresting way over the banks, or so quickly flowing/raging it’s way to the ocean. I’ve always wanted to climb the trestle aqueduct bridge and finally here was my excuse!
People often ask if I love to travel since I seem to be doing more and more of it these days. The real answer is that I am torn between the adventure/discovery of visiting other places and the comfort of being home. There never seems to be enough time to synthesize all the experiences from each trip. And I’m never happier than when sitting on the back porch in Hope (as I am doing now) listening to the birds and watching the spring-time new bright green leaves dancing in the breezy sunlight.
But just two weeks ago, I attended the annual Swiss press luncheon, this year at 11 Madison, and it rekindled my wanderlust all over again. I’ve loved the idea of Switzerland since childhood: Heidi and the alps stirred a longing in this New York skyscraper-landscaped child’s heart. I don’t remember when chocolate entered the picture but once it did, the result was at least eight “research” trips to this glorious country. I’ve enjoyed hiking through the alps, visiting the Jung Fraujoch, eating the entire contents of a wooden trencher filled with the best triple creme I’ve ever experienced, in the mountains of Gruyere. I’ve eaten chocolate in every canton of Switzerland, tasted the fabulous buttery Engandine Nut Torte in the Engandine Valley near Klosters, drunk amazing white and red wines including Dezaley, and Rubro, Merlot de Ticino; eaten white and black truffles in the same meal, weighed out on an antique balance scale before shaving over the pasta, and astonishingly tender but flavorful wild boar from the forests outside of Berne. In short, I’ve had a secret love affair with Switzerland for many years now and I’m ready to come clean and share some of the joy.
I’ve been proclaiming from the rooftops tops that as soon as I return from Slohomish to visit the family in June I’m staying put until Fall. But that was before I was tempted by photos of the Glacier Express (see www.graubuenden.ch) which travels 7 1/2 hours over 91 bridges from the high Alpine regions of St. Moritz, Davos, Zermott, with unparalleled views of the Matterhorn, past the fortresses and castles of the Domleschg, through the Rhine Gorge--the Swiss Grand Canyon and then to source of the Rhine River. Count me in—or should I say on! I have just one problem: The moment I’m in a moving object I tend to fall asleep. I just have to find out if this spectacular scenery will prove the exception.
While watching slides of the beautiful regions of Switzerland we were treated to a lovely lunch prepared by the newly arrived executive Swiss Chef Daniel Humm. It was appropriately light but exquisitely flavorful. The first course was tiny index-finger-sized columns of roasted beets, follwed by moist and deilicious Atlantic wild halibut with hon shimeji mushrooms and tiny new asparagus in a vin jaune sauce. And the Passion fruit meringue tart with macademia pralines and toasted coconut ice cream, prepared by the very talented pastry chef Nicole Kaplan was among the most exquisite desserts I’ve ever tasted anywhere.
I’ve finally discovered why writing a negative review is so much easier than the reverse. There’s a certain drama to it. I don’t like sounding negative but I like still less feeling negative. So here goes—at least on the positive side I’ll get it out of my system and perhaps you will be forewarned of what to expect should you chose to plan a trip to this area:
I really was expecting to enjoy the experience. Last time in the Bahamas—about 10 years ago—it was a lot of fun but then we didn’t stay in a humongous amusement park type of hotel like the Atlantis (it should have stayed mythically submerged under seas), nor was it Spring break, nor was the weather stormy every single day making swimming in the ocean impossible. This didn’t seem to stop people from crowding around the many swimming pools but I suspect they were using extra towels to keep warm as there never seemed to be any available by the time my husband was finished with his morning seminars and ready to give the pool experience a chance. There weren’t enough lounge chairs either—not that I like lying around a crowded pool. I guess I was hoping for a secluded beach with the shade of a palm tree and gentle breezes transporting me into a dreamy state, rather than the gales of wailing wind and rain that made me start thinking tsunami one night. The security alarm going off for 10 minutes in the middle of the night for no explained reason didn’t help to assuage my sense of panic and unease.
Our room had a splendid view of the raging ocean and hypnotically staring out to sea was my favorite and most relaxing part of the trip. Unfortunately wireless internet access was available only in the library ($10 for 24 hours no less). Other than the room, this was the one place that was mostly quiet. Everywhere else I don’t think I’ve ever heard this many screaming kids at one time.
[Read about the rest of Rose's trip on the full post page.]
on the recent visit to seattle, for the iacp conference, i had the pleasure of having dinner with my family who live in nearby slohomish. my stepson chose a new restaurant called the crow and we were joined by my dear friend elizabeth karmel (her new book: "taming the flame"--john wiley). all four of us grownups chose the halibut that turned out to be moist and flavorful--in fact the best halibut i've ever tasted. the grandchildren had their usual spaghetti with butter and cheese. but they did ask to smell the cabernet cork. here's evidence:
I know that baking is often perceived as alchemy and magic, but chef Letty Flatt, who is in charge of all baking at the Deer Valley Ski Resort in Utah, really takes the cake. You have to be there to believe the wide variety and exquisiteness of the desserts she creates at altitudes as high as 8200 feet above sea level.
At the Seafood Buffet, a little lower down but not much, there is a selection of about 20 different desserts and one can taste all of them as part of the buffet dinner—in fact there are those who do just that (I came close) My favorite—also Elliott’s--was the baklava batons. Another favorite, the Black Forest Crème Brûlée (see photo) is a magnificent plated dessert served only at the Mariposa restaurant at Silver Lake.
My top favorite, which I can never resist (I returned for it twice) is the ice cream sandwich served at the Café at Silver Lake. I’m usually torn between that and the Frozen Lemon Meringue Pie.
(By the way, they also serve the best crawfish bisque I’ve ever tasted anywhere including New Orleans and an astonishingly good Caesar salad—both of which required a revisit as well.) The ice cream sandwich consists of perfectly creamy vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two terrific chocolate chip cookies, cut into 4 wedges, and served with a little pot of hot fudge sauce for dipping (oh bliss).
Happily the recipe is in Letty’s cookbook “Chocolate Snowball.” No wonder she recently was cited in Salt Lake Magazine's Dining Awards as Best Pastry Chef in Utah 2006!
I used to think I had to go to Europe to eat well at a ski resort but not since we discovered Deer Valley. Now we just keep going back. Usually we stay on the mountain for dinner as the choices are so varied and excellent, but it’s well worth going into Park City—just about 15 minutes away-- to eat at Wahso—a wonderful Asian restaurant with equally appealing décor.
In addition to the great food and staggering beauty of the mountains, we really enjoy the genuine friendliness of the people. Last year, when I wanted to try out snow-shoeing, one of the shop keepers loaned me not only a pair of snowshoes, but also his own gaiters to keep the snow out of my shoes, as none of the stores had them for sale.
There was tons of snow and blue skies this year but I actually forewent a day of skiing for the pleasure of hiking with my friends Letty and Julie Wilson (the director of food and beverage at Deer Valley Resort) who led us up the Sun Peak Trail for an unforgettable experience. It was a rigorous one hour uphill climb on a narrow snowy trail surrounded by pines. I couldn’t chat much as I was too occupied with catching my breath, but it was well worth the effort because the summit gave us a panoramic view of the Canyons ski area that was absolutely breath-taking (in every sense!)
Deer Valley was the dream creation of Stein Erikson—the great ski hero whose elegant style--rear end improbably extending at near right angles from one’s hopefully parallel skis--everyone tried to emulate when I started skiing back in 1961. He still skis every morning and word had it he skied with Dr. Ruth the week we were there. It was probably was more than a rumor as I spotted dear Dr. Ruth at Kennedy airport waiting for her baggage while we were waiting for ours.
But by far the most serendipitous moment of the entire week was discovering at almost the very end of one of the rides up the mountain that the familiar looking person sitting next to me on the lift was the editor of Real Simple Magazine. Disguised as we were by our ski apparel it took that long to realize we recognized each other! I’ve seen her countless times on the Today Show and she’s been baking out of my books for years! Out of 1400 people on the lifts it seemed unimaginably improbably that we should be sitting on the same lift chair. Most delightful was that before I realized it was Elizabeth Mayhew I was charmed by her sweet friendly personality—just the same as she is when she appears on the Today Show.
Before we skied off down the mountain Elizabeth invited me to appear on her new PBS show and I invited her to the press party for the launch of the new Gold Medal artisan style flour (more about this in June!). Life is good!
Apr 17, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose
During the few days of IACP in Seattle last week of March, TIm Bennett Product Manager of Gold Medal Flour (who was the inspiration behind this blog) and I skipped out and drove all the way to Vancouver to experience some of the most creative, spectacular and delicious sushi of our lives. We had the added pleasure of meeting Travis Smith and Susie Gardner of Hop Studios, the designers of our blog, who happen to live in Vancouver.
This is my 5th visit to Tojo's and I warned Tim to eat nothing beforehand because it's impossible to say no to just one more of Tojo's beyond description creations. One of the most interesting and demanding of his culinary feats is to create a sushi that is hot on the inside and cold on the outside. He gently but firmly commands you to use your hands (because touch is part of the experience) and eat it immediately.
There is sake and there is sake and the finest quality, served cold in bamboo containers is a world apart from the ubiquitous hot sake one often encounters.
We made it back to Seattle safely and by 10:30 and with only one eye-opener stop for coffee on the way. By the way, it seems that anywhere coffee is served in the state of Washington, it is strong, mellow, and never bitter.
See six more photos below (on the full post page).
we're off for our 30th annual ski week at what has long ago become our favorite of all ski resorts: deer valley in utah!
a few years ago, my husband had an accident skiing that prevented him from accompanying me on the slopes for the rest of the week. in all these years of marriage, i had never skied without him so it felt very odd and lonely navigating the mountain on my own. i decided to take a short break and check out the food at the snowflake lodge. somehow, inevitably, i found myself in the kitchen and that put an end to any possible loneliness at deer valley! letty flatt, who is in charge of all bakery operations at the many restaurants at deer valley, also took charge of me! on her time off we skied together and she introduced me to double black diamonds that i could handle with ease. on the chair lift we exchanged bake-talk and royal icinged (baker's cement) a lasting friendship.
last year, at a marvelous dinner at mariposa--the high-end restaurant on the mountain--we were served a bread that both my husband and i adored. it was, of course, letty's, but she immediately credited peter reinhart for the original recipe. comparing the two i saw that letty had used 5 times the polenta. i decided to double the original amount of polenta but also added 90 grams more flour. neither letty nor i added the optional 3 tablespoons of cooked brown rice simply because i didn't feel like making rice just to make this bread and found it was so delicious without it i've yet to try it with the rice--but i will.
the first time i made this bread back at low altitude in new york city i e-mailed peter immediately saying i was proud to be in the same profession as he. he graciously e-mailed back thanking me for reminding him about one of his very favorite breads--which is now mine as well. and as toast it is unequaled. toasting seems to bring out the sweet nuttiness of the grains. the texture is--well--perfect is the word that comes to mind. judge for yourselves by the photo. and the golden specks of coarse polenta add a jewel like quality. it doesn't get better than spread with sweet butter but the other night i served it for dinner spread with mustard mayonnaise and filled with sardines sprinkled with lemon juice. it deserved the glass of trimbach frederique emile alsatian riesling that accompanied it. gloriously simple and wholly satisfying.
Click to see the flecks!
as i now am inclined to do with most of my breads, i've added a small amount of old stiff sourdough starter (the consistency of bread dough) to increase shelf life and add depth of flavor and extra moistness. if you chose not to add the starter decrease the salt by 1/8th teaspoon.
i promised to write about my recent trip to barcelona but that was before i knew that in three days i would be doing 5 demos, 2 newspaper interviews, 2 t.v. shows, and a 5 hour photo session! i never saw much of barcelona but i did eat and drink wonderfully! i’ll just have to go back on vacation some day soon.
the visit officially began with a demo in a chocolate museum school, followed by a lecture to the baker’s guild of spain. the challenge presented by the demo was to offer a recipe that was chocolate, was uniquely american, didn’t take long to prepare or bake, showed off the lékué silicone bakeware—my host—and not be dependent on either flour or leavening. it has been my experience that european flour produces vastly different results from what i am accustomed.
after much deliberation, it turned out that there was only one perfect possibility: the beloved brownie, baked in individual molds. the traditional small ingot shape of the financier mold seemed like an excellent choice. and now that i’ve perfected this recipe i’ll probably never make brownies in the usual square pan again! in the silicone financier pan, the brownies pop right out—each with a perfect shape and size and fine crust all around that keeps them from staling. it’s far easier getting the batter into the molds than having to cut them afterwards! You can even use the batter to make madeleines.
this batter can be made ahead and transported as there is no leavening to dissipate.
these brownies are light in texture but get their exceptional moistness from cream cheese and fudginess from the best quality cocoa and chocolate. for extra creaminess optional little plugs of ganache are poured into holes made with a chop stick after baking. it was gratifying to see the students casually pop a brownie in their mouths expecting something ordinary and then watch their eyes widen in glad surprise. chocolate never gets better than this.
i'll be out of the country until feb. 6 so won't be able to answer questions until my return. if you post them as comments on the blog it will make it a lot easier to respond when i return rather than sending a g mail.
there'll be lots to report from my upcoming trip to barcelona where i'll be visiting the lékué silicone company and giving a lecture/demo to the bakers' guild of spain at the chocolate culinary academia in barcelona. it promises to be a great adventure.
just returned from the fancy food show in san francisco. highlights were fran's smoky fleur de sel milk chocolate covered caramels (www.franschocolates.com), a wide variety of beautiful and delicious salts from saltworks (www.seasalt.com) and a refreshing yet soothing ginger drink appropraitely called ginger soother (www.gingerpeople.com).
also exciting to me was the source atlantique booth where they were debuting the new packaging of my beloved lyle's golden syrup with my picture and favorite pecan pie on ever bottle!
of course there was lots more wonderful food products but i wanted to stay at my booth (harold's kitchen) where i was showing my pie plate, crème brûlée heart-shaped molds, and lékué's silicone bakeware. it was fun seeing a steady stream of friends, relatives, and new acquaintances pass by. (i was thrilled, by the way, that before the show started i got to spend a day with my brother and family and my soon to be 8 year old niece mariella asked me to bake cakes with her in the little silicone molds i had brought for her to play with. and she was thrilled that she could unmold them herself as the silicone edges are cool enough to handle within moments of coming out of the oven. her favorite was the teddy bear shape!)
as predicted, dinner chez daniel patterson, formerly of restaurant elizabeth daniel and frisson, and his fiancée alexandra was a delicious joy. i'm thrilled that they invited me and my ca. family to their home since his upcoming restaurant won't be opening til march. (lucky san franciscans!--and lucky us!!!) i fell in love with their new great dane lucy and was surprised that despite her size she was more timid about meeting me than i her! my 91 yearr old father sat quietly through the long dinner but as he was departing he turned to daniel and said: "if you cook this way at your new restaurant you will make millions!" (sweet moment)
another memorable meal was at delphina in the mission district. dungeness crab pasta was fantastic--all the dishes were unusual in unexpected but delicious flavor combinations.
for breakfast every morning i walked a mile to the ferry building with my dear friend elizabeth karmel (author of the newly published "taming the flame") to enjoy the amazingly good food at boulette's larder.
home for 3 days to straighten things out and get ready for the trip to europe. also squeezed in a roast chicken and a large challah for my husband--recipe to follow on my return.
Bread Made with the Sponge Method--Note Even Holes
This fantastic bread is my holiday gift to dedicated bread bakers who either have a sourdough starter, are willing to make one, or to purchase one: (www.sourdo.com).
The source of this bread goes back several years to a visit we made to the Old Sheepherding Co. in Chatham, New York. My cousins Bill and Joy Howe have a second home nearby and were overjoyed to report that at the time Melissa Kelly, a CIA graduate, was the chef and that they had a standing reservation every Sat. night. I fell in love with the place and the food. Subsequently, the pastry chef, Price Kushner, fell in love with chef Kelly and they left to open their own restaurant, Primo in Rockland Maine www.primorestaurant.com
Last summer my husband and I spent a week in Maine attending his radiology conference and i persuaded him to drive to Primo saying it was no more than an hour away. (I fudged a little.)
The restaurant, located in a renovated Victorian house, was exquisitely New-England charming and romantic and Melissa’s food was as always unlike any other and well worth the voyage. But this time there was something extra: THE BREAD. i immediately pronounced it to be the best bread I had ever tasted (which means it was ONE of the best breads because when it ranks up there, it’s the one that’s in my mouth that gets top billing.)
After dinner I sought out Price who agreed, saying it was his favorite as well but he hesitated to give me the recipe saying it required something I didn’t have: A sourdough starter. My reply: “Guess what was the last thing I did before leaving for vacation! I fed my sourdough starter!”
Several months went by and finally I put my pride aside and called Price. Good thing too—he had misplaced my e-mail address. The recipe came that very day and I made it very soon thereafter. (I wasn’t taking any chances—I once held a recipe for 30 years only to find it wasn’t what I thought it would be.) The only changes I’ve made to Price’s recipe is to add the caramelized onion after baking as I found that in my oven it burned on the top of the bread, and I used a 475°F oven instead of 550°F as mine won’t go that high. My husband and I were thrilled with the results.
Now here’s what I love so much about this focaccia: It’s soft, and moist, with big uneven holes inside, a faintly tangy flavor which blends impeccably with the deeply caramelized onion topping, and it stays fresh for up to 3 days. It’s really easy to make—it’s just that you HAVE to have the sour dough starter. I tried to make it with the sponge technique and got smaller totally even holes in the crumb, far less flavor, and it staled the same day it was baked. Price was right! (NOTE: the photo on top with the even holes in the crumb is the bread made with a sponge. The photo below, with the beautiful irregular holes, is the one made with the starter!)
So make, buy, borrow, or beg a little starter and mix up a batch of this wonderful bread. Once a starter is established it only takes minutes once a week to keep it alive. I now add a little to almost every bread I make. Even when not fully active, it adds depth of flavor, better texture and keeping qualities to the bread.