Starting to salivate over the Sun Valley Harvest Festival

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Second Annual Sun Valley Harvest Festival Celebrates Local Cuisine

Festival focuses on sustainable food practices and 

seasonal bounty of the Wood River Valley.

            BOISE, ID (August 15, 2011) ??? Beginning Friday September 23, Sun Valley, Idaho will host the second annual Sun Valley Harvest Festival. The Harvest Festival will be a seasonal celebration of local cuisine and culinary expertise featuring local, regional, and celebrity chefs, as well as regionally sourced food, wine, beer and spirits. The Harvest Festival will focus on sustainable cuisine and responsible culinary practices, and celebrate the epicurean beauty of the Wood River Valley as the seasons begin their shift from summer to fall.

            

As a highlight, the Harvest Festival will feature Top Chef semi-finalists Sam Talbot and Dave Martin. Chef Talbot and Chef Martin will participate in the Harvest Festival???s Cooking Demonstrations where they will display their signature cooking techniques using organic, Idaho-grown ingredients, while sharing tips and speaking about their experiences. A variety of visiting chefs will also participate in the cooking demonstrations including Clay Conley of Buccan in Palm Beach, Melissa Costello of Karma Chow in Los Angeles, and Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland. Local chefs participating the in the demonstrations will include Chris and Rebecca Kastner of CK???s Real Food in Hailey, Taite Pearson of Sego in Ketchum, and Judith McQueen of Judith McQueen Entertaining in Ketchum.

            In addition to demonstrations by talented and critically acclaimed chefs, the Sun Valley Harvest Festival will partner with a wide variety of local restaurants for the Restaurant Walk and Harvest Dinners. Restaurants that participate in Friday???s Restaurant Walk or Saturday???s Harvest Dinner have the opportunity to display their finest culinary efforts for sampling, using regional and seasonal ingredients. Regional beer and wine will be paired with various dishes as well.

The Sun Valley Harvest Festival???s full weekend of events will also feature a Martini and Caviar Party and River Guide Cooking Competition.  For the Martini and Caviar Party, Chef Taite Pearson of Sego will prepare Idaho caviar in unique and innovative ways while a master mixologist creates classic martinis with a modern twist. The fun continues on Saturday morning as four Idaho River Companies compete for the title of the Idaho River???s Top Cook demonstrating Dutch Oven cooking techniques and ways to cook outdoors without leaving a trace. A Marketplace Walk and the Red Sky Grand Tasting that benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation?? of Idaho round out the weekend with opportunities to shop and sample regional food, wine, beer and spirits.

The Sun Valley Harvest Festival is a fun travel opportunity for food and wine lovers that are sure to be thought provoking, as well as delicious. Come taste, experience, learn and enjoy with us at the second annual Sun Valley Harvest Festival this September. 

 For more information about the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, or to purchase tickets ranging from individual events to all access passes, visit the Festival website at www.SunValleyHarvestFestival.com Also, be sure to ???like??? Sun Valley Harvest Festival on facebook for the chance to win great prizes!

(Full disclosure, my company Red Sky is working with the Sun Valley Harvest Festival as a partner to help promote the event. Tho I must also admit, I’d still make the trek over to sample, ogle the Top Chefs and indulge!)

My So-Called Italian Life

Being a half-n-half – 50%Irish 50%Italian – I tout certain things from each heritage.

The stouts, whiskey, alcohol tolerance and symbology (nothing like a Celtic tattoo!) of my Irish heritage.

And the fantastic food and cooking intuition of my Italian side.

Heck – when my Irish side is celebrating they go to the Italians for the good spread!

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So being with family in Queens and digging into a spread that included Ensalata Caprese, Eggplant Rollatini, Chicken Marsala, Baked Ziti and freakin amazing meatballs made my month.

Add in the fact that I also got to check off pretty much everything on my NYC foodie wants list…
- Bagels (I swear it’s the water)
- Fresh mozzarella (muzz!)
- Chicken cutlet sandwich
- Cannoli
- Pizza
…and this whirlwind four-day trip to the Big Apple has me thinking yet again about opening a true NY deli in good ol Boise.

Makin’ Whoopie #IdahoFoodies #CAPRSA

What does a foodie do when she goes to a professional conference? Analyzes the food of course!

While I’ve been thrilled with my high end foodie fill on the Vegas Strip….
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Michael Mina’s Lobster Pot Pie anyone?  (Check out the tableside treatment here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATgNtSBH56I)
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Or how about CarneVino’s  Meat Tasting menu? (Or at least the house-cured pastrami with a perfectly soft egg)

…I really didn’t expect too much from the conference locale itself. Loew’s Las Vegas is swanky, but come on – it’s going to be boring rubber conference fare, right?

Wrong.

The food has been stellar – creative, inspiring, interesting and of course delicious. Mini-tasting menus of gourmet meals.
But what has really hit it out of the park has been the throwback, kid-friendly break fare.

Want to rejuvenate a group of 100plus 30- to 60-something professionals who’ve been intrenched in strategy and networking for hours on end? Serve them the food of their childhood. Bring them a smile, something interactive, a bit of glee and the type of break that makes you remember those times when any crazy idea that popped into your head was truly possible.

Give them a chance to Make Whoopie :-)
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Yesterday, build your own pretzels
Today – make Whoopie Pies (if you dared)
It’s the little touches like this that will make me remember the creativity and innovation this locale brought to the event.
I’ll take mine with a shot of milk please.
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Do you know the Muffin Man?

Not to be outdone by my love of cured meats (bacon, namely) and my love of cheese (any kind) is my love of carbs. Makes for a healthy diet.

Typically the carbs come courtesy my Italian heritage and in the pasta variety. So while I enjoy baked goods, I don’t often bake.
But holy crap - Alton Brown’s delicious homemade English Muffins may make me into a weekend brunch baker.
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Using our circa 1970-something hand mixer on the dough which set over night….
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…made for an interesting mixing experience. It’s more like a batter than a dough – so don’t be surprised when making it if it sticks to everything. Literally.
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We wanted to McGyver the kitchen gadgets this time around, but our tuna cans didn’t cooperate when trying to make them into pastry molds. So I hit up my favorite kitchen gadget haunt – the Standard Restaurant Supply - to find these pastry rings to give our muffins the right walls. And instead of griddle frying we baked.
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Check ‘em out! Now Alton had mentioned sprinkling the bottom and tops of the dough with rolled oats. We went with the traditional corn meal. Made for a lovely crunchy texture. The whole ‘fork-splitting’ is key to getting the right texture.
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And… voila! Nooks & crannies galore! (Credit Thomas English Muffins with coining that phrase)

Next up – trying to whip up some crumpets for the Royal Wedding :-)

Happy Eggs Bene Day! #Charcutepalooza

Homemade Canadian Bacon + homemade hollandaise + made from scratch English muffins = best brunch ever…

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Spoiled for life now that I’ve been introduced to the deliciousness of homemade English Muffins. Thanks to Alton Brown for his as-always informative Good Eats episode on the art of Eggs Benedict (celebrated with its own special day April 16) and the recipe for the muffins (will post later).

You can take a girl out of the trailer…

 … but you can’t take the love of down home trailer park cuisine from the girl. 

Seriously though, I think so-called ‘Trailer Park Cuisine’ has gotten a bad rap. In my mind, it’s comfort food. The type of food that you know is really bad for you (from a cellular standpoint) but is soooo damn good for you (from a soul standpoint.)

Admittedly, I did spend my formative years living in a trailer (though my mom said because it didn’t have wheels it wasn’t really a trailer. Not really the place to split hairs. It was a beautiful yellow double-wide.) Some of my best food memories come from there – crunchy-topped cheesy mac n cheese,  spinach pie, buttery noodles, anything shake n’bake, english muffin pizzas). I also have memories of eating lots of Spam – but I choose not to revisit that foodie history.
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So my dear friend Shelby’s dinner party with a Trailer emphasis coupled with wine sounded like a delightful way to spend a Saturday.
Core to the night was the random stash from the Accidental Wine club shipment. If you enjoy a bit of surprise with your wine order – check it out.
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Which led to a friendly debate over the best wine pairing for Cheeto Puffs, Cheese Balls and the oh-so-important Pork Rinds (our lovely appetizers). A nice crisp white – Pinot Grigio? Fume Blanc? – seemed to be the most popular suggestion. Though PBR also paired nicely.
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Sneak peak of dessert – the plan was to deep fry those Twinkies & DingDongs but they were devoured sans (additional) oil.
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Putting aside the entertaining accoutrements – the real star of the meal was the Gorilla Mac n Cheese made by our hosts The Birches. I consider myself a cheesy mac connoisseur. If it’s on a menu anywhere and it claims to be fantastic I’m going to try it. The mac made by Como’s in Pendleton, OR is still my favorite. But this Gorilla recipe out of More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is fantastic. It has 12 CUPS OF CHEESE in it. Oh, and it’s topped with pulverized goldfish crackers. ‘Nuff said.
Continuing on my Year of Meat journey – I tackled my first pulled pork recipe as my contribution to the meal. Sweet and savory deliciousness out of the crockpot, courtesy a Williams Sonoma recipe. If you’ve never served up pulled pork at a potluck or tailgate  - I highly recommend this version for a first attempt.

County Mayo Irish Soda Bread

Following up on the Charcutepalooza Irish challenge of making some homemade corned beef, I had requests for my side dish – the simple, yet oh-so-delicious Irish Soda Bread.

Here’s the family recipe passed down from Great Grandma Anna Rowland (with notes from me on where I changed it up slightly!)

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 & 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (I love the nutty/earthy taste of caraway so I double this amount)
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Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Combine and sift all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add raisins (although the caraway is listed at the end of the ingredients I add them here)
  • Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly (a fork works just as well!)
  • Mix egg with buttermilk (I use powdered buttermilk and add the appropriate amount of water to get to 1 3/4 cups, then added in the egg)
  • Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended
  • Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes
  • Divide dough in half; shape each half into a round loaf and place each loaf in a greased 8-inch cake or pie tin. Press dough to sides of pan to make a uniform circle. (I used a square baking tin that worked just as well. I also love the crust on Irish Soda Bread so I tend to press mine out to make a bigger circle and expand the crusty exterior. Don’t worry about making it fancy. Remember, it’s rustic!) 
  • With floured knife, cut a cross on top about 1/2 inch deep in the middle.
  • Bake in preheated 375 oven for 35-40 minutes (My oven cooks faster than most, so I checked on the bread at 30 and pulled it out then as the top was browned already)
  • Slather with delicious butter and enjoy! Tastes fabulous fresh out of the oven or after cooling (and with a pint of Guinness!)

New Kids On The (Idaho Street) Block

I may not be one of those folks who buys first generation gadgets (except for the iPad – my one eager-tech-buyer exception) but I am one of those foodies who likes to try out a new destination within a week of it opening. 

Sometimes I’m disappointed – the kinks are still be worked out – but I understand and return a few weeks later. But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.

Case in point – the new Fork Restaurant in Downtown Boise.
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Owner Cameron Lumsden did a fantastic job warming up the historic space on the main floor of the newly renovated 805 Idaho Building. Warm woods, bright light and native stone throughout.

But – we’re here for the food. And while Fork describes it’s culinary approach as Fork blends fresh flavors from throughout the Northwest to create an Americana dining experience that is both surprising and comforting.  Whenever possible, we follow the ‘Farm to Fork’approach that includes sourcing farm-fresh ingredients locally, then preparing them in such a way as to enhance, but never cover, their natural qualities.”

I’d affectionately say it reminded me of – comfort food elevated with a homegrown hook
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My colleagues & I hit Fork up for lunch – where the Chicken Pot Pie was the most popular on a dreary blustery day.
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Though there as a bacon & mozzarella and adult grilled cheese tempting me, I chose the roasted butternut squash ravioli. Both nom-worthy choices.
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But the winner of the meal roulette was Gloria who ordered the Urban Burger topped with sweet n spicy bacon. I’m a sucker for presentation and the butcher block platter and copper cup o’fries was a great touch.
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Then there was dessert.
What can I say – a half-dozen fairly original choices from Fork Beer Float to Warm Butter Cake to S’mores and these warm sugar donuts made me drool. I can really appreciate a joint that takes the art of dessert seriously.
Also – some great service for a soft-launch week and well-priced lunch options.
All in all I’m looking forward to a trip back – for adult grilled cheese, a skinny cocktail, and a few more desserts ;-)

I’m also looking forward to the expansion of John Berryhill’s foodie empire just up the street. Kudos to Boise Weekly for getting the scoop on John’s Plan B “a small, after dinner, after work bar…” with leather couches and finer scotches and his concept Bacon, “serving a selection of dine-in or to-go salads, sandwiches, paninis, soups and Italian strata. There will also, of course, be bacon. We’ll have probably eight to 10 different kinds of bacon … we’ll have turkey bacon, Berryhill bacon, kurobuta bacon, we’ll probably do some game bacon, tempeh bacon … we’ll have candied bacon, we’ll do bacon crumbles … you can put it on ice cream or if you want to put it in your latte—everything will come with bacon as an add-on.”  Read more

 Scotch in one part of the building, up to 10 types of bacon in another? I may never leave Idaho Street.

Love is… Amuse-Bouche for brunch

Kevin channelling Thomas Keller to kick off a foodie weekend….

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Poached quail egg and smoked bacon bites followed by blinis and eggs Benedict with homemade hollaindaise.

And a side of Milk Punch

Better than French Laundry :-)

Best use of cookie crumbles ever!

Butternut Squash Bisque with Snickerdoodle crumbles at Le Cafe de Paris.
Delish!

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