Archive for the ‘Food Destinations’ Category

Fabulous Food Show – Cleveland

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Something I am very interested in this year is polishing my food writing skills.  I haven’t written much in the last few months, but plan to start focusing more on working on the blog.  Well, I was just over at Cleveland Foodie and noticed that she had information on the Fabulous Food Show’s food writing seminar…count me in!

Fabulous Food Show Cleveland

Here is some info from the website…

Food Writing Seminars now offered at the Fabulous Food Show!

New this year are two great food writing seminars led by Dianne Jacob and Laura Taxel. Jacob is a writer and writing coach, editor and author of  Will Write For Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More.

Laura Taxel is a food journalist, professional blogger, and author of Cleveland Ethnic Eats, A Guide to Authentic Ethnic Restaurants and Market in Greater Cleveland, currently in its 8th edition. 

Friday, November 12th at 10:30am: For Pros Only: Should you Write a Cookbook or Start a Blog?

This 2 hour workshop is for chefs and cooks, restaurateurs, culinary entrepreneurs, and anyone else in the food industry. It will teach the basics of what to expect when writing a cookbook including whether to use a collaborator; who pays for photography; recipe development and testing; what subjects publishers want; what an agent does and how to choose one. Also learn the value of a blog, the steps for starting one, and what it takes to get followers! 

Saturday, November 13th at 10:30am: Food Writing for Food Lovers

This 2 hour workshop is for writing novices and people who want to express their personal interest in food, cooking and/or eating in written form.  Topics to be discussed include how to start and maintain a blog; how to write a recipe; food writing from the senses; writing a cookbook and breaking into freelancing. 

The cost for each session is $50, and includes the price of a single, same day ticket for entry to the Fabulous Food Show.  Click here to purchase your tickets!

In addition to this exciting seminar (exciting to some, but probably not to most) there will be so much more including visits from several of your favorite Food Stars (Michael Symon, Anne Burrell, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown and more). Tasting pavillons, food related seminars, product sampling,  kitchen equiptment showcases and so so much more…a foodies dream essentially.  Check out the Fabulous Food Show website for full details on all that the Fabulous Food Show is.

Lights, Camera, Action – My Outer Banks Nightmare

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I am on vacation with Joe and several friends in the Outer Banks – and I need to share our horrible experience so far.   Really, I am not one to complain about things – I don’t like conflict – but this house rental in the Outer Banks through Carolina Designs is unacceptable.   

Lights, Camera, Action – house rental number 646 from Carolina Designs is the biggest dissppointment I have ever had on a vacation – seriously.  

We are renting this house from September 6 -13 – the total cost of the rental came to over $4500.  The description of the house is a complete lie.  The rental description boasts about a volleyball court, horseshoe pit and outside gas grill.  This is what we arrived to at Lights, Camera, Action in the Outer Banks.  Here you go, Lights, Camera, Action!

The lovely volleyball court - full of burrs and broken shells
The lovely volleyball court – full of burrs and broken shells

The “volleyball court” at Lights, Camera, Action was full of weeds, burrs and broken shells.  The net is barely hanging on.  We actually weeded the court, and it still looks like this.   Next to the volleyball court is the horseshoe pit…exactly that, a pit.  There may be no horseshoes, but you get a bunch of complimentary cigarette butts and empty beer cans.

Anyone want to play?
Anyone want to play?

The pool at Lights, Camera, Action which was suppose to be cleaned on the Sunday in which we arrived was full of dirt and funk:

it is Tuesday, and I am still looking at the same dirt in the pool.
Hum, it is Tuesday, and I am still looking at the same dirt in the pool.

So yes, Carolina Designs could “fix” the issues and I wouldn’t be doing this – but it is Tuesday, day three of our trip, and I am overlooking the same dirty ass pool and run down volleyball court.

How about a dip in the crystal clear pool!
How about a dip in the crystal clear pool?

Ok, so we can’t play volleyball, how about a nice steak on the grill?  Would you cook on this thing?  Ha, well don’t worry – you can’t!  It doesn’t even work.

Would you cook on this thing?
Would you cook on this thing?
Is that a chicken bone?
Is that a chicken bone?

So, the grill at Lights, Camera, Action doesn’t work – what are we gonna have for dinner?  How about something out of the fridge?  There was enough food and gunk left on the counters, in the cupboards and in the fridge to keep the bugs happy for weeks.  We all spent hours cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom when we arrived.  Just what you like to do on your vacation, clean someone else’s dirty house.

Now, in Carolina Design’s defense, when they called me back the next day they did say they would have come out to “fix’ the issues if we would have called earlier than we did.  Mind you, check in time was 4:00PM, they close the office at 5:00PM.  So, I would have had to pick up my keys at 4:00PM, drive 30 minutes, get into the house and stage my complaint within that hour.  They say, we  shouldn’t have cleaned, but rather left the house as it was until the next day.  I doubt anyone would have left the house as it was.  It was gross and unsanitary.

To give you an idea of the dust and grim…take a look at what the vents look like:

Clean huh?  Disgusting.
Clean huh? Disgusting.

The reason I am so upset is because we rented this house specifically because of all the amenities – because of the outside grill area – because of the volleyball court – because of the horseshoe pit – because of the 2 whirlpool tubs (there was only one) – because of the video library (10 bad movies) – because of the games and puzzles (1 game with missing pieces and some scattered lincoln logs) – because of all the so called “amenities”.  All falsly advertised. 

And you know what I asked for as compensation?  All I wanted was the owner of the house, or Carolina Designs, to cover the $400 pool heating fee.  That is all.  This is the response I received from Carolina Designs:

“Megan,

I sent your initial email to the owner this morning in an effort to expedite a resolution as I await your official request. I asked for his thoughts regarding complimentary pool heat and he has declined to offer approval.

We can certainly contact the pool vendor and have the heat turned on for you; however, by our policy, the full fee of $400 plus tax will be required before it can be activated.  The reason for this follows: the fee is a fuel fee, and the majority of fuel is used in actually getting the pool up to the maximum temperature of 85 degrees. So, even if you add the heat option several days into your visit the same fee applies.”

Seriously…you won’t cover the cost of the heating of the dirty pool?  Nice!  We cleaned your house, 6 of us, for probably about 2 hours each – 6 times 2 equals 12 hours of work.  12 hours!  My time is valuable, even more so when I am on vacation.   

Just take responsibility and do something about it - that’s all.  The maintenance man was here yesterday to fix some minor things – broken chairs, missing toilet paper holders, broken door handles – but claimed “to be the wrong person to complain to”.  Of course. 

Again, in Carolina Design’s defense, my rental agent explained to me that I personally signed item #15 in my lease that clearly states that no refunds will be offered, no matter what circumstance.  Obviously, not likely written in those same terms – but in some round about way.    The only way to get any sort of refund is if the house is “deemed legally uninhabitable.”  Well, I would hope so. 

My rental agent from Carolina Designs then proceeded to explain to me that the reason that the house was in such a shambles was because it was late in the season and because it was so popular.  “Things like this happen”, she explained.  That was their excuse.  Honestly, I don’t care.  I still paid full price.  Not to mention, I didn’t even complain when I received a bill for an additional $40.70, well after the final payment was due and had been paid,  because they miscalculated or didn’t account for a tax increase.   

So thank you Carolina Designs;  thank you owners of Lights, Camera, Action house rental #646 in Corolla, North Carolina; thank you for making my vacation to the Outer Banks vacation so “special”. 

 UPDATE – it is 11:44AM on Tuesday – we finally got a new volleyball net.  The sand has still not been raked and nothing else fixed. 

12:18 – The landscaper is working on the weeds in the volleyball court – thank god.  Oh, but mentioned we should watch out for the Black Widows nest.  Wow, it keeps getting better.

 12:49 – Wow, the volleyball court is back to normal.  Weeds removed, new net, raked out – looks great.  On to the grill now.

“Meating” in Buenos Aires

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

buenos-aires

Continued from Eating my way through Buenos Aires

Thursday- Joe headed to lunch with his colleagues at Osaka, which I should mention was the best sushi experience he has ever had – in Argentina, no less.  I spent the day with a new friend, Alison – a wife of one of Joe’s colleagues.  They live in Buenos Aires now, so I felt privileged to be receiving a guided tour of the area.  We had such a nice time, talking, eating and sight-seeing. 

Alison took me to La Recoleta Cemetery. La Recoleta Cemetery is a must see when in Buenos Aires – it was an educational, yet somewhat emotional experience.  We walked slowly through the corridors that housed over 4,500 mausoleums, each unique – each with its own family history and story.  One of the most famous is the mausoleum of Eva Peron.  

The Tomb of Eva Peron in Recoleta Cemetery

The Tomb of Eva Peron in Recoleta Cemetery

It was at this point that my camera battery died, so I had to rely on my cell phone camera – that was a real disappointment – considering I didn’t pack the charger. 
La Recoleta Cemetary
La Recoleta Cemetary
After returning to the hotel, I realized just how tired I really was.  My feet were burning from walking around the city in cute, but rather uncomfortable shoes, so Joe and I decided to stay close to the hotel.  We grabbed a quick dinner at one of the two Indian restaurants in the area, Mumbai.  In our usual fashion, we ordered Matter Paneer, Vegetable Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan.  The Indian was comparable to some of the better Indian meals we have eaten; I was satisfied and full when we left.

Friday- Friday I worked most of the day, but we did have a chance to head out for lunch at a local Hungarian restaurant, Turandot.  Joe had the chicken paprikash; I ordered something similar, but with shrimp.  I must say we were a bit stumped when ordering since the menu was completely in Spanish.  After stumbling to place our order – we waited in anticipation to see what would be delivered to the table. 

Chicken Paprikash at Turandot

Chicken Paprikash at Turandot

The chicken paprikash was good, more oil based than cream based – but very flavorful.  The flavors reminded me of my mother’s chicken paprikash – so of course, I liked it.  The shrimp dish was served with a similar sauce next to rice.  I love saucy dishes that are served with rice – I think that is why I enjoy Indian food so much.

For dinner, we headed to La Cabrera, well known for its steaks. La Cabrera was located in Palermo Viejo, a few blocks from our hotel.  If you do a search for La Cabrera you will read reviews from people all over the world praising their prime cuts of beef as the “best in the world“, “the best steak I ever had” and so on.  For those vegetarians, don’t bother – this restaurant is strictly for carnivores.

This was hands down the culinary highlight of the trip, as well as one of my most memorable meals I have experienced. Rumor has it that this restaurant is extremely difficult to get a reservation at, especially on a Friday night.  Luckily, the group we were going with had some “connections.” 

We arrived around 8:30 and the place was packed, a line extended out the door onto the sidewalk.  That alone told me we were in for a treat, considering that other restaurants are dead at this time.

Our group of eight was led back to a cramped circular table in the back corner of the restaurant.  The décor was shabby chic meets steakhouse, the atmosphere was vibrant and fun with several waiters swirling about the small space.

Since we were dinning with locals, they knew exactly what to order – thank goodness, because I sure didn’t.  We started with a few orders of the Chorizo, and some provoleta, a grilled provolone cheese that is mixed with herbs.  The Chorizo was served with chimichurri and a cheese sauce; very gluttonous indeed, sausage eaten with cheese sauce.  The provoleta was brought to the table hot and melty, and then scooped onto your plate.  Spread on bread or eaten straight – simply put, it was a mound of melted, gooey, cheesy goodness.  The Chorizo was just amazing – there are very few things that I would describe as succulent, but this was one of them.   The snap of the outer skin as you bite into it, then a rush of fatty, salty, juiciness rolls over your tongue – incredible.

A huge selection of "sides" are included with your meal...

A huge selection of "sides" are included with your meal...

Each cut of meat arrives at the table on a long wooden board, accompanied by several small ramekins filled with a variety of sides and sauces.  Not only do you get these ramekins with your entrée, they bring out additional ramekins filled with even more sides for the table to share. I love this concept – it encourages sharing. There were so many little bites to taste.  It also appeared that each main came with a different combination. All night these ramekins were making their way around the table for people to sample.  They included pureed sweet potatoes and squash, potato salads, roasted sweet peppers, marinated garlic, tapenades, hearts of palm, a variety of cheeses, dips, sauces…the list goes on and on. I could write an entire post about these plentiful sides alone. 

The mains come with even more "sides"...

Skirt Steak at La Cabrera

Joe ordered the Bife de Chorizo (a strip sirloin) which I would assume is the house specialty.  It was enormous – resembling a small pot roast that could easily feed four. Joe described it as a lean, juicy, flavorful cut of meat that was cooked well with a noticeable chew.  I asked if that was his way of saying it was a bit tough?  Perhaps, but he did say that overall that the Bife de Chorizo was one of the better steaks he has eaten.

I choose a skirt steak that was very rare, barely cooked.  I noticed this same chew – but the flavor was incredible.  Definitely one of the more flavorful pieces of meat I have ever eaten.  If I could do it again, I would have ordered the Bife de Chorizo, rare. 

Most of the cuts on the menu would be considered a bit more common, perhaps even lesser cuts of meats to Americans.  Yet, these cuts were all transformed into something spectacular – there is something to be said for that. The menu consisted of rib eye, rump, sirloin, flank, and skirt – traditionally not prime cuts.  The Argentineans want robust flavors and big portions; they prize these qualities over fine marbling and supple textures.   

To top this amazing meal off, the waiter brought over a huge tower of lollipops for our table to share. Mind you, this was after the desserts and coffees we all indulged in. Again, another magical touch that I fell in love with.  I highly recommend La Cabrera for those looking to indulge (and indulge you will) in a classic Argentine steak dinner.

Saturday- We knew we needed to do some shopping, of course – we were in Buenos Aires.  I kept hearing about the amazing deals you could get on leather goods – we had to check that out.  So we headed to the shopping area of Palermo Viejo.  I made a few purchases, then we stopped for lunch at Bar Uriarte.  I recognized the name from Frommer’s, or Fodor’s, or one of the other travel websites I scour for informative tidbits before a trip.

The restaurant was stylishly decorated; with a very chic bar area.

I started with grilled vegetable bruschetta.  It was topped with goat cheese and then layered with grilled vegetables.  My main was ravioli in a lemon dill cream sauce.  The sauce was very rich and not too lemony, with a slight hint of fresh dill.  The restaurant was modern, the service was attentive – lunch was very tasty.

Lemon Ravioli at Bar Uriarte

Lemon Ravioli at Bar Uriarte

That evening we headed over to Alison and Sarne’s house for drinks and snacks.  Empanadas, poker and Cranium (the Aussie version) were on the menu for the evening.  Yes, I did say “the Aussie” version of Cranium. This put the American’s at a bit of a disadvantage, but we still fared well – thank you very much

I have never had an empanada before that night, but I now completely understand why they are so popular.  First off, they are handheld – so they make for easy eating.  Second, the fillings are extensive – so you get variety.  Third, the dough is awesome.  The dough reminds me of pie crust with more give…maybe a cross between pie crust and pizza dough. 

Empanadas

A variety of Empanadas...

Empanada means simply, “in dough”; they can be baked or fried; the baked being more popular. The fillings range from beef and chicken, to ham and cheese, to egg and olive and everything in between.   I personally liked the picante empanadas – with their juicy filling and slight spice.  

If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice that each pattern on the empanada is different.  This is how you distinguish what is on the inside – similar to how you distinguish vanilla creme from raspberry creme in your favorite chocolate sampler.  

Sunday – We were getting ready to head back to the States…ughh, the travel portion of the trip.  We had one final meal at Campo Bravo, another parilla, or barbequed meat joint.  I had the barbequed salmon with grilled vegetables and a side of chimichurri.  Very fresh fish – but the best thing was the chimichurri sauce.  I “heart” chimichurri, I do.  This simple mixture of olive oil, parsley and garlic can make anything taste zippier, flashier –  better.   I plan to start making it to serve alongside my steaks at home.    The trip was coming to an end…

A litte bowl of Chimichurri heaven...

A litte bowl of Chimichurri heaven...

What made this trip so memorable was the group of people we spent the week with.  We were a group comprised of so many different cultures and backgrounds – it really made for an interesting and educational time; oh, and the food wasn’t too bad either…

Eating my way through Buenos Aires

Saturday, July 11th, 2009
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

My husband was traveling on business to Argentina, so in my usual fashion, I decided to tag along.  We don’t have kids (yet) and as long as I have a reliable internet connection, my job can travel with me – so why not…right?  After some deep contemplating (it is a killer plane ride) and a bit of finagling, my ticket was booked and I was off.  

As usual, our travels center on food; this trip was no different.  What better place for a foodie to travel than to Buenos Aires.  After all, I have heard so many positive things about the food in Argentina, especially the barbequed meat.  Well, no wonder – the steaks were outstanding, some of the best I have tasted.  An Adkin’s dieter’s dream, as I like to put it.  And the value of everything, simply put – incredible. 

To put the term “value” in perspective – two people could dine at one of the top restaurants, split a bottle of quality wine, each enjoy a starter, a main, dessert and coffee for about $80-90 US.  

So you are probably wondering what I liked best about the cuisine in Buenos Aires?  Well, just to give you a taste…

 - the most flavorful, juicy Chorizo I have ever tasted (seriously); the tender, falling off the bone lamb; a trendy, unique restaurant on every corner; the “drinks like a $50 bottle” of $10 Malbec; dulce de leche everything; mounds of melted cheese as a side; the hand-held empanadas – with all sorts of tasty fillings; and of course, the grilled beef served with real chimichurri

One thing I simply could not get used to was the time the Argentineans eat.  Dinner does not start until 8:30PM, which is probably comparable to eating at about 5:00PM in the States.  We were always the ones hanging about, waiting for restaurants to open.  Boy, I felt old.

So what and where did I eat?  Good question… 

Tuesday – I arrived in the morning, a bit nauseous from the flight, so I didn’t eat much until dinner.  Dinner was scheduled for 8:30 at Sucre with my husband’s colleagues.

Sucre Restaurant

Sucre Restaurant

Sucre is an upscale restaurant decorated in dark earth tones and rich textures specializing in their grilled meats – with the house specialty being the barbecued pork.  Although I did not order said pork, I did sample a piece.  It was so rich, so succulent – I doubt I could have eaten more than three bites.  But, it was divine. 

I started with the farm egg.  To me, it may have been a bit too runny and not the best choice for my unsettled stomach. The flavor was nice, the texture not so nice. The flavors reminded me of a very rich French onion soup

(more…)

Cooking Out Keys Style

Sunday, May 24th, 2009
Cooking Out Florida Keys Style.

Cooking Out Florida Keys Style.

I apologize for the lack of posts in the recent week.  I have good reason – vacation.  We just returned back from the Florida Keys – Hawks Cay on Duck Key to be exact.  So very nice!

It was a week full of sun, good food, massages, facials, fishing, kayaking and friends.  So you can understand the lack of posts.

We spent most of our time with Drew and Jen, our two friends that live there – how lucky are they?  Drew was nice enough to take us out fishing – which you can imagine is hard work since we both are pretty much useless when it comes to fishing.  

Fishing in the Florida Keys

Fishing in the Florida Keys

Drew also took us on a two hour eco-tour on kayak.   Overall, kayaking was fun – and great exercise!  We explored - seeing a good amount of wildlife.  Unfortunetely, we had a loss - Joe’s wedding band.  The ocean floor must be littered with lost wedding bands.

After the day of kayaking we were starving, so it was back to Drew’s for a cook out – Key’s Style as I like to say.  Margaritas, guacamole, split lobster tails with chili lime butter, grilled steaks, grilled corn and more margaritas

Grilled Corn and Lobster Tails with Chili Lime Butter

Grilled Corn and Lobster Tails with Chili Lime Butter

Jen makes a mean margarita!  So good in fact that I had to “borrow” the recipe.  The recipe contains beer, which at first I thought was odd - but trust me, it really is good.  The beer seems to mellow out the tartness of the limeade which makes for smooth drinking.   Oh yeah, and I should  probably mention that these are pretty strong.  As my husband says, “these will get you where your going”… you have been warned.  Make these on the next sunny day for an instant vacation.

Jen's Margaritas

Jen's Margaritas

Jen’s Margaritas

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 can or bottle of light beer
  • 1 can frozen limeade
  • 7 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces orange liquor (Gran Marnier or Triple Sec)

Directions:

1.) Blend and serve over ice.

2.) Drink

3.) Repeat


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