This post might include affiliate links for your convenience.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Favorite Things Victoria's Kitchen Almond Water

I first encountered Victoria's Kitchen almond water at the Winter Fancy Food Show this past January. I was struck by how refreshing it was. It's not creamy like almond milk, but thinner and lighter and not too sweet. It has no artificial flavors or colors and while the way it is made is a secret, it's ingredients are only  water, sugar, natural almond flavor (whatever that is!) and citric acid. There's something almost dewy about it. I really like it. So when I had the opportunity to receive some samples I said "yes." I thought I'd play around with it and see if I could develop some mixed drinks.  Let the record show, I am not a bartender. Not even close. I think it's part of the reason I am so in awe of bartenders. They are like alchemists, balancing flavors in ways that amaze me They delight  me with their concotions. I tried pairing almond water with rum, bourbon, orange liquor, gin and even coffee liquor. Did I mention I am not a barten...
Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Epicurious Cookbook & MyRecipes America's Favorite Recipes

Despite the popularity of recipe websites, we enjoy printed cookbooks too much to dismiss them. Fortunately two big website publishers have compiled cookbooks that are truly stellar in some ways marrying the best of both worlds. They not only share their top rated recipes, but give use quotes and tips from readers and reviewers. The result is cherry picked recipes with plenty of reader insight.  The Epicurious Cookbook has over 250 "four fork" recipes that are tried and true. There are plenty of photographs, though not for every single recipe. The recipes are from magazines including Gourmet and Bon Appetit, as well as members. The headnotes for the recipes are particularly helpful, making serving, storage, and even substitution suggestions. The recipes have a certain practicality to them, as the back cover says "recipes you'll make again and again." There are also recipes from beloved chefs like Dorie Greenspan, Alfred Portale and Tom Colicchio. T...
Monday, October 15, 2012

Washington Apples

Do apples taste better today than they used to? I was just in Washington where 65% of the fresh apples eaten in the US are grown and I learned that the varieties and growing techniques are constantly evolving. The apple trees I imagined I'd see were big bushy ones, tall and majestic growing in a fertile valley. But that's not at all what I discovered in Eastern Washington. After driving hours through sagebrush desert I got a chance to walk through the apple orchards being grown by Zirkle fruit, a fifth generation family farm operation whose fruit is distributed by  Rainier Fruit.   These days, the apple trees in Washington are grown mostly on dwarf root stock, and using V shaped trellises. This makes them much easier for picking and  for increasing the production per acre. The trees are short and bushy and most were positively laden with huge clusters of fruit. Apples also must be cross fertilized and crab apples are particularly good for this, so you'll see...
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chocolate Reviews

It's the time of year when the Bay Area is enjoying the most glorious sunny weather and the rest of country is starting to feel the chill. While I love Indian Summer, I also look forward to all the wonderful chocolate that reappears right around now. I'm off to judge some chocolate tomorrow for the Good Food Awards , so I figured I better clear the decks today. Here's a rundown of the chocolate in my stash at the moment.  Manoa Chocolate is a bean to bar producer, crafting bars from chocolate grown in Hawaii and from Peru. Thanks to a good friend ( aren't friends who give you chocolate the best?) I got to try three bars. They are all unadulterated, made from only cocoa nibs, sugar and cocoa butter. I'm very impressed by the bars balance of sweetness and extremely creamy texture. They are well worth seeking out The 66% goat milk from Peru has a definite "goat's milk" flavor. I like it, but you have to like goat's milk. The chocolate ha...
Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Food of Israel

The Israel we know is a land of contradictions and conflicts and common ground can be hard to find. But having just been there, I can say the notable exception to this, is the food. The food is really, really good, and something everyone enjoys with gusto whether it's fine dining or street food. Like the country itself, the food is very diverse. And while the history and scenery might be enough for some tourists, I came for the food. Not just because it's good, but because it provides a window into the culture and the people living there. While there is diversity in people, politics, heritage, beliefs, religion and more in Israel--enthusiasm and appreciation of food surely is universal. Frankly, it's hard to think of a place with more diverse cuisine; their most famous dishes come from all over the world and use the great local ingredients that are readily available thanks to the climate and often innovative agricultural techniques not to mention Israeli tenacity.  I ...
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Food Blogging Resources

Because blogging has been so good to me, I've become a blogging evangelist, often encouraging others to blog too. At first blogging was fairly straight forward, but over the years, it's gotten more complicated. I used to say you could set up a blog in 5 minutes on Blogger . That may still be true, but there's a lot of work involved after that. There is food photography, food writing, and a plethora of social media to participate in.  Even though I've been at it for 9 years, I am no expert when it comes to blogging. I have questions and there haven't really been books to turn to, until now. Food Blogging for Dummies  addresses the questions of the food blogger. The format of the book makes it easy to understand things like the pros and cons of self hosting your blog and provides a very basic cheat sheet with some html code. It also covers food photography. While it's not comprehensive, it really does touch on an awful lot. The author is big on name droppi...