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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Napa Valley Food & Wine Festival Announced

Napa Valley Food & Wine Festival Announced

Here we go... my buddy and chef/impresario Scott Conant will also be appearing... my wheels are turning already!

Two to Chew On...

Had the pleasure of sampling treats from 2 "grass roots" gourmands recently.  Wanted to share their info so you could check 'em out yourselves. 

The first is Simon Says Brownies.  Stacy Simon stumbled into her brownie biz in what I like to call a "happy accident."  Actually, it was Mother Nature who intervened, but check out her site to get the whole story.  Her brownies are super tasty.  I happen to like them because they remind me of brownies I'd make in my home kitchen with my kids...but with a gourmet wrinkle.  So, they're familiar and homespun, but next-level creative.  A great combo!

Also one to watch for:  Coffee Cakes from Jennifer's Kitchen .  Jennifer Korb has been working from her kitchen for years, but I think she's mined confectionery gold by focusing on these absolutely delish sweet and savories.  She has a number of different flavors; some traditional, some not so much.  Harvest Apple.  Banana Chocolate Chip.  Sour Cream Pecan.  The texture is unique.  Buttery, smooth, and crunchy all at once.  They are just dense enough to satisfy, even though you're always left wanting more.  After all, I am a firm believer in Too Much of a Good Thing Is a Good Thing!

Jennifer is a creative one, and I have it on good authority that she is developing other tastes in her kitchen as we speak, but until then, let her coffee cakes stand as her calling card.  They are certainly worthy of that...


Monday, April 11, 2011

Add these two to your reading list...

I've read 2 of Michael Ruhlman's books, and became an instant fan.  He is far more advanced a cook than I may ever be, but he writes from a place that I aspire to be, and I find inspiration between the common threads in his writing voice and mine.  He has blazed a trail which I am endeavoring to follow... 

Today, he posted a review of the latest in a growing pantheon of chef memoir books:  this one, by celebrated Modernist Chef Grant Achatz .  There is also mention of Gabrielle Hamilton's much-anticipated Blood, Bones, & Butter.  I could digress into mentioning that my TV show I created and am developing runs along these lines (pardon the pun) -- "What is life on the line really like?" --  save for the fact that I am a mere cook and food enthusiast, with nowhere near the skills these two chefs cum authors possess.  Nevertheless, I would still find these reads interesting because of who they are as personalities, where they've come, and how they've arrived.

Good reads if you love both ends of the food spectrum:  Achatz's "out there" creations, pushing the envelope of contemporary cuisine; and Hamilton's "back to basics" comfort food fetishes...

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Very Own Slow Food Movement

Threw together a tasty and super simple lasagna meal last night.  I used my crock pot, and it never ceases to amaze me how much of a help it is in the kitchen.  There's something magical about putting in your ingredients...and letting the slow cooker do the rest of the work!

Here's what you do if you have about 15 minutes of hands-on time to spare:


  • Spread 3/4c marinara sauce in the bottom of the crock pot.
  • Layer 2 lasagna noodles (uncooked) on top, breaking them to fit and cover.
  • Cover with a 1/2 of the total mixture of 2 thawed and squeezed boxes of frozen chopped spinach, 1c ricotta cheese, 1c shredded mozzarella, 1/2c grated parmesan.
  • Pour another 3/4c marinara sauce on top.
  • Repeat the steps:  lasagna noodles; spinach mixture; marinara.
  • Top with 2 more lasagna noodles, then cover with mozzarella and parmesan to your liking.
  • Cover and let it cook on LOW for about 4 hours.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Just Ate A 5,000 Year Old Burrito...

What was a not-so-well-kept secret and point of pride in Tampa, has now migrated to the burgeoning foodie confines of Saint Petersburg, FL.  I speak -- and glowingly so -- of the instant classic Taco Bus, which stands for all things good and conscientious and ... tasty as hell!

Taco Bus (which by the way, have the coooolest resto tees I've seen -- eat your heart out, Adam Richman!) leverages the hotness and hipness of the food truck wave, with the indie uniqueness of a pop-up restaurant, and the freshness that defines the locavore movement.

All this to say... this is mighty good Mexican food!  I've been there twice now, since they opened in St. Pete in January -- most recently, today for lunch with my friend and fellow foodie Chris.  I surprised even myself with my initial order on my maiden voyage: I went VEGAN!  The Butternut Squash Tostada is prepared Yucatan style, with gorgeous, tender chunks of gord mixed with pico de gallo and topped with quesa cotija Mexican cheese.  Light, flavorful, filling, and the crunch of the tostada reminds you this is legit with every bite...

Today, though, was the topper:  a Conchinita Pibil Burrito, which I come to find is a 5,000 year old Mayan recipe.  They marinate the meat in anchiote and bitter orange and wrap it in banana leaves, then slow roast it in a smoker.  A dios mio!  The shredded pork was incredible, magnified by the fact that all of this is accomplished on four wheels!
Something you'll love about Taco Bus is how you can personalize your order:  every entree is made to order, so you can get the Pibil in a quesadilla, or a taco, just as easily as I did in a burrito, and the same goes for every protein, on down the list.

This is no-nonsense, honest-to-goodness, authentic Mex.  It is another reason St. Pete is the best kept secret for foodies.  Look out Charleston, Atlanta, and the other better-known culinary destinations.
The 'Burg is breathin' down your back!