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:


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

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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.”

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

 

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

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Chef Conley used the entire creature and it was delicious. 

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

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


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

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


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

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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!)

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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

My Enduring Queso Obsession

I recently journeyed back to the Hill Country of Texas for work, and satisfied my 12+year craving for that cheesy-deliciousness known as queso with a foodie pilgrimage to one of my all-time favorite 24-hour pit stops – Austin’s Magnolia Cafe.

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And then I proceeded to shun all table manners by inhaling my first Mag Mud queso since I had the awesome ‘Jennifer Friend’s haircut’ in the late 90′s.

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While the successful foodie pilgrimage satisfied me for about – oh, 3 hours – the new online search began for a way to satisfy my ongoing queso urge back here in Boise. Despite my searching & craving, I haven’t been able to find any good queso in Idaho. And heck, it’s football season! Football + Fall = Queso.

And Velveeta will not cut it.

Found some hope and inspiration courtesy HomesickTexan Lisa with her post A More Natural Chile con Queso Of course – roux is the answer to anything! (and also is the base to my family’s mac n’ cheese). So that’s on the list for Sunday game day.

And I have hope for the work & hunger leading up to this year’s Thanksgiving meal, thanks to Melissa Clark’s Good Appetite post ‘Dips to Sustain the Holiday Cook till Thanksgiving Dinner.’ It even has a bit of an Idaho angle – with inclusion of delicious chorizo as a key ingredient to this soon-to-be holiday staple Queso Fundido with chorizo, jalapeno & cilantro.

 

Mmmmm….Pork in Poughkeepsie

Just returned from a whirlwind week-long trip to where I grew up – the Hudson River Valley in New York in a small town called Poughquag. The biggest city in the area that people had actually heard of is Poughkeepsie. It’s a city that is still in transition – much like I remembered it from 12 years ago. But there are a few bright spots – including a restaurant we stumbled upon serendipitously (and – with the help of Yelp ;-)

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The Artist’s Palate is run by owner/chef couple Megan & Charles Fells (one a product of the nearby C.I.A) - and features a revolving seasonal menu (revolving every two weeks per their site). We checked around for what was in walking distance from our hotel – and the props on Yelp, Foursquare & TripAdvisor sang the locale’s praises. 
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The vibe inside was casual yet hip with a touch of industrial. Heck, I’d love to be described that way ;-) . We were seated right next to the open kitchen and got an up close and personal look/listen at Chef Fells expediting on the line. Sometimes seeing how the sausage is made is a great experience. Especially when the chef steps tableside to give you the personal story behind one of the most popular dishes.
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Second to my love of bacon is Kevin’s love of bacon. So – when we saw Bacon & Eggs on the menu he had to order it. Crispy Pork Belly? Hells yes! With a side of a 4-minute egg inspired by Craftsteak Las Vegas. Um, yeah! (official description: crispy pork belly confit, sauteed parmesean polenta, frisse, soft heritage breed egg). We are now on the hunt for a pork belly purveyor in Boise and you can bet that we’ll be working through a few dozen eggs trying to perfect the panko crusted 4-minutes of heaven. 

Ravioli
I’m not a lamb girl by any means. But I am a homemade pasta freak (see previous mac n cheese & gnocchi posts). So I had to take the risk and order the House Made Ravioli: pasta pillows filled with braised local lamb, fresh herbs, tossed with poughkeepsie farm projects rainbow chard, heirloom tomatoes, fresh garlic. Pure delight, the richness of the braised lamb was set off by the fresh veggies. 

Add to all this the proud emphasis on local ingredients, casual yet innovative vibe and service that made us feel like VIPs at a chef’s table made it our favorite meal of the week.  I often wonder if restaurants realize how much service and personal attention impacts their overall impression. Was the food itself the most skillfully executed or delicious? Actually, no. We had some fantastic entrees at the CIA’s American Bounty restaurant and an over-the-top spread at a wedding in Queens. But the experience was second-to-none and that made this food memory tops for the week.

- Jess

Sometimes it’s the simple things

Sometimes it’s the simple things, or at least the simple things done really well, that make a meal.

Like the bread and butter small plate at Savoy in SoHo, NYC. As they claim it:
‘Evan’s dairy farm butter and really good bread, Hudson Valley honey comb.’

We’ve been eating really well while visiting home this week ( ‘well’ meaning fancy and pricey) but holy crap this simple plate paired with a bubbling flute of Prosecco made me do my signature ‘happy food chair dance’.

Clean, simple, high quality components and that nostalgic food memory touch. Perfection.

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Discovering small town gems

One of the best parts of road trips is the not planning.
Finding the small town gems – like the best back alley bakery or locale’s brewery.
I use Yelp and UrbanSpoon and now Foodspotting along with recommendations from friends on Twitter and facebook on where to stop.
But a lot of times it’s keeping an eye out for the small signs, the cluster of cruiser bikes or recommendations from the guys having a local brew next to you at the bar.
Great stop when you are rolling through Driggs en route to anywhere – the quaint hidden Pendl’s Bakery & Cafe – fantastic pastries, beautiful garden nooks and dog parking – ’nuff said.

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United Nations of the Bench – Foodie-style

Made a spontaneous stop at the Orient Market on Emerald today looking for some dry miso. As with most random foodie trips my ‘oh look at that!’ mentality meant I walked out with more.

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Front and center were yummy fresh pastries from the new Yen Ching Bakery in DTBoise – we snagged the coconut and custard pastries. Also grabbed some super affordable loose leaf Jasmine tea, and got distracted watching fish mongers in the back clean fresh red tilapia and sea bass.

Which leads me to singing the praises of my fantastically diverse – at least from a foodie perspective – Bench ‘hood. From Emerald to a few blocks south on Orchard we have a slew of ethnic markets and eateries:
- A Wee Bit of Scotland
- Orient Market
- BoEx Bosnian Market
- Indian Market
- Campos Mexican Market
- Tango’s Argentinian Empanadas
- Banh Mi Baguette Deli (Vietnamese)

Must own up to having only frequented the Orient Market (for sushi supplies, soups and spices), Campos (for great BBQ meats and tamales), and Tangos (for kick-ass delightfully fried meal and dessert empanadas).

But this summer I’m pledging to keep broadening my foodie horizons and do a culinary Tour d’Bench. Look for more posts as I try my hand at more ethnic foodie fare than my typical Italian roots :-)
(and let me know if I missed a stop on the Bench!)

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The Brewforia Dogfish Head Beer Dinner IMG00266.jpg

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“When you put as many things in your mouth as I have…”

And so began a great night at Brewforia’s new retail store on Milwaukee. Fab location for men/women who are dragged to mall land by their significant others over the holiday madness. Escape to Brewoforia for a comfy seat and a brew

That oh-so-appropriate quote? Courtesy Chef Ryan Hembrey of Life’s Kitchen – trying to explain why he was able to pair so well/quickly with the beer selection. He and Chef Maggie Kiefer did a great job feeding the 40+ beer lovers.

1st Course
Beer: Festina Peche – a neo-Berliner Weisse fermented w/peach juice Food: Lemongrass infused broth with a shrimp dumpling (yum broth)

2nd Course
Sahti/SahTea – 9th Century Finnish proto-beer. Carmalize beer around rocks and run thru juniper leaves? Heck yes! Then add black chai tea?
Um, that too! A twist on the old recipes – Dogfish allegedly owns the oldest known beer recipe (who knew)
Food: Interesting to pair (Chef’s fav!) Savory pumpkin and habanero curry fritter – served room temp to not overpower the beer. Sauced w/corriander mint chutney yogurt.
This was by far my favorite pairing of the night – and the beer I cage-fought to take home with me!

3rd Course
Beer: Raison D’etre ‘The reason for being’ Belgian style strong ale brewed with beet sugar and green raisin and a sense of purpose (nice label touch!)
Food: Paired w/duck canape w/duck crackling (cracklings – hells yeah!) atop a disc of goat cheese with dried cherries

4th Course
Beer: The Red and White Belgian style witt aged in pinot noir casks
Pinot noir juice concentrate added to it.
Beer + pinot noir? Fantastic!
Food: Black Canyon Elk Farms elk braised in pinot noir and soaked in duck stock and topped w/Blueberry catsup. (I believe I need a bottle of this variety of catsup. Word has it we can find it @ Capitol City Market)

5th Course
Beer: Fort made w/a ton (literally)of fresh raspberries. A dry beer. Actually, it’s a malt liquor not a beer. 18 percent – allegedly best drunk in a hot tub w/Barry White
Food: Chili pepper stuffed w/Raspberry marscopone cream and dipped in dark chocolate

And then – filled with beer and food and hop-filled conversation – a bit of retail therapy

Cheers – Salut – to Brewforia for a great night in their new space!

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Boise’s Best Breakfasts

Apparently, I talk about food alot. Both in person and online. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog for myself and other foodies to post our food thoughts (and fantasies I guess!)

When I first started on Twitter I sent a lot of tweets about favorite meals, stops, recipes and it got noticed by Julie Gallaher of ThingsYouShouldDo – she asked me to guest author a piece about food in Boise.

My first blog post was Best Boise Breakfasts Now that I’ve started my own foodie worship site thought it might be worth sharing the breakfast love again.

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(Since I wrote this I’ve fallen in love with the sweet & spicy Bristol Bacon cooked up by Chef Dustin Bristol at Brick 29 in Nampa. So that gets added as ‘Guilty Pleasure’ Breakfast item.) Here is the start of the post… take the jump and see if you agree, disagree or having something that I may have left out!

Lately, I’ve been focused on breakfast – the meal that starts off your day on the right, or wrong, foot. There are a slew of great breakfast spots in Boise as any native will tell you. But if you felt like doing a tour of breakfast locales while in town, or embarking on a progressive breakfast across town – here are my recommendations of the must-stops…