Faces Made For Radio: In the Studio Audience at The Kojo Show

I was, as usual, listening with half an ear to the house ads and teasers on WAMU-FM, when I sat right up: there was an announcement of the chance to be in the audience for a live broadcast of Kojo Nnamdi’s Wednesday food show, when his guest would be Pati Jinich.  And more – Pati would do a demo just before the show.  Needless to say, I signed right up.

We arrived at the new WAMU headquarters on Connecticut Avenue on a beautiful day at the end of June.  The waiting room was already full of fellow Kojo fans.  This would be the first live studio-audience show from their basement broadcasting theater.  We were led downstairs to the bright, cheery space fitted with a demonstration kitchen, set with cafe tables and decorated with Mexican paper flowers and garlands.

The staff seemed as excited as the audience.  WAMU’s general manager, J.J. Yore, was there, and the local host, Matt McCleskey, served as foil for Pati as she prepared a dish from her new cookbook.  Gazpacho Moreliano, or Morelia-Style Savory Fruit Salad, she explained, is not Spanish-style gazpacho, and many restaurants in Morelia (in Michoacán state) claim to have the original recipe.  It includes cotija cheese, onions and chile along with mixed fruit and jicama.  It sounds a little improbable, but is delicious.  Pati mentioned that it could be made with other white cheese, but she prefers cotija for its “barnyardy” taste.

Pati and Matt At the Demo Kitchen

Pati and Matt At the Demo Kitchen

Move Over Jicama!

Move Over Jicama!

Pati's Audience

Pati’s Audience

Station interns passed out samples, and Pati took questions.  Then it was time to file into the studio for the broadcast.  And there was a surprise – Kojo and Pati were joined, not just by Mariano Ramos, chef and instructor at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, but by Paula Johnson, curator of the FOOD Exhibit at the National Museum of American History.

Kojo, Pati, Mariano, Paula

Kojo, Pati, Mariano, Paula

During the show, Pati told tales of food in her life, including the time she got weepy over a Mexican hot dog, her first after twenty years away.  She was filming for her TV show.  The powerful emotional impact of food!

Chef Mariano pointed out that humans are the only animal who uses heat to cook food.  Kojo asked each of them what is their favorite kitchen tool?  Mariano loves his blow torch (there’s a theme here).  Pati prefers her blender.  Paula, joining for the last segment, described how the NMAH exhibit traced the history of Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex cuisines.  The topic of tortillas came up.  In answer to the question, “What can you eat on a tortilla?” Pati replied, “You can taco anything!”  And that was the last word.

After the show, there were door prizes.  I didn’t win, but I did get Pati to sign my copy of her new book, Mexican Today.  I’ll be reviewing it here soon.

Mexican Today

Mexican Today

J.J. Yore Gives Out Door Prizes

J.J. Yore Gives Out Door Prizes

Pati Signs Her Book

Pati Signs Her Book

Only Crumbs Left on the Tabletop

Only Crumbs Left on the Tabletop

After the program, we needed lunch.  We didn’t have to go far; there were several food trucks lined up across the street.  A Jamaican truck had an oxtail platter special.  One to split between the two of us, a Jamaican ginger beer, and a picnic table in Rock Creek Park – a perfect coda to a foodie morning.

Oxtail Alfresco

Oxtail Alfresco

 

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Conserver of a Great Tradition – Review: Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields

Have you ever picked up one of those spiral-bound cookbooks published by a community group, expecting to find it full of recipes redolent of the culture or region of its origin, only to discover it contains only a single section of “specialties,” with most of the book padded out with generic stuff?  Me, too.  This book is the antithesis of that.

The 25th Anniversary Edition of Chesapeake Bay Cooking marks the culmination of John Shields’ career as proponent and practitioner of the cuisine of the mid-Atlantic region.  From Baltimore to Virginia, the domination of the great Bay is recognized as the major influence on the ingredients, with the mix of immigrant cultures, history, and personalities contributing to a unique way of life that was disappearing even as the first edition was published.  Now, when one reads about the great shad runs of the past, or the many tons of oysters pulled from the Bay each year, or the skipjack fleet, or the crab-picking houses that were the life-blood of small towns lining the Eastern Shore, the feeling of regret for the feckless exploitative  profligacy is almost overwhelming.

But this is not John Shields’ brief.  His tone is not elegiac but celebratory.  He has not updated the book to be a wake for what is lost, but continues to rejoice in what remains.  Many recipes are prefaced by an attribution to one local character or another, interspersed with vignettes of people and places, all told in the folksy, down-home voice that he comes by honestly, as a local boy.

And speaking of Baltimore, the crab section (the very first and largest in the book, a full 51 out of 325 pages) includes a contribution by Senator Barbara Mikulski, “Senator Barb’s Spicy Bay Crab Cakes.” She is described as “an east Baltimore gal through and through.”  I wonder if she would be flattered?

The recipes are easy to follow, well-written (with the caveat that a few run to the overleaf), and not at all “cheffy” (even those contributed by professional chefs).  They are written in the direct style one imagines the contributors used as Chef John collected them.  Many have the patina of age, an air of having been proven by generations of watermen and their wives.

There are also new ones added for the 25th Edition, such as Neopol Smoked Rockfish Chowder, from the Neopol Savory Smokery in Baltimore (their smoked garlic is addictive).  Recipes from the German community add diversity, and an authentic recipe for Brunswick Stew includes squirrel meat.

I can vouch for the delectability of “Miss Lorraine’s Barbecued Chicken” and “Smoked Country Ham and Blue Cheese Pie,” although I substituted generic ham for the hickory-cured ham called for.  Don’t attempt to count the calories in this one!

I also had the chance to taste two other dishes from the book, thanks to Chef John’s appearances at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and the Farmers Market at River Hill.  Crab Soup (there are two of them in the book, but I think it was the one attributed to the Cross Street Market) and Back Creek Inn’s Crab Quiche were both worthy of their sapidus ingredients.

Chef John Signs A Previous Edition For A Fan At River Hill

Chef John Signs A Previous Edition For A Fan At River Hill

The Demo Quiche

The Demo Quiche

Chef John Cooks In Gaithersburg

Chef John Cooks In Gaithersburg

John Shields, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, 25th Anniversary Edition,  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.

 

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History and HerStory: Legal Eats: Food and the Culture of the U.S. Supreme Court

What would you like to know about the eating habits of the Supreme Court? A peek behind the bench was revealed earlier this month when the Smithsonian Food History Program collaborated with the Supreme Court Historical Society to present a panel on that topic at the National Museum of American History.  The two bona fide historians were beside the point – everybody was there to be in the same room as the two Justices.  For a foodie in this town, it was thrilling.

These Are the Justices You're Looking For

These Are the Justices You’re Looking For

L to R: John Gray, Clare Cushman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Catherine Fitts

L to R: John Gray, Clare Cushman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Catherine Fitts

Secretary Skorton

Secretary Skorton

The program was introduced by David J. Skorton, the Secretary of the Smithsonian, and John L. Gray, the NMAH Director.  Appropriate for the level of company!  On stage along with the Justices were Catherine E. Fitts, the Curator of the Supreme Court, and Clare Cushman, Director of Publications of the Supreme Court Historical Society.

It transpired that Justice Ginsburg had made a study of Supreme Court history.  In addition, her late husband, Martin, was a consummate cook.  The SCHS has published a collection of his recipes as a tribute.  Justice Sotomayor?  “I love food!”  We have something in common there!

Among the interesting historical facts: Justice John Marshall’s court lived and dined together in a boardinghouse – sometimes alone, sometimes with the other boarders.  At the time, the Court’s normal practice was to issue unanimous opinions.  That broke down when the Justices moved out of the boardinghouse.

In those early days, the rule was to drink only “when it’s raining or for medicinal purposes” – but, as Justice Ginsburg said, “Somewhere in the world, it’s raining!” Justice Marshall and Thomas Jefferson were both partial to Madeira.

Until Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Court building had a Ladies Dining Room for spouses.  It has been renamed.  Here’s the funniest historic tidbit: sometimes during oral arguments, the Justices would slip behind a partition and eat lunch, while the proceedings continued.  When, in 1898, a Champagne cork sailed over the partition, the Court initiated a lunch break for all.

The audience listened politely to the history discussion, but really appreciated the nuggets of personal and current information revealed by the Supremes.  Justice Sotomayor’s clerks have an “other duty as assigned” – to scout out restaurants she might like.  She brings candy back from trips, even though she’s diabetic and can’t eat it.  Why?  It attracts people to come and talk.

The Chief Justice will bring a bottle of wine for a toast on each Justice’s birthday.  There are formal dinners for each Justice’s appointment and retirement.  The Justices often eat lunch together, and the topics of conversation do not include current cases.  They have guests: Heads of State, Justices from the EU and the Court of Human Rights, other high-level personages.  Alan Greenspan and James Wolfensohn are both favored guests.  Why?  They can both eat and speak at the same time.

Justice Ginsburg does not cook.  Her daughter fills her freezer with lunches for her.  Justice Sotomayor wants something different every day.  Salads, sushi, Indian carryout, sandwiches.  “Eating is sacred.” A woman after my own heart.

Tales out of school: Justice John Paul Stevens had a cheese sandwich every day, with the crusts cut off.  Justice David Souter ate nothing but plain yoghurt for lunch.  You should have seen the look on Justice Ginsberg’s face at that!  “And sometimes an apple later!”

Justice Sotomayor, by her own admission, is not a bad cook, but not of Puerto Rican food, because her mother and grandmother were such good ones.

One More - Because, Why Not?

One More – Because, Why Not?

And the last question (though not, alas, from the audience; that might have been too undignified): who would you most like to have lunch with, living or dead? Justice Ginsburg: John Marshall.  Justice Sotomayor: also John Marshall, and Thurgood Marshall, “who never told the same story twice.”

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Cuisine and Coincidence at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2016

Where can one find tastes of eighteen countries’ best dishes in one impressive light-filled atrium?   At the Embassy Chef Challenge, an annual event sponsored by Events DC and Cultural Tourism DC, the folks who bring you the Embassy Open Houses every year.  If you are tired of hearing me declare that there are events that could only happen in Washington, DC, then skip to the next paragraph now – because this is yet another example of the genre.

The event is always a visual feast.  The Ronald Reagan Building’s atrium space  was filled with colorful displays from each country, interesting people, and some appropriately international entertainment.

The Way In

The Way In

Selfies Abound

Selfies Abound

Marilyn!

Marilyn!

A Shot From The Stairway

A Shot From The Stairway

Posing In El Salvador

Posing At El Salvador

Of course, the food provided its own entertainment.

Czech Duck With Cherries

Czech Duck With Cranberry Sauce

Czech Wine

Czech Wine

Ecuador's Shrimp Ceviche Had My Vote

Ecuador’s Shrimp Ceviche Had My Vote

I remembered Chef Andrzej Bielach from 2014

I remembered Polish Chef Andrzej Bielach from 2014

The Uzbekistan Table Was A Work Of Art

The Uzbekistan Table Was A Work Of Art

And The Plov Was Delicious

And The Plov Was Delicious

There were drummers, dancers, then more dancers, then more dancers.

African Drummers

African Drummers

Chinese Dancers

Chinese Dancers

Brazilian Dancers

Brazilian Dancers

Panchamama Dancers

Pachamama Dancers

This is the eighth annual Chef Challenge.  New this year (at least to me, as I missed last year’s event), extra points were awarded for pairing drinks with the small bites.  Thus, the night’s two winners both had tasty alcoholic tipples to drink with their food – the Barbados chef, winner of the Judges’ Award, even managed to infuse rum into the Barbadian Seasoned Pork to go with the Tamarind Ginger Infused Rum Sour.

Barbados Chef Creig Greenidge Handing Out Pork

Barbados Chef Creig Greenidge Handing Out Pork

The People’s Choice Award was won by the Philippines’ Chef Claude Tayag with Bringhe (seafood rice), paired with a special cocktail by Enzo Lim.  And guess what?  The minimal description of bringhe neglected to mention the secret ingredient – it was topped with crab fat.  Dynamite.

Philippines Chef Claude Tayag

Philippines Chef Claude Tayag

Philippines Drink Display

Philippines Drink Display

Bartender Enzo Lim

Bartender Enzo Lim

And then there was the coincidence: one of the chefs at the Dominican Republic table looked familiar.  Sure enough, the two Compres brothers, with their mother, run Los Hermanos  restaurant in Columbia Heights.  I had been there in April with a group of adventurous eaters, enjoying their oxtail, among other authentic Dominican delights.  This place is an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall with delicious food served in generous portions.  What a nice surprise to see them serving their mofongo (plaintains with garlic and meat)!

Dominican Brothers

 The Compres Brothers

 

At the end of the night, all the chefs and judges posed for a group photo, and the winners of the Challenge were announced.   They were presented with Golden Pineapples.  The Ambassador of Barbados and his wife couldn’t have been more pleased and proud!

Chefs and Judges

Chefs and Judges

The Ambassador's Wife, Chef Creig Greenidge, the Ambassador,  H.E. Mr. John E. Beale

 Chef Creig with the Ambassador,  John E. Beale, and His Wife

Both Winning Chefs With Their Pineapples

Both Winning Chefs With Their Pineapples

Everyone else was happy, too.

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New Management, Same Dedication To Local Food: The 2015 Governor’s Buy-Local Cookout

Last year’s Governor’s Buy-Local Cookout belied fears that the change of parties might affect that office’s dedication to Maryland food producers.  The event on the governor’s mansion lawn showed just as much consideration for the promotion of local products as ever it did.  More, actually; the new First Lady pitched in to help serve one of the tastiest entries.

Yumi Hogan, First Lady of Maryland, Serves Her Bulgogyi

Yumi Hogan, First Lady of Maryland, Serves Her Bulgogyi

Her bulgogyi was delicious, and reflected her ethnic heritage.  Come to think of it, this Cookout could better reflect the mix of cultures in Maryland these days, beyond the traditional European-derived bisques and grilled meats that dominate the menu.

That’s a quibble, though, in light of the wonderful creations showcased by the producer-chef teams.  In addition to the appetizers, mains and desserts, there was liquid nitrogen ice cream and a table of Maryland distilleries sampling their products.

Chef James Barrett Handles The Cold Stuff Like a Pro

Chef James Barrett Handles The Cold Stuff Like a Pro

And the Hard Stuff Pours Well, Too

And the Hard Stuff Pours Well, Too

The Maryland wineries and the Ice Cream Trail were also back to offer their fare.  So many good things to eat in our state!

Celebrities were in attendance, as well.  There were not one, not two, but three (count ’em) Queens in the house.  John Shields, of Gertrude’s in the Baltimore Museum of Art, did his bit for the Maryland television industry by being filmed for a new season of “Maryland Farm and Harvest” for MPT. And, of course, the Secretary of Agriculture and Governor Hogan were present for the Proclamation.  The only thing missing was a gubernatorial presence in the band.

The Agriculture and Dairy Queens

Miss Agriculture and the Dairy Princess

The Watermelon Queen

The Watermelon Queen

TV Star John Shields

TV Star John Shields

L to R: Yumi Hogan, Governor Hogan, Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Monica Rutherford

L to R: Yumi Hogan, Governor Hogan, Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Monica Rutherford

The Cookout invites teams of producers and chefs to submit entries, to be sampled on a (usually) hot evening in July.  There was one producer who sells at the Olney Farmers and Artists Market, Banner Bee in Laytonsville.  They provided the “sweet” in a sweet and sour pork dish.  Another dish I was interested to sample served up blue catfish, an invasive species now infesting our waterways.  It is delicious – I hope to see it available more widely in the near future.  Let’s eat it out of our rivers!

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Review: Two Asian Cookbooks: Lucky Rice and Koreatown

Danielle Chang, Lucky Rice: Stories and Recipes from Night Markets, Feasts, and Family Tables, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2016.

Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard, Koreatown, A Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2016.

The two featured cookbooks at the National Museum of American History’s  “History After Hours” session  have a common theme but widely differing manifestations.  The totally-un-PC phrase that leaped to my mind was “gender-specific.”  Allow me to explain!

Lucky Rice focuses on the family, dishes that can be prepared by a non-Asian cook with easily-available ingredients (although some require access to an Asian supermarket).  Chang gives clear instructions and tips for preparation.  It’s a nice-looking, well-designed book, well-mannered, and with a somehow feminine sensibility.

She is guilty, though, of violating the Overleaf Rule- spreading the instructions for a recipe over two non-facing pages, forcing the cook to flip the page over while cooking.  This could have been avoided with a little consideration.

The recipes are pan-Asian, ranging from Hawaiian Poke to Tofu With Thousand-Year Eggs.  The latter is one of my favorite things to make for a quick lunch.  Chang’s recipe left off the finishing sprinkle of coarse salt, which I feel adds an essential crunch to its otherwise overly-soft mouth-feel.

I cooked her Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken With Fish Sauce, which I noticed resembled a dish in Koreatown.  Aha, I thought, I’ll compare the two similar, but not matching dishes!  Both use a cast-iron skillet to roast a whole bird.  Marinated overnight, Lucky Rice‘s chicken is placed in a room-temperature pan and a preheated oven, roasting for one hour in a moderate oven (in contrast with the more adventurous method of Koreatown, described below.)

The chicken was delicious, tender and tasting of the lemongrass in the marinade.  Like many recipes in Lucky Rice, it’s a worthy addition to my repertoire.

Lucky Rice's Roast Chicken

Lucky Rice’s Roast Chicken

Koreatown smacks of another sensibility altogether.  Written by two millennials, a chef and a food writer, it’s the product of a bromance that engenders a miasma of testosterone.  In this book, Koreatowns of America are scenes of hazy, late-night drinking parties preceded by meals loaded with spice and smoke.

In addition to many recipes, most based on tradition but more or less tweaked to reflect Chef Deuki’s training and taste (CIA-trained, he has cooked in both Korean kitchens and Jean-Georges), there are articles about and interviews with many food personages discussing their love for Korean food.  They are all of the male persuasion.  There is a small section of recipes contributed by “guest chefs.”  Here you will find one token woman chef.

There are two pages of photographs of “emos,” the women who serve as greeter, cashier and major-domo common to many Korean restaurants.  The captions identify only the restaurants, not the actual women in the pictures.

Indeed, the index lists 43 names of males and three names of humans of the other gender – and two of them are mentioned as part of married couples.  One would think that Korean food is the near-exclusive domain of the XY chromosome set.

But that’s enough rant.  How does it cook?  Pretty well, actually.  I tried that roast chicken recipe (Tongdak).  The skillet is heated in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes before the seasoned bird hits it, then it’s returned to the oven to roast for 40 to 50 minutes.  The finished chicken is tender and juicy, and your frisson when the oil and meat meet the hot pan?  Priceless.

The Tongdak recipe recommends serving Quick Soy Sauce Pickles (Jangajji) with the chicken, and I found that these were easy to make and delicious with many other dishes.  I made the Daikon and Garlic, and the Egg pickles.  The Daikon pickles were crunchy and sufficient, but the  Eggs were little packages of umami-packed goodness.  When they were gone, I boiled up a few more and pickled them in the same juice (Sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar, boiled and cooled; marinate solids, refrigerated, 4 hours.  Nothin’ to it!)

Koreatown's Roast Chicken

Koreatown’s Roast Chicken

Pickles To Go With The Chicken

Pickles To Go With The Chicken

The Beef Short Rib Stew (Kalbijjim) is another excellent flavor-packed recipe, tweaked for an American crock-pot preparation, but I used the old stove-top simmer method (also OK, as mentioned in a note), and it turned out fine.  This was, however, a recipe that breached the Overleaf Rule mentioned above – there are a few of them in this book, too!

Short Ribs and Vegetables

Short Ribs and Vegetables

These two cookbooks would be useful additions to the library of any cook looking to expand their range into Asian cuisine.  Get them both, for the gender-balancing effect.

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Kor Eat Own at the Smithsonian

No, the title is not a typo, but echoes the clever type layout for one of the cookbooks authored by two of the panelists at the program, “Cooking Korean in America.”  Last month, one of the History After Hours sessions at the National Museum of American History tracked the latest hot trend in eating: Korean food, both traditional and adapted.

The line snaked around the lobby of the Constitution Avenue entrance.  As guests entered the big space in front of the “barn doors” of the demonstration kitchen, we noticed an exhibit of cultural artifacts from the Smithsonian’s collection.  They were nice, but most folks’ attention was captured by the buffet tables and side tables of food and drink.

A greeter in Korean traditional dress was matched by several others at the tables, dispensing tastes of Korean pancakes, bibimbap, makgeolli (rice wine), and the popular combination of soju and beer.

Welcoming Greeter

Welcoming Greeter

The Bibimbap Table

The Bibimbap Table

Makgeolli and Selfies

Makgeolli and Selfies

And off in a corner, a very picturesque tea ceremony.

Tea Ceremony

Try Some!

Try Some!

The main attraction’s buffet of Korean specialties and, later, desserts, could be enjoyed at tables (if you were early enough) or from your lap on rows of chairs in front of the demo kitchen.

Buffet: Kimchi Burgers, Korean Tacos, KoMex Short Rib Slider, Korean Fried Chicken

Buffet: Kimchi Burgers, Korean Tacos, KoMex Short Rib Slider, Korean Fried Chicken

Closeup: Steamed buns

Closeup: Steamed buns

Hangover Soup

Hangover Soup

Some folks had to stand or find improvised seating around the room.  Shouldn’t the organizers have anticipated the number of guests and provided seating for all, ideally at tables?

The Lucky Ones at the Tables

The Lucky Ones at the Tables

Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only

Several Koreans I spoke with mentioned that the food was rather more bland than authentic.  I guess that’s what the rooster sauce was for!

Pass That Rooster Sauce!

Pass That Rooster Sauce!

Dessert: Mochi, Green Tea Ice Cream, Four (count 'em) kinds of Pocky!

Dessert: Mochi, Green Tea Ice Cream, Four (count ’em) kinds of Pocky!

 

While we ate, the program started with a kimchi-making demonstration.  Danielle Chang, author of Lucky Rice, showed us how to cut up Napa cabbage in the approved style; and mentioned that kimchi can be used as a verb: “What will we be kimchi-ing today?”  It’s a great use for any surplus vegetable.

Kimchi Demo

Kimchi Demo

Next came a panel discussion with Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard, moderated by Maria Godoy of NPR’s food blog, The Salt.  It’s Deuki and Matt’s cookbook, Koreatown, that’s responsible for the odd spacing in this article’s title.

Panel: Maria, Deuki, Matt

Panel: Maria, Deuki, Matt

As they finished up their discussion of the spread of Korean food across America, they naturally had to indulge in a group selfie.

Selfie!

Selfie!

In the book-signing line, a funny tee-shirt seemed appropriate to the event.

Pikachu's Guts

Pikachu’s Guts

This event, presented in partnership with the Korean Heritage Foundation, was part of the series “American History (After Hours)” on various aspects of food and drink.  The NMAH is also sponsoring a series of demos by local chefs on Fridays. It’s good to see them putting that kitchen to use!

P.S. I will be reviewing both Lucky Rice and Koreatown very soon.

 

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Living To Eat: The 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show Part 3: Old Friends and Surprises

The opening night party at the Fancy Food Show was held on an upper floor of the Javits Center.  It had a great terrace with river views, and a fashion show with a unique twist: the dresses were made of chocolate.  Partygoers were invited to pose for pics next to the models; nibbling, however, was verboten.

Chocolate Dresses, No Nibbles

Chocolate Dresses, No Nibbles

On the way to the party room, a window bay provided an internal view – an overlook of the exhibit floor.

Exhibit Floor View

Exhibit Floor View

 

And those dresses popped up again in a special exhibit, the Salon du Chocolate, dedicated to chocolate as art, with award-winning sculptures and specialty bonbons.

More Posing With Chocolate

More Posing With Chocolate

More Chocolate As Art

Chocolate As Art

 

And Chocolate To Eat

And Chocolate To Eat

Some of the pavilions I remembered from past shows were reliable old friends.  The friendly German chefs were as affable as ever ( and their food as delectable);

German Chefs On Camera

German Chefs On Camera

And Ready For Their Close-Up

And Ready For Their Close-Up

the Moroccans as colorful, and tasty as well;

Moroccan Coffee Service

Moroccan Coffee Service

and Peru’s pisco as powerful.

Peruvian Pisco

Peruvian Pisco

But there were some delightful surprises in store.  Turkey’s corridor was lined with purveyors of specialties and welcoming smiles.  Chefs discussed their cooked food and vendors cheerfully posed with Turkish delight and coffee, all excellent.

Turkish Chef

Turkish Chef

And Turkish Delight

And Turkish Delight

And speaking of posing, Spiderman showed up (not in Turkey), along with a guy in a jacket full of sound effects.  Gives “loud clothing” a new meaning.

Wham! Powee!

Wham! Powee!

The Urbani truffle folks, whose party was reported in my last entry, had an expanded presence on the floor from last year.  There were chefs cooking truffle-garnished specialties, and many of the actual mushrooms were scattered around the area.  The risotto was pungent with truffles; Olga Urbani posed with a bowl full of them.

Urbani Booth

Urbani Booth

Umm! Truffle Risotto!

Umm! Truffle Risotto!

Olga Urbani Holding The Truffles

Olga Urbani Holding The Truffles

So much to see and taste!  These posts are just some of the highlights, and I only scratched the surface.  You  can get an inkling of the breadth of the global food industry here, from small producers to global industries, but there will always be too much to see it all.

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Have Another Taste: The 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show Part 2: A Fabulous Party and Other Events

I should start with the formal opening ceremony, even though I was just slightly late, and had to stand behind the big cameras.  Never mind, it gave me a chance to take a few of my favorite kind of meta-pictures.

Opening Ceremony Dignitaries, From A Distance

Opening Ceremony Dignitaries, From A Distance

Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting

 

Italy was the country sponsor for the Show this year.  Their pavilion was right up front on the show floor, and as usual, was one of the biggest.  After the ribbon-cutting, with folks from the Italian Embassy and the Italian Trade Agency, they broke out the Prosecco and finger food.

Meanwhile, in a quiet corner of the pavilion, a chef was turning out handmade pasta.

Puglia Pasta Chef

Puglia Pasta Chef

She was from the Puglia region, and the orecchiette (little ears) pasta are a specialty there.

Staying in the Italian spirit (if not the pavilion), Lidia Bastianich’s booth featured an appearance by Lidia herself, signing ARC’s of her new cookbook.  She is part of the great Italian food tradition in this country; although a native of Istria, she has been cooking, running restaurants, teaching, and writing in the US since the 1970’s.  She has starred in several television series, and founded Eataly along with Mario Batali.

Lidia, Signing

Lidia, Signing

Her new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine, is a comprehensive treatment of Italian food and cooking presented with the warm, personal touch she is famous for. The recipe section reminded me of the iconic Silver Spoon in its wide coverage of materials, but with the addition of advice on ingredients and techniques, it’s like having an Italian nonna cooking along with you.

Basil From Lidia's Garden

Basil From Lidia’s Garden

I had to rouse early for a morning talk by Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s, about attacking two global issues, food waste and food deserts, with one elegant solution: he has launched a new venture to supply healthy food to under-served areas of inner cities by repurposing “unsellable” ugly produce and expired but totally edible packaged goods.

The Admirable Doug Rauch

The Admirable Doug Rauch

The Federally-mandated expiration codes are partly to blame, as they are extremely conservative and unnecessarily ubiquitous.  He hit us with an extreme example.  “What’s the shelf-life of honey?” he asked, possibly rhetorically.   This audience, though, was ready for him.  They responded, in unison: “Forever!” (True!)

We heard all about his plans for retail stores to purvey healthy, wholesome, affordable excess food in food deserts, with participation by customers to give them agency and engender dignity.  He calls it “conscious capitalism.” I call it terrific.

And speaking of terrific (and totally non-ironic contrast), the party thrown by Urbani Truffles was the social highlight of the show, at least for me.  Presided over by Olga Urbani, it started on the roof of a building with great views of the city, with Prosecco flowing and appetizers provided by Brooklyn artisanal producers,

View From the Roof

View From the Roof

and as the sunset faded,  processed downstairs to the party room complete with disco balls, a DJ, video projection,

Party Room

Party Room

and, why yes, caviar.  Specifically, a “caviar bar” with three choices, presided over by an expert from Calvisius Caviar, dispensing knowledge and loving spoonfuls.

Caviar? Yes, Please!

Caviar? Yes, Please!

Caviar Closeup

Caviar Closeup

Eventually, I tore myself away from there to the other side of the room, where there were actual dishes made with the ingredient of honor.  Truffles with casarecci (pasta), truffles with lamb, even tiramisu with truffles for dessert.

Truffle Menu

Truffle Menu

Party Food

Party Food

Dessert and Disco Ball

Dessert and Disco Ball

Oh, there were also some appetizers, as well as an open bar, but I think you can discern my priorities!

For party favors, there were little boxes stacked at the door.  They contained truffle-flavored chocolates – yup, truffled truffles.

Next – One more post on the show.

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Aisles of Smiles: The 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show Part 1: The Show on the Floor

Every year, this show is one of the highlights of the season for a food writer.  The 2015 edition did not disappoint.  My only regret ? There’s never enough time to see it all.  Believe me, I tried.

So many products!  So much to see!  Booths vied to catch the eye with striking visual displays and the nose with delectable smells of cooking.  Some of the standouts were old standbys, some were new (at least to me).

There were big things, like the hundred-pound cheese at the Auricchio booth in the Italy pavilion.

Big Cheese

Big Cheese

The prototype for the World’s Largest Cannoli was on display at the Cento pavilion.  The actual WLC was made for the San Gennaro Festival in New York’s Little Italy in 2014 by Ferrara Pasticceria and Espresso Bar, weighed 350 pounds and was 12 feet long.  The cannoli on display was not nearly as big, but still large enough to catch the eye.

Cannolli Chef Lauren and Her Creation

Cannoli Chef Lauren and Her Creation

Chef Lauren was filling smaller but tasty relatives of the Big One, as well as takeaway tiramisu.

A little cognitive dissonance popped up in Spain.  The Taj Mahal brand of saffron is marketed as if it came from the wilds of India, but it’s Spanish all the same.

Spanish Saffron

Spanish Saffron

And wait! Sushi?  And yes, still in the Spain pavilion!  This chef was showing off Spanish tuna as well as his knife skills.

Spanish Sushi

Spanish Sushi

More expected were the legs of ham on display, in Spain and Italy.  How hard is it to choose between Iberico and Prosciutto?  Really, really hard.

Spanish Ham

Spanish Ham

Very Up Close and Personal

Very Up Close and Personal

Ham Overhead!

Ham Overhead!

There were eye-catching images along with those gleaming red slicers

Great Visual

Great Visual

and friendly people helping you to samples of tasty meat.

Delicious, Thanks, Johanna!

Delicious, Thanks, Johanna!

And this Guy From Last Year, Back Again.

And this Guy From Last Year, Back Again.

Here was one of my favorite snacks, being made by a machine: the DeliManjoo brand of the Korean filled pancakes (manjoo).  These are also popular all over Japan, where they are known as taiyaki, and come with various fillings.

Korean Filled Fish

Korean Filled Fish

And at Melissa’s booth full of wonderful exotic fruit, I finally got my hands on a product that I had been seeking for a long time: a finger lime.  When I was back in my hotel room, I cut it open to taste all the little “cells” that grow inside it, each a little pop of flavor, like a vegetal version of caviar.  I emptied the contents of the little fruit into a glass of seltzer water and created a weird but wonderful version of bubble tea.

Finger Lime

Finger Lime

And when I got home, I planted the four seeds I found inside.  One grew.  Now, I have my own finger lime tree!

Well, My Own Seedling, At This Point.

Well, My Own Seedling, At This Point.

Stay tuned for more about the events and exhibits at the Show.

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