Besides creating the Great American Bake Sale (the San Francisco Food Bloggers' Bake Sale I just organized was part of this nationwide event), Share Our Strength also spearhears several other events to draw attention to the problem of childhood hunger. One of the these other events is Taste of the Nation, billed as "the nation's premier culinary event dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America."
Spread over 30 cities across the US, Taste of the Nation features nights of festivity with top chefs, winemakers, and mixologists serving up luscious dishes, delectable wines, and intriguing cocktails. Nibble and imbibe, participate in a wine toss, or bid in a silent auction on tempting food-related prizes. All the proceeds from ticket sales and the events go back to Share Our Strength, to help in the fight against childhood hunger.
Taste of the Nation San Francisco will happen next Thursday, April 29, and will spotlight food from some the Bay Area's brightest culinary luminaries, including Traci des Jardins of Jardiniere, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, and Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake. I was lucky enough to score two tickets from Foodbuzz, to attend the event as one of their Featured Publishers! So expect to see a report on this event on Dessert First!
However, even more exciting it that one of you readers can experience it with me! Foodbuzz has given me an extra ticket to raffle off, and I need to give it away by this Friday!
The Taste of the Nation San Francisco event is Thursday, April 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 at AT&T Ballpark. Obviously you will have to be able to get yourself to the event. For all my readers who aren't in San Francisco, I'm very sorry and I promise I'll have another raffle that you can all enter very soon!
Since time is short, I'll make it simple to enter: simply follow my Twitter feed. Post your twitter handle in the comment box below so I can verify that you're following. If you're already following me, you can also post your twitter handle and enter!
I'll pick a winner at random on Friday at noon. So get a-typin!
Tickets for Taste of the Nation can also be purchased here. If you live outside of San Francisco, check the events page to see if there is another Taste of the Nation event near where you are. Events are happening from now through July.
Here's another chance to help in the fight against childhood hunger – and have some fun in the process!
While today was meant to be posting about St. Honoré Day, it is also the day for taking action to preserve Net Neutrality, so we can continue to visit all of our favorite sites in the same way we can now.
Without access to all of the Internet, I would not have been able to do research on St. Honoré, find new desserts to inspire me, or meet all of the other wonderful food bloggers around the world. I hope you join in to preserve the net for everyone to enjoy equally.
I did something last night I hadn’t done in a while: check the stats on the site. To my surprise, I found a flurry of visits from the popular local site SFist . Curious, I wandered over to find an article on food bloggers in SF, and, nearly at the end, a link to my cookie article!
I’m mentioning this more to say thank you to SFist for including me in their blog roundup, and to encourage you to visit some of the other fun and fascinating sites listed there. Enjoy!
Rob from the endlessly fascinating Hungry in Hogtown tagged me for this meme. It’s really interesting to think of how differently we all cook and treat our sources of inspiration: How many of us cook after a wonderful meal at a restaurant, or watching a food show, or passing by a tempting bakery? How many of us spend evenings leafing through our magazines or cookbooks, searching for the recipe to inspire us? Do we scribble them down on pieces of paper, dog-ear the page, put a sticky on it?
And, of course, there is the combination of giddy relish at the sheer promise held within the glossy photos and enticing text, along with prickling guilt that you’ve acquired yet another batch of recipes to vie for your attention with the all the other ones you haven’t gotten to yet.
As I see the quality of cookbooks moving more and more into the coffee-table book realm, I am reminded of an article I read where the author questioned how many people actually cooked the recipes from cookbooks, and how many just kept them as pretty decorations and daydream material. I’m very pleased at the profusion of food blogs out there putting all these cookbooks to good use, and proving all those dazzling photographs are entirely possible to replicate at home!
Where do you obtain the recipes you prepare?
In my poorer student days I used to clip my recipes from the newspaper and from magazines like Bon Appetit. My mom had a copy of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook that I stole when I went to college; the snickerdoodle recipe is fab! Nowadays, like many food bloggers I have Cookbook Acquisition Syndrome. I try to tell myself that rather than it being a quantity vs. quality issue, I am getting quantities of quality books. I do appreciate well-written, beautifully photographed, stylishly assembled cookbooks as works of art in their own right.
I also have about 2 D-ring binders full of recipes from pastry school that I refer to – the most valuable item I took away from class. While they are on printer paper and have no sexy photos, they are excellent base recipes and cover pretty much the entire range of French pâtisserie.
How often do you cook a new recipe?
About once a week, usually on weekends. Or else it’s a project spread out over a couple of weeknights. With pastry, and especially with new recipes, I prefer to take my time and enjoy all the details – the whirr of the KitchenAid as the ingredients reach just the right point of combination, the rolling of the dough to the perfect thickness, the peeling and careful sectioning of the fruit, the frosting of the cake to level-smoothness – yes, I treat baking like a Zen exercise!
Sometimes I will get home and just feel like whipping up a batch of cookies – fortunately I have about 100 on the to-try list!
Where do you store your favorite recipes?
The luckier cookbooks are on my bookshelves. The unlucky ones are on the floor around the bookshelves where they stare at me in silent accusation of my inadequate storage facilities. All my loose recipes and food magazines I have managed to corral into boxes. I tell my recipe collection that when I have moved into the kitchen of my dreams they will surely be organized and displayed in a manner that befits their importance!
How large is your recipe pile? Is it organized? How?
I do have a file on my computer where I list all the recipes I want to try in all the loose clippings and magazines I have – as you can imagine, the dessert category grew rather large before I started breaking it down into subcategories:) I have a separate list of recipes I want to make from my cookbook collection – I tend to go mostly to my cookbook collection these days, so that one gets updated more often.
What is the oldest recipe in your to try pile?
I will make a guess and say it is a recipe for a coffee cake from a famous department store that I clipped out of the newspaper about 9 years ago. I think I have recipes older than that; this is the first one that came to mind that I might still try.
Are you really ever going to make all those recipes in your to try pile?
Um, no:) Haven’t we all realized that?
Do you follow a recipe exactly or modify as you go?
I will usually follow the recipe exactly the first time around, and modify it in the future to suit my tastes.
What is one new recipe that you’re scared to try?
This is an interesting question for me. When I went to pastry school I made all sorts of things I would have never attempted at home, and under the chef’s supervision they usually turned out much better than I would have believed. (I think I did ruin the layers of the opera cake the first time I did it).
But every time I try a new recipe, I still have that little frisson of uncertainty; that maybe the tart crust won’t come out as flaky as I want; that the cake layers might rise unevenly; that the mousse might not set right. I look at recipes now and I can recognize the components and techniques I’ve learned before; I guess it’s not a fear that it will come out a flaming disaster (well, yes, maybe a little; don’t we all have that in the back of our minds?) but that it won’t come out as well as I am picturing it in my mind.
I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying I’m a perfectionist.
Tag at least one new food blogger for this meme ("new" as in only blogging a few months):
I’m tagging Tea of Tea and Cookies; if you haven’t read her hilarious and dead-on post on the addiction of food blogging you should!
Tag at least one food blogger you visit regularly but never interacted with:
I’m with Rob here; you mean I go to their page and don’t say anything? That’s not me.
Tag at least one food blogger you constantly visit and leave comments:
I’ll say J at Kuidadore. Her blog is pretty much ne plus ultra for me: gorgeously stylish, well-written and literate, and I am so in envy of her cookbook collection!
Tag anyone else you want:
How about Brett at in praise of sardines, because anyone who’s ready to open a restaurant has got to have a lot of interesting recipes at home!
1. Front counter at the local Chinese takeout place.
My very first "real" job – taking orders over the phone, bagging orders, working the cash register, and filling hundreds of little individual containers with sweet and sour sauce. The cooks actually made really good "non-takeout" Chinese for us employees, but I can tell you exactly what 90% of the customers ordered: lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, house special chow mein.
2. Clerk at the local library.
The perfect job for an incorrigible bookworm. The best part of the job, of course, was being able to see all the new releases first, and hiding them away so I could check them out first!
3. Research Assistant at University of Hong Kong
This was only a summer job – the biggest benefit was that my Chinese improved tremendously. Also I remember being asked, "Why do you want to be a civil engineer? Women don’t do that." To be fair, I think they thought I wanted to be in the field, working out of the trailer, dealing with construction workers. Guess what? I still do that as part of my job.
4. Structural engineer.
What pays for my increasingly expensive cookbook and baking equipment habit. The best part of the job is that my firm is international and thus we get a constant flow of visitors from our other offices around the world. You never know when you’ll see Jaffa Cakes or Japanese biscuits in the kitchen.
Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. Before Sunrise/Before Sunset
2. Fellowship of the Ring
4. In the Mood for Love
Four places I’ve lived:
1. San Jose, California
2. Berkeley, California
3. Hong Kong
4. New home TBD in the Bay Area – yes I’m a California girl!
Four TV shows I love:
3. Battlestar Galactica
4. Sex and the City
Four places I’ve been on vacation:
Four websites I visit daily:
3. Television Without Pity
Four of my favorite foods:
1. Anything from Pierre Hermé’s pâtisserie
2. Miso black cod
3. Dim sum (from Hong Kong, preferably)
4. Either chocolate chip cookies or shortbread – I go back and forth between which is my favorite cookie
Full disclaimer: I am not a beer expert, or even a regular beer drinker. I am pretty girly-girl in my choice of alcohol – Cosmos and Rieslings, if you please. However, my sweetie is quite the beer aficionado, so when I saw the posting for a Beer and Chocolate Dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco tomorrow, I thought, what event could be more perfect for us?
Alas, the reservation date had passed, but the menu still sounds intriguing (and aphrodisiac – after all, Valentine’s Day was just three days ago!): butter poached lobster with chocolate sauce, ravioli of duck confit and cocoa nibs, short ribs braised in chimay with chocolate balsamic reduction, all paired with various Chimays, the famous beers from the Belgium Trappist brewery – one of my sweetie’s favorites, actually.
A bit of poking around on the net revealed to me that pairing beer and chocolate is an established practice. Again, I’m not a beer expert by any means, but even I can tell the chocolatey, coffee flavors in a Guinness stout. No surprise that some people might find matching a good stout to chocolate easier than finding a good wine to pair – see Claudia Fleming’s The Last Coursefor excellent explanations on how she found wines to go with her desserts.
Stouts and porters appear to be the most popular and easy of beers to pair with chocolate – their dark toasty flavors would match with dark chocolates. There are also the lighter, more fruity ales which might go better with sweeter or filled chocolates.
Here are some articles I found which describe the pairing process and some specific pairings:
You could also cut to the chase and buy beer that already has chocolate in it. Some of the most famous are Samuel Adam’s Chocolate Bock, which is infused with cocoa nibs from Scharffen Berger, Rogue Chocolate Stout (apparently they just hosted the 4th Annual Beer and Chocolate Tasting in Portland, Oregon), and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, from the UK.
What about baking? Here are some intriguing recipes for a Chocolate Stout Cheesecake and a Fudgilicious Porter Cake. I also remember one for a Guinness Stout cake in my files…will have to try that!
Seems like there are enough ideas for me to have my own beer and chocolate dinner at my own home:) Who knew it might be chocolate to help me overcome my lack of beer appreciation?