Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fancy Food!

It's been a while.
Lets not make this awkward, ok? These goats are not food, they are friends of mine.
My adventures have taken me on a plane to San Francisco, stalking a legend, snowshoeing in the WILD forest of Wenatchee, goat cheesery, a visit from a little brother, and many many jellybeans.
I will first enlighten you on my trip to:
San Francisco Fancy Food Show 2010!!

It all started out with a simple phone call to one of my favorite cheese shops; Quel Fromage! Long story short, we got to talking, as girls tend to do….and the owner of the store casually inquires if I would be interested in attending the 2010 Fancy Food Show in San Francisco…a mere 2 days away. Would I be interested? Let me think about it….
25,000 Alaska Airline miles + many minutes pacing the room, muttering, drinking wine + a late night phone call to my AMAZINGly generous friend Elizabeth = one impromptu trip to San Fran!
Thank You Eli, Margot and other Eli!!!

Here is a summary of my travels and some highlights;
  • Arrival to SFO…greeted with a Tartine Ham and Cheese Croissant! I own this cookbook and I cannot wait to try the recipe soon! Eli? Sara?
  • Show registration and introduction to my lovely foodie host, Rachel Riggs. She and her husband were very gracious with their time, and allowed me to independently peruse the entire show at my leisure. Thank you Rachel!!
  • The first day was spend ambling through the south side of the arena and the second say was spent in the far superior north side…here are some of my delicious finds:
  • Savannah Bee Company. The display of the full frame of honey was divine! They even have a line of "tea" honeys, "cheese" honeys, and "grill" honeys. Marketing team was working overtime on that one…I do love their Riesling style bottle though.
  • TEA overload. Look at these loose teas that entice the senses and calm the mind!
  • Salts, so many salts. I talked for a while with the owners of a Seattle based company called Secret Stash Salts. I gazed over large boulders of Himalayan Pink Salts. A crane was probably used to haul them in. Obvioulsy truffle salts are high on my list of idea things in life. Total Salt Ingestion: 4,000 mg. FML

  • Gummies! Haribo gummies are my preferred gummy of choice and I seek them out whenever I can. I love twin cherries, fresh berries, colas (fizzy and flat), licorice wheels, and of course the standard gold bear. I was delighted to see an oversized backlit display of gummies and take home a freshly picked bag of berries
  • Black Garlic. Fermented garlic that has a umami roasted taste…but its aged. And Black.

  • Smoked Olive Oil. I would imagine I could eat an entire meal of this oil and a baguette. I shudder at the caloric thought.
  • Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr: Better than Fage?! It's fat free and comes in some really delicious flavors. Plus, I feel worldly when I eat it and imagine people thinking to themselves "skyr? Is that some sort of Icelandic Yak's blood?" BAHAHAHAHA.
  • Happy Goat Caramels. Carmel makes ME happy. Goat's milk caramels make me double-ly happy. These are made in the traditional way, in a copper pot. Oh how I desire a whole set of copper cookwares….I digress.
  • Rogue Creamery Cheeses. I talked with David Gremmels for a while and he told me his grandmother's name was Nelle! Then I stuffed my face with cheeses in the order in which they were displayed. I liked the Caveman Blue! Aged in a limestone cave, man.

  • Coach Farm Goat Cheese and Snow Goat Triple Cream Brie….2 of my favorites! Coach Goat also had this really "grate" hard goat cheese that you could shave with a micro-plane. I ate a hunk of it and the soft flavors coated my mouth with a sort of velvet mouthfeel. Except it was cheese.
Pause For Inspirational Quote:
"I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese"
-The Devil Wears Prada
  • Cypress Grove Cheese Wedding Cake Cypress Grove Cheese Wedding Cake Cypress Grove Cheese Wedding Cake Cypress Grove Cheese Wedding Cake Cypress Grove Cheese Wedding Cake:

  • OH. Did I mention that I actually stalked Ina Garten AKA The Barefoot Contessa? Ina was there in the FLESH and I got to meet her and awkwardly lean in near her personal space for a picture!!! Rachel was kind enough to let me know when she was going to be back to her display (featuring her Barefoot brand), and she was there, with her pal Frank Newbold, socializing with the non-Hamptonites. I don't know if you remember Frank, but she is one of Ina's DEAREST friends and business partners. Frank and his BF Stephen were just on the show….I don't know about you, but I found this website depicting Ina's fag hag status pretty frickin hilarious:
  • Lillie Belle's Smokey Chocolate Blue Cheese Truffle. A truffle….with CHEESE inside, folks. Milk chocolate meets sharp blue cheese with a dusting of almond on the outside and hint of smoke on the inside.
  • I dare say the next item out loud, internet. OOT. An Olive Oil Truffle by Bissinger. TODD, I WANT THESE FOR VALENTINES DAY. Shit, was that last part all in caps? Sorry man, didn't mean to yell. eh. I mean it's like your mouth is visited with a tongue coating flood of the finest Grecian olive oil, only to be matched with the melting-ly smooth quality of a hand crafted chocolate shell.

Well, I really could go on about all the other things I want to gush over….the vinegars, friendly nut ladies, the mass of other cheeses I got to taste, gourmet spritzers, bacon salt/mayo/popcorn, truffle everything, kimchi, caramel sauce made with AOC Isigny butter…. That is, butter that is protected by the French Government. GAH! Can I please start a specialty food store now?

Thank you all for reading and indulging in my humble accounts of the Fancy Food Show!
Love, Nelle
HAHAHAHAH. Just kidding, this is me.
Boccalone Meat Cone
OH! And btw, I finally got to taste the elusive Nduja. An excellent spreadable salami made in house by Boccalone in the Calabrian style.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thomas Keller's "Coffee and Doughnuts" Part II

Here is the 2nd part to my three day quest:
I hope you like pictures :)

Semifreddo batter ready to freeze….notice the vanilla specks. eh I love the specks.
Semifreddi in a row!
ehhhh, I had to sample it, k?
Doughnuts rising fireside. They look pretty meager here, but hey what am !? A professional baker?
All puffed up!
The real deal. I am hoping I will be plucked to attend an evening's worth of food at French Laundry soon? oui? non? heh.

hehehehehehehhe! Thanks for joining me.

Feeling Dumpety…..and Thomas Keller's "Coffee and Doughnuts" Part I

Internet! I have been affected by malware, aka the human form of acute viral rhinopharyngitis. As you see below, my immune system has been portrayed by this poor tater pot. He was already broken and patched up once, then he makes his untimely return to surgery this past Saturday night.

Eureka! He has risen!
Missing a slight little chip, but that is the taterpot way! You never know when the farmer is digging for taters and the shovel comes THIS close to you. That's how we lost Spud Jr. in the great dig of '08.

Anyway, I spent the past 3 DAYS my friends, 3 days, constructing this next project of mine.
It goes a little something like this…..
2 weekends ago, Todd and I took a leisurely drive to Chelan so we could outfit him with a snowsuit. On the way back, we decided to stop at little shop on the Columbia River, called Orondo Cider Works. Now, I am not one to call a place cute just to be nice to whoever thinks its cute, or to save someone's "feelings." I am actually pretty judgmental and IF someone asks my opinion of something I will tell the truth even if that means a negative review, or "constructive criticism." A lot of times I will offer up this information even if someone does not ask me. So sue me.
Orondo Cider Works was a very cute place. I really do admire when a proprietor goes balls out and paints a place fire engine red. We need more of those old timey places!
The store sells lots of fresh apples varietals, apple honey, apple cider ice cream, apple butter, apple soap, apple cider vinegar, apple fountain of youth, apple cure to HIV the virus that causes AIDS….and so on! Also…..
Cider Works has fresh doughnuts and cider.
Cider Works has fresh doughnuts and cider.
ehhhh, gimme?
So then I decided to attempt to make Thomas Keller's famed "Coffee and Doughnuts" recipe from his book "French Laundry Cookbook", which is served at both FL in Napa and Per Se in NYC.
O how I wish to dine there some day soon!

This site was also a great resource for me as French Laundry recipes/dishes are notoriously intricate and detailed to recreate;
The blogger does not provide the recipe…which irked me because I was having a HELL of a time trying to convert fresh yeast measurement to instant yeast equivalent. I ended up just using a teaspoon. I figure you cant go wrong with a teaspoon. hehhehe. we'll see.

Now, if you are under the impression that I am going to be "brewing some Folgers" and slapping a Krispy Creme down next to a mug of joe and calling it a day, then you are not the man I thought you were, Internet. Maybe you are just a server farm in Iowa.

Coffee and Doughnuts is actually a cinnamon and sugar dusted yeast risen doughnut accompanied by an espresso semifreddo (an italian frozen dessert that literally means, "half frozen") which is then topped with steamed milk:

Now stay tuned for the actual event. The GREAT FRYING of 2010!!!!
hhahhaah I only have like 5 doughnuts to fry but humor me please, it's all I have to hold on to.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mille Crêpes Cake, 2009-2010

Greetings New Citizens and Ye Olde Timey Readers!
I welcome everyone into the new decade, "twenty-ten."

This post will focus on my laborious attempt at:
or otherwise known as Mille Crêpes

I first saw a picture of this cake on Martha's website and its image has plagued me for several weeks.
Crêpe Cake: Make Me REAL
Nelle: Um, ok cake. But I don't have a crêpe pan like the one my mom uses…Can I attempt using my small nonstick saute pan?
Crêpe Cake: hahahahaha. NO YOU FOOL! You probably thought "mille" meant one million too. Well it means one thousand, idiot.

Enter Santa Claus.

So, then I says to the Crêpe Cake, I says: I SHALL CONQUER YOU. The eve shall be New Years. The time is now. So I began making 40 chocolate crêpes. One crêpe at a time. hahahhahahha O the MANIA that ensued.
It actually took me 2 days to complete this cake. Technically, Martha's cake called for 32 crêpes. WTF?? Ok, so I make a batch of the chocolate crepe batter and it busts out around 20 crêpes. So I make another batch and proceed to make 18 extra crêpes, which is fine because I had a couple of "hot spot" crêpes, aka burnt circles of batter. Which I ate, oh yes I did!!

Here is a neat stack of my creations

A hazelnut buttercreme is prepared for the filling. The preparation goes a little something like this….
  1. Read recipe;
  2. Attempt to locate something called "Hazelnut Cream" in my pantry, knowing its not going to be there;
  3. Fail to locate;
  4. Attempt to locate a Whole Foods in Wenatchee;
  5. Fail to locate;
  6. FU*K! Silently curse Martha.
So, I had to root around the internet for a suitable stand in for something called hazelnut cream. I came up with this and it worked fine. It definitely added extra steps to my cake making process and I believe the texture was a little more, oh…. come si dice in Italiano "rustic?"
I only say that because the hazelnuts I used for the cream were a little more chunky than a commercial brand of hazelnut cream would be. Nevertheless, here is the final product after layering crêpe upon buttercreme upon crêpe, topped with a dark chocolate ganache, garnished with candied hazelnuts;

I find splendor in these many layers
Todd didn't even eat any of it though! GRRRRRRRR
Half the cake remains in the fridge to taunt Todd.
BUT, I loved it and so did our dear New Years guests, Selina and Wenzel.
Onward 2010!!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh Hai! HNY 2 All!

Scoops on Parade in 2009!
Hai!!! Iz Scoops. I 'preciate everyone and all ther support over the past year. I came from a rough spot and was hitting the publik adopshun scene pritty much every dai trying to find a loving hooman that would give me a home, scoop my poop 4 me, and feed me from the orange cat food bag. Cince nelle came in and pluked me frum my cage of rage, the fur on my nose has grown back and emoshunally, i feel gr8t! I dont evn have to share my scratch post with any othr kittehz. In fackt, the only uther kitteh i have seen has been from outside the window, which I stare thru for 3-4 owers a dai.
Hers sum highlits uf my yeer!

intuneyt deybue

commence kurling
The gr8t heet wave uf 2009 left me in a stupor
leevs me alone
dont h8t me becuz im beautiful
fat off the land
iz sleepin git away, k?
draw me like one of your french girlz