Monday, August 31, 2009


It's been almost a year. But I'm thinking I may just start this thing up again. I believe that Prochaska would tell me I'm currently in "Contemplation."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Dinner for friends

On Saturday night Bao, Sam and I had the privilege of cooking a multi course meal for 8 friends. The three of us decided from the beginning that we would cook and serve the whole meal...unlike most of the time where we actually sit down with the people we've cooked for...The only catch for the invitation was that you had to eat whatever we decided tomake and you had to accept a wine assignment. (Thank you Michael at Sherlock's for helping us with this part.) Here is what we served:

When people arrived, they were greeted with grapefruit lavender martinis as well as puff pastry cups filled with grits, kabana sausage and topped with a fried quail egg.
Now...on to dinner...

Oh. I don't have very many pictures because the cooks were supposed to remember to take photos, but we were busy drinking lots of yummy know.

Amuse: a "caprese" of red and yellow heirloom tomato sorbets, whipped mascarpone and basil oil; paired with Il Procecco

First course : pan seared halibut, asian pear and kiwi salad, carrot ginger puree; paired with a Ginjo sake

Second course: foie gras with brandied pears and caramelized honey; paired with a sauternes that I can't remember

Third course: veal cheeks with chanterelles and figs, old vine zinfandel reduction; paired with Greppicaia, Bolgheri Superiore

Cheese course: arina goat gouda and manchego with sweet pear chutney; paired with St. Bernardus Wit Bier

Dessert: the Violet, recipe from Chef Olivier Bajard MOF, sugar dough, white chocolate, cassis violet coulis, vanilla pastry creme and strawberry salpicon; paired with Francois Montand, Blanc de Blanc

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If you're in Atlanta...

You should do this with part of your Saturday night.

On an unrelated note, it's official. I'm 1/8 Cherokee. I'm not sure what that means for me, but it's kind of cool to know. I spent the weekend in Robbinsville and it was too much to go into here. But it was all very, very good.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Atlanta Woman Magazine article

This is a nice little piece that Atlanta Woman put on their website. (about me)

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Relationships sometimes break.

The fragments of life once together seem to be everywhere right now. And I can't step back yet and see the lessons learned in the bigger picture.

Instead, it's just sad.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beer Dinner at 5th Earl Market

In June we did a beer dinner at the 5th Earl Market in Decatur. Here is a nice little write up from one of the customers. There's even a picture of me looking a little bit chef-y.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

some things about today

My favorite thing I heard today:
"Pride's not hard to swallow if you chew it long enough."
Thank you Hank Jr. I normally prefer his father.

I went to the grocery store. Contents of my cart:
Diet Coke

I think that exemplifies everything that's wrong with health in America. Who knew I was so average?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thank you.

With you
I am me the most

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What's up with everyone wishing me a Happy Mother's Day this weekend? Well, Larisa, you might say. It is Mother's Day after all. True. However, this constant well wishing has never happened before. At the grocery store, at Target, even at the gas station?! "Happy Mothers Day!" they exclaim.

I'm not a mother. There is nothing with me indicating that I might be a mother (like, say, for instance, a child). "Oh no!" I think. "Maybe these empire waist dresses really do make me look pregnant!" "Happy Mother's Day!" they keep saying. I finally responded to one man by saying, "Happy Mother's Day to you too!" I mean, he's just as much of a mom as I am. He looked confused.

As it turns out, I am not alone in this experience. Every woman I talk to (mother or not) has noticed it this year.

But here's the thing. I keep thinking about the women who actually want a baby and don't have one. I enjoy having a life filled with nephews, nieces and other people's children. That's plenty for me. However, there are those, like my mom, whose arms ached to hold a baby of her own. For whom Mother's Day is a day when the emptiness they feel throughout the year is only magnified.

So, people, this year. Concentrate on your own mom. I will do the same.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Honoring life transitions. That's been the theme for April. I'm starting some work with a new company that caters, teaches cooking classes, and is producing a line of gourmet baked goods. My friend Laura had a baby. Terrell got married. And my friend's mom died. That pretty much covers life, doesn't it? It's given me a lot to ponder and I've written some things that I may post later. Meanwhile, here's something that made my heart happy.

M'lissa and I were at El Myr when we ran into one of our regulars at Octane. He's not a regular that I know anything about except that he enjoys large coffees, in house lattes and the occasional sandwich. When we saw him, we waved and went to our table. On his way out, he gave us this...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

OK people...we need spoke cards for the Bikes to Rwanda benefit...see Aly's kick ass poster below...there will be lots of things going on. Even if you can't make a spoke card, come to the cookout, Pecha Kucha or cupping. Meanwhile, you will enjoy only coffees from Rwands for the month of April, some exclusive to Octane.

Here are some details. Bikes to Rwanda is a Portland based non profit. BTR's goal is to improve quality of life in Rwandan farming communities through a bike workshop and maintenance program that provides transportation resources for basic needs and enhances production of quality coffee. Cargo bikes help farmers harvest their crops quicker and easier, making it possible for more of the coffee cherries to reach a potential buyer. In the past few years, Rwanda has developed a reputation to producing top-quality specialty coffee for export throughout the world. The result has been tremendous economic and social benefits for the people of Rwanda: coffee now generates more than half of Rwanda's export income—some US $46 million in 2006—and it helps support thousands of families. As Rwandans earn more for their coffee beans, families take a step up the ladder of economic development toward a better life.

This year, BTR will be focusing its efforts on building bike shops for Rwandan co-ops. The shops will be gathering places where people in the co-op can maintain, service, and construct the bicycles that help them succeed. It is our goal at Octane to support this community, our global coffee family, as we work to raise enough funds to construct a bike shop in Rwanda.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good news! The 2008 Golden Clog Award nominees have been announced. Developed by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman, they're a delightful spin on the idea of "awards." These include:

The Alton: for being on the Food Network and yet, somehow managing to Not Suck
My fave, the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, is nominated.

The Cat Cora: for most fame based on least actual culinary achievement; Bourdain has even agreed to nominate himself for this one.

The Fergus: for greatest achievement in pork and/or guts.

The list goes on, but I'll let you discover it for yourself. It makes me laugh. How I would love to share a bottle of Jameson with these guys.

Friday, January 25, 2008

This is Dieter.

Here are some of his designs for Braun in the 1960s.

Look familiar?

The future of Apple is here.

Principles of good design according to Dieter Rams.
Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design helps us to understand a product.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is durable.
Good design is consequent to the last detail.
Good design is concerned with the environment.
Good design is as little design as possible.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Speaking of design.....

Octane has a new wall!! Well....same wall, new face!




Mick made a movie.
Watch the installation.
Find out more about Stefan's newest Black Slabbath.

My finger vs. the serrated blade. I think my finger would have lost had the blade been straight. This way, though, it was just a gouge more than a clean cut. Who knew I had taken my left ring finger for granted all these years. It helps me do lots of things. I'm somewhat inspired to write an ode.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dear 2008,

I’m super excited to meet you. As with any relationship, I’m sure I’m full of expectations that I won’t even know about until you either fulfill them or don’t.
You will teach me new things, and past lessons will make sense. I will learn how much I don’t know, and also realize that I know more about some things than I think I do. Whatever “my work” looks like will start to come together in a tangible way….moving from ideas to action. More blood and sweat than ever. Slow and steady. I will not let fear stop me.
There will cooking, of course. At home. With friends at my table. I will be more intentional about Community. I crave it. I have it.
There will be art. There will be Process. And dreams will come to fruition in ways I would never imagine. My Story will unfold and I will choose to live it because it is mine.
We’ve got 355 more days together. Let’s do this thing.
Lots of love to you,

Sunday, December 23, 2007 is a little bit of what I've been up to. Mainly work, fun, baking, friends, knitting(?!) and random life stuff.

A couple of months ago Danette and I headed to Buford to catch up with our friends from college, Amy and Bal. I made a little dessert of key lime tart with a pecan shortbread crust, fruit and meringue. Here it is presented two different ways.

Also, I was happy to make a little dessert for a goodbye brunch in honor of Joanna Avant, who is fabulous. She and her husband Phillip are moving from Atlanta to Virginia because for his job. This now means that Atlanta has two fewer super fun people living here. For her, I made a lemon brulee with layers of almond biscuit. I'm not sure why fall made me want to make citrus based things, but it did. Go figure. Not seasonal so much.

At Octane, we rotate artists monthly. In December, the artist was Octane employees. Frankly, we kick ass. Paintings, photos, handmade journals, masks, and shrines were just the beginning. I put up some photos from the markets in Europe last summer, but my main piece was a sugar sculpture.

This picture is blurry, but it gives you an idea of its multilevelness (not a word).

Finally, I have very good friends. I sent out a little note to a few people saying they could hire me to make their holiday breads and cakes. Let's see....Bao ordered from Korea-- he lives here, but was in Korea when he e-mailed me. Can I call myself a baker with international clients? Anyway, Amy's mom even ordered some special vegan treats for Amy to bring home to Iowa for Christmas. Gwen brought wine over and we packed and shipped 16 boxes! All of this to say, that I am so grateful to have people in my life who believe in what I do.

My head is swirling with thoughts and hopes for 2008.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I know I've been completely slack. And I even have stuff to put on here. So...stay tuned. Some photos and some catch up will happen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I was talking to someone the other day who had just seen my blog. He commented,"You like to talk a lot, don't you?" Which totally made me laugh. Not the first time I've been accused of being wordy in my posts. My response? "I talk because I can't draw." I think in pictures, but communicate in words. However, I do have a picture for you below. It is the cover of October's issue of Clinical Neurophysiology. Why this? Because I'm a co-author on one of the articles....specifically, "An Open Study of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Treatment Resistant Depression in Parkinson's Disease."

And so my past life comes rushing forth. This is one of the research projects I coordinated at Emory about four years ago. The gears of research, academia and publication are not known for moving with great speed. Wouldn't it be weird if I didn't get any feedback on my cooking for four years?! I was good at my job and found it interesting. But I don't want to go back. Not to be cheesy, but I love the kind of work I do now.....even if I'm still figuring out exactly what it is.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I am practically bursting at the seams, I am so excited about fall. I have so many great expectations for the next few months, and I'm not even sure why. But I have a strong sense of hope. It's nice. And, to be honest, quite a change from this time last year when I was smack in the middle of a major depression. The thing about when you're me and you're in the middle of such a dark place-- well, it's hard to recognize. I'm usually happy. Even when things are hard, I have a generally positive outlook. So, last year, when I found myself in the middle of this crazy abyss, I wasn't sure what to do. I kept thinking I was tired or not used to being back home or whatever. Anyway, all of this to say, the sun is shining much more brightly these days. Life is not easy, but life is good. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Here's a picture of the birthday cake I made for my sister. It was one of those humid 100 degree there were some sugar/fondant issues. However, it think it came out ok. She was happy, and that's what matters. Please note the way the gallon of milk really enhances the design.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Life is many things, and among the best of them, it is meals."-- James and Kay Salter from "Life is Meals"

The Salters go on to say that the meal is the essential act of life. I think it's not just physical life. I would also say that shared meals are essential for our spiritual and emotional lives.

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I plan vacations and trips around restaurants to visit. I'll plan a day of running errands around the hours of Kool Korner. Having a special meal in a new place is fun for me. It's not just about the food. Good meals enjoyed with friends are important. Over time I have come to realize that I have some specific expectations of other people when I'm dining out. In my mind there are certain "rules" involved when more than two people are dining at a good restaurant.
1. Share.
2. Do not order more than one of the same dish. Although, if the group is big (six or eight people), it's ok to have duplicates. Variety also helps with rule one.
3. Do not spend too much time on the check. This is no time for higher level math. If everyone eats and drinks, just divide equally and trust that it all works out in the end.
4. Laugh a lot and relax-- even if you're somewhere pretentious.
5. Share. That's really important.

A week ago, I found myself at a restaurant I had been wanting to try for quite some time. Repast was opened last year by husband and wife team, Chefs Joe Truex and Mihoko Obunai. I was going with 3 other people-- two of whom I had never met. My friend Gene, I know through Octane, but we hadn't hung out very much outside the coffee shop. While I was super excited, I wondered what these new dining friends would be like. After all, I couldn't just go in and have them promise to enjoy the dinner the way I think they should. (I try to be charming and make people like me before I go throwing out my weird rules of dining behavior.)

By the time we all gathered and had a pre-dinner cocktail, I knew that I had nothing to worry about. Almost everything looked good, so we consulted with each other to make sure that the menu was well represented at the table (see rule 2 above). After some direction from our informed and friendly (but not too friendly) server, Adrienne, we chose four appetizers. Just before the first course arrived, Adrienne offered to take our menus, and then return them when we were ready to make a decision about entrees. So smart! First was the three cheese plate (La Tur-- a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk cheese--Sweet Grass Dairy Gouda, and a Truffle Goat Cheese). We enjoyed the Salmon Naan Pizzette with goat cheese, fried capers and shallots. Yum! The season was just right for heirloom tomatoes topped with a melt in your mouth buffalo mozzarella. We each enjoyed a spoon stacked with a Japanese melon that's similar to honeydew, Maytag blue cheese and Hawaiian black salt. Perfect.

On to the entrees....which were promptly cut into four portions so we could each taste. There was Mihoko's Daily Macrobiotic Composition. That evening's selection included sesame green beans, tofu with red peppers, whole grains and roasted lotus root and carrots. The porcini crusted sea scallops were served over corn succotash with truffle butter. Also representing the water was wild Tasmanian salmon with lemon ricotta agnolotti and seasonal vegetables. The lemon was just right-- how do people not like lemon and cheese? Finally, we enjoyed cumin crusted lamb chops with sprouted garlic hummus, eggplant and feta, and a touch a mint oil. Wow. We were also given a selection of three salts to taste, a pink salt and black salt, both from Hawaii, and another salt with pyramid shaped crystals. I can't remember where it was from. It was fun tasting each dish with the different salts. There really are differences-- they weren't just "salty." Oh...and we got a side of root vegetable fries with their housemade ketchup and the kani kani-- jumbo lump crab cake with green bean slaw and yuzu caper remoulade. All washed down with Paul Hobbs Vindelocks Cabernet.

One might think that after all of this, we couldn't even think about dessert. One might underestimate us. So....we chose comforting, refreshing and decadent. We went for banana pecan bread pudding served with banana ice cream, as well as a tasting of mandarin-pineapple and lemon-lime-mint sorbet. My favorite, however, was the dark chocolate terrine with extra virgin olive oil and smoked sea salt. I was speechless. (really!) At Adrienne's suggestion, I chose the Pedro Ximenez Gran Riserva from Spain...I also chose it because it's the same age as me. So good with the chocolate.

Overall, a most lovely meal with fun new people. I forgot that I had only just met two of my three dining companions when we sat down. Shared meals are essential, and bring people together in a new way. Somewhere between bites of scallops and lamb, I took a deep breath and shared my realization-- "I was trying to think of something that could make this moment better-- and I couldn't come up with anything. I love it when that happens." Life is meals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Poor Buttercup....

All this time I've been feeling like I drive a tank....she, however, is no match for a Penske truck.

The truck was making a very wide right turn....there was Buttercup, parked legally on the street, minding her own business. And he hit her. Then just pushed her out of the way. Not nice. Thankfully, Jay Morel saw everything. He even got a partial tag. You know, in Law and Order they always have the tag run through the system in no time. Not so much the same here. I can't even get anyone to answer the phone at the Atlanta Police Department. In the end, however, I feel happy that I wasn't sitting in the driver's seat when it happened.

Now...another car photo. This dude was at Restaurant Depot for the day. I suppose until he gets to heaven, this "Gee" enjoys a good bargain on bulk restaurants supplies.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tell Me a Story

"Tell me a story." Did you ask that a lot when you were little? I know I did. I loved to hear my dad tell the same stories over and over. And if no one was around to tell me a story I would make up my own or read my favorites...My life was full of stories about Dorrie the Good Witch, Amelia Bedelia, Petunia-- she was a goose-- and, of course the usual suspects (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, etc.). One of my favorites was about a group of children on vacation with their parents. They discover a magical fairyland behind a waterfall...sort of like Narnia, but different. To this day, there is a space in me hoping for something else beyond a waterfall. I've been thinking a lot about stories lately.

I think that we like to hear stories as children because the world is so full of possibilities. I wondered if I would find a magical place....if I would be in peril and someone would rescue me...if I could save someone else from danger...if I had a story…..and if I did, how did these stories relate to it. Did they? I wanted to be part of something bigger.

So what happens? When do we stop asking someone to tell us a story? Perhaps more importantly, why do we stop asking? Are we too busy? Have we decided that these tales have no place in our "real" world of adulthood? Are we so concerned with our own story that we have no room for anyone else's? Maybe it's hard for us to hear the stories of others because we can't get away from either comparing our lives to theirs (and wishing they were more similar than different) or judging the way their lives should go. And if I'm spending my energy on that, I'm losing myself.

Frankly, that's what I've been doing lately. Spending time thinking about how other people could act to make my life better or easier. However, the past few days have brought some meaningful conversations that have helped my focus. See...this whole culinary school, cooking experience has been crazy. And, when I'm really stressed, I think "maybe I should go back to a job that uses my graduate degrees, and pays me well, and lets me consume more things...." For some reason, that seems like the responsible thing to do. As I write this, I realize that "consuming more things" is rarely responsible. However, before I've made any rash decisions, I am quieted. For the past few years, I have been pulled along, following a path because my heart told me I had to. It almost felt like I didn't have a choice. I had to go to school, I had to go to Switzerland. There were relationships to start, and a heart to be broken and healed. There were realizations about true family and friends….and how thankful I am to have both. This invisible tether keeps pulling me along a path. It doesn't feel out of control like a ship on rough water....though I don't feel in control either. I feel propelled and pulled in this direction. Paying attention to your heart doesn't always feel good. Opening ourselves up to realizing our deepest need and then going in that direction in a positive way doesn't always feel great or even make sense on paper. But I want to live the story that I'm meant to live. Even though I don't know how it's going to look or what it all means. When I'm old, I want to be able to say that--even though it took me a minute, I said yes to my story. The “yes” is sometimes tired and sometimes bold. But I want to always say “yes.”

We all have a story-- one that belongs to just us. And I think that we deeply want someone to listen to it. Sharing our stories and our lives with each other allows us to realize that we share a larger connection with humanity. The more I become aware of the larger story of humanity, the more I am in touch with my own. So....tell me a story.

Friday, July 06, 2007 turns out the "hard drive coma" was indeed a hard drive crash. Within three days my laptop died, and I lost my cell phone. So...all my somewhat superior attitude of "I'm so not dependent on technology...e-mailing and texting won't replace real human relationship...." I'm such a liar!! Now I have her back, and I feel very happy about it. So...prepare yourself're in for a long ride on this post.

ATL Kicks...We raised cash for CoffeeKids and got some kick-ass shoes out of it. Here are some of my faves.

Jason Kelly tattooed these beauties. Scroll down further and you can see some of his latest work on me...

The other side....

Pierre from Radical did these...

Look what Alfredo did with shoes!!!

CoffeeFest was the first weekend in June. People from all over descended on Cobb Galleria...Brian Ludviksen might be my new favorite person at CounterCulture. We're going to have our own radio show. We find ourselves so entertaining, I'm sure others will too. So many fun people....Peter, Brett, Brent, Brian, Tim, Rich, Mark, Phillip Search, Danger Dan, David from Clover and more. We got everyone going on Friday night at Octane with lots of free coffee, free beer and lots of playing on the LaMarzocco. Little did our regular customers know that some of the best baristas from around the country were putting extra love in the lattes. Saturday night, David LaMont and Chris put together a great southern style party at the training center. BBQ, Krispy Kreme, Moon Pies...and, of course, beer. The late night latte art throwdown saw Danger walking away with $157. Go him.
Meanwhile, we're getting lots of yummy coffee in at Octane. We're cupping at CounterCulture's training center at King Plow on Fridays. And M'lissa is putting together Monday night cuppings to be held at the shop. We'll not only cup coffee, but also other things...tasting chocolate, colas, and whatever else we can come up with! She is the best CoffeeBoss ever! Also, we've got two baristas (Danielle and JT) that are 1/3 Octane Barista certifies. This is very exciting....I'm nervous about the test, but I want to do it. I've been practicing dosing consistently. So far, I'm pretty consistent. Consistently under, that is. That half gram in the portafilter is super important!

Lately I've been drinking the Kenya Gitare auction lot....Rwanda Humure....and today, the Sumatra Aceh Gayo. So yummy....sweet, with some very subtle savory undertones. Also, my new best friend Troy from Portland, had his wife bring some Stumptown beans to try. We're trying to make the 6 months he has in Atlanta not too painful.

At Octane, we're re-doing our menu. We'll be improving the food, and I'll make some desserts! I'm super excited about all of it. When we're done with this, the food will be worthy of our coffees. I'll update the blog with the menu when it's finalized. Also, Chris and I have some dessert experimentation to do. I'll let you know how that turns out.

I mentioned some of Jason's work earlier in this post. Check out my culinary tattoos--a cupcake and a chef's knife. It was really fun. But when I realized it had been 14 years since my last tattoo, I got a little nervous. Jason was great, though. If you want work done, you can find him at Timeless Tattoo on Cheshire Bridge.

As you know, this week was America's Birthday. I joined Shannon, Doug, Shelia, the Jimmey and Bao at Cafe Lily in Decatur. Some of my favorite people and one of my favorite restaurants. Anthony consistently puts out fresh, easy to eat fare from his kitchen. I like it there. Happy Birthday, America!

Bao and me....he makes a mean Tiramisu. One day we might take over the world. Desserts and bread. Don't say you weren't warned.

Sheila (a) is not impressed (b) cannot believe that the person at the end of her gaze is for real (c) is over it.

Sexy Shannon...

Ok, kids. That's it for now. Thanks for keeping up! More later.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yay! I'm connected again. I had an unfortunate crash of the hard drive. wasn't so much of a crash as a coma. Apparently it just needed to rest, and now it's back again. Sure, I could have blogged from a desktop, but that just seems wrong....or at least stationary. So....look for updates (albeit a little late) on CoffeeFest, ATL Kicks, and other things I like.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Last night was the first all Octane staff meeting of 2007. We don't have them often, but when we do, I remember all over again why I love it there. We had lots of fun stuff to cover including the unveiling of the new Octane manual.....thanks to M'Lissa, we all have the information we need to start our journey into Rock Star Barista-hood. Go us! As we're taking our coffee to the next level, we'll be making some changes in the food menu-- making more things in house (thanks, T & D for the new equipment!) and mixing things up a little bit.
Anyway, because none of us can be serious for too long, we eventually tapped into the Corsendonk keg. What started out as a group photo quickly became random party photo shoot! Thanks double B for bringing the lights and the skills! Here are some pictures.

We're not really tough, we just like to pretend.....

Mug shot.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Earlier in April, I was in a casting competition sponsored by The Chicago School of Mold Making.

It was my first competition, and it was much more fun than I expected. I was as nervous and busy and anxious as I thought I would be....but in the middle of it all....there it was. Fun! I had a great assistant named Delecia who helped make things go smoothly. In the end, I didn't win. However, one of the judges said that my name kept coming up, but they couldn't decide where to put me. And that next year they would have more categories. So....I guess I invented new categories!
We had to create a sugar sculpture and a choclate amenity piece using a set of molds that were given to us. The theme was "Modern Nature." I conceptualized the sugar as destruction and chaos with life and growth coming out of it....and the thing on top that resembles a snail in the picture is actually part of a butterfly, but it's hard to tell in the picture.... With the chocolate, I went more with straight up "nature" with a flower.

A close up of the base....The orange was made using more "traditional" techniques, and not molds. I poured the melted sugar over granulated sugar, and pulled it as it cooled. The orange part rising up on the left was made by pouring the melted sugar over ice, causing it to set quickly. The ice melts off of it and...voila! An orange flame coral looking thing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here are some picture from my final in my Advanced Baking and Pastry class in March. We had to provide a sugar piece, a chocolate piece, assorted pastry and other edible sculpture.

This is a white chocolate flower that never made it to the had an unfortunate encounter with a heat vent...

This was my chocolate piece... it is holding chocolate raspberry cakes and rose scented petit fours with pistachio cream.
This is my cherry blossom wedding cake...

This is my sugar piece...both the green and the black part are made from sugar. The pastry is called the "Violet" is made up of layers of sweet tart dough, black currant coulis, vanilla pastry cream, strawberry salpicon, violet aroma and white chocolate. And, while the picture is rotated the correct way on my laptop...I can't seem to get it right side up on the blog. Alas.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006's been a minute. But I'm back. Perhaps not very often-- and-- I'm sure some of you will be happy-- not as long-winded. Here goes.....

I want to meet this man........

He's done this.....
And this......

It's Foodball

Marti Guixe has taken food to a whole new place and I think I love him for it.
You can also see him in the current issue of Dwell magazine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

September 17, 2006

The last few weeks have been a bit of a crazy blur. We went to Munich, which was a good time, overall. We arrived by bus late on a Thursday evening. I’m not a big fan of long bus rides with 30 people, but it was ok. We got in around 12:30 a.m., checked into the hotel and went to sleep. Friday was fully scheduled with a tour of a farm and a brewery. We were greeted that morning by our bus driver…he was wearing lederhosen and had a knife—the handle of which was made of part of the leg of a hooved animal. He seemed nice enough, I guess. However, he almost killed us at least three times. Not the safest driver ever…..I think he must have thought, “Hey, I’m a big bus. People will see me coming and get out of the way when I pass on a curve.” Seriously, he ran at least two cars off the road doing that.

We arrived in one piece at Hermannsdorfer, the “ecological farm complex,” was really interesting. It is made up of a farm, bakery, brewery, butcher and dairy. There are beautiful gardens and greenhouses where they grow plants and vegetables. The flower garden is open to public…anyone can stop, pick flowers, and leave money in a box by the garden. So trusting! Our tour guide was a lovely woman, whose passion for what she does was obvious. They don’t use any chemicals or hormones to grow their products or feed their livestock. It made all of us think more carefully about what happens to the food we eat before it gets to us. Also, they have a small brewery where they make two kinds of beer, weiss bier and dunkel bier--- both were really good.

After leaving the farm, we went to Ayinger, a brewery where they make the Celebrator—also known as the 13th best beer in the world. After a thorough tour of their modern, computer-run facility, we sat down for a tasting. They make quite a few beers, and I think I tasted every one of them. Yummy. It was a nice contrast to the simpler, more rustic style of the farm we had just seen.

The next day was free to explore the market. I have to say that the vendors in France were much nicer than the ones in Munich. While the produce was beautiful, they wouldn’t let you touch it. Hmmm….I’m not so keen on buying a vegetable that I can’t pick up before I purchase it. Oh well….

Who knew that one of the best meals of the trip would be Thai food in Munich at the airport? As we arrived at the airport for dinner, we were all very skeptical—in fact, we discussed it with our chefs. I told them that I had gone on-line and read mixed, though overall good, reviews of the restaurant. The itinerary said we would enjoy “the best of Thai cuisine you can imagine (Maki-Sushi rolls….Japanese Teryaki steak, etc.)” Please note that neither sushi nor teryaki is Thai. In the end, we decided to embrace it for the surreal experience it was sure to be and have a laugh later.

We were pleasantly surprised. Mangostin was opened by a former Executive Chef for Hilton International. Chef Josef Peter is from Germany, and worked all over the world including South America and Europe before spending 13 years cooking in Thailand. This inspired him to join with the largest private restaurant owner in Europe to open Mangostin. This restaurateur was a seemingly nice, very old man who came out and waved at us—his restaurants did 900 million € worth of business last year. Anyway, there is another Mangostin in downtown Munich, and when the airport began to plan for its new wing, they decided it would be the second location for the restaurant. Go figure. There was logic behind it, but I can’t remember it all right now.

They set out a beautiful buffet for us with all kinds of food…..sushi, steak salad with kaffir lime leaves, rice dishes, duck soup, won tons, basil rolls, egg rolls, everything that is fresh and good. One of my favorites was an appetizer….you take the leaf from a wild pepper plant, load it with ginger, onion, red chilis, roasted coconut flakes, peanuts, dried shrimp and a sweet-ish soy-based sauce. Fold it up and stick the whole thing in your mouth. Be sure to have something to drink nearby in case you get a little heavy-handed with the ginger-chili pepper combo. Chef Peter was a charismatic inspiring man who has seen and done so much, and gave us really good advice. Mainly it boiled down to “do what you love.” Simple, but not always so easy. He also invited some of us to comeback and work Octoberfest.

Sunday we went to Salzburg for the day…..hello, von Trapp family! It was a weird day to go because everything is closed on Sundays, but we did have a nice tour with Myra, a British woman who moved to Austria 50 years ago when she got married. She was absolutely fantastic….I think I want to be a tour guide when I’m an old lady. We saw Mozart's house and other places he liked to hang out. Because we were American, Myra assumed that we wanted to know more about the Sound of Music film than we really did. Anyway, she thought better of us when we told her that we were actually interested in the other aspects of the city. And so, we walked around in the rain, listening to her thoughts on the modernization of Salzburg (she’s against it), Mozart (she loves him), and other random things that floated to her mind. It was funny because Kathrin, our trip coordinator for Munich took me aside and whispered, “What is this ‘Sound of Music’ she keeps referring to? Should I know it” I told her about the movie, and how practically every kid in America has seen it or at least knows what it’s about. I sang a little medley of the songs for her….she still had no idea. Apparently, Maria is not a big part of German childhood.

We left Munich on Monday after touring Rischart, a bakery with many locations around Germany and Austria. It was interesting to see a mass production facility, but by that time we were very tired and just wanted to get back to Engelberg and sleep. Which we did.

Some tomatoes and a sunflower at Hermannsdorfer.

Food Porn

....more food porn....

I can't stop....but I will.

Mozart's house (with Andy's head in the foreground)

Gigi and I drink beers that are as big as our heads.

This is what happens when my arm meets the corner of a hot pan.

Bob enjoys the 13th best beer in the world (Celebrator by Ayinger).

Jeffrey, Gigi, Me, Gina and Kong after dinner in Salzburg.