Entries tagged with “Events”.

I’ve been impressed with the events food-lover Keren Brown organizes around town, from the Foodportunity networking nights to meetups with visiting authors. I’m glad to be part of her first “Foodportunity Expression” seminar, a food writing class that I’ll lead at Andaluca restaurant from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Jan. 16.  We’ll cover a range of topics, including effective writing and meaningful restaurant criticism, hands-on exercises and critiques, standing out in a crowded field, and finding inspiration.We’ll also enjoy lunch together, with pintxos cooked up by  Andaluca’s Wayne Johnson.

Here’s a link to the full details. Want to join us? Sign up here. (Cost: $99, including lunch). I may be the official speaker for the day, but I can already see that some wonderful writers will be part of the group, and I’m looking forward to a great day of conversations and questions and constructive criticism.

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Rice Pasta Couscous Jeff Koehler is technically a native son, but Barcelona’s got him now — and, lucky us, it’s been his home base for travels around the Mediterranean to write about food. Don’t miss him in a rare Seattle appearance at The Elliott Bay Book Company at 2 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 14) to discuss his latest book, Rice Pasta Couscous. It’s a cross-cultural look at those staple ingredients, with Koehler sharing recipes from a broad swath of kitchens, from Syria to Valencia to Sardinia. To me, the stories in the recipe headnotes, the short descriptions above the recipes, are as vivid as the foods. I can picture digging into the Alexandria-Syle Amber Rice With Fish in the fishermen’s quarter of that Egyptian city, or admiring the “white-washed Tunisian village that clings to the cliffs” where he ate Lamb Couscous With Pistachios, Almonds, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins. I don’t ever expect to make Neretva-Style Eel and Frog Brodet, but I like the recipe anyway for the reply Koehler got when he asked his Croatian host how many frogs should be on the ingredient list: “As many as you can catch.”

I interviewed Koehler here on Al Dente Blog about his cookbook, his travels, and how you really make perfect couscous.

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Jacket.inddThe Steamy Kitchen book tour is coming to Seattle this week, and you’ve got three chances to meet author Jaden Hair.

I asked Jaden last week how Seattle wound up as a tour stop for her book on “101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough For Tonight’s Dinner,” in these days of pinched book budgets. Are we (I hope) such a hotbed of fish sauce, lemongrass, and soba noodles that we were a natural audience?  She told me it’s because she had so much fun on her last trip here.

You can find Jaden from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday (Nov. 9) at the Admiral Metropolitan Market (2320 42nd Ave S.W.), then at the University Bookstore (4326 University Way N.E.) at 7 p.m. the same night for a book signing and food. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, she’s teaching a cooking class at 6 p.m. at Sur La Table in Kirkland (cost: $69, registration here).

My interview with Jaden is up here on Al Dente Blog, but here are some other highlights from our conversation:

One was that her speaking voice strikes the same fun, casual, best-friend tone as her blog. That’s hard to do. But it should work that way, Jaden said, because the blog is literally her voice. She writes using voice recognition software, talking through her posts instead of typing, for every part except the recipes. “I hate to write,” she said. 

She’s worked hard to get where she is today, moving in just two years from beginning blogger to author and photographer and TV personality. And now, she isn’t sure what to do next. “I’m at the point where I love what I do so much,” she said. The next big career step would be a regular TV show (she’s talked with the Food Network), one where “I would have a boss again,” she said. “I would have an editor, a producer, all those people who have influence on what I do. I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that yet. I want to sit back and relax and enjoy this. I can pick up my kids anytime from school, and they can hang out with me at home. If I want to cook pork chops on TV tomorrow, I can do it. I don’t have anyone telling me it has to be this style or this way.”

I also asked if her relationship with readers has changed as she’s grown from an unknown to a blog-star with a newspaper column and more Twitter followers than Ruth Reichl. Does that change her relationship with new readers, are people seeking her out now as a potentially powerful mentor rather than a blog buddy? 

She is getting a lot more requests from writers and chefs, asking how to promote their products, or saying something like “My publisher asked me to start a blog.” She tells them that blogging and Twitter have to be things they do every day. “It’s like, you don’t schedule time to brush your teeth, it’s something you do. You can’t say “I’m going to tweet for an hour tomorrow at two.” If you want to be successful at blogging, at promoting something, it’s got to be part of your life…it’s got to be all, or don’t bother.”

She can’t always answer questions one-on-one, but she was glad to do a recent phone-in forum with the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and said she’ d like to do more group talks like that. “I want to share the information (I have), because I got started because people were generous with their time with me.”

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Our Foodportunity ticket giveaway is over, and our lucky winner of two tickets to the Nov. 2 event is entry #26, Natalie. Her choice for who she most wanted to meet in Seattle’s food scene was Tom Douglas, who proved a popular pick — he tied for first place, along with Maria Hines of Tilth. Douglas actually was at the last Foodportunity, serving up bites from an enormous roast pig, as was Thierry Rautureau, another top vote-getter. For those who chose Tamara Murphy or Ethan Stowell, you’re in luck — both will be at the event, speaking on the 6 p.m. panel discussion along with Kurt Dammeier

I’ve had the lucky pleasure of meeting most of the people listed — Matt Dillon, Jerry Traunfeld, Armandino Batali, and so on. For now, I’m most intrigued with the choice of the first commenter on the post, who wanted to meet Nathan Myrhvold. I’ve been hearing for years about the cookbook Myrhvold is developing out of his interest in molecular gastronomy, and David Chang recently told Brad Thomas Parsons that he expects it “will be the be-all end-all of cookbooks.”

Thank you, everyone, for playing, and thanks to food-loving event founder Keren Brown for donating the tickets. If you didn’t win but still want to attend, some are still available at Brown Paper Tickets here.

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The last time I was at a Foodportunity event, I hardly made it to the stage, because I kept running into people I wanted to meet and foods I wanted to taste. Keren Brown is throwing another one of her get-togethers at the Palace Ballroom on Nov. 2, where food-lovers both in and out of the industry meet up. This one will feature a panel discussion by top restaurateurs Thierry Rautureau, Ethan Stowell, and Kurt Dammeier, plenty of time to eat-and-greet your way around the room, and an optional “speed networking” session led by Julien Perry of KOMO. Cost: $30, including a glass of wine and nibbles from the panelists restaurants (Rover’s et al) as well as Tom Douglas Restaurants, Campagne, Joule,  La Spiga, and Lunchbox Laboratory.

Interested? Keren is graciously giving away a pair of tickets to the event to readers of this blog. To play, just answer this question in the comments: Which person involved in food in Seattle would you most like to meet? 

We’ll pick a winner using a random number generator at 6 p.m. PST on Monday, Oct. 26.

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I have my share of benefit cookbooks on the shelf, but I often buy them more for the cause than the recipes. That’s why “40 Seasonal Soups” made an impact when I started browsing through it: The fund-raiser for Queen Anne’s Sacred Heart Shelter is a recipe collection from some of the best restaurants and most accomplished chefs around town. Canlis takes a bow with a parsnip veloute; Tilth offered up a broccoli-cheese soup made with aged Grafton cheddar; Ethan Stowell chips in his Mediterranean mussels and chickpeas; Le Pichet shares its famous onion soup; Tamara Murphy cooks up  sweet pepper soup, highlighting “the glamor girls of the garden.” The well-known stars are joined by neighborhood favorites such as The Continental and its avgolemono.

Volunteer Elizabeth Kruse, who spearheaded the project, began cooking dinners about two years ago at the shelter, which was founded in 1979 with the belief that everyone deserves a safe place to sleep. Volunteers bring their own food, cooking for 30 or so residents at a time. “I saw what a fabulous place it was, and the great things it was doing, really, on a shoestring,” she said. She started looking for more sustained ways to help. The shelter’s annual fundraiser was soup-related — a downtown luncheon with soup and bread donated by restaurants and bakeries — so she began asking chefs around town to contribute recipes for a book.

Some said no — too busy with other causes, just not interested, or just plain no. Most said yes. Dan Braun of Oliver’s Twist, whose son went to preschool with Kruse’s son, stepped up to make calls, encouraging colleagues to chip in as well as contributing himself. The only real prerequisite at first was that the recipes be user-friendly. (After a few came in at restaurant-quantity, serving 50, she began suggesting they be scaled to serve 4 to 12). As they kept pouring in, Kruse started adjusting — putting the brakes on tomato soups, for instance, or chowders.

Kruse tested the bulk of the recipes at home. ”They were all fantastic. Quite honestly, it was a pleasure. Not only I, but my family, my brothers, and my friends - a lot of people have had a lot of soup over the last couple of months.” Lisa Peterson, a friend with a graphic design company, volunteered hundreds of unpaid hours to design the book and see it through.

As I was talking about the delightful ins and outs of the food — how good it sounded to simmer ham hocks on a chilly day for Betty’s winter posole, or how fine it sounded to poach eggs in the broth of Taberna del Alabardero’s Castilian garlic soup — I realized that’s only one key part of the book. The recipes are great so they can help support the cause — the shelter, which serves families who often can’t be helped by other charitable organizations in town. Teenagers can stay with their families at Sacred Heart. Single dads with children are welcome. The organization serves up to six families and six single women at a time, giving them a place to stay for up to 90 days, along with trying to find them stable housing and help them get the skills and means to maintain it. Along with recipes, the cookbook includes first-hand stories from the adults and children who have been nourished there in all ways.

“The rug is being pulled out of places like this…” said Kruse. They do such beautiful work, she said, and so much work, under such tough circumstances. “I love the cookbook, and I loved so much working on it, but the best thing is really that all of the proceeds go back to the shelter, and really make a difference.”

The grand release party for “40 Seasonal Soups” will be Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. The party will include soup demos and samples, with soups by contributors Greg Atkinson, Becky Selengut, and Craig Serbousek. Sacred Heart’s annual Soupline Luncheon Oct. 9 will also feature the cookbook, or check out contact information for ordering here.

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SweeTango apple

Seattle is one of three test markets in the U.S. for the SweeTango apple, a new cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar, hailed as the next big thing in the apple world. Like its parents, the SweeTango was developed at the University of Minnesota. Locally, it’s being grown by Wenatchee-based Stemilt, who also recently bought the rights to grow Pinata apples in the U.S

Stemilt offered to send me some apples to sample before they were available here, and I found them crisp and clean, attractive and crunchy and sweet. The skin was a bit thick, but I loved the texture, though Stemilt says in press materials that it expects an even better texture next season. As the Associated Press reported, the apple’s being seen as a successor to the Honeycrisp. But the way it’s being marketed is quite different: The university licensed the apple to a co-op of growers who control “who can grow SweeTango and where, and how the apple is marketed and shipped.” It’s the same sort of “managed variety” as Pink Lady and Jazz apples, more common overseas than in the U.S., the AP notes. SweeTangos are now on the shelves at QFC (the only place they’re available locally), and, at my neighborhood store, they priced out at $2.99/lb. It’s a dollar more than most other varieties there, though in line with what I usually see at the top end of apple prices.

Minnesota Public Radio noted that some growers find it unfair to restrict who can grow the apple, as the previous varieties developed by the university had been available to any grower who paid a one-time fee. The story continued: (more…)

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Got a taste for lamb? We’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to the Oct. 25 American Lamb Jam, a gathering of 15 chefs and 15 wineries pairing “creative preparations of lusty lamb dishes” with award-winning wines. The roster includes Buty, DeLille Cellars, McCrea Cellars, ART, Flying Fish, Lola, and more. 

The restaurants didn’t simultaneously go nuts for lamb, of course. It’s part of the American Lamb Board’s Seattle blitz, a determined campaign to get people eating and talking about what’s been described as an underappreciated meat. I feel like I’ve appreciated it quite a bit around town, but it does strike me that while plenty of small Washington farms raise lamb, we don’t hear about them the way we know about, say, Billy’s tomatoes or Skagit River’s beef and pork.

So, want to win a pair of tickets to a night of lamb-centric wining and dining? Leave a comment here telling me what other foods grown or raised in Washington deserve more attention. We’ll close comments at midnight PST on Oct. 2, and use a random number generator to pick a winner.

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A new take on the cookbook, Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You’ve Got, is one of the first offerings from a new Oregon-based small press.

I wrote a bit about it in today’s Christian Science Monitor. If you’re intrigued, you can meet author Tod Davies at a celebration of Exterminating Angel Press at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the University Bookstore, or at a book signing at 5 p.m. Thursday at Pilot Books. (Bring a list of what ingredients are in your fridge for inspiration, a la Thierry).

One of the things that caught my eye was the take Davies, a screenwriter, had on photographing food for the book. She didn’t approve. (More here.) It’s as far as you can get from the world of food blogs, which I’ve come to view as modern-day cookbooks. Cornichon thought the book itself “reads rather like a series of posts by a wordy blogger; it’s like listening to a particularly chatty guest at a boring dinner party.” It struck me as a transcribed cooking show, or a podcast, meant for a relaxed perusal over the weeks. It’s making me think about what the word “cookbook” means — and making me think I’ll make her “eggplant caviar” with the contents of my crisper.

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Just about anyone who read Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Misterly’s book, Chefs on the Farm, would have a craving to sign up for a week at the Quillisascut School for the Domestic Arts. It’s a hands-on immersion into cheesemaking, bread baking, and the other fundamentals of turning a farm’s products into food. And, for chefs, it’s a chance to experience every practical step from field to table.

On Sunday, we get a vicarious chance to visit, in the form of an “Urban Picnic” fundraiser featuring foods from a dozen top chefs and restaurants who share the farm’s ethos  – including Lark, Canlis, TASTE, and Top Chef Robin Leventhal, not to mention farm chef Misterly herself. Picnic tickets bankroll the farm scholarships that Seattle’s Chef Collaborative awards each year. Dining on sweet corn ragout and churro lamb and other goodies is an enjoyable way to contribute, and it does go both ways: When I talked to this year’s scholarship recipients, Zephyr Paquette of Elliott Bay Cafe and Zack Chamberlain of TASTE, I realized how much of their experiences at the school cycle back to us all. (more…)

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