Category Archives: Farmers Market

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Mama Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jessica Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Jessica Bullock

Imagine your life filled with music – and good food. Doesn’t it sound like the perfect day, home, mealtime? For food and music writer Jessica Bullock, those two subjects go hand in hand. Her website, MamaBullock.com, is one of the most interesting food sites I’ve seen in a long time – not only for the delicious recipes, but the creativity involved with her music pairings. I had a chance to talk with Jessica, and was simultaneously inspired and amazed by the way she lives music and good food.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Banana bread

Jessica notes:
I’m a post-production producer by day and a food & music blogger by night. I live in Chicagoland, and I have a husband and three sons, 6, 4, and 1 month. My blog, mamabullock.com, is where you’ll find inspired food and music, good for the soul. If music is the language of love, food is the manifestation of love. No matter where you come from, food and music remind us that we are universally creative and loving human beings. That’s why I pair a piece of music with every recipe on the site. You can listen while you cook.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Fruit Pizza

Mama Bullock is for foodies who don’t have a lot of time for meal prep but enjoy cooking and listening to great music. As a working mom, I know how difficult (impossible) it is to have delicious and healthy meals ready for the family every night. Mama Bullock is all about creating delicious food without having to make everything from scratch, while avoiding the packaged, full-of-crap meals you find in boxes in the middle of the grocery store.

In addition to creating recipes, the site is also about sharing products, ideas, and healthy eating tips. One of my most important goals is to educate as many people as possible about how both food and music can be used as medicine. I cook. I eat. I listen. I share.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Tangy arugula with crispy lemon chicken

See? She’s amazing! I asked Jessica about how she decided to pair music with food. Her answer was longer – and more interesting – than I expected. Are you surprised to discover that music is a big part of her life? She grew up exposed to a variety of music, from church to jug bands. What? I know! I listened carefully as she said that her parents had a jug band for years – and that her dad can play the 1812 overture on his jug (and he was named best jug player in the world)! She loved going to blues clubs, and then started in orchestra, playing the viola.

As you can imagine, when Jessica said that music has been the common thread throughout her life, I nodded. I could see this even more so when she talked about her kids and gave tips on how to get kids to love music. Her husband was a professional DJ (see where I’m going with this?), and they always have music in their house, from playing the piano to a variety of music to listen and dance to. Perhaps the best part was when she said her 6 year old’s favorite composer is John Williams, because of all his incredible superhero movie soundtracks (genius kid!). Talking with Jessica has inspired me to incorporate more music into our lives – and my teen is one happy listener! She’s now the house DJ, following in Jessica’s footsteps, pairing music with our meals.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Glazed carrots

And on to the food that Jessica shares on Mama Bullock. She noted that buying good food is really important – and advises people to look for locally grown, sustainable food. But there’s not just great recipes (and great music) on her site. She also includes gourmet hacks, such as making things from scratch easily. Through her work, she tries to educate about the health benefits of certain foods, and help others. For, as she says, “not only is food medicine (there’s evidence of preventive health care and reversing ailments through food), but musical therapy can also help people. Music therapy (music as medicine) is helping people with Alzheimer’s and stroke patients, as well as people in nursing homes. Life gets better when you have music. Music should be important to our whole life – and it’s good for our health!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
One-pot meals of any kind.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Forgotten celery. Wine. Lemon juice. Did I mention wine?

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – the everything cookie.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Witty banter.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Criticism.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Vermonter sandwich

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail-y wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lidia Bastianich or Spike Mendelsohn. I like laid back, gracious writing and simple food made delicious.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A good sound system.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean for its simplicity and use of fresh herbs.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Depends. What are we drinking?

Favorite vegetable?
Avocado

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Detox Smoothie

Chef you most admire?
All of them. It’s a tough gig. My hometown favorite is Rick Bayless. The food is inspired, delicious, and healthy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with tender loving care is usually wonderful.

Food you dislike the most?
I really hate boiled zucchini.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Walk in the woods and be musical.

Who do you most admire in food?
People who are taking the time to feed and educate lower-income communities with urban gardens. Also doctors who are committed to the proliferation of using food as medicine.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At my dining table with friends and family.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Crispy Peaches

What is your favorite restaurant?
I pretty much stick to the West Loop in Chicago. I really like La Serina Clandestina mostly because I can’t get enough of Chef John Manion’s kale salad and daily empanada creation, but also it’s just a cool place with a cool vibe and great cocktails. I also love a place called La Luce. It’s super yummy Italian with a great staff. It’s the kind of place you take your grandparents to and visit for hours.

Do you have any tattoos?
No, I’m not that cool.

 

Recipe: Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

6 oz cherry tomatoes
6 oz sweet corn
6 oz cooked black beans
1 palmfull chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp course sea salt
1/2 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp lime juice

Wash and cut cherry tomatoes in half, length-wise. Combine tomatoes, corn and beans into a large bowl. Add 1/2 the cilantro, salt, agave syrup and lime juice. Mix well. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve chilled as a salad or with chips as a salsa. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Music Pairing:

This recipe lets the vegetables speak for themselves. The only thing added is salt, lime, cilantro, and syrup. Today’s music pairing is a duo who lets the music speak for itself. No frills. Just two guitars. These two are from Mexico City but got their start in Dublin, Ireland during an eight-year stint playing pubs. They’re what I’d call “flamenco rock.” Both on acoustic guitar, they grew up with flamenco, jazz, and rock – but also love heavy metal, which comes through in their sound. They’ve been performing together since 1999, and have released five studio albums together. They’ve collaborated on movie soundtracks, performed at the White House, and continue to tour around the world. They’re also vegan, so I thought it a good pairing for today’s recipe, which is clearly Mexican-inspired, like the music. Please enjoy Rodrigo y Gabriela, performing live at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival.

HAPPY EATING + HAPPY LISTENING!

 

Note: All the gorgeous food photos? Discover the recipes on her site!

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende

In a guidebook on Mexico, the writer said San Miguel de Allende is a “bit like a Mexican Disneyland” for foreign retirees and Mexico City residents (chilangos). It’s nothing of the sort. There aren’t any grand amusements or incredibly expensive stuffed toys. Granted, there are many English-speaking expatriates from around the world living or owning property. Yet, San Miguel de Allende’s charm is the cobblestone streets, delicious food, and the preservation of its 17th – 18th century architecture. Within the city of almost 150,000, there are families who have lived in the colonial town for as long as they could remember. While Mexico City and much of the world build sleek hotels with faster gigabyte downloads times, the internet connection at one of the luxury hotels is like driving on a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour: inch by inch, than stopping. That’s its allure.
El Pegaso. i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de AllendeMuch of the town, including El Jardin, the picturesque hub, is relatively unchanged. The facades of the building have been beaten on for more than three hundred years by the elements and drinkers of all persuasions, yet the bright yellow, orange, red and sometimes, Mexican blue are still vibrantly fresh. The majority of the city’s homes open into an outdoor courtyard, fanning out to salas (rooms). It’s all very formal and European, which is how San Miguel de Allende feels – old-fashioned without the stuffiness. Kids still play with sticks. Adults play chess or smoke cigarettes while taking their coffee in the parks.

Food shopping is a delicious adventure and the markets are the area’s heart. Mexico’s bounty in food, craftsmanship, and kindness is found at Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, located by the statue of founder General Ignacio Allende. One can find fresh handmade tortillas, carnitas to purchase by the pound, and cut fruit with a sprinkle of cayenne, as well as staples like toilet paper and cleaners. There are wagons full of dried and fresh peppers, freshly slaughtered pork and chickens, and stalls where women are making tamales and hand-loomed clothing. Wander. Get lost. Eating lunch will set a couple back a whopping three bucks.

Chef and owner Azucena Tovar, of Scottsdale’s Los Sombreros, grew up in San Miguel de Allende with eleven brothers and sisters, says, “It was such a privilege to be part of the town. Riding a horse on Mexican Independence Day, twirling herbs on Good Friday. There were so many things to participate in San Miguel, it was a full-time job.”

Breakfast: El Pegaso

El Pegaso. i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende

Sitting on the corner of a busy cobblestoned intersection, one wants to bypass the place. It seems a little too American, too whitewashed underneath the south of the border orange and yellow. However, as norteamericano as it is, the food is good, with excellent moles and salsas, cacti salads that are palatable for food tourists, yet easy for the non-adventurous as well. It was the first place I had eaten Mexican “escamole,” or ant larvae, an Aztec delicacy.

Escamoles - ant larvae. From i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende
i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de AllendeSuggestions: Chilaquiles con Huevos are spicy and warm. The totopos are served with a guajillo sauce and topped with eggs anyway you want them. I preferred poached. Also, this was the first place I had eaten Aztec caviar – ant larvae. A Mexican delicacy as reflected in the high price, my friend Penny and I shared a plate. It was slightly nutty and crunchy, with the taste of cottage cheese. Eaten with some guacamole and tortillas, it was delicious.

Address: Corregidora 6, Centro 37700 San Miguel de Allende, GTO. Mexico
Phone: + 52 415 156 7611
Website: https://www.facebook.com/elpegasosma/
Hours: Thursday – Tuesday, 8:30am – – 10:00pm. Closed Wednesdays
Lunch: Mercado Ignacio Ramirez

Mercado Ignacio Ramirez: The central market of San Miguel de Allende. From i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende

The central market of San Miguel de Allende, for both gringos and natives . Pick-up some freshly made tortillas and some roasted carnitas, sit at one of the parks and go at it.
Suggestions: See above. You can also grab some tamales which have been freshly made.
Address: Colegio, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mexico
Phone: +52 415 154 4011
Hours: Seven days a week, 8:00am – 6:30pm

Cocktails: Casa de Sierra Nevada

Cocktails at Casa de Sierra Nevada. From i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de AllendeA few blocks up from the El Jardin is Casa de Sierra Nevada, the legendary hotel, located in four separate buildings that were all former mansions. It’s an unusual hotel because there isn’t a main lobby. There are two restaurants located a quarter of a mile away from each other, while the spa is a small house. Many of the Mexican presidents have vacationed here, including Vincente Fox and Miguel de la Madrid. Built in the late 17th century, there is nothing like the property. There are newer places in town to lay your weary head, but none quite as romantic and as scenic. Have a glass of tequila on the rocks at The Blue Bar with its soaring ceilings, azul-colored walls, and wooden tables. Although Hemingway never stayed here, it has that presence, like Venice’s Harry Bar.
Suggestions: Tequila on the rocks. It’s the drink of choice for many Mexicans or a margarita but don’t ask for it frozen.
Address: Hospicio 35, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
Website: http://www.belmond.com/casa-de-sierra-nevada-san-miguel-de-allende/
Hours: Open daily.

Dinner: The Restaurant

The Restaurant. i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende

There have been many accolades heaped on the American expat and chef Danny Masterson, who moved to San Miguel in 2005 for a simpler form of life. He’s brought an international flavor to the dining scene in the colonial town by taking it out of the resorts. It’s not Mexican food, although it is made in Mexico. Masterson’s food has elements of French technique using local farm ingredients, such as cheeses and produce. It’s a must if you are going to eat in San Miguel de Allende, but expect a leisurely dinner. Your meal could last from opening to closing – which is a very good thing.
Suggestions: Personally, I like the food where he has touches of Mexican, with American and maybe a little French, Japanese, or Argentinian. The menu changes often – not like El Pegaso – so it would be foolish to recommend something.
Address: Solano 16, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Website: www.therestaurantsanmiguel.com
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday – Wednesday, 12:00pm – 10:00pm. Thursday – Saturday, 12:00pm – 11:00am.

Where to stay: Casa de Sierra Nevada

Casa de Sierra Nevada. From i8tonite: a Cheat Sheet to Eating in San Miguel de Allende

It’s not a typical hotel, since the property is spread out over four buildings. It’s kind of like getting four separate experiences. It’s what gives it a uniqueness. As far as luxury hotels go, it has the spa, the pool, the restaurants, and the turndown service, but you half expect Zorro to come riding up to save the day. Located in the city center, the property is steeped in romance and magic.

Learn more: http://www.belmond.com/casa-de-sierra-nevada-san-miguel-de-allende/

 

The end. Go eat.

i8tonite with Salt Lake City’s Global Foodie Stormy Sweitzer & recipes for Out of the Box Mayan Brownies and Key Lime Coconut Bars

I8tonite with Salt Lake City's Global Foodie Stormy Sweitzer & recipes for Out of the Box Mayan Brownies and Key Lime Coconut Bars
Haul from Rancho Market, the pan-Latino market we visit on the tour

After Stormy Sweitzer developed a plethora of food sensitivites several years ago, she turned to her travel experience for recipe inspiration. Many international cuisines do not typically use the wheat and dairy products she needed to cut out of her diet, so she started shopping at the ethnic food markets in town.

There is a tremendous international community in Salt Lake City. (In part, due to the fact that SLC is a designated refugee-receiving area, has a large research university, and many foreign-born members of the LDS community immigrate to Utah, as families or new spouses.) As a result, there are a lot of interesting stores, restaurants, and artisan food products from around the globe to explore. And she wanted to introduce interested locals to them. Stormy has offered the tours for about four years now, just a few times each year, through the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning Program, as well as through private tours.

She sees the class as a gateway to exploration. Her goals are to pique people’s curiosity, encourage them to play with incorporating foreign flavors into everyday cooking (as opposed to becoming expert at international cuisine), and learn how to navigate the shops and ingredients available in their community with confidence.

I8tonite with Salt Lake City's Global Foodie Stormy Sweitzer & recipes for Out of the Box Mayan Brownies and Key Lime Coconut Bars
Teaching before the tour

On the tour, Stormy notes, “We eat our way around town, snacking on Indian Samosas and Chinese BBQ pork buns, having lunch at the restaurant inside of the pan-Latino market, and ending with cardamom spiced tea and chocolate-covered date-covered almonds or samples of fresh dates if they are season. The owners of the shops love that each time I hold a tour, I am introducing new customers to their stores and their home cuisines.”

“Most of the people that join my tours are recently-retired folks who are bored with their cooking and want to shake things up a bit now that they have time to play in the kitchen, friends who want to spend the day exploring together, and young foodies who love to cook and want a guide for their culinary adventures. Many have driven by the shops we visit a million times, but did not feel comfortable going in because they didn’t know what to expect or what to do even if they saw something interesting. “

Stormy notes that she gets a lot of participants by word-of-mouth. They eat something amazing at a dinner party thrown by a past participant and then want to know where their host learned to make ginger and black sesame crusted tuna or cactus fruit syrup over ice cream or where they found the ingredients to pull off a green curry with fresh spring rolls and grilled bok choy. One past participant even wrote to tell her that after the tour, and her subsequent kitchen play, she was planning a trip to Mexico to take a week long cooking workshop.

Best of all, Stormy says, “I do not teach people how to cook. I just invite them to taste, smell, touch, and explore the foods we encounter and to eat together. It is a very sensory, community experience. And, I talk about everyday uses for (e.g., add curry powder to their tuna salad, or a little Thai basil and lime juice to fresh watermelon), storage of, and resources to guide the preparation of the ingredients they decide to try.”

Stormy is a professional problem-solver, everyday explorer, and co-author, with her husband/collaborator Will Swanepoel, of the YA environmental spy thriller The Drowning Shark (which I love!). You can learn about the book at SierraRouge.com and more about Stormy’s work and recipes at StormySweitzer.com.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):
What is your favorite food to cook at home?
My husband makes a killer biryani. I am happy to play a supporting role.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
A lebanese garlic, olive oil and lemon juice condiment called toum made by Salt Lake City producer Laziz. We cook with it like nothing else.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Curiosity. About anything. It makes for interesting conversation and enjoyment of the meal.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Cell phone use.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
I love a good cocktail, but what I drink really depends on the season.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Karen A. Page and Andrew Dornenburg, co-authors of my favorite cooking resource: The Flavor Bible.

I8tonite with Salt Lake City's Global Foodie Stormy Sweitzer & recipes for Out of the Box Mayan Brownies and Key Lime Coconut Bars
Coconut knife found at SouthEast Asian Market used for pitting a cherry (one of Stormy’s favorite kitchen tools)

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My lemon squeezer and a coconut knife I found at a local Asian market; I use it to pit cherries in the summer.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Indian and Mexican.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork, although I’ve been eating way less animal protein lately than I normally do.

Favorite vegetable?
Kabocha squash. I eat it a few times a week in different ways: smoothie, roasted, soup, etc.

Chef you most admire?
Honestly, I’m a hole-in-the-wall-restaurant kind of eater.

Food you like the most to eat?
My mom’s homemade refried beans and rice. It’s what I grew up eating.

Food you dislike the most?
Gluten wreaks havoc on my system, but I would rather face the consequences of eating wheat bread occasionally or avoid bread altogether than eat a gluten-free substitute.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Read. Voraciously.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
I travel a lot, so any place recommended by locals that leaves me thankful for having tried it is great in my book.

What is your favorite restaurant?
La Cai Noodle House, our favorite Vietnamese spot.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Yes. None.

I8tonite with Salt Lake City's Global Foodie Stormy Sweitzer & recipes for Out of the Box Mayan Brownies and Key Lime Coconut Bars
Belize-inspired key lime bars and easy Mayan Brownies

Recipe: Out of the Box Mayan Brownies

This recipe makes the most of traditional Mayan flavors…cocoa, citrus, cinnamon, chile, and vanilla… with the ease of your favorite store-bought fudge brownie mix. If you would like to use your own homemade brownie recipe in place of a mix, simply follow your own recipe’s instructions for eggs and oil/butter, and then add the extra cocoa, cinnamon, habañero, vanilla, walnuts and orange zest in the amounts listed below.

Ingredients
1 package fudge brownie mix
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
2 eggs
8 Tbsp melted butter or 8 Tbsp walnut oil (adds richness)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp finely minced habañero chile pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp orange zest

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8″x8″ pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brownie mix, cocoa, and cinnamon. Add eggs, butter/oil, and vanilla and mix well. Fold in habañero, walnuts, and zest.
Pour batter into pan. Bake according to package instructions, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook or edges will harden.

Recipe: Key Lime Coconut Bars

These Belize-inspired treats are packed full of flavor and will transport you to the tropics. You can make them gluten-free by using rice flour instead of all-purpose baking flour made from wheat. For a bit of a kick, add the optional habañero to the filling. Makes ~15 bars.

For crust
• 1 cup shredded non-sweetened coconut
• 1 ½ cups flour (all-purpose or rice)
• ½ cup powdered sugar + more for dusting
• 10 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces (for dairy-free option, use vegan butter alternative)
For filling
• ¼ cup cups flour (all-purpose or rice)
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 5 large eggs
• 2 cups sugar
• 2/3 cup key lime juice (~15 medium key limes)
• 2 teaspoons grated key lime zest
• ¼ tsp finely minced habañero chile pepper

Instructions
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Heat sauté pan to medium heat. Pour in 1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds and pan toast it, stirring continuously to prevent it from burning.
• Prepare crust in a large mixing bowl, by first combining the flour, ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of the toasted coconut. Cut the butter into the flour-coconut mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
• Pour flour-coconut mixture into a lightly-greased 9-by-13-inch pan, and press it into the bottom of the pan (not the sides). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven.
• While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling in a separate mixing bowl. Beating the eggs together well. Then, add in lime juice, lime zest, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and optional habañero. Mix well. Quick tips: wear gloves when handling the habañero; your eyes will thank you later. ¼ tsp habañero is just enough to add a tiny, occasional bite; add more or less to taste. If you squeeze your own lime juice, strain it before adding it to the mix – it will help remove unwanted pulp and seeds.
• Pour filling into cooled crust and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
• Cool completely and chill until ready to serve. Cut into 2-inch squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

 

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran’s 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk PorkThe petite picturesque coastal town of Hermosa Beach, along with its sister sandlots, Manhattan and Redondo, has never been known as a culinary hub. Typical Southern California seaside fare of good burgers, sustainable salads and grilled meats paired with frothy beers and California wines is de rigueur.   Yet, epicures who love the waves between their toes and food prepared with culinary prowess can now have both at the few weeks old Baran’s 2239 and their chef Tyler Gugliotta, using South of the Border and Asian influences.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe. Photo Kent Kanouse
Photo Kent Kanouse

Generally speaking, food made by a cook of some repute can be had at any of the Golden State’s seaside hotels, which dot the Pacific Coast Highway. Luxury resorts such as Monterey’s Post Ranch Inn, Aubergine in Carmel-By-The-Sea, or The Resort at Pelican Hill’s Andrea in Newport Beach come to mind, yet it’s difficult to find independent dining. With Gugliotta, his ambition is to change that direction – and with his background, he just might. His father, a chef who cooks at Shugrue’s in Lake Havasu, Arizona – and his aunt and uncle own noted Weiser Farms, one of California’s best producers of root vegetables – so food is in his blood.

Interestingly, Gugliotta’s first love and his college major was English Literature. He was planning to become a professor but when he got on the kitchen line, all bets were off. On why he changed career directions, “Honestly, it was the creative aspect. As a young cook, I wanted to be mixing my own flavors, putting together my tastes.”

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe. Photo by Robin Kanouse
Photo by Robin Kanouse

His menus are fairly sophisticated for a sleepy seashore town – and, rightly, are a perfect stage for his family’s farms vegetable fortune. There is the nod to Gugliotta’s Italian roots with spigarello (broccoli leaves) with cauliflower, cannellini beans, and garlic scapes; plus, the bounty of California’s seasonality with white asparagus, chanterelle, and truffles. Then on the meat side a pork char sui with a crispy coleslaw or housemade chorizo verde.

More importantly, the thirty-one year old is excited to be elevating the food scene in his hometown, presenting exciting California cuisine with inspirations from his travels to Mexico, the Pan-Pacific, and Europe. And, the Hermosa Beach gourmands, flip-flops and board shorts, are happy to have him.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust); 

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe
Photo by Monica Simpson

How long have you been cooking? Cooking since 8 years old, but professionally for 10 years.

What is your favorite food to cook? Anything with chilies.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese.

What do you cook at home? I like to grill.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer ?Adventurous.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? No shows.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork RecipeTupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Deli cups.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Beer when I’m thirsty, wine with food, cocktails on my day off.

Your favorite cookbook author? Escoffier.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My hands.

Your favorite ingredient? Cilantro.

Your least favorite ingredient? Not big on tripe. Hate canned vegetables.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork RecipeLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Mexican/ Italian/Southeast Asian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? All but tofu.

Favorite vegetable? Chilies.

Chef you most admire? My Dad.

Food you like the most to eat? Tacos/sandwiches.

Food you dislike the most? Fake meat products.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? One tattoo which is of food.

Recipe: Jerk pork Tenderloin – Chef Tyler Gugliotta

  • 2 cups chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 habanero peppers, seed for less spice (i leave them in)
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin

Blend or food process all ingredients, and pour into a ziploc bag with the pork. Marinade for at least three hours, but the day before works best. Grill until caramelized, about 4-6 mins a side and the internal temp is 140.

 

–       The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe“Who doesn’t love cake?” Thus my introduction to Holly Farrell began, when I called her at her gardener’s cottage on an estate in the UK, near the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. Farrell is a serious gardener, mom of a toddler, and the author of Grow Your Own Cake: Recipes from Pot to Plate, a genius book that is both a backyard gardening guide and cookbook. The beautiful, inspiring photos are by Jason Ingram.

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeFarrell has a delicious twist to her cake recipes, though – she has a vegetable garden devoted to all things cake. How did this come about?

In college, Farrell majored in history. Which led, curiously, to gardening. What? Yes, well, love entered the picture, too, as you’ll find out in a moment. She got the growing bug working at a chili pepper farm, after which she trained at RHS Gardens Wisley, where she gained the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and the RHS Certificate and Diploma, both with Commendation – and met her husband! They now live on the country estate where he is the Head Gardener.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeSoon, she started writing garden books – and freelancing on kitchen gardens for private clients. Now one thing that’s a bit unusual, you’d think, for gardeners – sometimes the accommodations where they lived didn’t have big gardens, because the estate had such extensive gardens! So, she has been growing her own fruit and vegetables for many years, in a variety of settings, from allotments to container gardens. I think for Farrell, gardening is like breathing – something you do no matter where you are. It was amazing to hear her clear passion for gardening –  and her love of teaching how to grow things – from across the pond.

Farrell has always cooked, and always liked cake. This book is a glorious combination of the two, where ingredients you never thought would be in a cake are the stars – or the firmament.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
lavender shortbread cookies

She hopes to inspire people to expand their gardens – and palates. This book will appeal to gardeners who are already growing, and bakers who have never gardened, too. Using freshly grown ingredients (including herbs and flowers) – especially from your own hand and land – makes such a difference. Can’t grow much? Start with herbs in pots on your windowsill, and get the rest from local farmers at your farmer’s market.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Rose cake

I love this book, for it teaches much in both the garden and the kitchen. If you know one, skip ahead to the other. But the recipes (50 of them!) shine, I will be honest. Her chapters include spring and summer cakes, autumn and winter cakes, afternoon tea, pudding, and savory bakes. When I asked what readers might be surprised about her book, Farrell mentions that she while she loves gardening, she doesn’t grow her own wheat, or raises cows and chickens – and the recipe that raises the most eyebrows is the savory cheesecake (you know I flipped right to that page after our afternoon chat, and indeed, I was both intrigued and impressed. Making soon!).

As a mom, I asked Farrell for tips were to get kids started baking (and gardening) early. She said to start early by baking sweet stuff! And while plenty of people are great at hiding vegetables in a cake, that’s not what she’s about. She prefers getting kids to appreciate growing things, picking, and then cooking them. Their time and efforts are rewarded and they’ll want to try it again (and again).

I was impressed with Farrell’s philosophy on gardening, eating, and life. She noted that, “so much goes into the experience of eating – where you are, who you’re with, if the sun is shining, etc. The cakes in the book will taste good, but hopefully you’ll be in a good place, a garden, and the satisfaction of having grown it yourself will make it better.”

To that end, she’s shared two recipes to inspire you.

Questionnaire, with a nod to Proust:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Or anything involving cheese.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter and eggs, and parmesan cheese (see above).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I’m terrible at deciding between dishes in restaurants, so it’s always nice when they order the other choice so I can try both!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Poor table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Too many to choose, but for the writing, Nigel Slater and recently Ruby Tandoh.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My silicone spatula.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Anything sweet – pudding, dessert, cake…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken, but I couldn’t live without pancetta for ragu.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Pea Cheesecake (told you. Make one!)

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli – it’s what I crave when I’m under the weather, but for baking with, carrots.

Chef you most admire?
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall do great work with their campaigns for better food.

Food you like the most to eat?
I couldn’t live without chocolate.

Food you dislike the most?
Visible fat on meat – I just can’t stomach chewing it. Or semolina and rice puddings, a school-dinner legacy.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Gardening.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Pollan writes so well, and his Food Rules is brilliant.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At the kitchen table with my husband and daughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
The best meals I’ve ever had out were at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, and at a little place called Da Enzo in Rome.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Hah! No, sorry, I’m not nearly rock and roll (or brave) enough for tattoos.

Growing Carrots & Carrot Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Grow your own carrots…

G R O W CARROTS
When I first started growing my own vegetables, I had a friend who thought carrots is carrots is carrots. I presented him with my home-grown roots for dinner, pulled from the soil that afternoon. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘so that’s what carrots are supposed to taste like.’

BEST VARIETIES
For recipes that call for blended or grated carrot, sweet, juicy, long, blunt-ended varieties are best, such as ‘Sugarsnax 54’, ‘St Valery’,
any of the ‘Nantes’ type or the shorter ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for growing in pots. When using whole carrots, as in Root veg
tarte Tatin, baby carrot varieties such as ‘Paris Market’ are a good choice, and also suitable for growing in pots.

PLANTING
Sow carrots in a sunny spot in spring, and again at intervals until late summer. Scatter the seed thinly in a drill in well-prepared soil free from large stones. Small carrots can be grown in pots, and this is actually preferable to growing them in heavy clay soils.

MAINTENANCE
Carrot flies are attracted by the scent of the foliage so avoid brushing it while tending the plants. To protect the crop from such pests, cover with horticultural fleece or fine mesh. Clear plastic tunnels can also be used if aired daily. Check the edges and folds regularly for slugs and snails. Thin the seedlings once the roots have grown to a usable size, leaving one plant every 10cm/4cm or so.

HARVEST
Satisfying as it is to just pull up carrots using the foliage, this should be avoided so the root does not break; instead use a fork to lever them out of the ground. Carrot thinnings provide the first harvest, while the main crop will be ready around four months after sowing.

Recipe: CARROT CAKE

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
for this amazing carrot cake!

Perhaps the most well-known of all the vegetable cakes, and with good reason, carrot cake comes in many guises. This sponge version is lightly spiced, moist and includes a zesty buttercream. It is light enough for baking with fresh, sweet carrots in summer.

MAKES A TWO-LAYER CAKE
YOU WILL NEED
2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
200g/7oz peeled carrots
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice
330g/11oz plain flour
300g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp baking powder
180g/6oz unsalted butter
3 eggs

Candied carrot:
1 peeled carrot
70g/2½oz caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz water

Buttercream:
300g/10oz icing sugar
150g/5oz unsalted butter
3 tsp lemon juice, to taste

Decoration:
1 lemon, zest
75g/2½oz walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

METHOD
• For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grate the carrots, then blitz in a food processor or blender with the yogurt and orange juice to form a rough purée. Set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the butter until it has coated the dry ingredients and the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Beat in the eggs until just incorporated, and then the carrot purée for 2–3 minutes. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Then remove from the oven and turn out the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
• For the candied carrot, using a zester or small knife, pare long, thin strips of carrot into a small saucepan. Then add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until a thin syrup has formed. Hook out the carrot strips and leave to cool on a wire rack.
• For the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter to combine, then add lemon juice to taste. Beat for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE
Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two layers of cake together, and the other half to cover the top. Grate over the lemon zest and finish by sprinkling over the toasted nuts and candied carrot.

 

Recipe: PUMPKIN SODA BREAD

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

Soda bread, which is created using baking powder rather than yeast, requires no kneading and no proving. It is best served warm, making it an ideal choice for a quick weekend lunch. Tradition has it that the cross sliced into the top of the bread is to ward off the devil, but whatever the origin it makes each loaf easy to tear apart into
chunks to share.

MAKES 2 LOAVES

YOU WILL NEED
1 × baking sheet, dusted with flour

INGREDIENTS
500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz grated pumpkin
100g/3½oz grated
gruyere cheese
300ml/½ pint buttermilk

METHOD
• Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, pumpkin and three-quarters of the cheese quickly and thoroughly in a large bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the buttermilk and stir until it comes together as one ball of dough. Work as quickly as possible until the ingredients are all incorporated, but do not mix for longer than necessary to do this.
• Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put on to the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Cut a deep (almost to the base) cross in each ball, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little flour.
• Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

TO SERVE
Serve warm or cold. The loaves will last 2 days at most, and are best eaten as soon as possible after baking.

 

Inspiration, indeed. Spring is here – what are you planting, with a mind to bake and eat?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, CaliforniaThe city of Santa Barbara has been called The American Riviera. Matter of fact, as a travel destination, it’s been trademarked as The American Riviera under that name, bringing connotations of luxury and prestige. Beyond that branding, the area is home to truly great farming, including wine growing regions. There is also damn mighty fine eating if you get beyond the idea of high-end dining and leave that to the bigger urban centers. It’s not that the chefs aren’t capable and many of the small city’s dining rooms are decorated beautifully, but it’s why bother bringing a jacket or heels to a low-key area? After all, this is a coastal community and a college town, where flip-flops and shorts are de riguer.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California
Photo Credit: Terry Straehley

Interestingly, Santa Barbara provides a sublime campus for higher learning, as this is where – as noted – several colleges are based, including the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Antioch University, and Brooks College of Photography. Located along the Pacific Coast, about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara’s geography provides temperate weather, golden sand beaches, and incredible bike paths, supposedly evocative of the Mediterranean.

However, if cultural pursuits are really your interest, there is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Furthermore, Mission Santa Barbara (named the Queen of the Missions), is one of the twenty-one Franciscan missions in the state of California. Well documented in the eighteenth century history books, the traveling and gospel spreading monks dedicated to transiting the indigenous peoples into Christians did so via sub-standard means and torture.

Even with all the college aged individuals, there is relatively very little nightlife and the streets roll-up early. But the beauty of Santa Barbara lies not in its evening but in the early part of the day, when people – visitors and natives alike – take up more physical pursuits, such as kayaking, beach volleyball, and fishing.

Breakfast: Tupelo Junction Cafe

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

When Tupelo Junction first opened, it was cozy with no more than a dozen tables packed onto a small side street. The walls were covered in burlap cloth and white washed with touches of red gingham, giving the impression that Tom Sawyer and his girlfriend Becky were manning the cook’s station. Maybe about a decade ago, the restaurant moved to State Street, closer to the action. The charming atmosphere was lost, but thankfully not the creative spin on Southern dishes. You can eat buttermilk pancakes slathered in creamy pan gravy or apple beignets.

  • Our Suggestion:  Dungeness Crab with Potato Hash, Avocado Salsa, Poached Eggs, and Beurre Blanc. This restaurant is a touch of France, big scoops of the America’s South, and the California coast.
  • Price: $18.00. (It has big pieces of crab throughout and worth every penny.)
  • Hours: Breakfast is served daily from 8:00am to 3:00pm.
  • Website: www.tupelojunction.com
  • Address: 1218 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA  93101
  • Phone: (805) 899 – 3100

Lunch:  Brophy Bros.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

This is a wharf restaurant that is worth just driving ninety minutes along the Pacific Coast Highway to dine for lunch.  It’s truly a quintessential Santa Barbara dining experience, overlooking the fishermen’s boats as they bring in their day’s catch. If you decide to have dinner here, the second floor outlook is one of the most beautiful places in California to watch the setting sun. It’s a busy restaurant and can have a very long wait.

  • Our Suggestion: New England Clam Chowder. Living on the West Coast, where food is mostly about becoming a rabbit – chewing a lot of veggies, no carbs and dairy – this is one of the most deliciously, decadent soups imaginable. It’s very East Coast made, with lots of clams, potatoes, and cream. The only thing missing is the Maine mist and chill. If you do take an afternoon drive to Santa Barbara, come here and have this as a cup with a salad for lunch, with a glass of white wine, and your life will be as perfect as fairy tale.
  • Price: $5.00 for a cup; $7.50 for a bowl.
  • Hours: Open daily from 11:00am – 10:00pm. They do not take reservations. First come, first serve basis.
  • Website: www.brophybros.com
  • Address:  119 Harbor Way (Harborside), Santa Barbara, CA           93109
  • Phone: (805) 966 – 4418

Cocktails: Canary Hotel’s Finch & Fork

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

Smack dab in the middle of the town of Santa Barbara is the Canary Hotel. White-washed on the outside with a distinct Mediterranean/ Mexican/Spanish feel, complete with clay tiles, red-roof, decorative irons and wood, it can be a little precious. But it’s a great place to stop for a mid-day cocktail or an afternoon repast as you meander through the State Street shops. New American cuisine with freshly bought bounty is served at the bar daily and in the main dining room.

  • Our Suggestion: This is one of California’s great wine countries. You need to sample the wine while here.
  • Price: Varies depending on the winery.
  • Hours: Open daily at 2:30 pm – 11:30 pm.
  • Website: www.finchandforkrestaurant.com
  • Address: 31 West Carillo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
  • Phone: (805) 879 – 9100.

Dinner: The Wine Cask

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

Created in 1981, The Wine Cask is Santa Barbara’s landmark restaurant bringing the area’s food and wine to the forefront of dining scene throughout California. Farm to table long before the term was coined, the owner, Doug Margeruem, has long been resolute in showcasing the Santa Barbara County’s rich agriculture, most notably it’s wine growers. If ever there was a quintessential dining place — a must place to dine in Santa Barbara — The Wine Cask is the place. It’s like going to Beverly Hills and never eating at Spago, or dining in New York and never eating at Gotham Bar and Grill. There are some restaurants that you have to eat at if you are in the area. The dining room, with its painted beam ceilings and massive fireplace to keep out the sea chill even in the heat of the summer, is one of the California Coasts most stately and stunning.i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

  • Our Suggestion: The food is delicious and the produce is brought in daily from nearby farmers markets and vendors. Probably the closest you will get to the farm without actually picking it yourself.
  • Prices: Varies but American Wine Country cooking at it’s finest.
  • Hours: Nightly from 5:30 pm. Closed Sundays – Mondays.
  • Website: www.winecask.com
  • Address: 813 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA                                91301
  • Phone: (805) 966 – 9463

Place to Stay: Simpson House Inn

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

Out of all the hotels in Santa Barbara, this is the one beyond reproach. It’s a small bed and breakfast, with 13 rooms, and no two rooms are the same. Therefore, each time you stay, the experience is different. And unlike the other hotels, which are managed or owned by big corporations, wealthy developers, or billionaires, this is luxury hospitality at its finest. Built by the Davies family, Simpson House Inn became an award-winning bed and breakfast, the only one to be named a “five diamond” by AAA and by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway. Like all b and b’s, breakfast is served daily – but it’s completely vegetarian. If it was never mentioned, a guest would never notice. Also, there is a two-hour afternoon wine tasting with a bevy of tasty snacks before dinner. For this intrepid traveler, I find this to one of my favorite hotels in the world.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

 

 

 

 

Website: www.simpsonhouseinn.com

Prices: Ranges according to accommodation and season. Prices can start over $250.00, but it’s worth every penny.

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i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet To Eating in Santa Barbara, California

 

The end. Go eat. 

 

 

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario

The famous Stratford Swans on the Avon River. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
The famous Stratford Swans on the Avon River

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare, swans, shopping, and spectacular eats – where are you? You’re in Stratford, Ontario!

This small town is one of the most vibrant arts and food towns I’ve ever visited – and like many who visit, I long to move there. Stratford is known for being a theatre town – it’s the home of the Stratford Festival, one of the best theatre festivals in the world (which runs from April through October each year). There are Shakespearean Gardens to meander through; make time to see the swans along the Avon River – the 24 swans are well-cared for and have an annual parade each spring! Be sure to tour the Costume Warehouse and see the tens of thousands of costumes used in the productions, and stop and shop at Bradshaw’s, a fantastic kitchen store.

Stratford Costume Warehouse. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
Stratford Costume Warehouse

This town is a foodie town. There’s the Stratford Chef School and a plethora of extraordinary restaurants. The prevailing theme is locally grown/sourced, organic, fresh foods – you can see this when you talk with chefs, or shop the weekly farmer’s market. It’s amazing, and progressive, and just lovely.

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
A variety of sizes for your fresh eggs at the Stratford Farmer’s Market

 

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
Freshly baked bread at the Stratford Farmer’s Market

Explore the Savour Stratford food trails – Bacon and Ale, Chocolate, Pumpkin, Maple, and other seasonal trails that offer food and food items at stores all throughout town. Purchase trail passes at the Visit Stratford office downtown – it’s a great way to explore local food – and local stores.

I was completely surprised by the quantity of excellent food and great restaurants here – you will be, too. For a small town, Stratford just explodes with art, theatre, museums, and fine dining. The choices overflow – it was hard for me to narrow this down!

Please note all prices are in Canadian dollars.

Breakfast: The Bruce

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
Buttermilk & caramelized apple pancakes with bacon, courtesy of The Bruce

My suggestion: We ate breakfast at our B&B, so I asked my foodie friend Cathy Rehberg, of Visit Stratford, for a suggestion. She made me hungry! Here’s what she recommended: “Chef Arron Carley, who will be featured on Food Network TV’s Chopped Canada, describes the vision for his new menus: “Looking into our past and understanding our roots as well as looking forward into the undiscovered wilderness of our nation we will forge New
Canadian Cuisine.” Now he is offering the Bruce-alicious menu which offers excellent value. Take a look at the fall and winter breakfast menu. Everything I have had there has been so good! And, it comes with a lovely view of the gardens just south of Upper Queen’s Park and a 5 minute walk to the Festival Theatre.”

Price: Bruce Breakfast Sandwich: Perth pork sausage, Avonlea cheddar, duck egg, tomato, awesome sauce, flaxseed bun, crispy spuds – $15
Hours: Restaurant: Thursday-Saturday plus Sunday Brunch; Lounge open every day.
Address: 89 Parkview Drive
Phone Number: 855-708-7100
Website: www.thebruce.ca

 

Second Breakfast: Rheo Thompson Candies

Rheo Thompson Chocolates. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario

I have a soft spot in my heart for Rheo Thompson – not only for their extraordinary chocolates, but for the fact that we both came into this world in 1969. I adore this chocolate shop – and so does everyone who’s been to Stratford. It’s a must-visit. If you go on Savour Stratford’s Chocolate Trail, Rheo Thompson is one of the options.

Rheo Thompson Chocolates. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, OntarioMy suggestion: While all of the chocolates I have ever gotten from Rheo Thompson have been delicious, try to snag some Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows. They are homemade marshmallow pillows, square, drenched in a thin coating of luscious dark chocolate. Yes, they deserve all of those adjectives.

Price: inexpensive
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9am-5:30pm, closed Sunday
Address: 55 Albert Street
Phone Number: 519-271-6910
Website: https://www.rheothompson.com/

 

Lunch: Mercer Hall

Welcome to Mercer Hall. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, OntarioI absolutely LOVE this restaurant. Chef Ryan O’Donnell is the epitome of a chef that cares about locally grown, sustainable food sources, while being a great mentor and boss, AND bringing his creativity to the table.

Mercer Hall also serves hot tea from Canada’s first tea sommelier, Karen Hartwick (visit her shop, Tea Leaves, while you are in town), so be sure to order a pot.

My suggestion: House smoked beef dip sandwich, seasonal slaw, fries & jus – I can’t resist a great sandwich. This one was incredible.

lunch at Mercer Hall. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
House smoked beef dip sandwich, seasonal slaw, fries & jus

 

Price: lunch mains $12-$17
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11am-9pm, Friday and Saturda, 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-8pm
Address: 104 Ontario St
Phone Number: (888) 816-4011
Website: http://www.mercerhall.ca/

 

Coffeeshop: Revel Caffe

Revel Caffe. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, OntarioBecause there are many great coffeeshops in town, it’s hard to recommend just one. But I’ll try. Revel’s tagline notes: “independent coffee for a revolution home of direct trade coffee, delicious pastries & revelers” – indeed, this is the case. We walked into a bustling cafe – the sounds of the crowd were so happy and joyful – like old friends meeting up. Revel offers delicious baked goods and a variety of coffees and teas.

My suggestion: We went for lattes and a chocolate croissant. Heaven.

Revel Caffe. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario

Price: large latte – $4.70
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8am-6pm, Sunday 9am-5pm
Address: 37 Market Place
Phone Number: 519-305-1600
Website: http://www.revelcaffe.com/

 

Happy Hour: Revival House

A restaurant and bar in an old church? It works! You walk in to thisThe bar at Revival House. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario gorgeous space, and immediately want to sit down and cozy in. There is sometimes a band at the front of the hall! Revival House uses fresh, local, seasonal ingredients in their menus. While we were there, we saw large families, couples, mother-daughter teams (us!), and more… This is a fun, upscale place that is hopping.

My suggestion: I don’t drink, so take your pick from their extensive drinks menu. What I will suggest is the charcuterie board ($27, to share) to tide you over until dinner.

Crudite platter at Revival House. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
Just look at that!

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-1am. Closed Monday and Tuesday
Address: 70 Brunswick Street
Phone Number: 519-273-3424
Website: www.revival.house

Dinner: Pazzo

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, OntarioLocated on the main corner of Stratford’s downtown, this is the perfect place to stop in for dinner. BE SURE to make reservations if it is theatre season. If you’re not going to see a play that evening, make it after 7:30pm, so the theatre rush is done and you can relax in the large, comfy dining room. Chef Yva Santini, in her 9th year at Paazzo, received the Ontario Hostelry Institutes Top 30 under 30 award in 2014. She’s creative, friendly, and a genius in the kitchen. I love how she comes out into the dining room herself, to deliver the mains and chat with customers.

My suggestion: I could eat just off the appetizer menu, honestly. My favorite is the Burrata with balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes and pesto, $13. But there is much to recommend on the mains menu, including the unlimited hand made pasta special – enjoy as much of Chef Yva’s daily pasta as you like, $20, or try the Taverna fondue (!!!).

Burrata at Pazzo. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario
Burrata at Pazzo

Price: $$
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30am-12am, closed Monday
Address: 70 Ontario St
Phone: 519-273-6666
Website: www.pazzo.ca

Pazzo Taverna Dinner from One O Six Media on Vimeo.

 

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i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Stratford, Ontario

 

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts, except where noted

i8tonite: Facebook, Newsletter and Kim Sunee’s Beet & Apple Salad

cropped-cropped-red-plate-with-knife-and-fork-md-logo-temp.pngLast week was busy at i8tonite, my newly deemed on-line lifestyle publication about food. I set up a Facebook page and then started a bi-weekly newsletter focusing on what lies ahead. I was very hesitant to create the Facebook page. The creation made the website seem realer. And that my career in public relations is morphing into an online publication. After years of promoting people to create content, I’m now creating content promoting people and food. I’ve now thrown out the middle man.

Photo by Mike Tungate
Photo by Mike Tungate

As I’m ensconced in mid-life, an age of more realized living — meaning how I want to live instead of just living —  I’m now exploring the United States.  With our move to Phoenix, Nick and I will travel throughout the Southwest, home to  breathtaking saguaros, the Sonoran desert, and red mountains. We are planning trips to Sedona, Tucson, Santa Fé, and Tombstone. (I have always wanted to go to Tombstone, Arizona just to say I’ve been.) Laramie, Cheyenne, Aspen, Denver, the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff are also on the ticket.

At some point, we will travel to Mukwonago, Wisconsin, where Nick was born and raised. It’s a small mid-Western town. You won’t find Kate Moss standing on the corner or a camera crew blocking the sidewalk. I don’t have to worry about the paparazzi or a traffic jam being created by yet another entertainment award show. It’s a significant destination for us because that’s where Nick’s family still resides. As a boy, with his siblings, Nick went ice fishing in the mid-western winters and swam in the lake during the summers.  I’ve never been ice-fishing. The closest I got to ice- fishing was in 1989. It was a New York City wet winter where I “fished” for my Marlboros in the pocket of my Moschino jacket before a Stephen Sprouse fashion show.  I don’t smoke anymore; the late Stephen Sprouse is now considered retro and I don’t know what happened to that Moschino jacket.

With possibly most of my global escapades behind me, I now travel outside the States without ever leaving my kitchen, gratefully letting international flavors take me away. I decided to use Kim Sunee’s “Mouthful of Stars,” an exquisite cookbook hybrid with personal essays throughout. Published in 2014, it’s a beautiful publication containing mouth-watering images with Ms. Sunee’s sublime prose.  The former food editor for the defunct Cottage Living offers her anecdotes about travels to Mexico, Sweden, Paris and her New Orléans home. As much as I would like to go to Sweden, it’s not going to happen before I get to Ecuador, Peru, Mexico or Paris again. I thought I would cook her Swedish Beet and Apple Salad…. just to do a little kitchen traveling before the beginning of my homeland discoveries. (In 2009, Kim also wrote one of my favorite food memoirs Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home.)

Beets

The salad is tart and savory with some horseradish heat. I loved the combination with the herbal dill, the crème fraiche richness, the red onion’s bite and sweetness of the beets and apples. Easy to make and very colorful for the holidays.

Swedish Beet and Apple Salad (adapted from Mouthful of Stars, serves 2 – 3 people):

You will need:

  • Two medium-sized beets, cooked (You can find cooked beets in the produce section if you don’t want to make your own.)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, coarsely grated.
  • One small red onion, thinly sliced with a mandolin.
  • Tablespoon of chopped and rinsed capers (or more to taste).
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh horseradish.
  • Tablespoon of chopped dill (or more to taste).
  • Several grinds of white pepper (Black pepper if you don’t have any is fine too).
  • 4 ounces of sour cream or crème fraiche. (Use the crème fraiche if you can find it. Most stores carry it in the fine cheese section. It makes a richer dressing.)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Let’s make this puppy:

Chopped the cooked beets into ¼ sticks and place in a bowl. Put in the thinly-sliced onions and apple.

In a small bowl and the remaining ingredients: crème, pepper, dill, capers, dill and horseradish. Stir. Add the apple cider to thin out the mixture. Stir until the desired consistency. (If you want a thinner dressing add a drop more vinegar.) Pour over the vegetables and apple, well-coating everything. Chill until ready to serve. Top with dill.

Beet Apple Salad

The End. Go Eat.

Chef Questionnaire with Chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill, Palm Springs’ Tropicale Cafe.

Chef Scooter Kanfer- Cartmill is pretty much a California cooking legend as much as the celebrated chefs she’s worked beside. She’s worked and trained with everyone from Fred Eric (Vida), the late Michael Roberts (Trumps), Wolfgang Puck (Spago), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feninger (Border Grill).  After stints at The Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop and Nic’s Beverly Hills, Kanfer opened her much-lauded restaurant the house in LA’s Larchmont. Customers could find her cooking up American comfort food at its finest such as “Animal Cookies with a Shot of Milk”, “Grandpa’s Mac-and-Cheese”, varieties of spoonbread and other comfy delights in the early aughts. (The cookies — which came in forms of dragonflies, dragons and monkeys with a shot of milk — was a favorite of mine.) Now, she is coming up with salivating and fun dishes – such as Three Little Pigs (housemade sausage, grilled pork loin and BBQ pork ribs) — in Palm Springs at Tropicale Café. Beside the cool nights and warm days, eating Kanfer’s food truly makes the desert community a destination to relish.

“…this is one chef who delights in feeding people,” Irene S. Virbila,  Los Angeles Times.
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How long have you been cooking?
Too long to remember, fire had just recently been invented. All the “cool” kids had to have it.

What is your favorite food? Don’t have one. It’s like picking your favorite child.

What do you always have in your fridge? Sriracha. Hot Sauce.  Schmaltz. Pickles. Iced green tea. Champagne. At least three different kinds of mustard. Stinky Cheese. Roast chicken.

What do you cook at home? Roast Chicken with all the fixings (i.e.: Hungarian noodles, French green beans, or mashed potato with a garlic butter). Sunday Style Roast-Pork Prime Rib. Beef Bourgogne. Coq au vin or poached eggs with avocado on toast. Simple things that I can put on in the morning (slow-cooker) and that my wife can finish while I’m at restaurant… so we can eat together.

What marked characteristic do you despise in your customer? Wow. Let’s go deep here. Abusive arrogance displayed to my staff — being a celebrity or hipster douchebag.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? An adventurous eater with a sense of humor as well as desire for exploration and appropriate recognition of my staff.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Tupperware and Pyrex.

Image result for tupperware

Beer, wine or cocktail? Champagne, good wine, the occasional Negroni and 15-year old single malt scotch.

Your favorite cookbook author? Too many to list (but that won’t stop me).  Julia Childs. James Beard. M.F.K. Fisher. Gabriella Hamilton. Mark Bittman. Harold McGee. Clementine Paddleford. Michael Roberts!

Your favorite kitchen tool? Iced tea spoon and my intuition.

Your favorite ingredient? Salt. Flavored salts. Chicken, duck and bacon schmaltz (Fat). Foie. Scooter says, “Salt and fat are where it’s at!”

schmaltz_large

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Yell at a cook and paperwork.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Pretty much anything that strikes my fancy. (By fancy, I mean American regional, re-thinking and re-imagining old classics in a modern and accessible way.)

Chef you most admire?

  • Michael Roberts: He taught me how to grow and trust my palette.
  • Odessa Piper: She is the Alice Waters of the Mid-West.
  • Fred Eric: He taught me to not just think outside the box — but to blow the box up.
  • Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feninger: They gave me my foundation. “Simple food is the most difficult to do. It’s either perfect and tells a story…or it just sucks”: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feninger.

Food you dislike the most? Food that is pretentious, derivative or arrogant. Food that tries to be “hip” or trendy. Food that is disingenuous.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None. I’m going to be buried next to the Goldbergs.

Recipe from Chef Scooter Kanfer – Cartmill. Chef, Tropicale Café (Palm Springs, CA.)

Sunday Style Roast: Prime Rib Of Pork With Dried Fruit Sauce

  • 4-5 LB Pork Rib Roast (Have your butcher remove the chime bone so it’s 5-6 bones)
  • Drizzle Roast w/Olive Oil
  • Scooter Spice Rub: Kosher Salt, freshly crushed black pepper, crushed fennel seeds or pollen mustard seeds, garlic, celery Seeds and red pepper flakes.

Make a bed of sliced onions, celery, fennel, and dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins, sour cherries) in a heavy bottom roasting pan, Dutch oven or cast iron pan. Place the roast. Add a cup or so of Marsala, little water or chicken stock. Cook in a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees. Internal temperature needs to reach 140 degrees inside thickest part of roast (push the meat thermometer until half way inside the meat). Juices should just run clear. Let roast rest for 20 minutes before carving. Serve with the dried fruit and veggies.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon (Kitchen Sense, Mitchell Davis)

I know that as I write this that I’m not the only person who walks into a grocery store or farmers market and says, “I want to make something I’ve never made.” Recently, it was with leeks for me. I’ve cooked leeks but always as a supporting character in pot pies, vichyssoise, and fried for decoration. Thrown into stews. Chopped for soups. Roasted with meats. However, I’ve never used a leek as the main ingredient.

In Mitchell Davis’ lovely and massive cookbook, Kitchen Sense, which we are currently cooking from for the month of May; he had a recipe for Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon…making the onion relative, the star of the dish. (It’s Memorial Day weekend and I’m talking about braising instead of grilling. I always did like to go against the stream. Heh.)

Besides the leeks, the cream and the tarragon, the other major ingredients are butter and white wine. Very French. Before even making it, you can imagine the taste and subtle sweetness of the leeks with the cream’s richness. (I think a really good Loire Valley sauvignon blanc or a dry Belgian, non-fruit craft beer would be a good accompaniment; a light beverage with crispness and acidity.)

Leeks at Santa Monica Farmer's Market

The methodology for making this vegetable braise is very simple but it does take a lengthy time to cook. I would make this for a holiday gathering or a dinner party when I have another item roasting in the oven. The dish is also lovely to present at a table.

Davis wants you to serve one leek per person. I feel it’s better at two leeks per person since this would be the only vegetable I’m serving; therefore, I’m doubling the recipe. If you are making the dish for two,  cut it back to four leeks. (I think you can figure that out.)

Let’s Make This Puppy: Braised Leek with Cream & Tarragon

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

8 leeks, trimmed to white with about an inch of green

1 cup of white wine

½ cup of cream

4 sprigs of tarragon leaves; chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and white pepper for seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a large baking dish (maybe something that goes from oven to table).

Remove the tops of the leeks, leaving one inch of the green; thoroughly, rinse the leeks in water and then cut them in half, lengthwise. Dry them on kitchen towels. (I try not to use paper towels and conserve resources….but if you must use paper towels…do so, just remember that you can purchase really inexpensive kitchen towels at your Walmart, Target, or other large discount for pennies. You can wash them as often as you want and will last you longer than your roll of paper towels.)

Place the leeks cut side down in the baking dish and pour the wine and cream over. The vegetables should be about three-fourths submerged. If not, just add a little more wine or cream. You choose. Add the bay leaf and scatter the tarragon. Season well with salt and pepper. Using the remaining butter, spot the top of the leeks. Cover tightly with aluminum foil baking for an hour and a quarter.

The leeks should be tender. If you used an oven-to-table baking dish as I recommended, just remove the bay leaf and serve.

It’s a pretty awesome dish but a little heavy with a little too much cooking time for a regular weekday meal but for a special occasion….it’s perfect!

Braised Leeks