The last week has been a dazzling schedule of tweet-ups, dinner parties, classes and gatherings that almost boggled my mind. I really can’t imagine a week where I have had more fun or ate more incredible foods 0r hung out with more fascinating people.
I could spend the rest of the year writing up my experiences of this week, but there are more things scheduled between now and then, so instead here some highlights:
Bay Area Food Bloggers Tweet-up
The newly formed Bay Area Food Bloggers group had our first meeting for a Friday night happy hour at Horizon’s in North Beach. Chef Christopher Lee (@iplaywithfood) is the Executive Chef and very kindly offered us space to meet, drink and feast on his incredible Kobe beef sliders, bacon and truffled mac’n’cheese and a plethora of fries. I have been dreaming about this burger and mac’n’cheese for quite a while and the reality was even better than my expectations. Chris treated us to an enormous platter of amazing cookies and mini pastries that blew my mind, and local ice cream and sorbet artist Flash Freeze kindly provided a half dozen of incredible flavors to try, my favorites were the Blue Bottle espresso, the salted dulce de leche and the pineapple thyme. Thank you Chris and Flash Freeze!
After the fun of BlogHer Food and Foodbuzz (which I sadly missed), it was incredible to meet the wealth and diversity of our local food writers and bloggers. Best of all, they are genuinely fun people that I am so pleased to count among friends. Attending was @sstiavetti, @Jeters, @inuyaki, @LunaRaven13, @Biggie, @TastyTwosome, @lettuceeatkale, @cookingwithamy, @m_quinnMy @singleguycooks. Apologies if I missed anyone at the evening, we were enjoying our cocktails, and the after party gathering was a blast too. Somehow we ended up walking around North Beach wearing false mustaches (and it might have been my idea?); much hilarity ensued.
Thank you, Stephanie, for organizing this great evening!
Family Meal Collective Dinner
The following Sunday was the long-awaited Family Meal Collective early winter supper. This incredibly talented group of people organize informal dinners for their guests, with perfect ambiance and incredible food. The proceeds help with a local non-profit. Chef Kris with the help of Charlene and Yuka prepared a wonderfully comforting dinner for an extremely soggy winter night. I was joined by 9 convivial diners and we noshed and sipped the night away.
- Amuse: Parsnips and “Coffee” with Dolin vermouth de Chambrey Blanc with cranberries and orange peel garnish. A few sips of rich creamy heaven and the vermouth was a perfect match.
- Starter: Lumpia- Basah: spring rolls with miso salt crusted pork belly, pickled kumquats, paired with an Antech Limoux Cremant de Limoux. The crisp veggies and unctious pork belly was incredible. This was a sublime bite. Or two. Or…. Yes, we had seconds!
- Intermezzo: “Trou Normande”, a delightful glass of apple cider with Humphry Slocombe pink apple sorbet floating inside.- A “stomach conditioner” of barley and oolong blend tea. It was remarkable refreshing and really did set the palate for the main courses.
- Giagandes and Christmas Lima bean stew, roasted sunchokes, 24-hour braised beef cheeks, a “garden of grains salad”, cabbage and roast potatoes. The bean stew was so delicious I could have made a meal on this alone. The beef cheeks were meltingly tender,so much so that you could have used just a spoon, and you really needed a spoon for the decadent savory fig sauce to spark up the flavors. The grain salad had all my favorites, and some new, quinoa, barley, millet, and raspberries for tang. Served with these family-style bowls of heaven was a Casa Castillo from Jumila, Spain, 2007.
- Dessert: Chocolate in a jar; hazelnut chocolate pudding with 40% cacao, nutella and cocoa nibs. They came in small canning jars and we ate them all! The “One for the Road” was a perfect last glass of Buffalo Bourbon, Faretti Biscott Famosi, rooibos and agave.
I am delighted to offer you the recipe for the amazing amuse from Chef Kris. I hope to make it for my family for Christmas dinner.
Family Meal Collective Parsnip Soup
Yield: approx. 2 qts.
1 quart half and half
1 bay leaf
a sprig of thyme
salt to season
Sweat onions very slowly at low temperature without allowing the onions to caramelized. Add in sliced parsnips, allow to cook slowly at low heat, until softened. Add just enough half and half to cover the parsnips and add in bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a slow simmer and allow parsnips to cook for 10 -15 min. Strain parsnips and place in a blender. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and add just enough cooking liquid to the blender to thoroughly emulsify both parsnips and cooking liquid. Strain parsnip puree thorough fine sieve and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Can be garnished with: coco nibs, rendered pancetta, double smoked bacon,tempura fried oyster, poached quail egg
I look forward to more of their dinners in the Spring!
Liquid Alchemy Molecular Mixology Class Preview
Tuesday I had the rare pleasure of attending a preview of an innovative class for bartending professionals and others, like myself, interested in the technical arts of cocktail craft. Douglas Williams, a molecular mixologist and a classic cocktail consultant, also known as @liquiddouglas, is a fascinating professional, deftly mixing his creative cocktails with the most modern of ingredients, liquid nitrogen, alginates and other gastronomic chemicals along the lines of Ferran Adria and Wiley Dufresne. I was delighted to have Seletta (@LunaRaven13) as a table mate during the class, where we watched Doug safely manipulate liquid nitrogen and his cocktail creations and elevate them to sublime cocktail bites. Doug’s class covered safe handling of liquid nitrogen, proper storage and disposal, how to make frappes and cocktail bites. He discussed the various chemicals used in molecular gastronomy and mixology, proper measuring techniques and tips on how to experiment. Airs, foams, powders and emulsions were covered, including his gorgeous Kir Royale with cassis pearls floating in the sparkling wine like a lava lamp of tastiness. The best part was that Doug’s class is very hands-on so you can get right in there and try it yourself under his expert tutelage. Not to mention that all of his concoctions were absolutely delectable. With the proper training and attention to weights and measures anyone can play with molecular mixology.
My favorite was the ball of Root frozen with a shell of cream. It was an adult rootbeer float, a mouthful of fun! Doug also introduced me to about a dozen artisan liquors I didn’t even know existed and I am now on a quest to upgrade my liquor cabinet, starting with Root!
Doug will be offering more classes in January so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement. Thank you, Doug, for allowing me to attend! And big thanks to Traca (Seattle Tall Poppy) for introducing us!
After the class, Seletta and I visited Rye and visited more with the lovely Jen who assisted Doug during the class preview. Jen makes a delicious and dramatic cocktail called Out of the Box, with a flaming orange peel finish. Watch ’till the end for the explosive finale!
Thanks Jen! I will be visiting Rye a lot more in future!
So, that is Part I of my amazing week, and there is more to come….