Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ya Know, I'm a Foodie and All....

...and willing to splurge for amazing dining experiences at places like the French Laundry and Manresa, but it would be terribly hard to justify ever spending $5K a person to attend a food event (unless I were to hit the Mega Millions jackpot, I suppose) like the attendees at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival paid this past weekend. I'm amazed that over 3000 people shelled out that kind of change for the four-day event. I guess that there are a lot of wealthy foodies out there.

Can You Beet That?

A beet hater learning to love those ruby red roots?

I've heard that story before.

From the Glad Family of Products....

Did any of you notice the conspicuous product placement in the Chicago Block Party episode of Top Chef? I suspect that most people may not be aware of the fact that Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce, and Kingsford Charcoal are all cousins to the Glad family of products, one of the major sponsors of the series.

Another Strong Bay Area Showing

This past week, James Beard Foundation announced their nominees for the 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards. Like last year, the Bay Area food community is well-represented. Boulevard and The Slanted Door, two perennial San Francisco favorites, are up for the Outstanding Restaurant Award. While not a clean sweep like last year, four of the five nominees in the Best Chef in the Pacific Region (California and Hawaii) are from the Bay Area: Douglas Keane of Cyrus, Craig Stoll of Delfina, and Michael Tusk of Quince are repeat nominees from last year, with David Kinch of Manresa joining them on the list of nominees.

Nate Appleman of A16 and SPQR is a repeat nominee in the Rising Star Chef of the year. Nicole Plue of Yountville's Redd and Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery were nominated for Best Pastry Chef of the Year.

Other Bay Area nominees include Terra for the Outstanding Service Award and Merry Edwards of her eponymous winery for the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award. Bobby Stuckey, formerly of The French Laundry and now co-owner of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, is another nominee in the latter category.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on Sunday, June 8, 2008.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Chef Chicago: The Block Party

Three weeks into the new season of Top Chef and the first San Francisco-based chef is gone. It was too bad to see Erik go - having eaten at his restaurant, I was hoping that he would stick around for a while. So much for those rumors.

It was interesting to see the SF contestents group themselves onto the same team, though given the political leanings of this area, it probably would have been more appropriate if they had been on the Blue Team.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Let the Flames Begin!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Top Chef will be kicking off Season 4 tonight. Karen is a bit surprised at how much I've been looking forward to this new season of Top Chef, and I guess that I'm a bit surprised myself, especially since I don't watch all that much TV.

Anyway, I'll be looking forward to watching the flames begin!

A Blast for Breakfast

Has it really been nearly a month since I last posted? I guess that time really flies when you are busy with work and wedding planning. Even the extra day in February didn't seem to buy me any free time to write. Anyway...

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a new entry into the breakfast food market, Batter Blaster. Yes, what you've always wanted, pancake batter conveniently sold in an aerosol can. After hearing some more buzz about this product on the radio later that week, I decided that I wanted to give it a try.

An opportunity came up a few days later when Jeremiah invited Karen and me over for Sunday morning brunch. I eagerly offered to bring the ready-made pancake batter as my contribution to the meal. Jeremiah seemed a bit skeptical about the batter, but told me to go ahead and bring some, no doubt swayed by the fact, which I repeated multiple times, that Batter Blaster is USDA certified organic.

When Sunday morning came around, Karen and I dropped by a neighborhood grocery store to pick up a "fresh" can of batter. As I was checking out, the clerk mentioned that the pre-made pancake batter had been flying off the shelves ever since they started stocking it. I guess that Batter Blaster had been selling like, well, like hotcakes...

When we got over to Jeremiah's place, he had already fired up the griddle on his Viking stove and had started browning up a batch of home fries. Fortunately for me, he had reserved some room on the griddle for some hotcakes. So, I shook up the aerosol can of batter and pressed the nozzle, forming neat, little circles of soon-to-pancakes on the hot cooking surface.

Just like that - quick and easy with no mess. (Well, you do need to clean off the nozzle, but that's a snap - just run it under some hot water.)

A short while later, after Jeremiah cooked up some bacon and eggs to go with the home fries and stack of pancakes, we were ready to eat.

The verdict? Eh, honestly I was a bit disappointed. The pancakes had a distinct sweetness to them, not like the flavor that you get from maple syrup, but more like that of straight sugar. I guess that I could have expected that, given the third largest ingredient in that batter (after filtered water and organic wheat flour) is organic cane sugar. However, it probably would have been fine for waffles, which is an alternate recommended use for Batter Blaster. Also, the product information indicates that you should be able to get approximately 28 4-inch pancakes from a single can, but we did not get nearly as many, even though we nearly exhausted the can. However, that could have been due to user error, as I may not have shaken the can enough, especially for the last few cakes that I made.

Well, it was worth a try, but at $5.99 a can, I had really hoped for more.