It's been many years since I attended the annual conference, the last time it was held in New York City. Since that time I attended many annual conferences and regional meetings all over the world. But this year IACP returned to my city for the second time. And there were so many appealing seminars I signed up for the full conference including one day of a preconference tour.The cookbook awards were held on the last evening and, to my delight, my dearest friend Lisa Yockelson won "Best Baking Book" for her Baking Style. (An award she also won for her prior books ChocolateChocolate, and Baking by Flavor!) Winner of "The Book of the Year" was Christine Manfield for "Tasting India." I met her for the first time when I presented at the Melbourne Wine and Food Festival and greatly admire her work. But beginning at the beginning, for the pre conference I leapt at the chance to be part of Madhur Jaffrey's tour of food places in the Indian communities of Jackson Heights and Floral park. I thought I knew Indian food and ingredients but we got to experience flavors and the cuisines of different regions I never had before. One of the highlights of the day was a visit to Patel Brothers, a giant supermarket, where I saw countless numbers of grains, each available whole, hulled, unhulled, cracked, and powdered into a flour. For a moment I contemplated moving to Queens and spending the rest of my life experimenting with all these ingredients. It was a memorable day with the most gracious and knowledgably host imaginable. As I took more photos than notes and spent the rest of the time tasting I can't give you full details on what the dishes were but I do plan to return on my own for dinner. First stop was Rajbhog Sweets where we were welcomed most warmly and graciously by Nirav Shah and his wife (who took time off from her day job as lawyer in order to host us)! We tasted many treats including masala tea and the best mango lassi I've ever enjoyed (and there have been many!).
And for our very last taste of the day, gulab jamun, a deep fried pastry, doused with a sweet rose-flavored syrup, and containing one bright green pistachio in its center. Part 2, the main conference will be next week.