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Report: 2008 Heartland Gathering in Chicago


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Thank You Tammy, Ronnie, Toby, Gary and everyone else. Ron and I had a wonderful time. We loved the planned eating, our additional stops, the Cubbies winning, the beautiful weather, Fresser and the Fressermobile, and the great cooking and company. Hoping to be able to get away next year again.


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A few pictures from the bread workshop.

Chopping olives


Weighing the flour


and the olive oil


Start mixing


Then kneading


Check the dough


We learned about the various types of preferment, the effect of adding fat or sugar to a dough, how to judge when the gluten is developed enough, and so much more...

This workshop was everything I hoped it would be - a practical, hands-on experience with lots of useful information. Many thanks to Tom for a fantastic workshop.

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Served with log cabin pure maple syrup (never heard of that before)

It's a new product that is, I believe, available only at Sam's Club (which is where nxtasy and I went for staples). From the manufacturer, Pinnacle Foods:

Log Cabin Pure Maple Syrup: Just introduced this year, Log Cabin Pure Maple syrup is made with only Grade A, Dark Amber maple syrup sourced from the finest Sugar Maple Trees during the peak season. With no additives or preservatives, Log Cabin Pure Maple is 100% all natural. You can find Log Cabin Pure Maple in Sam’s Club.

I thought it was just as good as any other standard pure maple syrup, and it was a really good value -- I think $12.99 for the quart maybe.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Before I get kicked off this tenuous wi-fi connection again...

I'd like to offer my and my mother's thanks and appreciation to all who organized the Heartland Gathering and affiliated events. We had a wonderful time meeting everyone, though I am very sorry I seem to have missed "officially" meeting some folks! (I keep reading names and thinking, "S/He was there? I don't remember that!")

I'd also like to add a special personal thanks to Marmish for offering her beautiful home for the chocolate workshop (and for introducing me to Milo :wub: ), and to Kerry for giving the workshop. My kitty is still uneaten, and is being preserved until it breaks and I have to eat it.

And I'm not sure if I offer thanks or curses to Tom for what has become of my mother. The last few days all I hear is bread, bread, bread...

"I think I need to buy this big wooden cutting board. It will be perfect for kneading bread!"

"Oh, I need those linen napkins. Tom says to use linen napkins or dish towels, and to really press the flour in."

"Tom says King Arthur is the best for bread. We should buy some."

"Tom says..."

You get the picture... :rolleyes::biggrin:

Seriously, I have heard nothing but raves about the bread workshop, and my mother is very rarely so unequivocally positive about anything, so props to you, Tom. You've got a huge fan in my mother!

And I like how there are two pics of my mom (not an eG member), and only one of 1/2 of the back of my head. :raz:

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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I'd love to post a few pictures I took at TVH, but ImageGullet is not cooperating with the upload. Oh, well.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying 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."

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There are just too many people to thank that I won't even attempt it. I just can't make a post without thanking Ronnie who went way out of his way to make sure that we had an incredible weekend. From a stretch limo food crawl of the city and ending with an incredible dinner at the same place where Anthony Bourdain was taping a new episode. (if someone knows when this is going to be aired please let me know!)

I am headed to Japan tomorrow morning and have been really busy since I came back from Chicago but I plan to comment more once I get settled back at home. I really had the most incredible time and am really looking forward to next year.

This time I will say it so that everyone will hear me, absolutely no deep frying next year! It was really hot in there with no air conditioning!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Cooking the chix was a group effort - we'd planned to grill them, but ran out of time.  So we crisped them on the flattop, then finished them in the oven.

I'm going to take partial, secondary-source credit for this innovation. There came a time in the afternoon when the small grill was still heating up and Randi's swordfish still needed to be cooked and it became clear that doing all that chicken on the grill would make the ETA on that course something like 4am. As luck would have it, however, in late June Edsel and I had been sitting at the counter at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City and had watched the cooks preparing chicken wings. They started the wings by giving them a hard sear on the plancha on both sides, then they transferred them to a saute pan to finish in the oven -- or at least that's what we remembered. So I said to Edsel, "Why don't you do the chicken the way we saw them do it at Momofuku?" Thus, chicken and waffles "Momofuku style" was born.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Cooking the chix was a group effort - we'd planned to grill them, but ran out of time.  So we crisped them on the flattop, then finished them in the oven.

I'm going to take partial, secondary-source credit for this innovation. (...)

I saw Nancy's post earlier but didn't get a chance to respond.

We started realizing well before "show time" that the grill wasn't going to work out. We were eying the oven as a compromise solution, but that didn't sound too appealing. Besides, there was already a traffic jam of dishes going into the oven, so the timing was doubtful. I was concerned that the oven wouldn't give us the nice crispiness we were looking for.

Don't know why I didn't think of using the flat-top. It was barely a month ago that Steven and I were sitting at the counter at Noodle Bar commenting about how incredibly efficient their flat-top-plus-oven technique is. So credit Chang and company for the idea, but credit Fat Guy for remembering it when it counted. :smile:

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That's cool! What other things did folks learn at the Gathering?

I learned that you dont need a microplane to grate lemon zest. All these years, I always avoided the small holes on the box grater because I never saw the zest. Little did I know, that It does come out underneath the grater. Kerry told me to put some plastic wrap on the side where the small holes were, but I never saw the zest. I turned it over and voila, it was all there. Wow, that was a total revelation to me.

Btw, I just got home from MI. Kerry and I showed up for our train on Tuesday afternoon and we were told there were NO trains running as all the tracks in MI were being worked on. They put us on a charter bus for the ride back. We spent the night in Port Huron today, did some shopping and now we're home.

I'm going to work on my pics on Friday as I have to work tomorrow.

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Some other things I learned:

Quail eggs are really hard to crack without breaking or getting shell chips into the egg. Cracking four dozen is a real hassle. So crack them into little ramekins before cooking. Better, get two pretty girls to do it for you.

Goose just doesn't taste all that great, even when you smoke the heck out of it and slice it thinly.

The Vita-Mix is one of the greatest kitchen tools imaginable and truly can pulverize anything.

Randi's Nicoise-esque salad really redefined the Nicoise possibilities for me. I'm hoping someone posts a photo because it was such a spectacular dish.

Leah and Dick distributed some informative literature about the shrimp dish they prepared. Maybe they'll post it. They also distributed a ton of literature to accompany the Niles tour.

Dave Hammond was a veritable font of information regarding the Maxwell Street Market. I'd love to get some links to work he's done on that topic and post them here.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I posted a picture of Randi's salad way back on the first page. :rolleyes:


The Vita-Mix is a champ. I've brought it along to the last three Heartland Gatherings, but this is the first time it really got noticed. It sped up Alex's gazpacho process considerably, and it saved me a lot of work making the aromatic paste for the coconut sauce.

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Ok, well since you asked.....




I took the picture before I realized I'd forgotten to add the olives. Once the platters hit the tables, I ran around with the olive container and added them.

I chose to make this because I knew the produce from the farmers market would be top notch( and expensive!!). I used baby arugula for the base. I saw those gorgeous french breakfast radishes and decided to use those instead of tomatoes ( cause I dont like raw tomatoes). I also bought heirloom fingerling potatoes( an assortment). There was this one stand that had great potatoes, I wish I'd taken a pic of the stand. I brought homeade tarragon vinegar( white wine) from home and used that along with a shallot( thanks Kerry), dijon vinegar and 365 brand EVOO from Whole Foods.

The biggest departure from a traditional nicoise was my use of swordfish. I dont care for raw tuna and I LOVE swordfish( and its pretty scarce where I live). I used McCormick's seafood spice( it came with its own grinder)( thanks to Hwa for bringing all those great spices) and some oil. I grilled it along with Fresser's help and let it sit at room temp until it was ready to plate.

I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. I'm not sure how I'll top that next year.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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While I was helping Randi prep for her dessert I realized I hadn't handled a clingstone peach for years -- those delightful little buggers were hell to section.

I further realized that I hadn't made Salade Nicoise for way too long -- thanks to Randi's inspiration we made it Monday night.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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I'll start with a couple of pictures from the chocolate workshop.


Rona (prasantrin)making little piles of the spiced nuts that Beth (Marmish) served us. She then went on to put some dulce de leche on top and topped with tempered chocolate.


Our little mess. We cruelly left most of the cleanup for Beth.

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Here are a few pics to start.


Kerry and Rona

We loved the Spice House. So much so that Kerry and I went a second time because we forgot a few things.


CI's Peach Blueberry Crisp before baking.


NYokie6's husband( Ron) fresser, lucky girl, nyokie6


This was the best cheese plate I've ever eaten. We need to convince NyOkie6 to visit Paris again next year before the gathering. She also bought some amazing butter made with the whey leftover from making Parmesean Reggiano. I went to Fox and Obel so I could bring some back to Canada.


Kris frying away, Gary, Fat Guy


Pigs in the blanket made by Gary.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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fresser, lucky girl, nyokie6


This was the best cheese plate I've ever eaten.  We need to convince NyOkie6 to visit Paris again next year before the gathering.

I'd never worked before with fromage that actually had crossed Customs. It reminded me of Fat Guy's piece entitled Cheesy Does It.

I met "Pierre" at a rest area near the Canadian border at midnight. I handed him a $100 bill and he handed me a brown paper bag. "Don't you want to count it?" I quipped. He folded the bill, put it in his pocket, backed away from me (never breaking eye contact and never speaking), slid into his Pontiac Bonneville and drove back north to Quebec. I drove south for seven hours, through Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, to my home in New York City. I drove the speed limit. I didn't want to get stopped. I was transporting illegal cheese.

If you've never read the entire piece--and find yourself in need of a belly-laugh--do so now.

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


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This is not a "what I learned" thing, it was reinforcing something I've know forever: Pigs in Blankets get inhaled.Fie on fancy cocktail food: PIBs rule.

In my neck of the woods, PIBs are fancy cocktail food. Sheesh!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This is not a "what I learned" thing, it was reinforcing something I've know forever: Pigs in Blankets get inhaled.Fie on fancy cocktail food: PIBs rule.

In my neck of the woods, PIBs are fancy cocktail food. Sheesh!

Damn uppity Heartlanders! :raz:

Given our luxe collection of fromages, I think a Stilton-filled puff pastry would be edible ecstasy.

Edited by Fresser (log)

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


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So while I was doing a few things in the kitchen on Saturday I handed my camera to Stacy - a friend of santo grace - and asked her to take pictures while we prepped and cooked. I finally had a chance to look through them tonight - and picked out a few to post. She took some wonderful pictures.


Early in the day - Calipoutine, prasantrin, Alex, Bob (spouse of NancyH), and Tino27 plotting.





The 4 tables of revelers.




Tomato watermelon soup under construction.


Tammylc and Alex dishing out his wonderful concoction.



Struggles with quail eggs.


FG frying the quail eggs.


Tino27's friend laying out the bread. Edsel looking quite serious in the background.


The gang presiding over the ribs.


Ronnie's ribs.


Connie (white lotus) and Hwa doing some prep work.


Frying is serious business.


The proper footwear must always been worn in the kitchen.


Torakris and Fat Guy frying - never again to be repeated - until next time!


Edsel applying his spice blend to the chicken.


The wonderful collection of herbs brought by elfin.


NancyH basting her peaches. Smiling much more than while she was waiting for the

ambulance the next day.


Fresser with some of the cheese.


Calipoutine learning her new trick for grating lemon rind - thank you Cook's Illustrated!


Tino27's collection of breads. Aren't they gorgeous?


That would be me washing the overabundance of raspberries from the farmers market.


Had to have a couple of pictures of Rona - not to allow her to be upstaged by her mom Cecilia.


One of my pictures from the river architectural tour (thank you Rona for telling us about this).

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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Early in the day - Calipoutine, prasantrin, Alex, ?name not coming to me, and Tino27 plotting.

The unidentified individual is Bob, spouse of NancyH.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Early in the day - Calipoutine, prasantrin, Alex, ?name not coming to me, and Tino27 plotting.

The unidentified individual is Bob, spouse of NancyH.

Thanks for that - I was thinking Bob but didn't want to say in case I was wrong. I'll correct it.

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      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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