Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Foodportunity a Delicious Success

November 5, 2009

Monday evening my family and I attend Foodportunity in Seattle at the Palace Ballroom.  We had sooo much fun as we sampled, schmoozed and snapped our way around the ballroom!  And now I have sooo much to blog about!  

Of course I started with the spirits.  Here’s Mark Newton of DiStefano:

I tasted Domenica, a Bordeaux style Merlot-Cab blend.  I’m not usually one for strong reds, but this well-balanced red wasn’t overly tannic (as Washington wines usually are) and it’s full-bodied taste was matched by an alcohol content that didn’t pull its punches either.

Next was the highlight of the event, for me, anyway.  Cupcakes from Wink!

This red velvet with cream cheese was the. best. cupcake. i’ve. ever. had.

Did I mention Tom Douglas was there?  It is his palace, after all:

My son and husband’s favorite food of the night was Farro Fries with Duck Egg Aioli at the Bluebird Grain Farms and Emmer and Rye booth.  Farro, also known as emmer, is a type of wheat mainly grown in mountainous areas.  It was prepared polenta style and then toasted on the grill.  I have some emmer to try and some notes on this preparation, so I’ll let you all know how it turns out when I try it myself. 

Beecher’s Cheese also had a really interesting dish they were serving.  It was hominy and poblano smothered in their flagship cheese sauce.  I found the recipe for flagship cheese sauce  and their signature mac ‘n cheese on the Seattle PI website.  The texture of the hominy was very similar to potatoes, so I didn’t believe it at first and had to go back for seconds.  : )

Foodportunity had such a diversity of people from the food industry.  There were food photographers and videographers, restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, makers of food products and accesories and bloggers.  I even got to meet Robin Leventhal from this season of Top Chef!  I have some crackers from Fieri (same makers as Croccantini) I’ll be reviewing soon as well as restaurants and spirits to try out.  If you’re really into food and didn’t make this event, I highly suggest you mark your calendar for the next Foodportunity!


Cooking Course

September 9, 2009

I’m totally stoked!  I just signed up for a once-a-week four month cooking course taught by Carol Dearth at Sizzleworks.  Take a look at all the cool stuff I’ll be learning:

COOKWISE SERIES: Techniques Master Series

This in-depth series is for those who are passionate about food and cooking. From knife skills and mise en place to velvety sauces, from succulent meat and poultry to exceptional eggs, we teach the science and techniques behind great cuisine in our exclusive hands-on series. The classes in this particular series are designed to be more intense than regularly scheduled group classes, more like a professional cooking school environment and syllabus. Hone your skills, brush up those talents, and have a great time!

Local Sustainable Farming at its Best

September 4, 2009

Last Sunday was packed full of fun and learning as I attended the Skagit River Ranch Farm Day. Here’s a recap in pictures that were taken with 10 month old Rodger strapped to my chest – a unique challenge. Unfortunately this means I wasn’t able to check photos out after taking them and an entire set of pics of the burger cook-off were over-exposed beyond repair.  : (   </excuses>

Skagit River Ranch has about 850 acres, so what you see the cows grazing on here is just a fraction of their grassland. Slaughter is done at the edge of this field in a mobile unit owned by their slaughtering co-op, the first of its kind. They believe this to be the cleanest, most humane and low-stress environment for food production.  Feedlot cows are not allowed in this custom-made stainless steel unit in order to reduce E. coli contamination.

Turkeys at Skagit River Ranch (SRR) run wild in the yard eating insects, grass and seeds, but their diet is also supplemented with spelt and other nutritious grains. Broiler chickens here are sent to market at 16 weeks old, as opposed to the typical grocery store bird which is slaughtered at 5 weeks. This makes for a more flavorful bird. SRR also grows Poussin (Rock Cornish Game Hen) specially for Tilth Restaurant.

Offal and manure at this farm are composted with wood chips from the city’s roadside cleanup. Farmer George demonstrates here his certainty that the compost is a natural inoculum of microbes.

Here are the Vojkovich family pets. “Sheepie” was hand raised in their home in Pampers with a hole cut out for her tail!

Is there anything cuter than chickies?

According to Farmer George, the biggest boon of organic vegetables is the trace minerals, particularly selenium.

The organic green bean seeds from which these plants came from were three years old when planted.

Some other facts about running the farm:  SRR has been making all of its fuel for the farm from local restaurant vegetable oil for one year now.  George has two guys help him on a daily basis and his wife Eiko has one and a half girls.

Randy and Jan are the grass farmers for SRR. In the first few months they worked with SRR, George came to their grass farm and mineralized the soil for them, so that it would meet his standards of nutrition for his cows. He and Eiko also helped them get their organic certification. Here are Eiko and Randy:

We ate burgers and snags from the ranch with lettuce grown in the family garden.  You could taste the nutrient richness of the soil in the lettuce.

Fresh buns from the Breadfarm:

Haggis Brothers perform:

The guest chefs participated in a sustainability panel with Farmer George as well as a burger cook-off.  George says sustainable means that when you write a check, there’s money in the account to cover it.  That’s a great analogy.  See commentary below for what the chefs had to say about sustainability.

Chef Greg Atkinson, cookbook author and teacher, quoted Michael Pollan in saying that Americans used to spend 20% of their income on food and 10% on medical care and that has now reversed, so we spend 10% food and 20% medical care.  He thinks it’s more fun to go eat at Tilth than see the doctor.  I’m with him.  (No offense Dr. Aeshliman!)

Me and Greg with the book he signed for me. Can’t wait to try out some recipes!  Rodger is not nearly as impressed with meeting local chefs as I am.

Greg’s burger for the cook-off:

Chef Craig Hetherington of TASTE Restaurant believes “schools are the place to start.” Educating the community is the key to bringing sustainability to our food system.

I won one of Craig’s burgers in the raffle – pureed caramelized Walla Walla sweet onions in the patty and Samish Bay cumin Gouda cheese and Pleasant Valley relish on top.  Yum!

Chef Maria Hines of Tilth, one of my favorite Seattle restaurants, says we should be moving away from calorie dense foods and towards nutrient dense foods. Luckily these are the tasty ones!

Maria won the cook-off. The prize was a Flintstones-sized rack of beef ribs. Congratulations!

Rumors on Twitter (@edibleseattle) say she may have won due to the adorable fingerling potato chips.

Judging is serious business:

Nancy Leson, Seattle Times Food Writer

“Oyster Bill” Whitbeck of Taylor Shellfish who totally schooled me on some camera points.  Don’t you hate it when you don’t realize who you’re talking to and they turn out to be a legend?  At least he was more pleasant than when this happened with Dave Winer!  Sorry Bill!

Carol Haven of Slow Food Skagit and Jill Lightner of Edible Seattle magazine

Carol Havens has a motto, “More food growing near more people.” I couldn’t put it better myself.  Thanks to everyone for a wonderful day, putting up with my nosy photography and questions and of course to George and Eiko for providing us with food that nourishes the body, environment and community.


Support Building Blocks Show and purchase one of Greg Atkinson’s books:

In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
The Northwest Essentials Cookbook: Cooking With the Ingredients That Define a Regional Cuisine
Entertaining in the Northwest Style: A Menu Cookbook
West Coast Cooking
Recipes from the San Juan Islands

Or Oyster Bill’s:

The Joy of Oysters

Alton Brown is Coming to Town!

September 1, 2009

Hubby earned big points today when he sent me this link to Gizmodo.  Wilson Rothman reported that Alton Brown is coming to Seattle October 16th for his Good Eats:  The Early Years book tour.  I can’t wait!  What is it about Alton Brown that I love so much?  Let me enumerate it for you:

  1. Every recipe I’ve made of his has been genius:  Red Snapper en Papillote, biscuits, cookies, eggs and on and on and on…  They are easy to read, detailed, well-researched and full of heart.  ❤
  2. He speaks to me. Okay, I’m not hearing voices, but I’m a math/science geek and he tells me everything I need to know about the how and why of the science behind cooking in words I can relate to.
  3. He knows his stuff.  From cleaning mushroom to cleaning the kitchen, Alton Brown doesn’t just repeat what is generally accepted to be true.  He does his own research and reports to the viewers.
  4. He has a quirky and fun TV personality that always makes me smile.  (I like cheese.)
  5. He is a savvy business man and is so hot when he’s serious and laying into noobs on The Next Food Network Star.

Rothman also has a fun interview:  Alton Brown: Kitchen Gadget Judgment Calls – Yea or Nay?

Here’s the list of of book tour dates from Alton Brown’s official site:

Good Eats: The Early Years Book Tour

Friday, October 9
Barnes & Noble – Union Square
Saturday, October 10
Food & Wine Festival
Sunday, October 11
Food & Wine Festival
Tuesday, October 13
Brookline Booksmith at Coolidge Corner Theatre
Wednesday, October 14
Arlington VA
Sur La Table – Pentagon Row
Wednesday, October 14
Washington DC
Smithsonian (not sure which, check later for verification)
Thursday, October 15
Borders – N. Michigan Ave
Friday, October 16
Third Place Books – Lake Forest Park, WA
Saturday, October 17
San Diego
Costco – Fenton Pkwy
Sunday, October 18
Location TBD
Saturday, December 5
Norcross GA
BJ’s Wholesale Club – Norcross

I hope to see some of you at the Seattle signing.  Leave me a comment if you’re planning to go.  Maybe we can do a foodie meet up.


Support Building Blocks Show and purchase an Alton Brown book from our Amazon store:

The latest:
Good Eats: The Early Years

My favorite:

I’m Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking

Other greats:

I’m Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0

Alton Brown’s Gear For Your Kitchen

I’m Just Here for the Food: Kitchen User’s Manual

I’m Just Here for the Food: Cook’s Notes

Intertwining Julie & Julia

August 21, 2009

“French people eat French food every single day! I can’t get over it!”       Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia

Last week I made my pilgrimage to see Julie & Julia.  This film intertwines the lives of Julia Child who brought French cooking to Americans and Julie Powell who brought Julia Child to the blogosphere.  It is oozing with beautiful shots of French cuisine intermingled with French cityscape.  Amy Adams plays the dreary New Yorker who livens up her nights cooking her way through The Art of French Cooking and Meryl Streep plays the original foodie and lover, Julia Child.

The humorous spirit of Julia Child is captured so beautifully by Streep.  She had me in stitches the whole time.  It was amazing to hear the letters that told the story of her life and vividly see the passion that she had for French cuisine.  I can’t wait for the “making of” to see how they made 5’6″ Streep appear 6’2″.

Although my favorite parts of the movie were of Julia Child’s life, I really enjoyed the way that the Julie/Julia Project was woven in the film.  It’s not often we get to see blogging portrayed on the big screen.  (Blogging is not exactly a glamorous endeavor.)  It was fun to see the lobster boiling antics alongside the excitement of Julie’s first blog comment only to find out it was just her nagging mom.

This is the type of movie that moves me to run out and start cooking, blogging or simply eating.  I’m going to buy it on DVD when it’s released so I can watch it whenever I need inspiration.


Support Building Blocks Show and purchase a Julia Child or Julie Powell book from our Amazon store:

Whipped, Layered and Glazed: Twenty-one Cakes

August 12, 2009

Dessert heaven. During my trip to Germany last month, I attended the wedding of friends who had 21 cakes at their reception.  The more amazing thing is that the groom’s mother made ten of them. What a phenomenal woman. The funny thing is she kept insisting that she wasn’t a professional baker. Whatever. I’m going to try to interview her for the blog, but in the meantime and without further ado here are the photos.


Bûche de Noël: My favorite cake of all time made in the traditional way with Genoise rolled with espresso buttercream.

How did I miss this one?

Just as beautiful on the inside:

Oh yeah, and then they served dessert.  Raspberries and strawberries in Quark with white chocolate leaf:

A blessed union:

Skagit River Ranch Farm Day August 30th!

August 10, 2009


I just got my tickets for the Skagit River Ranch Farm Day and am very excited.  Even though Skagit River sells at my local farmer’s market, I love taking the drive up to Sedro-Woolley a few times a year to chat with farmers George and Eiko, see how my meat is grown and see the fluffy little chickies.

This first annual farm day will have everything I could ask for: sustainability panels, prestigious guest chefs, farm tours, a petting zoo and of course, lots of grass fed burgers and sausages.


Malissa’s daughter trying to coerce the horses at the ranch to eat out of her hand:

Audrey at SRR

Here are bios of the guest chefs:

Maria Hines:  Executive Chef and Owner of Tilth restaurant in Seattle, which serves organic cuisine in the New American style.  Among numerous other accolades, she was winner of the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.  Let’s just say, I’m calling as soon as they open tomorrow to make reservations!  In an interview for Savory Cities Blog, Chef Hines was asked what the best piece of cooking advice she’s ever received was.  What was her answer?  “Take accountability.”

Greg Atkinson:  cookbook author specializing in Northwest cuisine.  Chef Atkinson is a local leader in the slow food movement and won the James Beard Foundation’s M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 2000.

Here are a list of Atkinson’s books (Disclaimer:  Links to Amazon.  If you purchase these books from these links BBS gets a percentage from Amazon):

In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
The Northwest Essentials Cookbook: Cooking With the Ingredients That Define a Regional Cuisine
Entertaining in the Northwest Style: A Menu Cookbook
West Coast Cooking
Recipes from the San Juan Islands

Craig Hetherington:  Executive Chef for TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum where sustainability is an integral part of their philosophy.  Check out a quote from Chef Hetherington:

“Our local cuisine is the cornerstone of everything we do. If someone in the kitchen comes up with a great idea for a dish, we first see if we can get the ingredients locally. If we can’t get them, or we’re unable to adapt the dish using local ingredients, we don’t make it. It’s as simple as that.”

I’m looking forward to seeing these chefs square off in the perfect burger cook-off and hope to see you all there too.

Updated 8/22/2009 with chicken and steer pictures courtesy of Eiko Vojkovich, Skagit River Ranch.

Ignite Seattle 7 Complete with Food Enthusiasts

August 4, 2009

Note:  I’ll come back and add links to the YouTube videos of these talks as soon as they’re posted.

Of course everyone knows geeks are smart, but they are also funny, quick-witted, compassionate and often times serious foodies.  This round of Ignite speakers had all of these attributes wrapped in delicious 5-minute packages.  Of course my favorite two talks were Matthew Amster-Burton’s What is Baby Food? and Vanessa Fox’s Life’s Too Short To Eat Bad Food.

Everyone assumes since I’m a cook and new mom that I spend my days slaving over pots and strainers making home-made purees for my baby.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When Rodger’s not having my nutritious breast milk, he eats right off my plate.  Sometimes I wonder where to draw the line though.  Spicy foods?  Sushi?  Seattle food writer Matthew Amster-Burton told us how he fed all these things to his kids and more.

If you’re looking for easy ways to entertain, check out SEO expert Vanessa Fox’s talk.  To be honest, I was a little bummed she wasn’t going to be presenting on search engine optimization, but then she gave such an informative food talk I forgave her.  : )  Here are some of her tips (I’ll add more once the videos are posted):

  • Make you guests do the work by serving pita pockets, burgers and the like
  • Bread has to be sliced, crackers don’t

Here’s a pic from my camera phone of everyone playing a massive game of rock-paper-scissors before the talks began:

Ignite Seattle 7

Here were my other favorite talks, in no particular order:

Elan Lee (elanlee) – I Wish I Was Taller

Yoram BaumanPrinciples of economics, translated

Lauren Bricker (brickware) – Geek Generation

Rob GruhlHow to Take Better Pictures

Todd Sawicki (sawickipedia) – How I learned to Appreciate Dance Being Married to a Ballerina

And finally, a note about the venue.  I’ve heard many complaits about lack of AC at King Cat.  While that’s true and it’s also true that I had to enter from a door around the back because the front was a bar and I had baby Rodger with me (thanks for protecting us from ourselves archaic WA liquor laws), I thought it was a huge improvement over CHAC.  Sorry to knock this classic Seattle joint, but I always left there with a migraine.  King Kat also had much better seating and parking was a cinch.