Monday, August 10, 2009

Heating things up in the kitchen

Summer daisies are in full bloom here in PA.

It actually hit 90 degrees in Pittsburgh today! It's funny because everyone up here feels like today was sweltering, especially since we've had such a mild summer and virtually no humidity. (Sorry people down south- I'm not trying to make you jealous, I swear!)

But when I was growing up in Virginia, we thought we were incredibly lucky if we had 90 degree weather in August. I remember breaking a sweat just walking from the mall to the car. I also don't miss the mosquitos- lots and lots of mosquitos that yielded lots and lots of bug bites as a I recall.

When the weather outside is just a bit warmer and you're in a commercial kitchen with multiple ovens on at over 300 degrees, you can definitely feel the difference though. We started baking extra early this morning and luckily, we finished just before noon, which was great, since noon is one of the hottest times of the day.

I stumbled on a charming little piece on CHOW called "Julia Says: Wise words from the great sage of American cooking". It definitely made me smile.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie & Julia

I'm sure you've all seen or heard the hype surrounding the new film "Julie & Julia," starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. As a self-admitted Nora Ephron junkie (Who couldn't love the neuroticism of Meg Ryan's character in When Harry Met Sally or that precocious kid in Sleepless in Seattle?), I gravitated towards this movie when I first saw the trailer.

I've always admired Julia Child from afar but have not really had much of an experience with her recipes or her show. I know it sounds a little silly, but I think I'm going to hold off on watching the film until I have a more first hand experience of Julia Child in general. My reasoning is that I don't want my impression of who she is as a chef and person to be affected by the characterization of her in the film. Call me a purist, but this woman is a culinary legend and I feel like it would be a little unjust for my first real encounter with her and her cooking to be based on a movie. And on that note, as anyone out there seen the film yet? I'd be curious to hear what you thought of it.

What I do love about the film already is that it has brought Julia Child to an audience that perhaps would have been content with being entertained and educated about cooking by the celebrity chefs of today. Case in point- I was at Target yesterday and next to each other on a shelf were the books "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell and "Mastering The Art of French Cooking," by Julia Child.

It has made those who have only heard the name Julia Child in passing, curious about the woman behind the name and has provoked discussion about the way we used to cook and eat and what has or has not changed. One example is this stirring (no pun intended!) article that Michael Pollan wrote for The Times Magazine, entitled "Out of Kitchen, Onto the Couch". It's a long one, but if you get a chance, check it out- I think you'll find it thought provoking. It will definitely give you something to chew on.

I did find some clips of Julia Child on YouTube though! See her make an omelette on her show, The French Chef, below.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Fancy Food Show- Richard Avedon Style. . . .

... just kidding. No Richard Avedon photos here, but here are some shots we took while we were in New York for the Summer Fancy Food Show.


A side view of our booth

Long view of our booth- colorful and spacious, no?

Jean (one of my best friends from college) came up to help us work the show and staff our booth. Thanks Jeannie!

Staffin' our booth....

Speaking of photographers, did you hear that Annie Leibovitz is in financial trouble and is at risk of losing her homes and the rights to her work? I love her photography and saw a wonderful exhibit of her work at the Corcoran Gallery several years back. I hope she can work her finances out- she's worked so hard over the course of her career and I can't imagine what it must feel like as an artist, to be in jeopardy of losing it all.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Do what you love and love what you do

One thing I've missed a lot since I've started our business is the extra time I used to have to watch films and go to theatre, like I used to do when I was living in New York.

But every now and then, I think back to those lazy Saturdays and Sundays when I used to meet up with friends at the Loews Kips Bay or the Sunshine for a documentary. Then there was the time I camped out at the Public Theater box office in Astor Square for 10 hours- (starting at 3 a.m.!) to get free tickets to see Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children." Definitely one of the most memorable and thought provoking, that I've ever attended.

Even as busy as we are now, I still try to find ways to balance work and everything. I'm not married and don't have kids, so I try to spend time with my friends when I can. I might not be able to go out as much as I used to, but I've figured out other ways to continue my hobbies. I just watched a really inspiring movie called "Spirit of the Marathon" on Hulu. The documentary profiles 6 different runners who are participating in the Chicago marathon. I thought it was simultaneously inspiring, tragic and hopeful. To me, one of the most important points of the film was that the marathon can be seen as a metaphor for life and I think many marathon runners feel the same way. The idea that to challenge yourself to complete a 26 mile race is to challenge yourself in life and to continue to be determined, have optimism and faith (spiritual or otherwise), that at the end of the day, you're going to cross that finish line.

Yes, I know, you're saying right now that I should never go into reviewing films for a living and I agree with you, wholeheartedly.

But really guys, check out the film if you get a chance- at the very least you will feel like getting up and doing something when you're done!

Saturday, August 1, 2009



What, do you say, is lucuma? It was the one thing I left off of our top picks from the Fancy Food Show and probably my most favorite find of all. Silly me.

Lucuma can be described as a unique, delicately flavored tropical fruit native to South America and can primarily be found in Peru and Chile. It looks something like a cross between a mango and avocado. Round in shape, it is very verdant on the outside, with a flesh that has a beautiful golden yellow-orange color. While at the show, I tasted both lucuma ice cream and lucuma flour (basically dried ground lucuma, which you can add to baked goods, yogurt, smoothies or anything to which you would add a fruit topping). I'm enfatuated with the flavor- I really think it tastes like something of a cross between a mango and avocado with a little hint of vanilla thrown in.

Fresh lucuma has been a rareity in the U.S. up until now, but based on what we heard at the show, the U.S. is making a big push to import the fresh fruit, so maybe you'll be seeing these little guys at your local store soon!