Friday, February 25, 2011

C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me...

For better or for worse, as she packs up and makes her way back to the U.S., The Experimental Gourmand is letting the younger of her two younger brothers write about one of his favorite food topics.  For the record, she also gifted him a box of Thin Mints again last year to refresh his cookie jar.

When my sister asked me to write about food, I briefly considered a variety of food topics.  However, like Sam Malone returning to his true love in the Cheers finale, I think she always knew this would lead to the topic of Cookies.  After all, I did have Cookie Monster cakes on two consecutive birthdays when I was little.  Plus, I invented the term “pre-ssert” to justify my consumption of a dessert before dinner in front of my [then] 4-year-old niece.

My most notorious cookie incident, however, involves Girl Scout Cookies.  See, I have four sisters which meant that my mom had to buy a lot of Girl Scout Cookies.  Each year she’d buy about a case of each kind of cookie and store them in the freezer (By the way, I’m not sure I had a store-bought cookie for the first ten years of my life).  Now as an 8-year-old whose bedroom was across from the room with that freezer how long do you think it took for me to start taking those cookies?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Belgian Squares- Kiwi style

While The Experimental Gourmand is away gazing at the snow-topped mountains of Andorra, one of her brothers has offered to talk about his adventures in cooking with his children.

Our ten-year-old daughter started intermediate school this year, so she’s now doing home economics (sorry – ‘Food Technology’). On the first day, they made lemonade. The nice thing for me was that I’ve made lemonade with the girls for years. It was the first thing we ‘cooked’ together. At first, they would wash the lemons and mix the lemonade, while I did everything else. As they got older, they learned to squeeze the lemon halves and measure the sugar and water. Sometimes, I would put the lemon squeezer on the floor, which made it easier for them to push down on the lemon halves.

Now, Miss Ten can do it all herself, including cutting the lemons. She told me that she likes Food Technology because she gets to cook all by herself (does that mean we hover too much?). She also likes that she is starting a recipe book in class.

Miss Ten and Miss Eight are both getting more interested in cooking and baking. I made salt-water taffy last weekend and they helped. Miss Ten measured out the flavouring and colouring for me, and both girls helped pull the taffy once it was cool. It reminded me that, no matter what I’m cooking, there’s usually something they can do to help.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ode to Lutefisk

The Experimental Gourmand has decided to run away to Italy for a few days. She's turned the keys to the blog over to her brother-in-law to write about one of his own food history stories.

We are told that one of the best ways to understand a country or people is to eat the food that they eat.  I don’t know if you gain understanding, but it certainly is a way to get beyond the tourist experience. In the small towns and farm country of the upper Midwest, this means a Lutefisk Dinner.  

For those of you who don’t know, Lutefisk is a traditional cod dish from Scandinavia.  Back in the day, cod was used to keep the population fed, and Lutefisk was a method of preserving it.  (The filets are dried, then later reconstituted by soaking it in a lye mixture, and then in plain water to flush the lye - thus Lutefisk = lye fish.)  It was finally cooked by being boiled.

Nowadays, Lutefisk is an echo of the old days.  For the Scandinavians that settled in this region, it is seen as one of the last links to the old countries.  So, as the leaves fall from the trees, and the wind becomes raw, the Lutefisk Dinner becomes a staple of small town life leading up to Christmas.  It is often both fundraiser and social event.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Picking A Line

The Experimental Gourmand has decided to hang out in her old stomping grounds in West London for a few days.  Her youngest sister kindly offered to post her experiences about re-visiting a high-end restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia.

I know most people believe that whatever line they get into will automatically become the longest one but it is actually very true with me.  And it is not only with lines at the store.  The seat I pick in the movie theater will be next to a ten-year-old who will repeat every line and then laugh. I was in a shop in Puerto Rico when fifteen drunk, obnoxious Brazilians came in, and, an hour later, I picked the same restaurant on the boardwalk twenty minutes away where they had also decided to grace the world with their obnoxiousness.  When these things happen, my boyfriend Kelly simply smiles, shakes his head and says, "it's just like picking a line." 

On Tuesday a couple of weeks ago, we decided to get dressed up and go out to a nice restaurant for the first time in our three plus years of dating.  He let me pick and knowing how he does not like the French, I asked if it was okay to go to a French restaurant.  L'Auberge Chez Francois is one of my Mom's favorite and when the economy was good, you could not get a reservation there even two weeks in advance.  I had not been in probably fifteen years so I wanted to try it and Kelly agreed to go in with an open mind.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!  Even if you, like me, are sweetheart-less this year, I hope that you find a way to share the day with the folks whom you love and care about and who love and care about you (or at least reach out to them on Facebook).

These gorgeous treats are a present that I'm bringing to a friend I'll see next weekend.  They are from Sweet Loren's, who won the Next BIG Small Brand competition.  Not only do they look good, but I can also personally attest as to how delicious they are.  Loren and her wares were at the Brooklyn Winery yesterday, so this was another great excuse to grab some last-minute holiday gifts (the other is that the New Amsterdam Market is still open for today).

Today is going to be my last real-time post for another couple of weeks.  For better or worse, I have given the keys to the blog to some of my nearest and dearest while I am out of town having some adventures and exploring some great new food things to share with everyone when I return.  My siblings (and in-laws) have very kindly offered to post some of their food-related stories.

This idea sort of came from one of my sisters (the one in this post).  She said isn't it interesting how a group of us all raised in the same household, with more or less the same cultural and culinary influences (our parents) each have a different relationship and love of food.  Some of use really like to eat and cook and try new things, some of us are o.k. with that but not adventurous, and some are really meh about food in general.

We also all now live in different parts of the country and around the world so that adds to the variety of the experiences we brought with us when we relocated our lives and have collected based upon where we live right now.  For those who are married and have children, those experiences have changed even more.  I hope that you enjoy reading these stories.  Aside from cooking and eating, as those who know us personally can tell you, the other thing we all love to do the most when we get together as a family is to tell stories.

Buon appetito!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Amsterdam Market Valentine’s Market & Apothecary

If you, like me, have been having withdrawal symptoms from the New Amsterdam Market’s weekly gatherings of this fall, visiting their Valentine’s Market & Apothecary was a bright ray of sunshine for this cold Saturday.  Held in their educational space on Front Street, this was a perfect chance to pick up some unique artisan gifts for the special people (or person) in your life. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Blogger Round Robin

This year, we're spreading the love around a little bit on the blog-o-sphere.  Friend and local market expert, Karen of Markets of New York City rounded up some of her blogger colleagues, including me, to co-post our write-ups for Valentine's Day.  Here are the links below to connect with some other great writers and hopefully discover some new favorites to follow!
Andrea Davis: Pure Food Nutrition: Valentine’s Day Chocolate: Good & Good for You?
The Bitchy Waiter:  Fuck Cupid
Brooklyn Flea:  You Gotta Have Heart
The Experimental Gourmand: :  Valentine’s Day Special Dinner
Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market  A Blog Affair to Remember  
Kumquat Cupcakery:  My Messy Pink Kitchen  
Markets of New York City :  Love is in the Air: Three Great Valentine’s Dates at the Markets
Metalicious Jewelry:  Well Hello February 

Valentine’s Day Special Dinner – Roast Chicken, Potato Gratin, and Apple Tart

Sometimes I wonder if we are so focused on Valentine’s Day as a particular day that we forget to recognize all those little things that we do throughout the year to show our affection and regard for the people whom we love.  Because I talk about on food and eating in my blog, this usually manifests itself in cooking a special meal or baking a little treat that you know someone likes.  It can even be about fixing dinner and cleaning up afterwards some evening when you know that your sweetie has had a rough day.  When I lived in the UK many years ago, having a roommate make an extra mug of very strong, sweet, milky tea for you when he/she was making his/her own mug was akin to saying, “I know today was a bad one, but it will get better.”

These are the sorts of pick-me-ups that keep us going in life, especially during the harder moments.  When folks ask me, then, what I think is a good meal for Valentine’s Day, I often recommend the straightforward, simpler dishes, in keeping with the wintry season during which the day falls.  A hearty roast chicken can make a house smell like home.  For my tastebuds and stomach, nothing is better than serving a gooey, cheesy, creamy potato dish alongside it.  Then, have something green (broccoli, broccolini, spinach, kale, it doesn’t really matter).  For dessert, I like to pick something that I can make, preferably in advance, that doesn’t take a lot of time. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

We Have a Fine & Raw Chocolate Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations to GANDORF57 whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!!  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway.  The feedback on my article regarding this product was very interesting to read.  

This is indeed a unique take on chocolate and on the tastes that we normally associate with it.  If you would like to try some for yourself to test out your own impressions of it, please click on Fine & Raw Chocolate to order some directly from Daniel.  I recommend picking up the two-piece Bonbon as a Valentine's Day present to yourself!

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Eats+Apps at Social Media Week NYC

Last night, at 4Food, whose goal is to introduce healthier fast food to us burger-lovers, food media folks engaged their inner tech geeks and got together for Eats+Apps as part of Social Media Week NYC.  The event was sold out, which just highlights that connection between new technology ideas and those of us who love food and cooking and that many of us are looking for ways to communicate that to a broader audience.  While the internet is fantastic and has, for many people, like myself, been a way to explore recipes and menu ideas, the navigation of all of that information can sometimes be daunting and frustrating.

This event was an opportunity for food community networking as well as for those of us who write about food topics to preview some interesting new apps (iPadiPhone, and Android) that might be valuable additions to anyone's media library.  As someone who test-drove the iPad for about a week and who is in the market for an iPhone now that Verizon is a carrier, I am just the kind of candidate for several of these products.  It was great to have an opportunity to talk to their creators in person last night.  Some of these are definitely on my must-have list.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We Have a Slickepott Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations to Beth Elderton whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!!  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway.  It was great to see everyone's comments about the name of this product and to see how many folks were interested in trying it.  For those of you who would like to buy some directly from Slickepott, please click on this order link to buy some directly from the company.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Product Giveaway - Fine & Raw Chocolate

Just in the nick of time for Valentine's Day, I picked up from Daniel at Fine & Raw Chocolate a small sampling of what I thought were the highlights of his collection.  The prize package for this giveaway is 1 Mesquite bar, 1 Lucuma & Vanilla bar, and 1 of the 2-piece Bonbon all gathered together in a pouch decorated with a heart.  Here's how to participate in this contest:

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only, as this is a perishable product. 

To Enter:  Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What did the Mesquite bar remind me of (hint: it's in the previous post about this chocolate)?

You must also have a valid screen name (not "Anonymous") with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway.  I'll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner.

Deadline:  Is Wednesday, February 9th at 5:00 p.m. EST, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments.  (I'm going to be strict about this and make no exceptions.)  

The Outcome:  Only one winner will be chosen for the whole package.  I'm going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.  

This contest is also listed at

Product Spotlight - Fine & Raw Chocolate

Fine & Raw Chocolate is one of those unique products that just reawakens your senses to the possibility of what a food you have eaten time and again can taste like when reinterpreted by someone who has discovered a new point of view on it.  After a career in financial services with its long hours, hectic pace, and grueling workload, Daniel Sklaar, decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle.  This took him in the direction of exploring the raw foods movement and its philosophy.

At the same time, as he confessed during our conversation at his Brooklyn loft headquarters, just a few steps away from the waterfront, he has a sweet tooth, too.  His chocolate combines both of these aspects, creating flavors and textures that I haven't discovered anywhere else.  When I tasted some of the product line on my visit to his offices, I was reminded again of this.

I first met Daniel at the Brooklyn Flea's Gifted Market back in December.  As I passed by his table, I hesitated before talking to him.  More holiday chocolate sellers?  More candy stalls?  I honestly wasn't sure that I wanted to subject my tastebuds to yet another sampling of artisan sweets.  I'd had already discovered some really great handmade treats at other markets and had filled up my gift bags with them.  Now, I'm glad that I paused that day to try his wares as they really are something special.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Product Giveaway - Slickepott Fudge Sauce

If you would like to get your hands on some of the wonderful Slickepott all-natural fudge sauce that I wrote about in my previous post, you are in luck!  Ian graciously gave me a jar to give away to one lucky reader (hopefully to be shared with that reader's sweetheart). Here's how to participate in this contest:

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only, as this is a perishable product. 

To Enter:  Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question:  What language is the name Slickepott? (hint - go to the "About" section on their website and click on "The Story.")

You must also have a valid screen name with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway.  I'll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner.

Deadline:  Is Tuesday, February 8th at noon EST, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments.  (I'm going to be strict about this and make no exceptions.)  

The Outcome:  Only one winner will be chosen.  I'm going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.  

This contest is also listed at

Product Spotlight - Slickepott Fudge Sauce

I remember my mother's homemade chocolate sauce very well.  She didn't make it all that often, usually also around the time that she would make homemade ice cream.  The taste of it is, however, firmly imprinted on the part of my brain that stores childhood food memories.  There's only been a few times that I've eaten another product that even came close to the same thing.  Slickepott Fudge Sauce is one of these.

This past holiday season, when I was poking around a church gift sale with a friend, I met Ian, the company's founder.  Standing behind a table with rows of innocent looking glass jars filled with his chocolate creation, he offered my friend and me a small sample to try.  I reluctantly took one, not expecting anything special.  As soon as the flavors hit my tongue, my brain cells started to process the reaction, and I was hooked.

The fresh, creamy, silky-smooth chocolately taste lovingly wrapped itself around my tastebuds like a favorite blanket or beloved sweater, comforting and homey.  One bite brought back all the warm memories of the times we'd ask my mother to make her homemade sauce.  Yesterday, Ian was in the city and was kind enough to give me some of his time to talk about Slickepott and how he came to make a business of this delicious creation.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

We Have a Giveaway Winner!!! And some other Superbowl Game Day Recipes

Congratulations to Caren!!!!  According to the Randomizer, she is the winner of the Brooklyn Salsa Company giveaway.  What a great way to kick off the Superbowl!  She picked the Packers to win the big game.  Actually, in the end it was an even split between Packers fans and Steelers fans, so we'll see how that turns out on Sunday night.

If you are still looking for ideas as to what to serve for game day, here's some of the recipes I've pulled from my archives to give you some ideas.  I'm not exactly sure where I'll be watching the game this weekend.  The options range from a. my couch to b. a sushi place on the West Side to c. a house party to which I've been invited to d. the divey Irish bar a block over from where I live.  No matter where you are or where you catch the game, I hope that at least you'll have some great food to snack on during the festivities.

Buon appetito!

All Images and Text copyright by The Experimental Gourmand 2005-2011. All rights reserved.