Keepin’ it Wheel

Check that off the bucket list – cracking open a 90lb 2-year old wheel of heavenly Parmigiano Reggiano.

Thanks to the Specialty Team (especially Marketing Director Luke Cavener) at Whole Foods in Boise for making a foodie dream I didn’t even realize I had come true this weekend! The culinary gods were smiling when I got the early-morning call about participating in WFM’s annual Keepin’ It Wheel Annual Parmigiano Reggiano Crack. Heck – there’s even a T-shirt to commemorate the day.

Meet Cheesemonger Scottie (aka guy with quite possibly the coolest job ever.) I’ve met Scottie before when pondering how to put together the best charcuterie and cheese plate ever. Needless to say, there are many ways to accomplish that – and he’s more than happy to guide you to the best goat, sheep or cow’s milk cheese for the occasion. He was my cheese consigliere for the afternoon. See those tools atop the wheel? Those are the only things used to break this bad boy apart. Fittingly, the pointiest one is called a stiletto.

Like with their wine, Italians take their cheese seriously. Very seriously. Learning about the lineage and certification of true Parmigiano Reggiano reminded me of getting schooled on Chianti & Chianti Classico. It’s a protected designation of origin and under Italian law, only cheese produced in the provinces of  Parma, Reggio Emilia, and parts of Bologna, Modena, and Mantova can carry the mark of authenticity and be known as Parmigiano Reggiano. The markings on the side detail where it came from (the caseficio or cheese house) and when it was ‘born’ so to speak. This one had been waiting for its moment for two years. Per the WFM missive on these wheels, “the pin dots guarantee that the cheese was made under regulation of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, conforming to its stringent standards of quality.”

(By the way, you may get high-fived to the face if you call this ‘shaker can Parmesan’. Scottie made that clear. The disdain, not the threat of violence.)  While Whole Foods made this a big day of celebration across the country – with dozens (hundreds?) of people getting a crack at cracking the wheel, it’s a common occurrence for the cheesmongers. Scottie said Whole Foods is the biggest global importer of these wheels, and he cracks one a week. He’s been doing this for ten years. Yeah, 520 wheels at least.

This would be my one and only opportunity to use the tools and techniques relied on for 900 years. Why argue with history (or Italians)?  As the photos below show, you start by scoring the rind with the tool with the hooked end. After that, the stiletto comes into play as you plunge it into the scored lines at several key points. It only takes a few insertions and maneuvering of the blade for the crack. And the aroma that comes out is amazing.
(Here’s video of Scottie making it look easy)Cracking the wheel once, twice, and then in half and smaller chunks and wedges, instead of straight cutting it from the start, means that you preserve those craggily crystal-like edges and texture. The longer the cheese ages, the more of that crystal crunch there is. And I won’t be biting into those crystal bits anytime soon without remembering my turn at the wheel.

That’s the thing about the hands-on culinary experience. It brings an appreciation for the heritage and craft behind the food that you may have taken for granted before. It remains with you after the taste of savoring the food has passed.

Thanks to Scottie for making me look like I knew what I was doing, and for sharing his favorite way to serve the delicious Parmigiano Reggiano  - a nice wedge with honey drizzled over it, rustic and ready for guests to dig into.


- The Parm Princess (moniker courtesy Michael Gilbert :)

(Photos of the cracking in action courtesy Whole Foods Market Boise)

Porcine Adventures

To kick off 2014, I went on a bit of a foodie sojourn for an experience I’ve coveted for some time.

Living in Boise, I’ve gotten to know quite a few people of Basque heritage – and they rival my Italian family for great foodie traditions. Case in point – the Annual Pig Killing in Central California.

My friend Julie Sarasqueta Hahn comes from a proud Basque family. While they now live in Idaho, their roots are in the agricultural mecca of central California. It’s where her mother’s and father’s family  - along with many other Basque and Patterson-area farm families – have been gathering since the 1960′s on a long weekend in January to slaughter, butcher and process pork. Of course, in a very hands-on, often traditional manner.

This year, the boy and I tagged along with a few other Boise friends and headed West – butcher attire at the ready.



The official PK2014 attire

Like all traditions that you randomly insert yourself into, it was a bit of chaos and a lot of ‘figuring it the heck out’ and ‘just jump in and do something’.

In other words, awesome.

This wasn’t a stand back and observe kind of foodie adventure. It was a roll up the sleeves and prepare to sink your hands into a lot of… stuff… kind of weekend. No, I did not participate in the pig slaughter. Though it was an interesting process to watch by some very adept butchers and fascinating contraptions. But I was there for the end of the 10 pigs lives and the start of their transformation into deliciousness.


Early morning observation of the pig slaughter


French Basque brothers John Baptiste and Jean Pierre stirring the boiling pot of body parts that go into the blood sausage

Making the morcilla

Making the blood sausage (aka morcilla)

First transformation - the morcilla (blood sausage) made on Day 1

First transformation – the morcilla – made on Day 1

I probably should mention we ate. A lot. Lunch and dinners were hosted by different families at the farm and were often grill-centered.

Now that's a grill

Now that’s a grill

The pigs slaughtered on Day 1 rested overnight in a cool barn off property, while we worked on prep work, like prepping sausage casings (intestines) and lots of garlic (for chorizo)

Getting handsy with intestines

Getting handsy with intestines

That's what they call a #$%!-ton of garlic

That’s what they call a #$%!-ton of garlic

Day 2 was all about butchery. There was the traditional way showcased by the French Basque brothers Jean-Pierre and John Baptiste.




And then the commercial butcher..

Knowing thy butcher

Knowing thy butcher

While I would have loved to practice some of what I learned at Portland Meat Collective, there was no way that was going to happen. First off – it is a tradition passed down through families and you have to put your time in to get to the head of that table. Secondly – I still have no real idea of what I’m doing without a lot of guidance. So I was quite happy to stare at the men making quick work of the sides of pork and get to wield a knife at the trim end of the table.




Of course, there wasn’t just one thing happening at a time… or even two. More like seven. While the sides of pork were being broken down into primals and subprimals in the front of the garage, cleaning and packaging of cuts was occurring in the back.




1604547_10202091335497225_820552537_nAnd in the small kitchen through the doorway, a crowd was sorting the leftover cuts and fat to cut down and grind for chorizo. At that same table a few hours later, the guys would get hands on to custom spice & mix the chorizo.


Mixing up the chorizo - custom spice blend per each family's direction

Mixing up the chorizo – custom spice blend per each family’s direction

The cuts of meat – mainly the hams and bellies – that didn’t get packaged to be frozen were tagged and tied and put to bed in delicious salt cures.

Me, the boy & a heck of a lot of hams

Me, the boy & a heck of a lot of hams

Holding onto bellies

Holding onto bellies

Going to rest in a salty slumber

Going to rest in a salty slumber

IMG_5193The final task on the morning of the third day was the all important chorizo-tasting (I definitely think the Boise Basques represented the best with some serious spice.) Our freezer is now stocked with a variety of cuts and bags of said chorizo.

IMG_5206Pictures and words don’t really seem the do the experience justice. It’s amazing to be able to truly see farm to table and witness the transformation of an ingredient like this. Especially when that occurs in the midst of a decades-long family tradition. Endless thanks to the Beltrans, Sarasquetas and Patterson farm families who invited us in and put us to work. Eskerrik asko!

A Girl & a Pig

There once was a girl who wanted to butcher.

She talked about it. She blogged about it. She handled meat and made sausage and got on stage to talk about it.

Then she put her money and knives where her imagination was – and butchered that hog.

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There were many reasons why I wanted to go to the second year of Feast Portland, but getting to stand on one side of a butcher block while Portland Meat Collective’s Camas Davis schooled us in the art of butchery was definitely the main draw.

As my dear friend Liz once shared,
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Perhaps that sentiment is why I’ve wanted to learn to butcher a beast. Or to do something physical and tangible and non-sit-at-a-desk-type-on-a-device. Or because I embrace being a generalist in life because like Robert Heinlein so eloquently stated, specialization is for insects.

2013-09-22 14.07.50In that frame of mind, Camas is a sherpa. An idol. One badass woman with a blade.

Finding herself out of work in 2009 she went searching for knowledge, butchery knowledge to be exact. Not finding it in her home town, she jumped the pond to France to apprentice with a family and learn the art of whole animal butchery. Once back home, she kept following her gut and launched the Portland Meat Collective – to bring knowledge of the art of butchery to the masses, and connect communities to their food in a more tangible way. Camas helps bridge the knowledge gap that exists between the animal in the pasture and the meat on your plate.

In the words of Wusthof when honoring her for their Edge Awards, “Camas is challenging expectations, breaking stereotypes and bringing intellectual depth to the art of butchery. “ 

And in an interview for those same awards, she summed up just why I got such a thrill out of her class, “I really could feel my brain – these connections happening – while I was cutting up meat”  

Here’s a photo journey through my day of butchery. I’m the one in the Seahawk hat grinning wildly while hugging a ham hock.

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Having a rabid fan base (pun kinda intended) that quickly sells out most of the PMC classes isn’t the pinnacle, now Camas is leading the charge for Meat Collectives Across America. Here’s the Kickstarter campaign that was quickly funded earlier this year.

Don’t think I haven’t been scheming about one in Boise. Who’s in? Raise your cleavers.

(P.S. For the latest admiring writeup on Camas – check out Martha Stewart’s feature honoring her as an American Made Tastemaker )

An Idaho Foodie Feasting in Portland

Years ago, a former TV colleague of mine told me she and her husband planned their vacations around food events throughout the country.

I thought, ‘that sounds downright ridiculous!’

Fast-forward a decade or so and here I am. Sitting in an RV headed west to Feast Portland for what I call four days of delicious debauchery. Holy hell am I excited, and salivating, and prepping my belly and mind for the culinary overload that awaits.

(Feast Portland is the flagship food and drink festival in the Pacific Northwest, capturing the current energy and enthusiasm driving America’s food revolution. Feast showcases local culinary talent and Oregon ingredients, alongside nationally recognized chefs and influencers during a four-day celebration. At the heart of the festival is a mission to end childhood hunger in Oregon and in our country. A state where food is so plentiful should not also rank as one of the hungriest in the nation. This is part of the four-day dynamic exchange of ideas, inspiration and dialogue Feast Portland creates with food enthusiasts from Oregon, across the U.S. and around the globe.)

Granted, we’ve been building up to this point. Every road trip we embark on and extended weekend or flight somewhere new involves me seeking out hidden gems to dine and imbibe at and often, to digitally archive and share the bounty. From exploring the Snake River wine country* to hitting up foodie festivals in Sun Valley * to signing up for locavore excursions – we explore our backyard then take the culinary curiosity beyond. I’m a firm believer in food porn and foodgasms – and I’m sure this weekend will deliver.

So here’s what we are going to experience at Feast Portland:

Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting
Portland’s “living room,” Pioneer Courthouse Square, transforms into the city’s dining room for two days as dozens of the region’s most celebrated wineries, breweries, vendors, and artisans take over Downtown Portland’s most prime real estate for the festival’s premiere daytime event. Experience the scene, meet the chefs you’ve read about, discover the best Oregon wines and craft beers, and enjoy cooking demonstrations from celebrated chefs like Chris Cosentino, Jenn Louis, and Gabriel Rucker at the KitchenAid Main Demo Stage. (FULL lineup)

Night Market presented by Snake River Farms
Extra excited for this since it is presented by Idaho’s fantastic Snake River Farms
Join locally and nationally renowned chefs as they transform Portland’s historic Ecotrust building into the nation’s liveliest outdoor celebration of global street food. Called the nation’s best event of its kind by Food Republic, the Feast Portland Night Market is imbued with the spirit of the great bazaars of Southeast Asia and the Latin world. Enjoy a who’s who of Oregon craft beer, wine, and spirits to fuel an experience that embodies the sights, sounds, and smiles of a world culinary journey. (FULL lineup)

Class: Modern Sauces with Martha Holmberg
Mix Magazine founding editor and James Beard nominated author Martha Holmberg will teach you how to make five sauces that will change your life. No, really, they will. She’ll not only demonstrate the recipes, but will explain the underlying techniques so that you can have a better chance of success in your own kitchen. Sauces include classic vinaigrette, beurre blanc, dried red chile sauce, crème anglaise, and salted caramel sauce.

Tasting Panel: Baby Got Beer-Back
The whiskey-with-a-beer-back has a long and hallowed tradition in the watering holes of North America. Take your beer-back to the next level by discerning the best pairing for a bourbon (pilsner or pale?) or an Irish whiskey (the obvious stout). We’ve enlisted four discerning palates to share their favorite pairings and help you hone your beer-back knowledge. (FULL Lineup)

Trent Pierce and Sarah Simmons with Domaine Serene

Source: FeastPortland

Dinner: Trent Pierce and Sarah Simmons with Domaine Serene
Called “Oregon’s finest seafood restaurant” by The Oregonian, Trent Pierce has taken life aquatic to new heights at Roe, the 30-seat restaurant in the backroom of Wafu, his Japanese izakaya. Pierce joins the professional in guest chef pairing, Sarah Simmons of the New York culinary salon, City Grit for an exciting evening of innovation and collaboration, with wines by Domaine Serene.

Basic Pig Butchery with Camas Davis

Source: FeastPortland

Class: Basic Pig Butchery with Camas Davis
Without a doubt, the event I’m most looking forward to, due to my love of sausage-making, charcuterie, and cutting things up. AND – a Meat Collective? Think I have my next idea for a Boise business.
Learn the lost art of home butchery from French and American-trained Camas Davis, founder and owner of the Portland Meat Collective. Split sides of pork into primals using the techniques of seam butchery and then learn how to cut those primals into subprimals like ribs, tenderloins, hams, chops, and coppas. Students will also learn how to cook and cure every single part of the animal. At the end of this very hands-on class, students will gather together over locally made charcuterie and wine.

*Disclosure: My agency Red Sky works with the Idaho Wine Commission and has previously worked with the Sun Valley Harvest Festival. FULL disclosure, had we not worked with them – I still would have happily dined, imbibed and mangia’ed)

Culinary Collaborations at the Cabin, on the Farm, In the Field

What does it take for a place to truly establish its culinary chops? (pardon the pun)

How about collaboration between chefs at the top of their game?

Or, the ongoing creation of separate intimate foodie experiences?

Or, synergy on display between producers, farmers, vintners, brewers and distillers?

Check, check and check.

Foodie experiences are popping on Idaho’s calendar. And I’d be remiss to not recap one and preview two (and give props to the passionate people making them happen)

Edible Idaho’s Trail Creek Dinner Benefit for the Hunger Coalition


Chef John Murcko & Chef Gary Kucy

Take two of Idaho’s James Beard Foundation semi-finalists (Chef John Murcko, Director of Culinary Operations for the Sun Valley Resort, and Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall), create a meal sourced from the region’s producers (Homestead Natural MeatsBallard CheeseBlue Sage Farm and Southwind Potatoes) and toast with 44 North VodkaCinder WinesHuston VineyardsTelaya Wine Co in a true Idaho gem of a location – and you have Edible Idaho’s first foray into must-attend Idaho foodie events.

Thanks to a foodie-on-the-inside, we got a sneak peek at the prep and a few plates at the amazing fundraiser…


Menu for the Feast

Idaho morels being prepped for the Amuse course

Idaho morels being prepped for the Amuse course

Wildflower honey & Snake River Brewery Ale braised Idaho Buffalo Short Rib

Wildflower honey & Snake River Brewery Ale braised Idaho Buffalo Short Rib

… and insider scoop on the pristine levels of service. All the servers were Sun Valley restaurant managers, the kitchen staff all restaurant head chefs in their own right.

Cinder winemaker Melanie Krause collaborating with the culinary team

Cinder winemaker Melanie Krause collaborating with the culinary team

Chef Kucy & Chef Murcko collaborating on the l

Chef Kucy & Chef Murcko collaborating on the line

The entire culinary crew were chefs from various restaurants

The entire culinary crew were chefs from various restaurants

From the feedback on this event by attendees and participants – Edible South Idaho has set the bar high.

Dinner on the Farm Series

Up next on the foodie experience calendar is the kickoff to the new Dinner on the Farm Series concepted and carried out by Idaho Preferred: In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s Idaho Preferred® program will host a series of dinners at a variety of farms around the state to promote the quality and diversity of Idaho food and agriculture products. 

Dinner on the Dairy hosts Simon & Mary Ellen Roth of Si-Ellen Farm

Dinner on the Dairy hosts Simon & Mary Ellen Roth of Si-Ellen Farm

I am a huge proponent of diners understanding the full lifecycle of how their food gets from the farm to the plate – and this series should deliver on that. The series kicks off  Saturday, June 8, 2013 with Dinner on the Dairy at The Risk Barn Event Center on the Si-Ellen Dairy just north of Twin Falls beginning at 5:30 pm.  Advance tickets are required and can be purchased (GET YOURS ASAP!)  For more event and ticket information, email or call 208-332-8542.

In July – it’s Dinner in the Orchard at Symms Fruit Ranch in Sunny Slope.

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

And rounding out the trio of experiences that have me salivating – the nationally renowned Outstanding in the Field is making its first stop in Idaho as part of its North American Tour this summer.

Reading their mission for the first time – I fell in love: Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it…Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.

The details: Outstanding in the Field is teaming up with James Beard Award Nominee, Chef Taite Pearson Sara Lipton from della MANO (Ketchum). The dinner is hosted by farmers Chris Florence, Chance Morgan and Geoff Neyman of  Sweet Valley Organics and will feature wines from Cinder.  

It’s taken them more than a decade to get to Idaho – so let’s be sure this event sells out! Check it out and register

Here’s the story of Sweet Valley Organics courtesy Guy Hand

Whole Foods Boise | Hope Beyond the Honeymoon

I hope this is not a honeymoon kinda thing. That the focus on local will continue beyond opening.

My hope as Whole Foods enters the Boise market is that it everyone steps up their game.

As consumers, we become more aware of Idaho options and the local producers who live|create|bake|cook|grow|harvest among us.

As retailers, there is a growing awareness of food as an experience, shopping enhanced by art and creativity.

As business owners, that extra incentive to continually reassess and deliver what consumers want. 

I’ve known of Whole Foods since my time living and going to school in Austin, Texas. As a foodie, I’ve always been intrigued by their approach. As a communicator, I’ve been impressed by their community outreach and local emphasis as they entered the Boise market.

With my foodie hat on, I participated in a sneak peek tour prior to today’s opening and loved seeing all the call outs and focus on local producers. Whole Foods follows the USDA guidelines of local – within 400 miles.

There are other local producer options out there that I have and will continue to patronize – TheBoise CoopIdaho’s Bounty, and the Capital City Public Market. I’m adding Whole Foods to the list. 


(Disclosure: I signed up for the Whole Foods free Sneak Peek tour pre-opening and spent an hour exploring the store and sampling some of the local food offerings. I also posted photos to Instagram for a Whole Foods sponsored contest. At no time did anyone direct me to say/post/write certain opinions. For transparency, I tagged all my tweets and photos with #sponsor to indicate that participation.)


Fantastic Foodie Experience at Boise’s Fuel for the Soul

One of my favorite foodie experiences during my Argentine sojourn was the Puertas Cerradas - or ’Closed Door Dining.’ Essentially, it’s a hidden restaurant run out of someone’s home. Less than a dozen diners gather in someone’s living room as the host chefs cook for you in their home kitchen.

No idea if it’s global or not, but there was a lot of it in Buenos Aires and it was awesome. I never thought I’d have such an experience again.

But, my recent evening in the North End in the home kitchen of Fuel for the Soul came awfully damn close.


Fuel for the Soul is truly a labor of love by Chef Titti Lancedelli and Joel Marx.In their own words, “The biz partnership features Tiziana “Titti” Lancedelli as the master chef, recipe maestro, demo queen & cooking class guru, while Joel Marx is the business maven, scribe, chief dishwasher, food peddler & overall slave-at-large.”

Relatively new Idahoans, they started as a retail gourmet prepared food company featuring gluten free items like Bureks & Crostata d’Italia. Fuel for the Soul has now expanded to offer regular cooking classes. Through our monthly cooking classes, we also seek to equip you with the knowledge on how to eat fresher& healthier at home. Whether you’re a total spaz in the kitchen or a true gourmand chef, our series of classes specifically targeted to kids or adults can definitely broaden your culinary horizons. Hop on board as we tour a vast world of edible delights.”

In a lovely coincidence, a colleague’s wife had just signed up for a class and they forwarded me the class lineup for August - a virtual tour de delicioso of Italian cuisine thanks to Chef Titti’s Italian roots. (She’s also spent time in Southeast Asia – hence the Thai classes). I had to sign my Mom, sister and I up for the Bistro di Italia: Simple classic dishes fit for your own personal backyard bistro.  Quick, healthy, substantial dishes begging to be eaten Al Fresco and of course accompanied by a chilled Pinot Grigio or a bold Spanish Rose. 


Titti’s casual ease in the kitchen, endearing candor and approachable teaching style made the class a lovely and fun evening. No pretention and like I prefer – not a lot of strict recipe rules. More along the lines of teaching attendees to become intuitive chefs. Reminiscent of how my grandmother cooked – ingredients, instinct and ‘to taste’.


And the other half of Fuel for the Soul – Joel – acts as resident sommelier and sous chef for the class, regaling students with tasting notes for each selection.


This was my fav (one of the many wines Joel sources from Boise’s Bueno Cheapo Vino)
So – to get down to it, the amazing menu for our Bistro class. 


1st Course: Orecchiette ai Funghi
Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


2nd Course: Pesce alla Catalana
White Fish Steamed, then Chilled and Dressed with Olives, Basil & Sweet Onions

3rd Course: Frittelle di Zucchine
Fried Zucchini Fritters Made with Grated Zucchini, Parmesan Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, Bread Crumbs & Fresh Herbs


Dessert: Torta Mandorlata
Sicilian Tarte with Ricotta Cheese & Almond Filling

Simple. Straightforward. Amazing. A cooking class you thoroughly enjoy from start to finish, and then realize when you get home, ‘Hey, I can really make this!’

In the wake of the unfortunate demise of many of the cooking classes in the Valley, Fuel for the Soul is a welcome upstart. Beyond that, it is a dynamic and enjoyable new foodie and cultural experience for the Valley. The couple genuinely believes in building friendships through the communal experience of breaking bread in the warmth of their beautiful North End home.  

A tavola non si invecchia!

(There are a slew of cooking classes every month offered by Chef Titti and Joel. Here’s thelineup for September and the landing page for all the latest class info)


When the Wandering Table Wanders Into Boise

Spread the word…discreetly

Now, who doesn’t love getting a first bite of something. Especially when it’s served via a discreet pop-up dining experience for an intimate table of 20?

Those four words enticed me. The creativity, wit a whimsy of the chef inspired me. And I find myself sending foodie vibes to the universe that The Wandering Table wanders back through Boise again.

So what is it?

This is about passion. We have an insatiable appetite for cooking and creating food. We love what we do and is something we enjoy sharing with other people. This is our anti-restaurant. This is our way of cooking what we want to cook. This is how we share the food we love to eat. This is a chance to taste a meal prepared from the seasons. There is a reason that all great chefs of the world use seasonal, local ingredients. Where can you gather more inspiration, when you get a tomato, still warm from the sun, or from the farmer you work with, or from a day of foraging for mushrooms. There is in inherent appreciation of great products that makes my job so much better. I go out of my way to seek the best products, and to honor those who grew them by doing my best at serving them to people in way that makes food memorable. This is how we create great experiences, traditions, and communities. This wandering table is making stops in various locations from airport hangers to barns to vineyards, and everywhere in between. Our menus are created and meant to reflect the best  of the season. We’ve created one of the most interesting and unique dining experiences in the Northwest and you’re invited.

When it landed in Boise – here’s what Chef Adam Hegsted served up.


With a menu like that – every course was a visual and brain-tantalizing feast. But here were my favs

Cucumber Tasting – featuring pickled, dried, sorbet, smoked and sauce


Egg Yolk Caviar – featuring asparagus, parmesan, yolk vinny


Herb Waffles – with chicken fried morels and pine syrup


Wild Steelhead Tartar with crispy skin, radish, first grass and river sand (the most delicious I’ve ever had :-)


And this photo doesn’t do the dessert justice – Chocolate Textures – crispy, cold, dry, hot, firm


Bravo to Chef and his team and David Hale and IPTV for bringing the Wandering Table through Boise. 


Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb

And that is the essence of any great chef demonstration. I admittedly went a bit overboard and binged on the demos – sticking around the tent for all of the Chefs taking the stage at this year’s Sun Valley Harvest Festival. Local favorites and leading chefs were in from Palm Beach, New York, Portland and Los Angeles.

Here’s the official rundown:


Judith McQueen – Judith McQueen Entertaining, Ketchum ID- Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes


Whether you say tomayto or tomahto – I’d venture that you’ve never tried Tomato Water. So simple yet flavorful. Apparently, the nectar of the 90′s per the NYTimes “…the clear essence of summer in spoonable form.”


And Chef McQeen’s Tomato Risotto is a must-mangia attempt in my home kitchen.



Clay Conley – Buccan, Palm Beach, FL – Rabbit – Head to Foot

I have to admit the title threw me a bit. But I’m a carnivore, and with my venturing into the world of charcuterie I’ve become a tad obsessed at using the full animal and the art of butchery.

From the above Boned Saddle to Braised legs in Rabbit Stock, confit and liver atop grilled bread…


Chef Conley used the entire creature and it was delicious. 


Chris Kastner – CK’s Real Food, Hailey, ID – It’s Not Just Soup


CK’s delicious duo of roasted tomato and squash soups.


Melissa Costello – Karma Chow, Los Angeles, CA – Know Your Food – Simple & Seasonal Vegan Cooking. I’m fascinated by vegan cooking and Chef Costello delivered.


The recipes for her Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing and Coconut Yam Soup are available on Karma Chow.


Dave Martin – Bravo Top Chef and Restaurant Consultant – Gearing up for Fall


A repeat performance of our Carnivore’s Dream dinner – but still an entertaining and delicious demo (and now I have the much drooled over goat cheese & bacon grits recipe!)


And my Red Sky foodie colleagues were front and center for the Chef Dave show.



Cathy Whims – Nostrana, Portland, OR – A Taste of Italy’s Piemonte in Idaho

Taite Pearson – della Mano, Ketchum, ID
Mise en place; Basic Knife Skills, Decorative Cuts and Techniques for the Proper Preparation of Vegetables



Sam Talbot – The Surf Lodge, Montauk, NY and Imperial No. 9, New York. NY
Some like it hot some like it Trout. Cooking with fresh water’s favorite fish

Chef Sam was showcasing Clear Springs Trout with Blackberry Vinagrette. “It’s about selecting the freshest ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.” Amen.


He has Type 1 Diabetes and is passionate about making diabetes-friendly diets that are flavor-packed (don’t sacrifice flavor, sacrifice carbohydrates). His new book ‘The Sweet Life’ is out this November.

Have to share the most-often shared wisdom from all the chefs – the power of salt. And the power of the right kind of salt. As Chef Sam said – you should only be using Kosher or Sea Salts.

And Chef Dave made it the most memorable, “Unless you’re a family of pirates and you are worried about getting scurvy, don’t use ionized salt.”

These boots are made for walking…and indulging

I truly love working a bit for my meals. Walkabouts, progressive dinners and this weekend – the Sun Valley Harvest Festival Restaurant Walk.

I’ve been to Sun Valley and Ketchum quite a few times in the past decade – but I stick to the places I’ve been before. The beauty of a restaurant walk is getting bite-sized introductions to places you’ve never been – or places you’ve forgotten.

We started at the Ketchum Towne Square with a first-time sampling of the brand new Sawtooth Brewery. (Growler cozies – who knew?)

We didn’t make every one of the 15 stops, but here are the few we hit and my foodie feelings on the experience.


Cornerstone Bar & Grill: Bite sized local buffalo wellington en croute


Cristina’s Restaurant: Salmon cakes & Porchetta pizza roll-up


Dashi: Crispy local Berkshire pigs head pork lollipops with pickled local cherry cre??me fraiche


Glow: Fall harvest gazpacho with local sweet corn and avocado salsa


Il Naso: Deconstructed Italian BLT; local seared pork belly, oregano aioli, local heirloom tomato, butterleaf lettuce and olive oil cracker


Rickshaw: Nepalese Momos – Local XXL ranch pork and chive dumpling with spicy roasted Hagerman heirloom tomato sauce


Roosevelt Grille: Snake River Farms Kobe beef grilled flatiron steak two ways – Argentinean chimichurri and Thai-basil 


Rolling in Dough: Cheese crackers and lemon tarts

While the entire experience was fantastic, my favorites were:

  • Dashi – When you hear pig’s head you may cringe, but the flavor and lusciousness of the meat was divine.
  • Roosevelt Grille – There is nothing quite as fantastic as a perfectly cooked steak (well, maybe a great 3-minute egg) but this flatiron was superb. Add that to the fact that Chef Tom Nickel had whipped up two nom-worthy toppings (chimichurri? I’m now a huge fan).
  • Il Naso: Now THAT is the way to prepare pork belly. Perfect crispiness. Foodgasm.

- Jess Flynn