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tammylc

Report: 2008 Heartland Gathering in Chicago

158 posts in this topic

Given that we're at 28 pages on the other thread, I thought I'd go ahead and start the report out thread.

I think we're all still recovering.

The Blackbird dinner was great. Especially the lamb - I'd have to call it unctuous. Company was lovely, as always.

The Violet Hour was amazing. But judging from how my stomach feels this morning, I'm not sure I should be praising Toby or cursing him! Seriously... excellent cocktails in an excellent venue.

Truly a great start to the weekend.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Blackbird and Violet Hour were wonderful. I'm dragging a bit today after being out late two nights in a row. :blink:

Today's bread workshop was a great success. Tom did a terrific job of explaining the finer points of bread making. We made four different types of bread which we'll have tomorrow at the Heartland Gathering Feast. No points for guessing which loaves were formed by the professional and which ones were a learning experience for the class. :raz:

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Hi everyone.

I am so happy that I just happened to randomly catch you all at Violet Hour last night.

It was very cool to put some faces to the screen names.

I am looking over the schedule for the rest of the eGullett weekender and will try to rendezvous with you all at some point (I do have a bunch of other obligations over the weekend) -- can tickets be bought 'at the door' for these things?


-James

My new book is, "Destination: Cocktails", from Santa Monica Press! http://www.destinationcocktails.com

Please see http://www.tydirium.net for information on all of my books, including "Tiki Road Trip", and "Big Stone Head", plus my global travelogues, and more!

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I am extremely anxious to hear stories and see photographs. Wish I could've joined you! Maybe next year. If it were to be in Kansas City, I'm sure I could!

But for now, I must live vicariously through those who were able to attend.

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We had a delightful time at the Feast tonight. I'll post some pictures later. The party was still going when I left. :smile:

Our Ethnic shopping expedition organized by LAZ was very entertaining. The Niles area has some great little shops.

Edit: here are a few pics.

Prep for the coconut cream sauce.

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Bob diligently stirring the cracklings.

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The bread from our workshop.

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Randi's composed salad.

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Ron smoked some ribs.

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Kerry's confections.

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Most of my people-shots turned out kind of blah. I'm hoping that SamIAM got some better ones.


Edited by edsel (log)

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Internet access at the hostel is a little too slow so I haven't uploaded all of my pictures. Since uploading pictures to eGullet is something of a hassle on top of that, I've only uploaded the to flickr.

I've got my picturesfrom Blackbird up. When my pictures from Lao Sze Chuan are up they will be in the same place.

In case you're interested in the non-officially sanctioned events of my Chicago trip, you can see my pictures from Alinea. Pictures from Hot Doug's, Los Faroles, Army & Lou's and Taqueria Uptown are forthcoming and will be accessible at the same link.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to organize it. I'm looking forward to seeing all of your pictures and reading your descriptions. Hopefully, I'll see you all again in '09.

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I'm also having a bit of a hassle uploading the two decent pictures I took at TVH :angry:, so I'll do that when I get home.

It's been a good time so far. There was a surfeit of wonderful food and beverages at the group dinner last night, of course, especially, imo, the desserts. A big thank you again to elfin and Lady T for their contributions of wonderful after-diner potables.

It's 11:30 a.m. and I'm finally able to think about food without feeling woozy.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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Well, it all looks simply awful - thank god I didn't have to be there :sad::angry:


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Well, it all looks simply awful - thank god I didn't have to be there :sad:  :angry:

All of missed you, Rooty-Tooty Judy. But you'll have lots of mugshots of the motley crew shortly. I wore bright yellow so I'll stick out. :rolleyes:


There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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The Maxwell Street market tour was a lot of fun this morning. David Hammond did a great job of educating and navigating our group through the crowded market. The food was fantastic (for me the tamales and some of the tacos were standouts), and some of the sights were highly entertaining (if you need tube socks, tires, wrestling masks, and Super Nintendo games this is the place for you). Hopefully pictures will be forthcoming.


-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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I've got a few pics of the market tour.

Lots of regional Mexican food. This Oaxaqueño place had terrific tamales.

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Festive mood. :smile:

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Need a copper pot?

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David Hammond explaining the various foods at this stand. They had huitlacoche, which they spelled guilacoche.

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Lots of refreshing beverages. I had jamaica (hibiscus).

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David Hammond is very knowledgeable when it comes to the ethnic foods at the market. Many thanks to Ronnie for setting this up!

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I'm so sorry I had to miss everything at the last minute but I'm looking forward to the pics. I'll hope for next year, wherever it's at!

Jean

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Well, it all looks simply awful - thank god I didn't have to be there :sad:  :angry:

All of missed you, Rooty-Tooty Judy. But you'll have lots of mugshots of the motley crew shortly. I wore bright yellow so I'll stick out. :rolleyes:

As if you needed help sticking out :raz:


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Wow. I had a blast and really enjoyed meeting everyone! From cocktails at the Violet Hour where we felt like red carpet guests - Oh, you're with eGullet, right this way <grand flourish of the curtains and slight bow>, to the scrumptious chocolates that my trusting new friends left in my care overnight, which did indeed make it to the party, to the dinner and fellowship at Saturday's dinner, everything was WONDERFUL.

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What a great (and tiring) weekend. I'm so glad I was able to meet all of you and I really enjoyed myself. I'm know all my dining partners had a great time and have many stories about the egulleters. For those that spent time cooking and bringing other foodstuffs - thank you. It is much appreciated. Looking forward to other get togethers.

Also, thanks to tino (Tom) for being so good under pressure when we had a few technical difficulties. The bread was wonderful, and I look forward to trying the recipes on my own.


I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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I’ve been trying to decide where to start, knowing that I’m going to forget lots of wonderful food and wonderful people because there was an embarras de richesse in both departments. I trust that anything or anyone I leave out will be recognized by someone else in this report.

I was unable to hit anything but the marquee event at the church yesterday – the worst hair day of life, (think Rafael Nadal after five strenuous sets)but what the hey. The cooking cleaning, provisioning and expediting that went on in that kitchen was nothing short of stupendous – and it was a hot kitchen. I did some prep before the serious action started, and moved out –what a coincidence!—when nyokie set out the hands-down greatest cheese platter of my life; I think I counted fourteen varieties. The corks had begun to pop (thanks for the fine selections, Lady T and Alex) and wondrous bread from the baking class made an appearance. (I regret not making it to that class.) White Lotus and her husband Dance prepared the caffeinated category of the beverage section: Jasmine Iced Tea and a superb horizontal tasting of green teas. If triple-crème cheeses did not provide adequate exuberant fats Gus,(ronnie: please remind us of his restaurant’s name) provided healthy portions of chicken fried-deep-fried bacon and cornbread dipped deep-fried chili . Yes, you heard that right.

We sat down and here’s where I’m going to need other folks to step in – there were so many courses, so good and so frequent that I know I’m going to forget wonderful stuff. The conversation at my table made “lively” pale. I remember an unctuous quail egg amuse, Alex’s superb (and time consuming to make) tomato/watermelon soup, Randi’s Salade Nicoise (grilled swordfish, fingerlings, beautiful beans and radishes.) Beets two ways: en salade and en fabulous fritters – LuckyGirl, please claim your applause. LAZ’s Shrimp de Jonge were superbly plump and garlicky, and Karen’s ratatouille a thing of beauty. Ronnie sat outside for hours in full pitmaster mode, grilling his person so that we could throw ourselves on his smoked ribs.

I wish I could remember who to thank for the dish that will get me to Target to buy a waffle iron. At some point in the action the kitchen was commandeered by a bunch of smart handsome guys I don’t know (the Ohio delegation?) – as opposed to the smart handsome guys I do know—and after slaving presented us with curried waffles topped with seared chicken, grilled apricots and a choice of two sauces: maple syrup and a celadon green Thai beauty – coconut milk, galangal, (?) and scallions. Gentlemen, raise your hands and take credit.

Now, please guys, chime in with what my diminishing brain cells have forgotten and I’ll haul myself, staggering, to the Sweet Spread. Shall we start with the most whipped cream and fresh raspberries I’ve even seen in one place at one time before we move on to Kerry’s Apple Cake ,and Randi’s Peach and Blueberry Crisp? The dealio was: a serving of each, add whipped cream and raspberries then Kerry Beal, MD would squirt butterscotch sauce all over. Find a place on your plate for the chocolate marvels pictured above. Moan and enjoy. Then let your jaw hit your first button as nxtasy unveils his chocolate/booze bomb of a cake. Consider adding whipped cream and raspberries. Muse about how well the digestif cognac Lady T provided and the cherry brandy (who?) smooth everything down.

Thanks, Steven, for your sure expediting, Ronnie for a year of his life planning this event, Fresser (and so many others!) for providing willing hands. I’m so fortunate to catch up with old friends and make charming new ones: Heartland Rules!


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Thanks, Steven, for your sure expediting, Ronnie for a year of his life planning this event, Fresser (and so many others!) for providing willing hands. I’m so fortunate to catch up with old friends and make charming new ones: Heartland Rules!

Thanks for the props, Maggie.

I think I developed my housecleaning fetish a few years ago, when Mama Fresser was spending one of her extended stays in the hospital. (We joke that she went there for the cable television).

Coming home to an empty Fresser household gave me a serious case of the shpilkes, so out of pure nervous energy, I just started to disassemble appliances and clean them. Pull out stovetop pans and suds them up. Then lift the stovetop lid and vacuum out the various and sundry crumbs under there. I just couldn't stop--we're talking perpetual motion here. I looked like the Tasmanian Devil wielding a Windex bottle.

Mama Fresser is back home now, ostensibly content with our crummy analog TV reception, but I still love to clean up kitchen messes, both to see the fruit of my labor ("Just LOOK at that shiny chrome range!") and to respect my host or hostess by leaving a kitchen cleaner than I found it.

That's why I dug into Heartland Clean-Up Detail with such gusto. Ray Kroc's motto of "Clean as you go" was rattling around in my head as talented chefs CaliPoutine, NancyH and other whipped up tantalizing dishes. I figured that if I could clean as well as the rest of the posse here can cook, I could hold my own in the kitchen and socialize as well.

Damn, that was fun. :rolleyes:


There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I'm sorry I had to miss Saturday's events, it looks like it was a wonderful time. The events that I did make it to on Thursday & Friday ("alternate" dinner & TVH on Thursday & then the chocolate workshop & dinner on Friday) were a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who put them together. I'm glad I was able to meet so many of you!

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The official Heartland Gathering Feast menu, for the use and benefit of picture posters and commentators.

Bread - 3 loaves of honey whole wheat bread, 3 loaves of Red and Black bread, 3 loaves of olive rosemary bread, 2 loaves of sweet potato bread (Tino27 and bread workshop)

Ethnic Market Amuse (tammylc, Fat Guy, Torakris and a lot of sous chefs)

- the challenge - at least one ingredient from every one of the ethnic markets

- the result:

1) fried plantain chip with apricot/mango schmear, smoked goose breast, asian pear, and chives (Filipino, Armenian/Middle Eastern, German, Korean)

2) crostini with smoked trout, fried quail egg, and dill. (Polish, Korean)

Watermelon-Tomato-Mint Soup (Alex)

Nicoise Salad (CaliPoutine)

Beet Salad & Beet Fritters (LuckyGirl)

Shrimp DeJohnge (LAZ)

Confit Byaldi (KarenM)

"Chicken and Waffles" (NancyH, BobH, Edsel, Tino27)

Smoked Ribs (Ronnie_Suburban)

Coleslaw (Marmish)

Foil wrapped potatoes of yumminess (Ellen)

Desserts:

I might forget something here, as there were so many things on the table, and i wasn't as involved in thinking about what order or time they needed to be ready...

Chocolate mousse torte (nsxtacy)

Blueberry peach crisp (CaliPoutine)

Apple cake with raspberries, whipped cream and caramel sauce (Kerry Beal)

Creme brulee in chocolate cups (Kerry Beal and chocolate workshop)

Assorted chocolates (dulce de leche, pate de fruit, bacon-salt bark) (chocolate workshop)

Pavlova (Kerry Beal)

Baylor Watermelon (Kathy)

I think this was our best meal yet, in terms of cohesiveness of the menu. And although we still sent lots of leftovers home with people, we did better on portion sizes than ever before, as evidenced by the fact that people headed to the dessert buffet right away.

Thanks to everyone who shopped, chopped, measured, cooked, set tables, or cleaned... Which was basically pretty much everyone. We all rock.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I wish I could remember who to thank for the dish that will get me to Target to buy a waffle iron. At some point in the action the kitchen was commandeered by a bunch of smart handsome guys I don’t know (the Ohio delegation?) – as opposed to the smart handsome guys I do know—and after slaving presented us with curried waffles topped with seared chicken, grilled apricots and a choice of two sauces: maple syrup and a celadon green Thai beauty – coconut milk, galangal, (?) and scallions. Gentlemen, raise your hands and take credit.

Why, ma'am, shucks ... :rolleyes: ... I do think you may mean myself and my trusty assistant, Chris. We were the ones manning the waffle irons churning out those lovely curried waffles. However, we were just part of team "Chicken and Waffles" and there were many other handsome lady and gentlemen on that team. Kudos to them as well!


Food Blog: Exploring Food My Way: Satisfying The Craving -- Exercising my epicurean muscles by eating my way through everything that is edible.

Flickr: Link To My Account

Twitter: @tnoe27

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Some "thank you's":

To Ronnie, who has done an amazing job of pulling everything together for a fantastic weekend, for balancing everyone's needs while maintaining composure, and for just being a great guy to work with. I can't thank you enough for your work on this weekend.

To Fat Guy, tammylc, and Alex for coordinating funds, menus, and general timing and pace of the dinner on Saturday. Excellent job, guys!

To the "Chicken and Waffles" team for working together to create a surprisingly coherent (and delicious) dish. I think our collaboration really brought out the best of each of our components.

To my guest Chris who stood by the microwave oven gently heating the milk-egg-butter mixture for the waffles for nearly 30 minutes. Your dedication is appreciated! (Even Edsel noticed, too!)

To Karen_M and santo_grace for graciously allowing the bread workshop class into both of your homes. Obviously the class was something near and dear to my heart and your acts of selflessness made my job all that more easy.

To my bread class students for rolling with the punches and asking intelligent and well-thought out questions. Now that we've covered the basics, never be afraid of trying something new. As Peter Reinhart likes to say, "May your bread always rise!" A special note of thanks goes out to Mr. LuckyGirl for attempting the gargantuan task of figuring out what was going on with Karen_M's oven.

To all the contributors of Saturday night's dinner for sharing your food and your vision with us. It was a magnificent feast. I left the event with the salt from my perspiration literally embedded in my shirt. Talk about "sweat equity"! :biggrin:

Finally, thank you to the eGullet society in general for making this happen ... again. I know that there are many hardworking people in The Heartland who spend much time to coordinate these things, but without the support of eGullet, many of us would never have found each other.


Food Blog: Exploring Food My Way: Satisfying The Craving -- Exercising my epicurean muscles by eating my way through everything that is edible.

Flickr: Link To My Account

Twitter: @tnoe27

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I wish I could remember who to thank for the dish that will get me to Target to buy a waffle iron. At some point in the action the kitchen was commandeered by a bunch of smart handsome guys I don’t know (the Ohio delegation?) – as opposed to the smart handsome guys I do know—and after slaving presented us with curried waffles topped with seared chicken, grilled apricots and a choice of two sauces: maple syrup and a celadon green Thai beauty – coconut milk, galangal, (?) and scallions. Gentlemen, raise your hands and take credit.

Why, ma'am, shucks ... :rolleyes: ... I do think you may mean myself and my trusty assistant, Chris. We were the ones manning the waffle irons churning out those lovely curried waffles. However, we were just part of team "Chicken and Waffles" and there were many other handsome lady and gentlemen on that team. Kudos to them as well!

So glad you raised your hand so I can give props where they're due. No joke, we're buying a waffle iron, again, because of the brilliant Chicken and Waffles Team.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Calipoutine and I are still in Chicago and will get back to our respective homes on Wednesday. We'll post pictures then.

I want to thank Beth (Marmish) for the use of her wonderful house for our chocolate workshop. She not only provided us with a wonderful space to work, but had a fabulous beer bread and spinach dip and some most excellent spiced candied nuts for us to nosh on while we worked.

Hope she isn't still cleaning the stray bits of chocolate off the table, floor, walls and hairdryer!

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Thanks, to everyone for a truly wonderful (and exhausting) weekend. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I hope that those who were visting felt like they got a good 'taste' of what this town has to offer. As much as we did, there was so much more we could have done, but of course, time limits kept that from happening.

I'm very sorry that I wasn't able to join in on Sunday morning at Maxwell Street but it was just not to be. From the pictures that have been posted, it looks like it was a fabulous time and the weather was obviously, cooperative. I wish I could have been there. Thanks again, to David Hammond for sharing his time, passion and expertise with us.

On that note, while it seems almost inappropriate to thank specific people -- especially given how much everyone contributed to the weekend -- I'd like to at least give a shout out to those people who did things for which people were erroneously giving me credit over the weekend:

Alchemist - thanks for setting up the meal at Blackbird and for hosting us so magnificently at The Violet Hour. Thursday night was really special and we have you to thank for it.

Marmish, karen m and santo_grace - thanks for opening your homes to us and hosting the chocolate and bread workshops. That was going above and beyond the call of duty and it was very much appreciated.

tino27 and Kerry Beal - thank you both so much the excellent workshops you ran. Not only did the attendees really enjoy them but the 'fruits' of those labors were among the highlights of our Saturday meal. I also appreciate you both hanging in there over the long search for venues -- a process that took a bit more work than I initially thought it would.

G Wiv - I sincerely appreciate you helping set up Friday night's feast at Lao Sze Chuan. It was most enjoyable and your knowledge of their menu came through loud and clear at our tables.

tammylc and Fat Guy - thanks for organizing Saturday's fantastic and memorable group meal. Again, you guys kept things on track and on schedule. I thought the meal and the way it was organized were both exemplary.

I want to also give a special shout out to our friends Sarah and Chris at Immanuel Lutheran Church. They were very kind to let us use their spacious kitchen and dining room on Saturday, and Chris did yeoman's work helping us with the end of the clean-up; returning the space to the condition in which we received it. So many items, so many cabinets and happily Chris was there to help us put it all back together.

It's great seeing your own home town through the eyes of visitors. I had a blast and hope everyone else did too. I know that not everyone was 100% happy about everything but I hope that speaks more to the nature of getting so many people together and trying to accomodate everyone's desires, than anything else.

From what I understand, the torch has already been passed for next year's Gathering, so stay tuned for details on that . . .

Thanks again, everyone. It was a weekend for the ages! :wub::smile:

=R=


Edited by ronnie_suburban (log)

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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If triple-crème cheeses did not provide adequate exuberant fats  Gus,(ronnie: please remind us of his restaurant’s name) provided healthy portions of chicken fried-deep-fried bacon and cornbread dipped deep-fried chili . Yes, you heard that right.

I'm glad people enjoyed the Country Fried Bacon and the Deep Fried Chili.

Name of the restaurant is Wiener and Still Champion on Dempster St in Evanston.

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      We'd neglected to warn James until the day before of the gluten-free needs of one of the party, but he came through magnificently.  Coronation Chicken and radish/poppy seed/cream cheese sandwiches, feijoa/orange tea cakes, English Royalty currant scones with clotted cream and more of James's jam, along with rosewater/pistachio meringues.  All except the tea cakes were gluten-free, and everything was delicious.  I haven't experienced much gluten-free food, but if it's all like this (I believe it isn't!) I think I could cope.  This was accompanied by our choice from an extensive tea list.  The Jameses have lived in China and their knowledge of teas is vast - they can even do a full tea ceremony at the lodge if you wish.
       
      A very nice touch at afternoon tea was a discreet printed menu so we knew what we were having.  This was also offered later at dinner, to which we now come.
       
      Having dressed appropriately (again - we're getting quite good at it), Mrs Hudson (the younger) and myself descended to the drawing room.  James G had unfortunately been forced to take to his bed after our afternoon tea (we wore him out?), but his young sous-chef Ashley and James B between them gave us a memorable evening.  We began with cocktails and canapés.  For the former we introduced James to the Tolkien.  He's not big on mixed drinks, but allowed that this one was acceptable.  Ashley presented this offering:
       

       
      Chorizo, mozzarella and cherry tomato with a balsamic reduction, and crostini with stracchino and saltwater pearls.  The chorizo and both cheeses were - again - made at Pen-y-bryn.
       
      After a suitable interval we repaired to the dining room:
       

       
      James offered a short but thoughtful wine list, and we went with this:
       

       
      When one is in Otago, one must drink Otago, don't you think?  It was a good choice; warm and fruity and a good match for what followed.
       
      First, cocoa-nib rubbed North Otago venison carpaccio, served with confit cherry tomatoes, sumac-sesame-pinenut soil and balsamic caviar:
       

       
      This was a beautiful dish in every way.  Although our first meeting on eG was in the chamber sealer topic, I hadn't been aware quite how modernist James's cooking was (he told me later he likes to include modernist elements, but may dial it back depending on his audience.  He didn't have to hold back with us).  Ashley was able to chat happily about maltodextrin and spherification - I flatter myself she enjoyed having people there who knew what she was talking about!  But as the eG modernist community knows, it's not all about appearance; the food has to taste good.  And this certainly did.  If you're wondering, the white thing is a coconut sphere.
       
      Then, after a lovely mixed fruit sorbet with triple sec, the main course.  Sous vide confit Canterbury duck leg with crumbed quenelle of pommes sarladais, sorrel gel, baby bok choy and haricots verts, and port wine sauce.  And look at the plate:
       

       
      This was another lovely dish.  The duck was just as tender as you'd hope, with just the lightest crisping of the skin.  The potato quenelle was possibly the best of its type I've had, and the dots of sorrel gel provided a nice bitter note.
       
      We had to finish eventually and it was in fine style, with passionfruit-lemon tart with crème Chantilly and vanilla-poached tamarillos (the photo was taken before the tamarillos went on):
          Again, delicious.  A shortcake-style base with delicious thick cream, complemented beautifully by the berry (I think) sauce and tamarillos.   After this it only remained to return to beside the fire in the drawing room to join some new friends we'd made on this trip.  A very lovely evening.   I can thoroughly recommend Pen-y-bryn for a luxury stay if you get to this part of the world.  I have only one criticism - it's completely ruined me for staying anywhere else.  Thanks, guys.  We'll be back.
    • By Kerry Beal
      And so it begins...
       
      I arrived in Las Vegas at 10:30 or so this morning, picked up my rental car and hastened over the the Tuscany Suites to meet up with Chocolot.  After a brief cruise through all the loot that she had accumulated for the workshop we headed out to do a few errands.  We checked in with Melissa and Jean Marie to check that all was well for later in the week and to enjoy a little look around the facility.  I also had to deliver several bottles of wonderful looking paté that Alleguede had made for Jean Marie (I kept one bottle here for snacking purposes this week).  There was serious drooling going on over all the equipment they have available for us to play with.
       
      What was to be a quick stop at Chef Rubber took a little longer than expected - there is a lot to look at there!  And to buy!
       
      We investigated a couple of thrift stores - notably the Habitat for Humanity Reuse to grab a couple of items that will show their usefulness later this week.
       
      And for dinner we hit Lotus of Siam.  We know that we are going back there this week - but it is a place I've wanted to check out since FG wrote about it a few years ago.  And you can never eat too much Thai can you?
       

       
      Jasmine tea for me.  
       

       
      Chicken larb.
       

       

       
      Khao soi - noodles with a red thai sauce.  And the condiments to go with them - some sort of pickled green (perhaps mustard), onion and of course lime.  
       

       
      Pepper garlic shrimp - didn't see a table without this one!
       

       
      And fried rice with veg and egg. 
       
      Right now Ruth is cruising the internet reviews to see what we should order when we return there on Thursday.  
    • By Bu Pun Su
      French food is my favorite cuisine and l’Arpege is my favorite restaurant. Currently, entering the 4th year that I haven’t returned to l’Arpege (Since ’06, I usually make an effort to go there at least once every 2 years). At the very least I had a chance to savor Alain Passard’s cuisine in late ’12 when he became a guest Chef at Beaufort hotel Sentosa – the most memorable part was when Alain personally cooked 2 Brittany lobsters for me. Fortunately, Singapore has a restaurant owned and run by Passard’s apprentice & his former sous chef, Gunther Hubrechsen. Therefore, whenever I crave for (home-style) French cooking that’s light, delicate and delicious, I often come here. Similar to my Les Amis’ experience, I’ve actually been here about 4 times since 2008 but never wrote a (serious) review even once. As a matter of fact, Gunther’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore
      I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance,
      Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef
      Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef
      Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes):
      1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency...
      5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella)
      6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple
      What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had,
      4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes
      7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J
      8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious
      There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine.
      It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality.
      I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
    • By Kerry Beal
      Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility!

      Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins.

      Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins.

      Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn.

      The fancy packing machine.

      Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
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