News Round Up & New Reading

We are less than a month away from the Banbury Food Fair so as you can imagine all I really want to do is focus on that – and what a lot to focus on! Over 120 vendors, a full day of chef demos, vintage tea room, the flower and produce show … But that’s not until August 20 so what are some of the food headlines that caught my eye lately and what’s on the foodie ‘to be read’ pile these days? Cake, coffee and crumble as it happens.

Continue reading “News Round Up & New Reading”

Hot as Heck News Peruse

July, as I am fond of reminding everyone, is ice cream month. At least it is in the United States and it has been since being proposed in Congress and signed into existence by presidential proclamation by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

President Reagan, who rather liked his sweets, also declared that the third Sunday in the month would be National Ice Cream Day. Now this may strike some as overkill but I’m not sure such a thing is possible with ice cream. I mean, I could go on and on about the stuff with no difficulties whatsoever as you can see – You Scream, I Scream. We All . . . Well, You Know.

To mark the occasion of Ice Cream Month (and I disregard the national part because to me – ice cream knows no boundaries), the news peruse will be ice cream themed. Continue reading “Hot as Heck News Peruse”

Post Heat-Wave Cool Down

The temps finally cooled off and it was a toss-up as to what living things at TransAtlantic Towers were the most grateful: the plants, the cats or the humans.

  • The plants were largely OK because I made a point of ensuring it. Of course we bought a whole bunch of new herbs on the first day of the heat wave – got them re-potted that day too before it got too brutal out. Over the next few days of top temps, I was fully committed to keeping the new plants watered – so the thyme, mint, sage, rosemary and chili plant all came through it unscathed and were kept as cool as possible.
  • The cats don’t really care to be watered so I refrained. They managed to find cool dark places to hide between the hours of 10am and about 6 or 7pm every night. They complained but they kept eating and drinking water so they were clearly not in any sort of heat distress.
  • So I am casting my vote for the humans – who did the best we could with fan placement and adopting the Summer Sun Approach to Eating.

As it was a topic very much on my mind during the recent heat wave, I posed a question on the Fabulous Foodie facebook group: what foods to you use to keep cool? The answers were deliciously diverse.

Continue reading “Post Heat-Wave Cool Down”

Social Media-Driven Snacking

I have heard it said that the internet is all about cats. I won’t refute that suggestion – I mean, how could I? Considering how my better half & I pummel everyone with pictures and tales of our felines, to do so would be the HEIGHT of hypocrisy. But in among all the cat memes and LOLcats – there’s a lot of food material as well. And that’s what I am thinking about today – specifically I am thinking about foods that seem to come into being to serve social media.

What do I mean? I mean thinks like freakshakes.

Would freakshakes have been anything more than an isolated incident or a culinary blip if social media didn’t exist? Seriously – apart from being perfect for grabbing attention on Instagram, what have freakshakes got going for them? Continue reading “Social Media-Driven Snacking”

Food: To Participate or Watch?

“All of that has led us here, to a strange and mostly uncharted territory where being passionate about food and being passionate about cooking have become two very different things.” – from the article below.

I think the above is true for huge swathes of people who describe themselves and think of themselves as being ‘into food.’ And while I think it is true, I also kinda don’t get it. I recognize the truth of the statement but I don’t understand how one can be TRULY interested in food without being interested in cooking because I’m both.

This doesn’t mean I am a good cook – I’m not. But I am interested in the process and the history of it in addition to being interested in food. I like eating food – hell, let’s face it (and my waistline), I love eating food – but I am interested in MANY things about food. Where it comes from, how it is prepared, how it changes from place to place and time to time, what it represented, etc. I watch cooking shows because of all of that – and frankly, I like watching people cook. At home or on TV. Also – some good tips can be winkled out of them.

What I Learned at Banbury Food Fair 2016

So, the Banbury Town Fair has once again come and gone. As always, there were samples galore to try. We’ve learned over the years that once we’ve nibbled your way through the first batch of booths, had lunch and then nibbled and snacked our way through the rest – the idea of dinner often never occurs to us. But it’s not all about actually eating. It’s also about chatting with people about the food they have brought, prepped, turned into art or just enjoy. It’s an incredibly social occasion and with over 100 vendors, a day full of cooking demos and foodie’s everywhere – I always learn a lot.

This year I learned that in order to make a fruit gin, you may need to let the fruit infuse anywhere from several months (soft fruits like raspberries) to just over a year (sloe). Now, I am not a gin drinker (I’m a vodka girl with mixers, myself) but I tasted the raspberry gin from Foxdenton Fruit Gins and goodness! It was delicious – I can absolutely see baking a Christmas cake with that.

hobbycooks
Anita explains it all – and I was totally listening and not plotting to elbow my way to the front when the “taste the dish” offer was announced.

I learned from Anita Chipalkatty (while watching her making jalfrezi – an Indian stir-fry) was that while Chinese stir-fry and Indian stir-fry have a lot in common cooking method wise, the chop is very different.  Continue reading “What I Learned at Banbury Food Fair 2016”

Tasty Tidbits: February News Peruse

Every now and then, I come across foodie stories that I feel compelled to comment on.

Then there are stories where commenting to the screen isn’t enough (come on, we all do it) and I do another Fabulous Foodie News Peruse to share those thoughts and opinions with someone other than the cat. This is round up of just those kind of stories. Continue reading “Tasty Tidbits: February News Peruse”

News Peruse: August 29 Edition

In the flurry of excitement over the latest series of Great British Bake Off and the never ending list of culinary observances, I’ve been terribly slack on keeping up with all the food news you can peruse. So, let me make amends by offering these tasty tidbits and interesting ideas I’ve found on my daily wander across the digital foodie landscape.

The Naughty Way to Roast a Chicken

On the way home, I picked up a chicken and embarked on a rather obscene journey with the pan that until this fateful moment lived mostly in obscurity in the back of a cabinet, and occasionally made innocent cakes for sweet little tea parties.

Naughty? No, but intriguing yes! I love the idea of using a Bundt pan (one of the most “single use items” ever, hence we do not have one) to do a vertical chicken (and gain a use in the process). Has anyone done this?

Britain’s Dim Sum Trolleys Are Making Their Last Rounds

“The Italians have antipasti, the Spanish have tapas, and us Asians, we have our dim sum.”

A fab piece by my friend Angela – member of the great food content team known as The White Room. I love dim sum from a cart – sad to see it’s fading here. Obviously, I get the space-based reasons why. Still sad. I shall do my part to keep the tradition alive by trying to get some trolley based dim sum next time I am in NYC (where it is, to the best of my knowledge, still available).

Cookbooks’ key ingredient now design not recipes, says food writer

“In my day you could still buy a good cookbook in paperback with no pictures at all. I doubt if that would sell today. But those books were much used: they lived in the kitchen and got splattered with custard and gravy.”

Reading the above quote, I was confused.  I’m not quite sure where Prue has been but Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat had no pictures and sold very well. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything has some diagrams but even those are pretty sparse. There are no photos. The New York Times Cookbook edited by Amanda Hessler has no photos, neither does the Joy of Cooking – even after all these editions. All of these books are still, as far a I know, selling well.

Yes, I have cookbooks with photos – lots of them but I also have plenty that don’t. Yes, I Google recipes – lots of them, all the time but I still look at cookbooks when looking to adjust a recipe or when looking for something new to do. I agree with her that a lot of newer cookbooks are coffee table book and style (and goodness knows size) but that’s partially because so many are TV and celebrity ties these days. After all, food TV is huge huge business.

I don’t agree that this is the tragedy she seems to think it is because I don’t think it’s true across the board and I don’t think this automatically means people aren’t cooking from them. Also – Prue sounds just a TAD bitter. So, in sum: I am not in any way against beautifully visual cookbooks – the Spice Men is a GORGEOUS book, as our many on the shelves of TransAtlantic Towers but I think Prue is seeing what Prue wants to see. People are buying all sorts of cookbooks – new and classic, text and photo driven and many of them are cooking from those books.

The best cookbooks of all time, as chosen by the experts

“… whenever the fingers stopped turning pages and started tapping on the page, I’d know the recipe had been found.”

The previous article prompted this one where a selection of notable cooks were asked about cookbooks that influenced them. And from this piece, I have learned several things:

  1. Raymond Blanc is self-taught ( I had NO idea & I am flabbergasted)
  2. I still have no time for Jack Monroe (because I’m not as interested in Jack as Jack is)
  3. I am not alone in my love of cookbooks that also provide context and cultural info
  4. There are a lot of cookbooks mentioned in the comments that I would really like to take a look at.

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Culinary Curation: Food Museums

It’s Museum Week over on Twitter (follow the #MuseumWeek hashtag) and naturally my thoughts flew to food museums. I know there’s a Pasta Museum in Rome (though I have never been) and the SPAM museum is undergoing renovations. I’m compiling a list over the next few days and highlighting a few each day here and on Twitter … Bon Appetit’s list is from 2013 but that was AGES ago.

From Bon Appetit’s List:

  • frietmuseumSPAM® Museum (on Twitter @SPAMbrand)
  • Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium
  • Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan
  • Kimchi Museum in Seoul, Korea
  • Currywurst Museum in Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco, TX (on Twitter @drpeppermuseum)
  • International Banana Club Museum – now defunct
  • Mariager Salt Center in Mariager, Denmark
  • The Jell-O Museum/Gallery in LeRoy, NY
  • Burnt Food Museum in Arlington, MA

Obviously an update (and frankly a massive expansion) is needed. And who better than Fabulous Foodie to tackle the job?

Fabulous Foodie #MuseumWeek picks for Monday:

  • Museum of Food & Drink (on Twitter @mofad)
  • Cocktail Museum (on Twitter @tMOTAC)
  • Southern Food & Beverage Museum (on Twitter @SouthernFood)

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June: The Sunny Star of the Culinary Calendar

I don’t know about you but this time of year, I start building whole weekends around food – oh who am I kidding, I do that most weekends. But June is the perfect time to immerse oneself in the foodiness of it all. Days are longer (so grilling pineapple on the grill doesn’t require a flashlight) and warmer (so all those no bake ice box cakes can come out to play) and there are so many food-related days out to enjoy!

Observances-wise June is:

  • Candy Month – which in all honesty might be more appropriate somewhere in the holiday-heavy latter half of the year but no matter – candy is candy is candy.
  • Dairy Month – which makes a lot of sense if what you really want to say is MORE ICE CREAM PLEASE but you want to sound healthier.
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month – which makes TOTAL sense scheduling wise – far more than candy. And seriously, what is better on a hot summer day than a really juicy, “tart-sweet-and all tastes in between” fruit salad. And so many “pick you own” options that you could fill every June weekend with them.
  • Frozen Yogurt Month – as I said this time last year, it’s been ages since I had a first class frozen yogurt. And now it;s been even longer. Still searching.
  • Papaya Month – I would have thought this was covered under Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month but possibly the papaya has a stronger lobby than I thought.

Maybe you’re looking to be hands-on with the culinary creativeness but also want to get out of the house and enjoy the summer weather – well, the season of food faires and food festivals is upon us and those are the events for you!

  • This weekend, for example, if you find yourself in NYC (as I sometimes do) and you’re feeling pecking (or starving) – head over to the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party (June 7 & 8 in Madison Square Park).
  • BBQ not your thing? The Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival is June 8 this year as well. One of the key events in the Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue calendar, this really is a delicious result of everything that makes the Lower East Side/Chinatown such a weird and wonderful place to go. Egg rolls and egg creams? Come on, where else will those two things come together? With acrobats? Exactly.
  • The Food Truck Festival of New England is back again this year – apparently food trucks as a trend are here to stay so presumably they will stop being a ‘trend’ and will now be a ‘given.’ There are 6 festivals planned between June and October – so if you are in Somerville or Worcester, MA this month, keep an eye out.
  • South of the Mason-Dixon Line, there’s the 25th Annual Texas Blueberry Festival on June 14. Yes, it’s in Nacogdoches but no you don’t have to know how to pronounce Nacogdoches to attend. I couldn’t pronounce it as a child either and ended up calling it Nack-a-nowhere because not only could I not pronounce it, I could never find it on a map. The fact that I continued to call it that into adulthood is more habit than I desire to needle to good people of Nacogdoches. All 10 of them. No, no – I kid, I kid. Go, enjoy some blueberries and the rest of the awesome food that can be found at food fairs and festivals across the Great State.

  • If Texas in June sounds a bit too warm for your tastes (and having grown up there I can attest to the warmth’s WARMNESS), head up to Colorado and some cooler Rocky Mountain Air. Not chilly but more comfy. And no need to forgo foodie fun either because they’ve got the 26th Annual Pine Grove Rhubarb Festival on June 8th.  Frankly rhubarb isn’t ACTUALLY my thing, the ‘all you can eat Pancake Breakfast’ and the achingly beautiful surroundings are enough to make me want to go.
  • Also on June 7 but more East Coast time than Rocky Mountain time, is the Ashland Strawberry Faire is held in – you guessed it – Ashland, Virginia.

As usual, there are way too many food fairs and festivals for me to list here – but luckily for all of us, the folks at Food Reference have a) more time and b) actually do this sort of thing professionally so they are awfully good at staying on top of these things. Therefore – get yourself over to their June Food Festival round up to find food fun near you this month.

But what if you, potential food festival attendee (like the vast majority of people in the world), are not in the USA? What do you do?  No worries. Food festivals, as I have said before, speak the international language of YUM! In the UK? Check out:

  • In Cheltenham, there is the appropriately named Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival on June 13– 15
  • In London: Taste of London invandes Regent’s Park once more – this year on on June 18-22
  • Pembrokeshire Fish Week Festival June 28-July 60 – held every year since 1999
  • BBQ isn’t just found in the Carolinas, Kansas and all points South and West in the US. BBQ – pulled pork in particular I find these days – has crossed the Atlantic and entrenched itself as firmly as any carbonated beverage or cookie cutter coffee chain. One sure sign of this is Grillstock (or as they say, meat.music.mayhem) – in Bristol, June 7- 8 and in Manchester on June 28–29
  • Apparently June 16-22 is National Picnic Week here in Britain and while the weather doesn’t always say “picnic” to me, I’m more than willing to grab a basket and wade in – so to speak.
  • June 28-29 is the Newbury Food Festival Armed Forces Day Celebration
  • The BBC Good Food Show Summer is June 14 – again in Birmingham, so centrally located, you almost have no excuse not to go.

Maybe you are not so much hungry as thirsty? Have a free day June 29? Head off to Spain’s Festival of Wine Drenching  in Haro, capital of northern Spain’s Rioja-producing region. Yes, you read right – wine drenching. Just you, a white shirt, water pistol full of cheap red wine and 5000 other people with the same. Hijinks – as they say – will ensue. Lonely Planet covers this and many other festivals around the world for June. Not all food-related but food isn’t EVERYTHING.  … I can’t believe I just said that.

All this and I haven’t even touched on the daily June food observances – that’s another posts (or several) for another day. Some, of course, we have already touched upon. But for those who like to plan ahead – keep in mind that soon, the following days will be upon us:

  • June 6  Applesauce Cake Day
  • June 7  Chocolate Ice Cream Day
  • June 9  Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day
  • June 11  German Chocolate Cake Day
  • June 12  Peanut Butter Cookie Day
  • June 13  Klutzes of America Day
  • June 14  Strawberry Shortcake Day
  • June 16  Fudge Day
  • June 17  Apple Strudel Day
  • June 17  Cherry Tart Day
  • June 19 Martini Day
  • June 21  Peaches & Cream Day
  • June 22  Chocolate Eclair Day
  • June 23  Pecan Sandies Day
  • June 24  Pralines Day
  • June 25  Strawberry Parfait Day
  • June 26  Chocolate Pudding Day
  • June 29  Almond Buttercrunch Day