Sunday, December 27

Christmas Eve

Having been away from my family in Thialnd and living in Michigan for many years, I have celebrated Christmas with a few different groups of friends each year. This year was one of my best Christmas Eve that I got to share with very good friends who're as close as family.

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbac 2006, drinking nicely with our appetizers and entree. We started with olive antipasto, assorted cheeses, and artisan Ciabatta bread.

Rosemary and garlic added great flavor to creamy fluffy mashed potato. Mixed baby green salad with Michigan dried cherry was served with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Here's the star of our dinner, Prime Rib Roast with Red-Wine Sauce. My friend, Beth, wonderfully executed this big and beefy cut of meat into a delicious roast. I had such a great time being her sous chef in the kitchen - cooking and drinking :) Ground Porcini mushrooms were rubbed on the roast, and also incorporated into the sauce - which tasted amazing with all the layer and depth of flavors. The dish was so perfect for this special occasion!

Finally, my Apple Crumb Pie finished up our meal. Oh! of course, we had to have vanilla bean ice cream with our pieces of warm pie :) And not to forget coffee. Perfect ending of great time..


****
I am so lucky I have my loving family, and amazing friends...
I am so grateful for these wonderful people in my life...

Happy Holidays!

****

Thursday, December 24

Talk About Edible Obsession

It was such a great experience to be a part of a radio talk show. Thanks to my friend Lisa, who was guest hosting a 1320AM Lansing radio program a few days ago. I was very excited, and grateful for an opportunity to talk about my Edible Obsession blog, as well as to share about my passion for food and cooking.

I also got to meet with some of the other guests on the show in the studio, all talented and successful individuals who take part in community. Lisa did a wonderful job running the show and talking with all her guests. I was also fascinated by the production of the show - how radio talk was put together behind the scene.

Saturday, December 12

Learning From Expert

I was invited over to a friend's home for dinner the other day. His mom is a wonderful cook and they are my great foodie friends. I have to say she makes the best homemade fruit pies -- her pie crust is perfectly light and flaky, and her fruit filling is so delicious! In the meantime, Japanese cooking is her expertise and that's what I've always wanted to learn from her. It was my lucky day.. we had Japanese meal that evening :)

She showed me how to roll basic sushi -- California Rolls. It's all about a little trick here and there that we wouldn't have thought it matters. But to me, food is the final product of an art of cooking. Every component matters, and it makes such a difference...

I've learned that to slice nice pieces of Maki (cut sushi roll), I do need a good sharp knife, and have to use a clean motion with little pressure. To achieve a clean cut, a knife blade needs a dip in a water to just barely wet. A dull blade will definitely crush the roll.

I love Masago! So, not only it's inside the roll, but also topped on each slice -- YUM! Masago has gorgeous bright color and mild flavor, great for presentation as well as adding texture and flavor. (Masago is a type of roe that comes from capelin fish, a member of salmon family.)

Then, there were varieties of vegetable tempura she made. Don't they look amazing? They're everything you look for in Japanese-style tempura: being coated with feathery light, golden, and crispy batter. Shredded carrot, green bean, and Italian parsley were among the variety.

Hand-picked blueberry pie finished our great dinner. It's comforting, scrumptious, and so delicious! It made me happy :)

I am so grateful..

Saturday, November 28

Thanksgiving

Hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving!
I did :)

We went to Beth & Joe's. It was great to be around good friends,
meeting people, and making new friends...
Turkey was very nice - good job Beth :)
Every dish was wonderful & so delicious!

We had a great time...
eating LOTS of food, drinking nice wines, laughing, talking, playing card games,
& sharing stories...

Heavenly deserts!
Pumpkin pies, French apple tart, and Butter Finger torte

A little bit of everything..
****

I am thankful - for my life.. my family.. my friends..,
and .. for waking up being hopeful every morning.

****




Saturday, November 21

Taste of Michigan: Dinner with the Chefs

After the cooking demonstration/lecture at "Taste of Michigan" Visiting Chef Series, the following evening I also attended its Dinner with the Chef's five-course meal, prepared by all 5 chefs and Kellogg Center's kitchen staffs.

Once everyone was seated, wine was poured and the meal was served. All 135 attendees pretty much filled up the State Room, an on-site, casual fine dining at Kellogg Center. Great ambiance, very nice setting, professional and attentive staff. Each chef came out from the kitchen and talked about their dishes while we were enjoying the great meal.

First course by Chef Brian Polcyn (Forest Grill, Birmingham): Cherry Wood Smoked Trout with an heirloom tomato salad and balsamic reduction. I enjoyed everything I had that evening, but this dish was my most favorite of all. Very very delicious! It was served with Left Foot Charley, Michigan Riesling MD 2008.

Second course by Chef Eve Aronoff (Eve Restaurant, Ann Arbor): Curried Mussels with crusty bread. The flavor of the curry cream sauce was so rich and complex! Loving every single bite of it, I believe I wiped my plate clean with my dinner roll.

Third course by chef Benjamin Meyer (Chen Chow Brasserie, Birmingham): Apple Cider Glazed Salmon with kashi, celeriac puree, pumpkin, pepitas, and apple cider reduction. It was the most perfectly cooked salmon I've ever had! Pumpkin and dried cranberries added texture, sweetness, and creaminess to Kashi. It was savory and sweet altogether. Served with Black Star Farms, Isidor's Choice Vineyard Leelanau Peninsula Chardonnay 2007.

Fourth course by chef Don Yamauchi (MotorCity Casino, Detroit): Grilled Prime Beef Strip Loin with mushrooms, peas, and carrots. The loin was very nice and tender, went really well with the red wine sauce. Served with Three River, Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

Fifth course by chef Patricia Nash (MotorCity Casino, Detroit): French Chocolate Mousse with vanilla bean custard, roasted pineapple, and macadamia nut brittle. Fabulous presentation and flavor combination of every element on the plate.

It's been a while since I last had a meal at the State Room, so it was nice to be there for such an amazing evening of great dinner prepared by 5 award-winning chefs from around mid-Michigan. It was a nice opportunity for us to be able to experience variety of cooking styles by out-of-area chefs without having to travel away from home. And I do hope there is more to come!




Thursday, November 19

Taste of Michigan: Cooking Demonstration

After 11 years and 75 events, the very first chef who kicked off the Visiting Chef Series event, at Michigan State University's Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, returned to celebrate "A Taste of Michigan", the 75th series. Chef Don Yamauchi was at the time an executive chef at Gordon Restaurant in Chicago. Back in 1998, Gordon Sinclaire of Gordan Restaurant, and MSU's Joel Heberlein, director of the Spartan Hospitality Group for the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services (former general manager for the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center) originated the event. (source: lansingstatejournal.com) They all seemed to have a great reunion on stage last night.

This 2-day event features 5 award-winning Michigan chefs as they come together to share their cooking techniques at the cooking demonstration on the first night of the event. Last night, it was a lecture/demo of a five-course meal with samplings of each course served to all attendees. There were also 3 wines served to accompany those delicious food.

We started off with Chef Benjamin Meyer's Spring Roll: with poached free range chicken breast, assorted vegetables, seasonings, herbs, served with Thai sweet chili sauce with coconut cream. The roll was very refreshing with layers of texture and flavor. The sauce delivered the flavorful creaminess using coconut cream as opposed to mayonnaise.

Then, we had Chef Don Yamauchi's Pumpkin Soup with Vanilla Cream. The soup was heavenly silky and creamy! Chef Yamauchi also showed us how to make fresh butter right there on stage. We all agreed the homemade butter was just amazing. The soup and bread were served with Gill's Pier Leelanau Peninsula Riesling 2007.

Next, we had Chef Brian Polcyn's Chicken Galantine. We watched him remove the skin and bone the whole bird. He was a lot of fun! Chicken breast was warpped around by chopped chicken meat, then poached. Served with apricot and dried cherry chutney.

The Galantine was very delicious, and well worth all the work. It was served with Black Star Farm Arcturos Capella Vineyards Old Mission Peninsula Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2007.

Next, we had Chef Eve Aronoff's Aromatic Lamb in Brik Pastry, with a salad of fresh spinach and mint. Sweet, savory, and spicy ground lamb with pine nuts and golden raisins rolled in light and crispy brik pastry. I love the flavor of Moroccan spice with the lamb, and the texture of pine nuts and raisin when biting through the golden brown pastry. It was served with Cimicky Trumps Barossa Valley Shiraz 2007/2008.

Lastly, we had Chef Patricia Nash's Peanut Butter Bar with caramelized bananas and chocolate peanut butter ice cream. It was a perfect ending to an evening of culinary instruction and entertainment. All I could hear in the room, after the first bites of this gorgeous-looking dessert were taken was more like, "yum!, "ummmm", "wow..!", "oh, my". It was rich, decadent, and delightful.

From left to right:
Chef Brian Polcyn (Forest Grill, Birmingham, MI)
Chef Eve Aronoff (Eve Restaurant, Ann Arbor, MI)
Pastry Chef Patricia Nash (MotorCity Casino, Detroit, MI)
Chef Don Yamauchi (MotorCity Casino, Detroit, MI)
Chef Benjamin Meyer (Chen Chow Brasserie, Birmingham, MI).

I had a fabulous evening. My friend L was there with me. To be there at such an event, surrounded by food lovers, foodies, chefs, cooks, culinary students, and all attendees - was a great experience! There were lots of laughter and joy. I can't wait for another evening to finish of this event - a five-course dinner prepared by these chefs, and served with wine pairings. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 16

Grand Rapids Int'l Wine & Food Festival

I had a really nice drive on a beautiful Saturday to Grand Rapids this past weekend. It was the last day of the 3-day 2nd Annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival. The event was held in the elegance of 40,000-square-foot Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place. It was a great time for this pre-holiday show featuring a culinary celebration of the year, pairing the city’s finest restaurants with vintners from Michigan and throughout the world.

The admission was $15, and attendees could purchase a tasting tickets for sampling foods, wines, beers, and spirits. There were more than 1,000 wines being poured at this event, it wasn't easy at all deciding which ones to go for :)

I had a few samplings of foods and wines. Robert Mondavi is always one of my favorite, so I didn't miss visiting the booth for a tasting of his Cabernet Sauvignon. The trio-dessert from Meijer booth was scrumptious. There were chocolate molten cake, eclair, and keylime cream puff. Then, there was an amazing Steak Crostini, with Gorgonzola and balsamic reduction, from the latest eatery in town - Wild Fire Grille.

Gilly's @ the B.O.B. offered the samplings of quite a few selections. I had Tamarind Shrimp Pad Thai, served up in a lovely take-out box. It wasn't quite Pad Thai that I know, but it was tasty. They also had Mini Dark Chocolate Caramel Tartlets, and Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta.

Bistro Bella Vita featured some of their soups and appetizers that I didn't get a chance to try. There were lots of food! Stone House Bakery in Leland was there at the Riverfront Market area, giving out free samples of their fresh baked artisan breads.

And then, there was San Chez: A Tapas Bistro which I've just visited the restaurant recently.

Beautiful mixed nuts from Ferris Coffee & Nuts.

Event attendees looking to enhance their festival experience can partake in one of four “Pairing” bar-top seatings. New this year is the introduction of a beer pairing dinner, to compliment the three wine pairings offered. I was pretty bummed that the only opening that would have worked out for my timing was the beer pairing dinner. I am not doing so well with beer, and would rather experience the wine pairing one.., so I missed an opportunity to participate. Above photo is the pairing offered by Six-One-Six at JW Marriott.

Pairing by Bar Divani

Pairing by Tre Cugini

First time to DeVos Place, I really enjoyed my visit to this beautiful state-of-the-art convention center located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. I sure will be looking forward to more of great events there, and an opportunity to go back soon.

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