Chef/owner John Tesar's Knife is purported to be one of the best steakhouses in Texas. Hedda and Cherif (of Rise Restaurant) joined us as we sat down at our table. But something looked odd, as there was an extra placemat and my being seated next to the unoccupied seat. Suddenly, to my stunned surprise, I heard Jean François Bonnet's voice as he walked by me to his chair. JF is one of my dearest friends and is co-owner of Tumbador Chocolate in Brooklyn.
When I first met him, 20 years ago, I knew with certainty that he would become one of the world's top pastry chefs, but he went on to exceed my expectations by also becoming one of the world's top chocolatiers. He immediately explained that he was in Texas for meetings with two of his top accounts: Whole Foods and Central Market. Zach, being a first class chocolatier, not to mention master of arranging happy surprises, had contacted JF to join us for dinner. JF, of course, brought samples of his exquisitely delicious chocolates.
Dinner commenced with an appetizer of the signature half of a Crispy Pig's Head that was first presented to us before being carved up and served with tortillas and three sauces. It was a fantastic combination of succulent and tender meat and crunchy skin that would have served for the entire dinner but...
Chef Tesar sent out several dishes for us to share including duck confit risotto, penne with black truffle essence, and my favorite or the three--oxtail ravioli.
While the others shared dry aged bone in sirloin and rib eye steaks, we enjoyed one my favorite meats" Rack of Colorado lamb. Roasted brussel sprouts were the side dish.
Chef Tesar then came out to chat with us and to allow our filled tummies to relax before his dessert finale offering.
Six desserts soon filled our table presented by the gracious pastry chef, who gave us detailed descriptions of each. Each had several components including caramel pretzel, an apple tart, chestnut mousse, varying consistencies of chocolate, and cheesecake sandwiched in macarrons.
Midnight sounded as we arrived home to Zach's after many goodbye hugs and still more conversation with JF.
Zach is not only a wonderful friend, he is also the consummate host, so it will come as no surprise that Woody and I were hoping that the predicted sleety, snowy weather for New Jersey and New York would translate to a cancelled flight and another day chez Zach. But off we flew with the comfort of Hedda's invitation to bring us back for more events in the future for the opening of the newest Rise restaurant in Houston. And time flew by as we delved into the doggie bag of now cold but still delicious pig's head followed by a variety of hard to resist Tumbador chocolates:
A sunny Sunday morning paved the way to meet Connie at the Pirch showrooms. We were awe struck by the latest in kitchen and bathroom technology and designs. A fully equipped, state of the art, coffee and tea bar staffed by a barista, offered us cappuccinos to enjoy as Connie escorted us from room to room. Pirch rotates one of the top-of-the-line ovens from a manufacturer every 90 days for her and her staff to test and make recommendations for the sales staff and their clients, who are invited to bring their own baked goods to test out in the ovens.
Along with showing us Miele, Gaggenau, Aga, Wolf, Thermador, and several other ranges, we got to see the latest grills, an in-wall rotisserie, a bread and pizza oven wall oven, and even a built-in computerized coffee maker for $12,000!
A huge show room was dedicated to showerheads with a shower enclosure that enables a client to try out by actually taking a shower.
Pirch also conducts top level cooking and baking classes free of charge. Today's class was on making éclairs and, to my delight, they were using and also selling my Pie and Pastry Bible.
Connie informed us that New Jersey's Paramus Garden State Plaza will be the next Pirch showroom, opening this March.
We returned to Zach's for a light lunch and conversation on different methods of tempering chocolate. The evening plan was to celebrate the successful events thanks to Zach's fastidiously detailed planning.
Then it was off to Rise Restaurant, this time for a talk and book signing. We were all seated on the patio and there were about 20 guests. Woody brought Pepparkackers from the book and Hedda served sparkling cider. We then headed back to Zach's to rest up for our grand diner finale at Knife.
Zach had hoped for us to meet pastry chef Andrea Meyer at the Chandler event but as Andrea had just opened her new patisserie, Bisous Bisous, a few days before so was unable to attend. Instead, Zach drove us over to meet her.
Andrea gave us a tour of her kitchen, where we met one of her assistants, Molly Wilkinson who was making a tray of macarrons. Molly had recently returned from studying at the Cordon Blue in Paris and we were charmed by her enthusiasm and love of baking. It turned out that coincidentally; Molly's mother was planning to attend the Chandler event. Andrea recounted how she and her husband had moved temporarily to California to do a stage at Bouchon Bakery in Napa, and we envied her the experience of working with Thomas Keller.
We then picked out a selection of Andrea's wonderful pastries to enjoy outside of her shop. Dallas is so lucky to have this exquisite place. The croissants were among the best I've ever experienced.
In the afternoon, we arrived at Chandler's where she and Hedda Gioia Dowd, co-owner of Rise restaurant, arranged trays of hors d'oeuvres and champagne for guests to enjoy on their arrival before the demo.
We were delighted finally to meet Joan Wade, who baked through Rose's Heavenly Cakes with the Heavenly Bakers; was part of the Beta Bakers testing team for The Baking Bible; and now is an Alpha Baker for our Baking Bible bake through group. Joan came all the way from Houston for both the Chandler Event and the Rise event the following day.
Orin Lagbas, who just joined the Alpha Bakers a few weeks ago, came to see us and brought her future mother-in-law as well.
To start the event, Zach asked each of the 23 people present to introduce ourselves and talk about our baking experience. We were charmed to discover that Chandler's daughter Chandler, who is a veterinarian, was part of our group. The only male presence other than Zach and Woody was the charming chef Cherif Brahmi, co-owner of Rise Restaurant. We then moved to kitchen for my demonstration on making the The Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies and my tips on baking. I also gave the history of creating the Deep Passion Chocolate Cake and the Wicked Good Ganache as Zach and Woody served slices to the attendees. When the meringue cookies had cooled after baking, Woody mounded dulce de leche ice cream on each as a second treat for our appreciative guests.
The final act was signing all the books and enjoying more conversation.
Connie Akins Mullins, chef and kitchen equipment consultant for Pirch's Dallas showroom, brought take home packages of her German Chocolate Cake. At the risk of sounding superlative about everything, please trust me when I say that this was the best I've ever tasted. Connie also encouraged us to come for a tour of her store the next day.
We signed everyone's book along with more stories and conversation with our many new friends. We asked Chandler to join us at Rise for dinner but she had eaten so much of the desserts she was no longer hungry!
The last time Woody and I visited Dallas was when our wonderful friend Zach Townsend organized a mini press tour for Rose's Heavenly Cakes. One of the highlights of the visit was lunch at Rise Restaurant. Co-owner Hedda Gioia Dowd promised to give us a book party for the next book--a promise that I treasured and was now fulfilled two years later. Once again Zach packed myriad delicious and fun events into four days that felt like a month's worth of activity. And it sure took work on everyone's part to have this much fun.
For our first evening in Dallas, Zach took us to Gloria's, a Latino restaurant serving Mexican and Southwestern dishes. We enjoyed Tamales filled with chicken and potato, Platano Frito, and Grilled Quail accompanied with gallo pinto and vegetables. Zach enjoyed an entrée of Pollo a la Mexicana with refried beans and rice. Margaritas with top quality tequila chosen by Zach were in order as well.
We arrived early the next morning at the Fox 4 television studios for their "Good Day" news and lifestyles show. My appearance was to feature our recipe for one of my favorite cookies, The Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies from The Baking Bible. Woody and I had made 20 of them in advance and packaged them carefully to transport in our carryon.
Anchor hosts Tim Ryan and, Lauren Przybyl, couldn't have been more delightful and put me at ease with lively questions as I demonstrated cracking eggs with my newest favorite kitchen tool, the Crack'em, and made the cookie batter.
My dearest friend, Judie Bird, drove all the way from Ft. Worth to met us at the studio. She is a regular on the show and had invited me to teach at her former cooking school, which was one of the best teaching experiences in my career and forged out friendship. Seeing her again was one of the icing on the cake experiences of this visit to Dallas.
Zach drove us over to meet Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley for us to see the layout of her home in anticipation of our demonstration and book signing event the following afternoon. Chandler is the granddaughter daughter of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. I was especially thrilled to meet her because I am a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt and have several memories that I wanted to share with Chandler including having worked as a medical secretary in the house which Eleanor had gifted to her physician Dr. Gurevitz (whom I had met in the 60's). Chandler gave me two of her booklets, which she had written--one called "Quotable Eleanor" and the other filled with Chandler's cookie recipes called "Cookies for Eleanor." I have to say in all honesty that Chandler is one of the truly loveliest people I've ever met.
Woody and I returned to Zach's home where we spent the afternoon making our Deep Passion Chocolate Cake with Wicked Good Ganache from The Baking Bible to serve for the Chandler event.
Smoke was our dinner destination for Texas style barbeque. Last visit to Dallas we experienced the best pulled pork ever and were determined to return. Chef/owner Tim Byres was recipient of a James Beard award in 2014 for his book, Smoke: New Firewood Cooking. Woody and I shared a Chicken Tamale appetizer and an entrée of the pulled pork enticingly described as Pulled Whole Hog, which we dived into with such immediate enthusiasm that Woody missed taking a picture of it. Zach, who is a regular visitor decided to go for The Big Rib.
Chef Tim came out to meet me and sign a copy of his book that Woody gave to Zach as a house present.
We completed our meal with Blueberry Cobbler.
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.
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!
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.
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.