Monday, September 22, 2014

Wishing You a Sweet New Year!

Frances Maggin's Applesauce Cake - the recipe comes with a great story!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Wednesday. It is a time of joy and anticipation, as well as an opportunity for consideration and reflection.

It's traditional to usher in the new year with apples and honey and other treats, in hopes of a sweet new year. So here are some of my favorite holiday recipes, which I hope you'll enjoy - for Rosh Hashanah, for breaking the fast after Yom Kippur, to celebrate fall, or just 'cause ... :)

Shanah Tovah! [shah-NAH toh-VAH]

Frances Maggin's Applesauce Cake

Pomegranate Molasses-Glazed Carrots

Helen's Apple Cake (Craig's mother's recipe)

Southern Honey Cake

Apple Almond Kugel (one of my most requested recipes)


Cider-Braised Chicken (Jeremy's favorite chicken dish)

Quince-Glazed Baked Yams

Honey Cakes with Caramel Frosting

Sauteed Apples a la Mode

Applesauce Bars

Vanilla Cakes with Caramelized Bananas (pictured above)

Sugar Cookies

Banana Oatmeal Pie

Grilled Brie with Cherries and Almonds

Orange, Date and Almond Salad

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Oatmeal Date Walnut Bars, for when a craving strikes

Ye olde sweet tooth was calling last night. So I used some pantry staples and soon found myself with a lovely treat in less than an hour - gather ingredients, mix batter, bake, enjoy ... :)

Oatmeal Date Walnut Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
generous sprinkling of cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
generous pinch of kosher salt
1 cup flour
3/4 cup quick-cook oats
1/2 cup date bits
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8"-square baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together butter and brown sugar; stir in egg, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in flour and oats. Stir in dates and walnuts.

Press batter into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes or so, until bars are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool, then cut and serve.

Makes 9-12 bars, depending upon how you cut them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Front Page, Above the Fold

Front page, above the fold - where everyone can see it even as it sits on a newsstand - is just about the best place for a story. And today, after a whirlwind of 6+ months that has kept me from blogging as much as I'd like to, kept me from keeping in touch with all of my friends here as much as I'd like to, I got a HUGE story (in more ways than one!) for Toledo, with primo placement, today.

Here's the story. It's a really good one, with tremendous nostalgic value and a lot of hope for something to brighten what can be some disappointing days in Toledo. The city needs a little love. We can't drink the water, unemployment is high, my paper did an entire story about blight in the city as the faltering economy has wreaked havoc here.

But today, people who are old enough to remember Tiedtke's Department Store are smiling as they think back to better days. People throughout the city who shopped at Tiedtke's or who grew up hearing about it - oh, the store is legendary for customer service and for taking care of employees! - are excited about a new, and old, tradition.

I still can't believe that, in January, food writing was my side gig and today I've got a front page headline. You never know what the universe has planned for you ....

Friday, August 22, 2014

Peach Perfection

A perfect way to savor beautifully ripe peaches ... :)

Peach Cobbler

2 very large peaches, pitted, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
dribble of almond extract
1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
brown sugar
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9" pie plate.

In a large bowl, mix together peaches, sugar, cornstarch, and extract. (No need to peel the peaches - the peels just get mushy when baked anyway.) Pour into the pie plate.

In the same bowl (who wants to wash extra dishes???), mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a fork, mix in the butter 'til the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the egg, then the half-and-half. Plop the mixture over the peaches; it won't cover them completely. Spread it out a bit, but it still won't cover the peaches completely.

Crumble a bit of brown sugar over the topping.

Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is golden and set when pressed lightly and the fruit is bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oh, I Need a Set of These!

From the gift shop at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

What more does a food-obsessed girl with an English degree need???

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bunny Looking Dapper with a Pancake ... :)

Don't know where the photo came from. He just makes me smile every time I look at him, so I'm sharing the happiness!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

If you can use Chex in a savory snack mix, why not Rice Krispies, too? This Indian chivra is lightly spiced with curry powder, and has that whole salty-sweet flavor sensation going on. It sounds a bit odd, but that's just 'cause it's unfamiliar.

Trust me - this crunchy snack is addictive!

Chivra (Indian Snack Mix)

3 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups chow mein noodles
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts

1/4 cup light oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
generous pinch of kosher salt
generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, combine Rice Krispies, chow mein noodles, peanuts, and vermicelli.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat oil with curry powder, garam masala, salt, and cayenne pepper just until warm; mix well. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Pour onto a baking sheet

Bake for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Let cool, then serve.

Makes about 7 cups of chivra.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shhh - The Brownies Have a Secret

This may look like an ordinary luscious, rich, chocolate-y brownie bite. And, I have to say, it absolutely IS a luscious, rich, chocolate-y brownie bite! But it's anything but ordinary.

It's vegan.

Yup - no butter, no eggs, no milk, no nothin' that came from an animal.

A vegan brownie.

And it's really, really good ... :)

Vegan Brownie Bites

1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1 cup light vegetable oil
1/4 cup silken tofu
1 tablespoon flavoring (coffee, brandy, fresh orange juice, etc.)
dairy-free mini chocolate chips, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup mini muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together soy milk, oil, tofu, and flavoring. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full of batter, and sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top. Bake for 15 minutes until a tester comes out clean, then remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes to set, then remove to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes about 3 dozen brownie bites.

Note: To make standard-sized brownie "muffins," bake for 20-25 minutes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nutella Quesadillas

Too easy to even warrant a recipe, these are such a lovely treat in the morning!

Schmear just a light layer of cream cheese over the entire tortilla, to cut the sweetness. Half jam of choice (I used raspberry in one, fig in the other), half Nutella. Fold. Grill 'til golden and gooey.

That's it! Breakfast, dessert, snack, "just 'cause" ... whatever the occasion, just try them ... :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

If It's July, It's Cherry Season

If you read this week's column, you'll learn that I had a HUGELY difficult time trying to find my beloved tart cherries here in Toledo. But, after all the mishigas, there was success! A lovely woman named Bonnie read my saga, told me of a farm market not too far away, even called the market to reserve two quarts of cherries for me (people are astoundingly nice here!), and thus ... before and after.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Too Long Since I Said "Hello" from Toledo

The beautiful welcome sign when I visited Da Capo coffee shop.

Oy ... it's been too long! Too long since I caught up with all my friends, too long since I told you of my adventures, too long ... just too long.

I had thought, perhaps, life would be easier - ha! - when I had one writing job instead of a day job plus several writing jobs. Boy, was I wrong! I spend way too much time sitting at this machine, typing; I have a column and a main feature every Tuesday, sometimes a second story on Tuesdays, and a column of news tidbits on Sundays. I also have speaking engagements (3 in an 8-day period, recently), a t.v. show taping (which you can watch here, if you'd like, as I discuss what it's like to be a newcomer to Toledo), a lot of events to attend, and just generally going out and about in town to meet people and learn about all the interesting food-related stories there are.

There's an executive chef at the Toledo Zoo (recently voted best zoo in the country, by the way!). There are programs to feed those in need, such as Mobile Meals and Food for Thought and Claver House's daily breakfast, which I've tried to help and to promote. I'm being adopted by new bubbes, in addition to the ones I miss in Ann Arbor. I'm among baking friends with folks who also straddle the Ann Arbor-Toledo line. And every so often I still cook and bake, too!

I have judging gigs coming up this summer for pierogi, ribs, and kuchen. I'm involved with the Mud Hens' "Create Your Own Hot Dog" party. I have 4 more speaking engagements lined up into next Spring. The Blade's marketing department is working on a logo for me. I have Twitter (@BladeFoodPage) and Facebook ( accounts for the food page. And I recently had the opportunity to interview Roy Choi - father of the food truck craze - about his work as a consultant to the movie "Chef," his efforts to have chefs do more to feed the hungry, culinary trends, and more ... wow.

But, I have to accommodate others' schedules for photos and layout, rather than working independently as I was accustomed to. I can't do scenic layouts of photographs, the way I want to. I have to write my features without using first person, though many tell me they like my confessional/conversational style. I work for a different entity now, though there are many, many wonderful people and I've been told that one of the "powers that be" loves me so much that he wants to give me a big hug through the phone! I'm still adjusting, 4 months later. It's been an absolute whirlwind.

The best way to keep up is to "like" the Facebook page; that's my favorite, as it's interactive and we can all chat and communicate about stories, recipes, pictures, videos, whatever silliness I happen to post.

Here are some photos, just to give a very brief and woefully insufficient taste (pun intended!) of some of my adventures. There's a LOT of good food here in Toledo, and some wonderful people. For every moment that I'm exhausted and can't face another second of staring at this screen, there are at least 51 moments that are full of fun and love and laughter and compassion and joy ... :)

Part of the breakfast array at Claver House, which serves soup, salad, cole slaw, toast, and other items each morning to those in need of a meal. The cake was in honor of those celebrating birthdays that month.

Spring roll and Fall roll at Tasty Thai, where Craig and I found out the hard way that we're wusses who need to order mild, not even medium, spice! Can't even imagine what "Thai hot" - top on the list of 5 choices - must be like!

The famous Tony Packo's dog and pickles.

A beautiful sweet potato soup and chicken salad at the fabulous Toledo Museum of Art, whose chef - Drew Ruiz - is a gem in this particular gem of the city.

Pear Salad and quiche at Pam's Corner, a lovely breakfast/lunch spot.

Just some of the produce grown by Toledo GROWS, a division of the Toledo Botanical Garden which supports urban gardening.

The mochi at Wei Wei, an amazing Chinese restaurant owned by the warm and wonderful Sherry and Mike; it serves addictive Szechuan dumplings!

My gingered rhubarb pie, which converted even the "leery of both ginger and rhubarb" Craig, who helped to devour this pie within, perhaps, 24 hours.

Vegan banana muffins with lime glaze. A feature on vegan foods is in the works.

My salt-cured egg yolk project: store a fresh egg yolk in kosher salt for 1 week, brush off excess salt once it's more solid, wrap in cheesecloth for 2 weeks until hard and grate-able like Parmesan.

What it was like when I crossed the border from Michigan to Ohio on February 1, to embark upon my new adventures.

Toledo on Friday, June 13, as I waited downtown for the bus.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: The Bocuse d'Or Fundraising Dinner in Milan, Ohio

Click here to read about the dinner and the afternoon of preparation for it ....

Eli Kaimeh and Philip Tessier, with Jennifer Petrusky in the back at the left (The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth)

Eli Kaimeh preparing saba, a reduction of unfermented grape juice (The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth)

Eli Kaimeh's Sauternes Poached Foie Gras, Pistachio Genoise, Cherry Bomb Radish, Watercress Blooms, Saba (The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth)

Curtis Duffy and Gavin Kaysen (The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth)

Observing the kitchen

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Bocuse d'Or, Team USA, and Me

Program book for the Bocuse d'Or fundraising dinner held in Milan, Ohio on March 15, 2014

Hi! It's me, again!

I know - it's been forever. I've been wined and dined, done a lot of schmoozing, and made many great new friends since I dropped in for a quick update last month. Toledo is a great, underrated food town with some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

"Flowers and Fruit," Henri Fantin-Latour
I've been to a Shabbat dinner for which I was warned to stop eating at noon, so I'd be ready for all the food. I've been to a tasting event to sample the dishes and wines being served at a high school auction. I've been given a personal tour of still life paintings at the Toledo Museum of Art. I've eaten the Garbage Salad at Grumpy's, which has everything in it from lettuce to poppy seed dressing to four kinds of cheese to chicken to raisins ... and everything works beautifully together! I was invited to a Lenten fish fry, which was my first in decades and Craig's first ever - he loved it.

So, life is a whirlwind of food and typing and deadlines and stress and fabulous events, all at once. Really, truly, I am having a LOT of fun, despite the chaos and the transition period! If you want to keep up with my adventures more closely, you'll have to follow @BladeFoodPage on Twitter or like The Toledo Blade Food Page on Facebook. Time is a luxury that I hope to one day have again, so unfortunately I'm only popping in here when I've got a really good story to tell.

And I've got a REALLY good story to tell today.

Two members of the United States' Bocuse d'Or team - Chef Philip Tessier and Head Coach Gavin Kaysen - were in Ohio on Saturday to prepare an 8-course meal for a team fundraiser, seeking money to help train for next January's main event. They had an array of all-star chefs with them, each taking the lead on one of the courses. And while I didn't get invited to the dinner, I did get invited to the Culinary Vegetable Institute, where the event was held, to interview Chef Tessier, to watch in awe as the chefs worked on the meal, to see the world-class Institute, to meet new friends, and to just generally wonder - to quote the Talking Heads - "Well, how did I get here???"

Well, I got this email, to start with:

"I am writing to invite you for behind-the-scenes access to a very special event. The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation is hosting a fundraising dinner at The Culinary Vegetable Institute on March 15 ....

While it is not uncommon for chefs of this caliber to gather in NYC, Aspen or L.A., this event is a rare opportunity for the Midwest to rally in support of a national organization that represents the U.S. internationally ....

Are you interested in observing in the kitchen as chefs prepare for the dinner on Saturday?"

GASP!!! There is no adequate way to convey, in mere letters and words, the vacuum sucking sound as the air left my lungs, as my eyes bulged, as my mouth gaped. "GASP!!!" is woefully inadequate, but it will have to suffice. The planet stopped spinning, and my heart may have stopped, as well. I just sat and stared at the screen.

Because most of you know that I obsess about the Bocuse d'Or. I have babbled about it here. I've read Knives at Dawn, about the 2009 competition. I follow the chefs involved with Team USA on Facebook and on Twitter. I wake up at 4 a.m. on "game day" to study and admire the meat dishes, the fish platters, the garnishes, the presentation trays, everything.

You might say I'm a fan.

So I tried to persuade my co-workers (editors, graphics department, ANYone) that it was A BIG DEAL that these folks were coming to Ohio. A BIG DEAL. Internationally acclaimed chefs were coming to our state, recognizing us, acknowledging us, not dismissing us as a bunch o' chili mac-eatin' rubes. The Bocuse d'Or was coming to OHIO.

Huh? What is that? Say that again? Can you spell it? I know - very few people are as fixated as I am upon this.

But they could see that, clearly, it was A BIG DEAL to me. No, readers couldn't buy tickets anymore. No, readers couldn't attend. No, readers had no access. So it didn't warrant promotion. But it warranted recognition and acknowledgement in return for what was being bestowed. This was news. They told me to put in a request for a Blade photographer (a very sweet guy named - love it! - Jeremy Wadsworth) to accompany me, and head on over.

The Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio
So, that's what Craig and I did. We headed down to Milan, Ohio - an hour away, and eons away from the urban environment of Toledo. We had an adventure.

We got to the Institute (CVI) - originally a family farm that now provides produce to restaurants, offers CSAs and gift boxes, and also has a retreat center with an extraordinary kitchen, an event center, a library. It's professional and yet intimate. We walked in and were enthusiastically welcomed; Linley Murphy greeted us, and she knew me by name ... I was SO impressed! She showed us around, offered us something to drink, and then Craig went off to the cupola to relax in a reclining chair in a sun room. (Despite this dreary-looking photo, the sun did come out and shine down upon the site!)

Team USA Head Coach Gavin Kaysen
And I went downstairs to be a grown-up and a professional, when all I wanted to do was squeal like a tweenybopper.

There, in the kitchen, were the chefs - faces I recognized, names I knew, people whose talents and gifts I am utterly in awe of. Gavin Kaysen - I've watched him on "Chopped" as he competed for charity, and here he was 5' away from me doing interviews while trimming spring onions. Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland, on the list of semifinalists for this year's Best Chef: Great Lakes at the James Beard Awards. Chef Tessier, who is heading to France in January to represent the U.S. along with his commis, Skylar Stover.

In Ann Arbor, once, my BFF Wendy and I were stuck in traffic trying to head downtown and park for an event. We knew that this many people were not planning to see a Brazilian dance troupe. What were we missing - was there an accident??? Well, we finally got to the structure, parked the car, got in the elevator to head to the theatre. And in the elevator, folks were talking about Robert Plant ... he was in town and performing that night. Oh. Didn't know, didn't care, but at least that explained the traffic issues.

But I cared desperately about the artists, trendsetters, chefs I was watching as they danced in the kitchen. As expected, there was none of the screaming and ranting that you see on "entertainment"-style television shows. These were professionals, friends, colleagues, collaborators. Farmer Lee Jones, whose family owns the CVI, wrote in the dinner's program book: "After all, what matters more than pursuing excellence in whatever you choose to do?" I was witnessing the realization of that statement, fluidity and grace in action.

It was just so fascinating to watch as hundreds and hundreds of small yellow flowers were picked over one-by-one, as sauces were stirred and blended, as everyone seemed so calm as they were working hard, of course, but really weren't working because they so adore what they do. I caught a whiff of a vinaigrette that smelled of apples and wine, and it was so sharp and so sweet that truly, even as I type, I can almost feel again what I felt in that instant, almost recall the fragrance. Every sense was alert, and yet there was no sense of over-stimulation, of stress, of rushing, of time limits. I just stood and watched, absorbing it all while knowing that I couldn't possibly convey everything I was experiencing in any coherent way to others.

These are the headlining chefs I watched in their intricate dance, and the dishes they prepared:

Hors d'oeuvres:
Jonathon Sawyer
Aged Beef Suet, Spring Vegetables, Five Year Anchovy Sauce, Côte Rôtie Vinegar
Cold Gold Duck and Foie
Italian Chicharron

Jamie Simpson
Cucumber, Yuzu Curd, Cucumber Bloom

Curtis Duffy
Salsify Cooked and Raw, Trout Roe, Black Lime, Apples Compressed in Ferrari, Mountain Mint, Oxalis

Jennifer Petrusky
Iberico Ham & Garlic Consommé, Black Garlic, Iberico Ham Chips

Jamie Simpson
Potato, Sea Urchin, Nasturtium, Barley, Crème Fraîche

Eli Kaimeh
Sauternes Poached Foie Gras, Pistachio Genoise, Cherry Bomb Radish, Watercress Blooms, Saba

Philip Tessier
Bacon Wrapped Monkfish, Pommes Maxim, Petite Pois à la Française, Red Wine Braised Escargots

Michael Rotondo
Grimaud Farm Guinea Hen, Tempura Turnip, Reduction of Nettles, Jalapeño

Gavin Kaysen
Lamb Mosaic, Fine Herb Pesto, Niçoise Olives, Red Pearl Onion, Confit Pepper, Natural Jus

Thomas Raquel
Matcha Custard, Puffed Wild Rice, Toasted Rice Sorbet, Hojicha Branches, Lychee Snow

Final Bite:
Thomas Raquel
Golden Egg

I was offered an opportunity to speak with any chef I chose ... oh, my word. I hated to impose, to interrupt; and yet, I was there precisely to meet with these people and to publicize their work. (I haven't quite grasped, yet, that I'm "media" and that I get privileges!) I knew I wanted to meet with Chef Tessier, as he's the candidate heading to France to compete, the one the fundraiser was supporting. And so, he came out of the kitchen, walked over to a table in the dining room that had already been set up beautifully, pulled out a chair for me, and sat down to talk.

Team USA Chef Philip Tessier (The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth)
He was very friendly and keenly focused, smiled a lot, and he was deeply passionate, committed to his art; he also speaks even faster than I do.  Chef Tessier talked about the need to "look outside the culinary norm," and noted that it is a "disservice not to learn from the ground up" with technique being critical to performing and innovating and competing. He agreed with me that, much as Meryl Streep explains to Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada" that an absurd haute couture look eventually evolves into a ready-to-wear sweater, the creations produced by chefs at the Bocuse d'Or level eventually "trickle down" to influence how the rest of us grow, cook, and eat our food. While in the past, Bocuse d'Or candidates have maintained their restaurant schedules, their training schedules, their fundraising schedules, and made attempts to have family time as well, Chef Tessier has "backed out of the kitchen a bit" and is focusing on a recipe archive for The French Laundry, enabling him to have more balance as he prepares for the competition. We discussed the importance of preparing food, that "you can eat better by cooking" although this is difficult in food deserts where "wholesome foods are hard to come by," thus compromising health and quality of life.

After Chef Tessier went back into the kitchen, I simply observed from a distance, not wanting to intrude upon the the choreography, the balance, the rhythm. I spoke with Chef John Selick as he took a short break; he had come from Cleveland to assist in the preparations, and half-joked about "kids in the kitchen"-type reality shows, alternately encouraging children to pursue his own chosen field of culinary arts, but also insultingly saying that even kids could do his job with no respect or regard for the decades invested in it. He agreed with Chef Tessier about the need for technique, saying that he actually enjoyed spending hours preparing carrots or potatoes. It was informative, as one becomes far more aware of texture, of size, of aroma, of every aspect of the ingredient while learning so many other important skills through years of training that can't be approximated or compensated for if they're lacking.

Having taken a few moments to go upstairs to observe the kitchen from above, with its own unique vantage point, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the servers, Dan, who works at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland. He is quite knowledgeable about food, and enjoys making "a good cut of rib eye," pizza (though we both acknowledged the need for a pizzeria-quality oven to do it justice), and potatoes. Neither of us would be attending the dinner, though Dan and his fellow hotel servers would be present; but he noted that the best chefs have the waitstaff taste the food before bringing it to guests, so that they can be well informed about what they're serving.

I also had chances to speak with women in the CVI's marketing department - Alex Scheufler, who's been there for 6 years (and sent the gasp-inducing invitation), and Carole Firth, who's been there a whopping 3 weeks. Both are originally from Ohio, left for awhile, and then came back. In my own short 6 weeks in the state, I have heard over and over again about people who have either lived in Ohio their entire lives or who have left but returned again. There is something about it that lures people back, that calls them home. And Ohio also lures world class chefs, as evidenced by Saturday night's gala fundraiser. Before he went back into the kitchen, Chef Selick uttered a statement which nailed the essence of Saturday's event. He pronounced the state, region, and the Institute itself - on that day, at that time - to be "The center of the culinary universe."

This entire scene was like something out of "Brigadoon." It all happened in a small house on a small farm in a small town in Ohio. As I left, I knew the dinner would take place (I followed along as photos of each course were posted on Twitter). I knew everyone would be exhausted but thrilled once the dishes were washed and the kitchen was clean. A glass of wine or a beer, perhaps, stories told, lots of laughter among friends, and then to bed. And the next day, they'd go back to their homes and their restaurants, and it would all be over. A fleeting moment.

But I was there to see it, to witness the intricacies of getting ready for it.

And I got Chef Tessier's autograph on my copy of the program book, ready for him to win gold in January ... :)

For more about the Bocuse d'Or team coming to Ohio, read my article for The Toledo Blade here.

Team USA Chef Philip Tessier's course: Bacon Wrapped Monkfish, Pommes Maxim, Petite Pois à la Française, Red Wine Braised Escargots (Michelle Demuth-Bibb/The Chef's Garden, Inc.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Playing Catch-Up

The chocolate and white chocolate mousse torte from Giorgio's - the chef/owner's signature dessert.

I moved to Toledo on the 1st to become the new Food Editor of The Toledo Blade. It's been a dizzying whirlwind of unpacking, training on new systems and programs, learning to work with a team when I'm accustomed to being a one-woman show who did my own posts entirely (including the pictures), orienting myself and not getting lost ... whew! I feel as though I've done virtually nothing since I came here - with the exception of visiting Jeremy last week (I miss him!!!) - but work and try to get myself up to speed in a dozen different areas. I'm still trying to catch up with all the comments on my pieces, with voicemails, with emails, with commitments.

At the same time, I've met some of the most wonderful, welcoming people here! Everyone - well, except for the woman who called on the day my first column came out (and called, truly, the moment that I'd just sat down at my desk!), chastised me because she couldn't find the recipe for a dessert that was merely featured as an example of culinary students' work, and then hung up on me when I offered to get the recipe for her - has been unbelievably kind and gracious. Folks here have tremendous pride in their city and in its food, and they want me to love it all, too. It's pretty hard to resist when an entire city is rolling out a red carpet for you, and feeding you along the way! Craig and I are going to a Shabbat dinner tonight at the home of a legendary cook; she warned us to stop eating at noon, so we'd be ready for the meal, but others have chimed in that I should have stopped eating yesterday!

So ye olde blog has been a tad neglected, shall we tactfully say? And I feel as though I'm neglecting my friends, too, as I'm so busy trying to stay afloat that I haven't read your own wonderful work, commented, anything ... sigh. I'm in transition, and I'm hoping things will calm down a bit soon.

In the meantime, though, I thought I'd at least share my adventures with you by showing you some of the amazing food I've eaten since coming here! That's right - Toledo is a GREAT food town, and I'm here to make sure everyone knows it!

Vegetarian plate at Manos Greek Restaurant.

Mini cinnamon rolls from Black Kite Coffee & Pies, at the Restaurant Week Kick-Off.

Curried Chicken Salad from The Cafe at Oliver House, at the Restaurant Week Kick-Off.

From Registry Bistro, at the Restaurant Week Kick-Off.

Reuben at the Dorr St. Cafe.

Shredded Chicken Quesadilla at La Hacienda.

Be sure to read my column and my weekly features (recipes, community members, etc.) on Tuesdays to keep up with everything ... :)

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