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!

Posted in Eating, Events, Reporting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Cookbook Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Eating, Events, Reporting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Eating, Events, Reporting | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Eating, Events, Food Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Fine Food Day in DC

Yesterday, we took advantage of an invitation to a tech-related pitch lunch to eat at Fiola.  In our parallel lives as  IT consultants, we are sometimes invited to these events, where a software company extols the virtues of their product while feeding the prospects a “free lunch.”  Fiola provides refined Italian cuisine at expense-account prices.  While the private plates may not include all the frills and flourishes the retail meals offer, might a lunch here at someone else’s expense be worth sitting through a sales pitch?

Why, yes, yes it was. We were treated to a three-course meal of Chef-owner Fabio Trabocchi’s excellent cooking. A salad of lightly-dressed greens and taleggio cheese was followed by a choice of entrees.  I had the arctic char (related to, but not, thank heaven, the ubiquitous salmon), and my dining companion had the ravioli of fresh greens and ricotta.  I think I made the better choice – the fish was delicious down to the last bite of olive and leek sauce, while the ravioli, sharply lemony in small doses, grew cloyingly sweet towards the finish.

Fiola Salad

Fiola Salad

Fiola Fish Dish

Fiola Fish Dish

Ravioli

Ravioli

And Delicious Dessert

And Delicious Dessert

The dessert starred a slice of chocolate hazelnut torta, with ice cream and praline garnish.  Two of my favorite flavors; excellent!

We whiled away the afternoon at the National Gallery’s Greek Bronzes exhibit.  Walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, we came upon a display about the UN International Year of Pulses 2016.  Yes, this is a real thing.  You can’t make this stuff up!  The question is, why is this tongue-in-cheek (pulse-in-cheek?) display in the window of the Public Defender Service office?  I will certainly pick my pulse, and be dancing to it in the near future.  My pulse will quicken to the beat of lentils.  Or maybe chickpeas.

Pulsing With Excitement

Pulsing With Excitement

While we were standing there, a bus wrapped in an advertisement for a kale product passed by.  Honestly, when busses get into the act, the product has definitely jumped the shark.  No more kale for me!

Barak Should Sue

Barak Should Sue

So, then, two things:  it was early for dinner, and we had an 8 p.m. curtain time at the Shakespeare Theatre.  Aha! Let’s go to Momofuku!  It’s early enough to get in (they take only limited reservations), and we’ll be sure to make it to the play on time!

We got there a few minutes before the 5 p.m. opening time, and they made us wait outside until they were good and ready.  Fine.  We took the time to pop in to Milk next door, plotting dessert.  We could have just eaten there if we wanted to get a cheap meal – they had things that looked suspiciously like knishes, and of course there were milkshakes, cookies, etc., for which they are famous.  In the end, though, we were too full from Momofuku’s brisket buns and brisket-and-hominy stew for dessert (we had overlooked the meat redundancy when ordering) but it didn’t matter – because in between the briskets came the star of the show: a big platter of fried calamari, complete with tentacles – one of my favorite things ever!

Momofuku House Hot Sauce and Local Millstone Cider

Momofuku House Hot Sauce and Local Millstone Cider

Brisket Bun

Brisket Bun

Stew With Pork Rinds

Stew With Pork Rinds

We had lucked into the calamari.  Ariel, our waitress, informed us that it was an off-the-menu special, and that day was the first time it was offered.  Now, here’s the thing: years ago, we had the calamari at Santacafe, in yes, Santa Fe, New Mexico.  They are famous for it.  It was the best we had ever had, before or since.  (And we have been back recently, and it is still just as good.)

Ever since, we have been chasing the holy grail of Just-As-Good-As-Santacafe’s with no luck – until yesterday.  There was a little Kewpie mayo on the plate, and, mixed with the house hot sauce, it made the perfect foil for the crunchy, tender pieces of squid.

Excellent Calamari

Excellent Calamari

As we ate, it got dark outside, and the place filled up.  The noise started bouncing off the hard surfaces and backless stools.  It was time for us old fogies to go.  Besides, we had a play to see.

Momofuku By Night

Momofuku By Night

Milk From Street

Milk From Street

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Eating, Restaurant Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Farmer in the Show: James T. Farmer III at the Washington Winter Show

I live in Maryland, and it’s usually easy to forget that it’s a border state.  You can’t get more liberal than Montgomery County; you wouldn’t catch anybody smoking inside a building, for instance.

But then I was sitting at this year’s luncheon at the Washington Winter Show (the Washington Antiques Show), listening to James T. Farmer III, garden and interior designer, writer of design books and cookbooks and true son of the South, and was struck with a funny but telling detail.

“All porch ceilings in the South are painted blue,”  he said.  My porch ceiling in Maryland is painted blue.  What other color would it be?

What else do we have in common?  Fried chicken in a cast iron skillet; ‘mater sandwiches (documented at the Olney Farmers Market, I swear); Southern efficiency (it’s even the name of a new restaurant in DC).

But Mr. Farmer had more stories about Southern traits and foodways.  “When two Southerners meet, we compare what we have in our deep-freezes.”  Ripe peaches, for instance.  And, as for another Southern food icon, “If Queen Elizabeth came to visit us, she would get pimento cheese whether she wanted it or not!” Okay, maybe not so much in common, after all.

He filled an hour with stories and one-liners, talking winsomely and without notes.  He discovered early in his life that he had a knack for design and cooking.  His parents encouraged him.  In college, he found himself cooking for half the stadium after games.  Ever since, he has made a career of food and design.

James Farmer Being Entertaining

James Farmer Being Entertaining

Here are more culinary tips: make a Georgia Caprese salad, substituting peaches for the tomatoes.  And, “Do you know what brown sugar and rosemary can do to bacon?”  I can only imagine, but my mouth is watering.

The luncheon food skewed Southern, too, as it had for the Lee brothers event.  A plate of shrimp and grits, with salad and cornmeal Madeline, was followed by coconut cake and a chocolate sandwich cookie.  The simple syrup for the iced tea was back, and there were mimosas in place of bloody Marys.  Alas, no customized Tabasco this year!  But the room was just as full of charmingly set tables, and socially active women.

View From Above

View From Above

Good Ol' Southern Shrimp and Grits

Good Ol’ Southern Shrimp and Grits

And Coconut Cake

And Coconut Cake

 

Mr. Farmer was preceded by the choir from the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, one of the charities benefiting from the Show, and followed by a tour of the antiques dealers by me.

Boys Choir

Boys Choir

Again, most of the dealers’ wares were above my price point, but I really enjoyed seeing the display.  Mark and Marjorie Allen’s booth, which had captured my attention the last time I was at the Show with their display of nineteenth-century food choppers, had another attraction this year – puzzle mugs (aka puzzle jugs).

More Choppers

More Choppers

Mark Allen Holding the Mug

Mark Allen Holding the Mug

The Other Mug, with Other Delft

The Other Mug, with Other Delft

These mugs were, for centuries, facilitators of what must have been thousands of bar bets.  The perforations make it impossible to drink without spilling  your ale unless you know the trick.  They typically have a verse painted on, which sounds like it could be sung in a drunken cadence:

Here Gentlemen Come try yr Skill
lle Leay a wager if you will
That You dont Drink this Liqr all
Withoutt  you Spill or Lett Some Fall

(Spelling and punctuation as painted on the mug.)

They are still being made today, as curiosities, but these ones are 18th-century Liverpool delft.  They can be yours for several thousand dollars each.  Sigh.

Posted in Eating, Events, Reporting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bazaar Report 2015

Here it is again – the annual bazaar roundup – our report on the best eating at area ethnic churches during the holiday season.

This year, we have discovered four new ones, so this article is all new from last year’s – although we did revisit a few.  The Finnish Bazaar at the River Road Unitarian Church, and the Christian Academy‘s bazaar were both as good as last year.

We added one Nordic to the role: the Julemarked, or Norwegian Christmas Fair, at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Bethesda.  It was held on Friday as well as Saturday – great scheduling for a bazaar junkie!

One large room was lined with tables selling Norwegian packaged food, gifts, and decorations.  The laid-back vibe was a refreshing change from the large Nordics with big crowds.  Although the choice of Smorbrod was limited to three, two of them were our favorites, shrimp and salmon.  A small selection of sweets was complemented by a separate bake table, and waffles made to order.

Norwegian Kafe

Norwegian Kafe

Our Smorbrod Lunch, and Solo

Our Smorbrod Lunch, and Solo

And then there was Solo, a bottled drink which, if you grew up in Norway, I guess you are glad to see.  Being curious, we snagged the last bottle on sale.  It was room temperature with no ice available (which none of the Norwegians enjoying it seemed to mind.)   I think next year, we will leave it to the natives.

Shopping and Solo

Shopping and Solo

The St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church held a yard sale, barbecue and traditional food event – three of my favorite things rolled into one.  The huge cooker trailing a plume of fragrant smoke lured us into the church activity building, where we encountered a dilemma.

Serbian Sign and Chicken Grill

Serbian Sign and Chicken Grill

Should we go totally with the Serbian food, or try the chicken barbecue  as well?  The cheerful servers explained that the cevapcici, chopped and seasoned meat cylinders, were so popular they sold out at the Serbian Festival (held the first Saturday in October, an event I will certainly try to attend next year).

Friendly Serbian Helpers and Food: Ana, Maja, Nikola

Friendly Serbian Helpers and Food: Ana, Maja, Nikola

We resolved the issue by ordering one plate of each.  The chicken was as good as the sight of that cooker had led us to expect, and the cevapcici were just as savory, and more exotic.

On December 5th, we scored a main course at one bazaar, and dessert at another.  The International French Bazaar at the Wesley Theological Seminary was another laid-back scene, with the food area tucked away behind a room filled with opportunities to resolve your holiday gift list.

French Bazaar

French Bazaar

Live Music!

Live Music!

It presented another quandary for food selection: two facing tables, one filled with the components of traditional choucroute and boeuf bourguignon, the other with a bounty of exotic African cuisine choices.

Choucroute: With Tea Towels!

Choucroute: With Tea Towels!

French African Buffet

French African Buffet

We resolved it, guess how?  That’s right, one plate of each.

L: African, R:Choucroute

L: African, R: Choucroute

Even though we couldn’t identify all the components of the African plate, it was more interesting than the choucroute; and, not surprisingly, some bits were better than others.  Next year, we know what we’re ordering!

There was a table of light fare, if you didn’t feel like a big meal – quiche, pate, and salad.  Also, a sweets table, but we had other plans for dessert.

Just down the road, the Soorp Khatch Church was hosting their Armenian Dessert Festival.  Another big room, more tables spread with delicious things to eat, this time all sweet.  Five kinds of kedayif (shredded dough stuffed with ricotta, pistachios, and other goodies), baklava, raised-dough pastries, and Armenian coffee were on offer.

A View of the Desserts

A View of the Desserts

And More Desserts

And More Desserts

Coffee and Dancing Santa

Coffee and Dancing Santa

Our only regret was being rather full from our visit to France.  No worries, they boxed some up for us to take home.

Our Plates

Our Plates

That’s the holiday bazaar roundup for this year.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Enjoy eating in 2016!

Posted in Eating, Events | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Frosting Awakens: The Empire’s Sweet Tooth

Because, why not?  Harris Teeter’s bakery department gets in on the Star Wars madness.  Everything you need for your post-viewing party.

Cookies and Cupcakes and Stormtrooper, Oh, My!

Cookies and Cupcakes and Storm Trooper, Oh, My!

R2D2, Too

R2D2, Too

The sign says, “These are the baked goods you’re looking for.”

P.S. They’re life-size inflatables. I don’t know if they’re for sale.

Posted in Reporting | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment