Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Peppermint (and Cocoa) Meringue Kisses, and Giveaway Winner!

Did everyone have a lovely holiday?  I hope so, and I also hope that many of you are still enjoying a relaxing vacation before heading back to work!  My Christmas with family and friends was everything I hoped it would be and was surprisingly stress-free...with the exception of my flight to Norway.  

The east coast winter storm basically closed most airports and left thousands stranded after the holidays; though my travels were interrupted, I count myself lucky that my delay meant more time with family and not more time sleeping on the floor of Newark Airport.  I finally arrived in Oslo today after having TWO cancelled flights on Sunday and Monday this week (if you follow me on twitter you heard all about it!) and this Norwegian Cilantropist is looking forward to a week and a half of bliss.      

So for today, I am going to tell you about the peppermint meringue kisses that I made before the holidays.  I know that Christmas is officially over, but as a good friend reassured me, peppermint flavors can be enjoyed throughout winter and should not be limited to the holidays.

The recipe comes from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Dodge; earlier this year, I was the lucky winner of a copy of Desserts 4 Today through a giveaway on VinoLuci's site.  This book has loads of fabulous recipes that all use only four ingredients.  (Get it, Desserts "4" Today?)  Oh yes, you heard me right.  You can whip up a quick and easy dessert with four things that you already have in your pantry, or can easily pick up from your local grocer.      

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook and Cookie Giveaway, and Tate's Cappuccino Shortbread

Guess what I have for you today??  A giveaway that includes not only delicious cookies to feed you for a day, but a great cookbook that you can use to bake your own cookies all year!  

The kind folks over at Tate's Bake Shop in the Hamptons, NY contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their cookies and receive a copy of their Bake Shop Cookbook plus a copy of the cookbook and a cookie gift pack for one of my lucky readers.  Of course I was interested!  I had heard of Tate's in passing, but never had the pleasure to try out their famous cookies.  Tate's Bake Shop features cakes, pies, crumbles, and of course their famous chocolate chip cookies, all of which are baked from the best natural ingredients.  Their baked goods have received numerous accolades such as Best Hamptons Bakery in 2010, and have been featured in major national publications 

In a 50-brand taste test, Tate's chocolate chip cookie was voted #1! 

From chocolate chip, to oatmeal raisin and white chocolate macadamia nut, all Tate's cookies are the thin-and-crispy variety.  If you have ever made Thomas Keller's chocolate chip cookies, they remind me of those, although Tate's recipe seems more simple and easy.  I would be remiss if I didn't fess up and tell you that I usually prefer a thick-and-chewy chocolate chip cookie (much like the Jacques Torres recipe) but Tate's cookies still proved irresistible for me.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Created by Diane's Iced Italian Cookies!

Christmas Cookies,cookie,iced cookie

Are you on holiday vacation time yet??!  Well, if you aren't free from the ball and chain of work yet, I hope I won't make you too jealous when I tell you I will be off of work for a full two and a half weeks!  YAY!  I just arrived in Ohio this morning, and after a week and change here, I will head to Norway for another week.  I am fully ready for last minute Christmas festivities, catching up with family, and quality time with my honey.  Even in vacation mode I will still be updating with new posts over the next two weeks so be sure to keep up!  

To kick off the holiday vacation season, I am excited to share a guest post from Diane of Created by Diane.  I met her earlier this year, and I immediately liked her friendly personality and infectious smile.  I was also extremely impressed by the simple perfection of her Italian Iced Cookies: they are delicious and they look beautiful.  (I was lucky enough to get one of her signature red hearts that is the trademark of her blog!)  Come Christmastime, I knew I wanted to feature her fantastic recipe, but I also wanted to learn the techniques she uses to decorate her cookies.  What better way than to share a guest post so you can learn her techniques as well!  I hope you enjoy, and be sure to swing by her blog and check out the rest of her great recipes and other Christmas treats like snowflake cookies and Christmas tree Santas.      


I want to thank Amanda for letting me share my love of cookies with you today!
I'm Diane and I blog at Created by Diane.

Cookies are especially nice at Christmas time, but these cookies can be adapted to meet any occasion. This is my favorite cookie recipe. I bake an Italian Cookie, the type you'd find in an Italian bakery. They aren't as sweet as sugar cookies and rise up nicely, hold their shape and have a cake like quality to them that is irresistible. They have a lovely vanilla taste with a sweet icing on top.


Follow the recipe to bake the cookies, and then these directions for icing:

To start decorating, begin with a cooled cookie and prepare icing according to the recipe. Place icing in a piping bag with a #2 tip for outlining your design.


Outline your cookie. Leave just a little cookie showing so the icing won't fall off the edge when you fill it.  When you do this, hold the tip slightly off the surface of the cookie and just let the icing fall down onto the cookie for a smooth line. Don't stretch the icing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Grandma's Spritz Cookies, or Spritzgebackenes

These are my favorite Christmas cookies.  A pretty bold statement, huh?  Especially for something so humble as the simple spritz cookie.  But to understand why these cookies are my favorite, I need to tell you about my grandma.  Actually she is my Omi.  (And for those Germans out there, I know very well that grandma in German is Oma, with an -a.  I don't care.  I have called her Omi since I was a child and I am not about to change now.)

At Christmas time, Omi is a cookie-baking, linzertorte-making machine.  

Now that she is older, my Aunt also helps her out with the baking, and between the two of them they churn out hundreds and hundreds of these bite-sized cookies every year.  You see, ever since I can remember, there has been a wicker basket at my grandma's house.  It is about 3 feet high, maybe 1 1/2 feet in diameter, round, and it has a lid.  It sort of reminds me of a medium-sized laundry hamper.  Now, imagine how big this wicker basket/hamper is in comparison to a tiny spritz cookie.  Stretch your imagination a bit more, and imagine this 3 foot tall basket filled with spritz cookies.  No, there was no typo that sentence, my Omi does in fact make enough spritz cookies to fill the wicker basket each year.  She is amazing and I love her for it. Especially since I might single-handedly consume a large portion of those cookies myself.             

For me, her Spritzgebackenes is a sort of 'old-world' Christmas treat, because it doesn't have any bells and whistles, or any fancy ingredients we Americans like to use to gutsy up our cookies.  The recipe lists ingredients in grams, because this is Omi's German recipe, and every good European knows measuring baking ingredients in volumes is rubbish.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Celebration of Food and Friends, and Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake

Did you hear the news?  Well, if you are late to the party (and I don't mean the actual party where we had this amazing cake), then I can let you know right away that I am officially out of Project Food Blog.  Yes, after more than three months of hard work and nine rounds of competition, my run has come to an end.  I would be flat out lying if I said I wasn't disappointed (there was $10,000 and title of food blog star at stake!), and when I heard the news on Friday, I did get a little emotional.  But, here's the thing: I surprised even myself when I realized I wasn't feeling sad about actually being eliminated.  There were no tears, I didn't have a breakdown, and I didn't feel like life was falling apart.**  And here is why: I am still a winnerParticipating in this contest has brought only good things to both my life and this blog.  I thought to myself, "Ok, well, I am just going to go back to what I was doing before.  Only better."   

And then almost immediately, my phone started ringing, my email inbox filled up, and messages came flooding through on Twitter; new blogger friends, loyal readers, and real-life family and friends from near and far were all contacting me to share their feelings with me, to tell me that they were proud of me, or just to let me know that they care and still think this blog is awesome.  And that was when I started feeling a sort of aching in my chest that was just overwhelming.  It was as if the huge support I had received throughout this process was all being distilled into one perfect crystalline moment.  I knew I had given it my all, I had put my heart into each and every moment of this contest, and I hadn't let anyone down; all the way through to the end, YOU, my loyal readers and friends have supported and encouraged me every step of the way.  There really are not sufficient words to tell you just how much that means to me, so I will just offer you a simple and giant 

THANK YOU!      

I started out in the contest thinking that if I made it to the second round, it would be amazing (not kidding, I really said this to all of my friends) and then somehow I managed to find myself in the ninth round with only 11 other phenomenal bloggers left.  (I still sometimes find this unbelievable.)  At that point, I took a good hard look at my blog, and realized that it had undergone an incredible transformation into almost exactly what I had hoped it would be when I started it earlier this year: a place for friends to gather and share in the beauty and goodness of great food and great people.  Because Project Food Blog not only challenged me to grow and make The Cilantropist a better place, but it also brought together a like-minded community of people who support each other and revel in deliciousness.  I got to meet and be inspired by so many talented bloggers, and most importantly for me, I got to experience everything with constant encouragement from family and friends.

So, at the end of the day, even though I lost the competition, I think I have more than enough reasons to celebrate. I especially wanted to show those nearest and dearest to me how much I appreciated all their help... and so naturally I showered them with food.         

Sunday, December 5, 2010

HOMIs meet MIHO Gastrotruck

***Project Food Blog voting is officially open!  Check out my entry page on Foodbuzz to vote, I have SO MUCH appreciation for your support!***  

Friends, I am really excited today to give you a full review of one of my new favorite lunch spots.  Actually, that's sort of a misnomer, since my new favorite 'spot' is actually a mobile hot food truck serving gourmet, hand-crafted street food: San Diego's own MIHO Gastrotruck

Over the last few years, there has been an evolution in the world of hot food trucks; previously, many major metropolitan areas were dotted with food stands and food trucks that served greasy foods or cold sandwiches, both with ingredients that the customer might rather not identify.  This is not to say the food didn't taste good, but it was squarely in the realm of 'fast food.'  More recently, the 'gourmet' food truck movement started in cities like New York and San Francisco, and then spread to Los Angeles, Portland, and even San Diego.  These gourmet food trucks differed from their predecessors, because in one way or another, they were stepping it up; instead of a fake crab patty you could get escarot and you could choose to eat a burger with grass-fed beef instead of mystery meat.  The lowly hot food truck was being elevated to haute cuisine. 

Here in San Diego, we now have quite a few gourmet food trucks cruising the streets, and San Diegians can take their pick according to what they feel like eating, and what food truck happens to be in their neighborhood that day.  Some food trucks are more popular than others, and MIHO Gastrotruck has definitely surged ahead and has strong foothold in local communities; it also happens to be my favorite because their food philosophies are aligned precisely with mine.  I like to know exactly what I am eating, and MIHO serves hand-crafted food (which means they make everything from scratch) and they get all their ingredients from local farms which means their menu changes weekly according to the seasons.  

If you know me at all by now, you are aware that I am a pretty curious and inquisitive person (I am a scientist, it comes with the territory), so when I decided to review MIHO gastrotruck I wanted to interview owners Juan Miron and Kevin Ho to get the full story about MIHO.                

I hope you enjoyed my coverage of MIHO gastrotruck!  I had such a great time talking with Juan since he is really down to earth and it is always a pleasure to chat with someone else who truly loves food.  The clip above is obviously an edited version of our interview and I wanted you to be able to see the whole thing if you are interested, so be sure to check out both Part 1 and Part 2 of my MIHO interview on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey Noodle Soup, and Homemade Stock

As I mentioned before, I wasn't able to head home to Ohio for Thanksgiving and so I spent the day with my friend Ana and her family.  The dinner was by all accounts fabulous, and dessert was even better (though I barely had room!).  Never again will I complain about having to do anything labor-intensive after eating a massive Thanksgiving dinner prepared by a woman who is 7+ months pregnant.  Seriously, I don't know how she did it.  Did I mention she also has an adorable 2-year old and that there were 3 other little ones running around?  Such are the superpowers of moms.  I offered my help multiple times, but it seems superwoman and her equally super husband were able to pull off a delicious dinner and a happy family gathering with ease.  Many thanks for a great day with family, friends, and satisfying comfort food.

Now the days after Thanksgiving can often be a let down from the big day.  All the extensive preparations are over, the 20-pound turkeys have (almost) been devoured, and that annoying aunt or uncle has finally left the premises for good (or at least until Christmas).  In the silence that follows, many people can feel lonely and nostalgic while others start to get into full-on Christmas mode.  Me??  I feel a little bit of both; after Thanksgiving I indulged myself and started my Christmas baking and also soothed myself with soup (and also shopping, but we don't need to talk about that-or look at those receipts-just yet).

When I was having dinner at Ana's place, I was secretly hoping that there would be enough turkey left so that I could take some home to make myself at least one bowl of soup; however, I was in for a big treat because there were loads of turkey left over!  Score!  So there I was, helping myself to my portion of leftovers, when Ana's husband called his brother over to help him get the turkey carcass into a bag.  I assumed they were bagging it up to keep in the fridge, and I continued shoveling my loot (aka turkey) into a container.  When John took the bag and said, "Ok, into the trash!" I screeched out, "Waaaait!  I will take it home!"  Ana, John, and his brother all looked at me for a minute like I was crazy.  "I will use it to make turkey stock," I explained.  They still looked at me like I was crazy.  (You don't think I am crazy, right?) 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Sandwich Bread, and Voting is Open!

So yes, I did more baking this weekend with more pumpkin!  I just can't seem to get enough!!!  (This actually isn't the only thing I baked this weekend; the other things were non-pumpkin and definitely in the Christmas spirit.  You will probably see them next week. *wink, wink*)  

I thought I would share this bread with you today to try and stretch out Thanksgiving just a little longer, and also to remind you of something important... Voting for Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog Challenge #8 is open today!  Did you see my original post where I made Pumpkin Bread and then used it for Rum Raisin Pumpkin Bread Pudding?  If you didn't see it yet, then just scoot your little butt over here and and take a seat on my couch while I share some comfort food with you.

(Here is a visual... are you tempted yet???  Oh, in case you were wondering, the bread pudding is topped with Butter Rum Glaze and Cinnamon Whipped Cream.  Sinful.)   

I hope you enjoy my entry and that you will continue to support me by voting!  Project Food Blog voting is open until 6PM PST on Thursday, Dec 2nd, so be sure to get your vote in before then.  Each and every bit counts and I have greatly appreciated all of you that have been sharing my posts on Twitter and Facebook.  I have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, and each day I am overjoyed to see all the enthusiastic comments and kind words in response to each of my posts.  I wish I could give each of you a big hug to show my thanks!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Bread, and Rum Raisin Pumpkin Bread Pudding

***Voting is officially open for this EIGHTH round of Project Food Blog (can you believe it!).  I would love love love your votes, and I appreciate all the support you give me!  If you like this post swing on over to Foodbuzz and vote for me! Thanks friends!*** 

For the first time ever, I will be spending Thanksgiving away from my family.  Oh sure, there was that Thanksgiving in college where my sister and I were both in London and we ate the most expensive turkey dinner ever at the only 'American' restaurant we could find (and trust me, that Hard Rock Cafe dinner was not worth 40 pounds).  I suppose that wasn't really the sort of Thanksgiving meal we were accustomed to, but at least we were together.  Other than that one year, I have always travelled home for Thanksgiving, whether that meant a 3-hour drive or a 2,250 mile flight; the holidays are special to me, and if you have been around here awhile, you know that my family means everything. 

This year, when I realized I wouldn't be able to spare the time away from work to head home for Thanksgiving, I would be lying if I told you I wasn't sad.  The closer the holiday gets, the more I am yearning for white flakes of snow, long conversations catching up with family, and a warm hug.  But though I regret that I will not be at home, I have no intention of wallowing in self-pity.  I will be spending the big day with a wonderful friend and her family, and I will get to play with children and eat to my heart's content.  Also, I might have decided I needed to soothe my sadness with baking.  And sugar.  And fall flavors.  That's a cure-all right?


So here's the crazy thing, I also have advanced in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog to Round 8 (happy dance, happy dance!) where we were tasked with creating a baked good with pumpkin.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and with my longing for home and family and the holidays around the corner, my mind was brimming with ideas.  I was certain I wanted to bake with real pumpkin, and my initial thoughts drifted toward a beautiful spiced layer cake. just didn't quite fit my mood and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get myself invested in the idea.  And then suddenly I realized why I didn't want to make a cake: It just didn't feel like home.    

Once I came to this realization, I knew exactly what I wanted: bread. Lots of it.  I wanted to get my hands into it and knead the bread just like my grandma does.  There is something about putting physical work into make a golden loaf of bread that is so satisfying.  And almost as certainly as I knew I wanted bread, I also knew I craved warm, gooey, decadent bread pudding to comfort me.  I saw no reason to deny myself from this carb-laden pleasure, and no holiday is better for indulgence than Thanksgiving.  I worried that it wouldn't be pretty or exciting enough for you, but I decided to make it anyway.  (Gotta do what feels right, agreed?) 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Mom's Cranberry Relish

Last month, I had planned to make my pocket pies with cranberry pear filling and I wanted to use fresh cranberries.  Imagine my dismay when I realized that I was one whole month too early for the arrival of these beautiful red beauties at my local grocery store.  I put on my best pouty face, grabbed some dried cranberries, and made damn good pocket pies anyway.  (And might I add, these pies would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table!) 

But now, Thanksgiving is finally upon us and the season for fresh cranberries is officially here.  For me, seeing these cranberries means it is really the holidays.  They smile at me with their bright crimson faces and give me the red light to fully immerse myself in Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations.  So prepare yourselves.  I might get a little crazy.

This is the best nutmeg grater ever.  It is the same one that my grandma uses, and she got me mine from Amish country in Ohio; this nutmeg grater from Norpro looks exactly the same (and is less than $5), and also has the small compartment on top for storing the nutmeg like mine does.  LOVE it.   

Seeing cranberries also makes me think of my mom.  No, she isn't small, red, and round, but she makes me happy too.  Mostly I think of my mom because I grew up eating her cranberry relish every year at Thanksgiving and I loved it.  Excuse me, saying I 'loved' it makes it sound past tense - I love it, as in I swoon over it each time I make it.  When I still lived at home, we would fight over it and eat it on/with everything, or just by itself.  It is cranberry greatness.

And really, the recipe couldn't be more simple.  In my book, the perfect way to worship cranberries is to marry them with a heady mix of spices and just the right amount of sugar; not too much sweetness as to disguise the cranberry, but just enough to dull the sharp tart taste.  One of my other favorite components of this recipe are the big golden raisins and the crunch of the chopped pecans.  I like my applesauce chunky, and my cranberry relish even chunkier; it lets me know there are real ingredients in there and it is not over-processed.  If you like your relish smooth, I would normally just tell you to go ahead and throw in a blender or food processor, but frankly, that is blasphemy in my eyes so we will just pretend I didn't even mention it. 

Instead, I will just leave you with this lovely, crimson, traditional Thanksgiving recipe, and tell you that I hope you love it as much as I do.  And you can thank my mom for the recipe, I make sure to thank her each year when I make it myself.     

My Mom's Cranberry Relish

3/4 cup apple juice
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
3 cups fresh cranberries (12 oz.)
1/2-3/4 cup light or golden raisins
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

Combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cranberries, raisins and cloves, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat.  Cook until the cranberries pop, then add pecans and stir to mix.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.  Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 week. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pomegranate Persimmon Salad, and How to Remove Pomegranate Seeds

So today I am going to tell you about a salad that has two of my favorite full-bodied fall fruits (try saying that five times fast!).  But first, lets get some formalities out of the way.

Project Food Blog is still going strong, and in fact, voting for Round #7 is currently underway!  And what kind of dedicated gal would I be if I didn't make absolutely sure that you got to see my video entry for this round.  Have you seen it yet?  I hope so, but if not, be sure to check out my original post, or go directly to the Foodbuzz website (where you can vote for me, wink wink).  I made a delicious dessert for you and tied it all up with a pretty bow, and I hope you enjoy it.  If you like it, don't forget to vote for my entry!  Voting is open through Thursday, Nov.18th, 6pm PST, and I truly appreciate ALL your support. 

Now then, shall we get on to this salad?

This salad is extremely easy to make with just a few seasonal ingredients such as pomegranates and persimmons.  Pomegranates are an amazing fall fruit, and their health benefits are extraordinary; they are a rich source of B vitamins as well as vitamin C, and their seeds contain extra fiber and also heathy oils.  But about those seeds... it seems many people are in a quandary over how to actually get the seeds out of the pomegranate without looking like they were the victim in bad horror movie.  Pomegranate seeds have a lot of juice, and when you open it up and try to remove the seeds it gets everywhere!  So let me show you an easy, mess-free way to remove the seeds from a fresh pomegranate.

See, wasn't that easy?  I hope that quick demo will encourage you to go out and buy a fresh pomegranate to reap all its health benefits and its fantastic taste.  And just so that you know, once you remove the seeds from a fresh pomegranate, if you keep them refrigerated in an airtight container, you can enjoy those little jewels over the course of several days. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homemade Ladyfingers, and a Pomegranate Charlotte

As I may have mentioned already (possibly several times, I am SO excited), I am still in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog, and this 7th round I am sharing my first ever VIDEO on this blog!  (Yes!  It is finally here!!!)  I definitely wouldn't say that I am camera shy, but I was initially nervous about making a video due to my complete lack of any experience with filming or editing video footage.  Seriously, I had never even opened iMovie previous to last week.  But now that the project is finished and here for your viewing pleasure, I can say that I have had a blast making it and I will definitely be doing it again!  I can't promise how soon you will see more video footage on The Cilantropist, but keep your eyes peeled in future for my smiling face; for now, I would really appreciate your support in this round by voting for my entry on Foodbuzz!  

So, after all this hype, you are probably wondering what my video is about!  Well, Foodbuzz originally asked us to make a recipe from our archives 'come alive' through video, and I knew right away that I wanted to show you how to make ladyfingers.  In my original post from May of this year, I described how I made ladyfingers from scratch, and then I later used them to make a beautiful Lemon Berry White Chocolate Trifle for a good friend's bridal shower.  I got such a great response to both of the posts, and many said they had no idea how easy it was to make these delicate savoiardi at home.  Specific comments from readers about how they enjoy ladyfingers as a simple pleasure with coffee, or how they share them with small children (low sugar, soft texture, and easy to hold with little hands), definitely warmed my heart and made me realize ladyfingers can be used for so much more than just tiramisu.

In fact, after my first ladyfinger post, but before I revealed my Lemon Berry Trifle, I asked my readers to guess what dessert they thought I would use the ladyfingers for.  Many suggested tiramisu, one guessed correctly with a trifle, and one reader even thought maybe I should use them as hotdog buns (Joking, of course.  Love you Jill!).  But, more than a few readers thought I was going to use them to make a Charlotte, also known as a Charlotte Russe Cake.  At the risk of embarrassing myself (though I will surely do that anyway with my video below), I will fully admit that I had no idea what a Charlotte was; I knew I couldn't continue living in dessert ignorance, so I did some internet searching and was surprised to find a gorgeous vision unlike anything I had seen before.  I knew I had to make it.

Traditionally, a Charlotte is made by lining a mold with spongecake, biscuits, or ladyfingers, and then filling the mold with fruit puree, custard, mousse, or some combination of several components.  In the case of spongecake, the mold is usually a bowl, which produces a dome shaped dessert when the Charlotte is turned upside down and released from the mold.  For a ladyfinger Charlotte, the look is much different, since the savioardi are commonly placed standing upright around the edge of a ring mold, to form a border that holds the filling inside.  Often, when the dessert is complete, a ribbon is tied in a bow around the charlotte; it seems some say the ribbon gives extra insurance that the dessert holds together, but I think it just amps up the beauty factor (either way, I wasn't skipping the bow). 

And so, with out further ado, let me properly introduce myself and show you how to make your own ladyfingers from scratch, and tell you how you can use them to make a beautiful Pomegranate Charlotte dessert!

I hope you enjoyed my video and that you feel inspired to make your own ladyfingers at home!  You can use the written recipe below, or just follow the instructions from the video.  (And since voting is now open, head on over to Foodbuzz and show my video some love!) 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Foodbuzz Festival: The Food

Hi there friends!  Can I offer you an apology?  I seem to have been completely absent from my blog for almost one and a half weeks now, ack!  So sorry to have left you all alone, but not to fear, I am alive and well, I have not been gobbled up by a woman-eating monster, and I have a few reasons for being away.  First, I was completely caught up making my video for Project Food Blog (yesssss!  I did advance to the next round and will share my next VIDEO entry with you this week!) and I am SO excited about it.  I can't wait for you to see it!  Immediately after finishing my video, I jetted up to San Francisco for a weekend of eating, socializing, and general debauchery at Foodbuzz's Second Annual Food Blogger Festival. 

The weekend was filled with events (and of course my tummy was filled with food) and I got to experience it all with both new and old friends.  I have loads that I want to tell you about, but I thought I would break it down into The Food and The People.  And really, for The Food, I just want to tell you about the Taste Pavilion from Saturday afternoon (I may have been too preoccupied with those aformentioned People on Friday night to take any real notice of what I was eating) and share some details about several amazing new food vendors and local food craftsmen that I discovered.   

The Taste Pavilion was located at City View at the Metreon, and the venue couldn't have been more perfect.  The space indoors was large enough to so that all 350 of us bloggers could comfortably weave around and eat to our hearts content, and then outside there was ample space to breathe in some fresh air, bask in the sunshine, and take in the scenery.  

Foodbuzz did a fabulous job of organizing a variety of excellent vendors and local food craftsmen for the Taste Pavilion, and I think there were only a few that I might have missed out on.  Almost all the food and wine I got to sample exceeded my expectations (and I am a tough critic!), but I had a few favorites that I just had to tell you about.   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spiced Pear and Cranberry Pocket Pies

When I was little, I remember eagerly waiting for my dad to come home from grocery shopping.  He would unload all the big bags full of fruits, vegetables, and canned goods, and I would always be peeking to spy the inevitable sweet treat that he had snuck in with the rest of the healthy groceries.  We didn't eat many 'gourmet' foods back then (this was in the pre-foodie era), so the sugary surprise might have been some Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, or maybe some Swiss Rolls, and I can remember eating Entenmann's Raspberry Danishes on dozens of occasions.  I would usually gobble up a slice of Entenmann's danish after school, but those plastic-wrapped Little Debbie treats usually made their way into my lunch bag since they were perfectly portable.

And speaking of wrapped, lunchbox treats, I can't forget about all the Hostess Fruit Pies that I used to eat!  My memory of whether or not we had fruit pies at home is slightly foggy, but I do know that I could get them with my lunch if I ordered from the school cafeteria.  I remember I could never quite decide which flavor to get, but I could be sure that the filling would be super sweet, oozing, and not at all 'made with real fruit.'  The pie 'crust' was waxy, chewy, and also laden with sugar.  As a kid, this was exactly the way I wanted it.  

Nowadays, I prefer more adult-type treats, but that doesn't mean I need to completely shake off my childhood addiction to snack cakes.  For grown-ups and kids alike, a dessert that will give you the tasty goodness of a slice of pie in a compact hand-held form is delicious and just plain fun.  Plus, there is the added aspect that it is yours, and only yours; it is your own personal pocket pie and you don't have to share it with anyone.