The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Tale of Two Lasagne

When it comes to pastas, my preference is spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine. I’m not a huge fan of lasagna but then I’m not a huge fan of cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a nice Fontina with red grapes but I’ve never craved cheese like many do.

I married into an Italian family and all the holidays were at Aunt Mallie’s where it was lasagna, sausage, meat balls, lettuce dressed in olive oil and vinegar and a coconut cake. Mallie had the second kitchen in the basement where she turned out trays upon trays of lasagna. The holiday, no matter what, was the same menu.

Lasagna is a dish my husband loves and for his birthday and Xmas, I make two trays. For some reason I can’t trust no bake noodles and I boil up two packages of lasagna noodles. I make a sauce from scratch with what I have around, ground turkey, Italian sausage out of its casing for the meat sauce. The ricotta filling has chopped spinach, egg and Parmesan cheese with copious amounts of mozzarella sprinkled between the layers. The husband is in lasagna Nirvana.

My father-in-law, bless his 86 years, wanted to cook a turkey and all the trimmings. Please note that I have invited him and my brother-in-law (who lives with my father-in-law) to my home but he wants to cook. I’m in the trenches, doing due-diligence for the lasagna prep when I learn my brother-in-law is making lasagna. I was looking forward to the turkey, no matter how dried out my father-in-law makes it.

So this was the Xmas of the two lasagne. Christmas eve we had my lasagna which my husband loves and off to my father-in-laws for lasagna for Xmas day. That was it lasagna, no salad, no nothing…a slab of lasagna. Rob used the no bake noodles, plenty of ricotta and other cheeses and made up the recipe as he went. In all honesty, I couldn't tell the difference between the two. I don’t have to see lasagna for another 6 months. My two trays are packaged and in the freezer to be used by “the husband” when I’m not home to make dinners. As I said earlier, spaghetti is my preference with simple “ala minute” sauce or a long simmering ragu.

Still yearning for the turkey that I never got I have a turkey breast brining in the fridge, salt, sugar, brown sugar, honey, thyme, garlic, sage and a touch of truffle oil. A 6 ¼ turkey breast for two people – you are welcome to come over.

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's a Wrap from Tubac

For those of you who haven't read the post just below I had an opportunity present itself to work as Steven Raichlen's assistant during the shooting of his new TV series for PBS. Steven called personally and I was able to adjust my schedule. It happened fast, on the 11th Steven told me it was a go and by the 12th I was in Tubac, AZ ( about 20 miles north of the Mexican border) at the Tubac Golf Resort.

When I arrived in Arizona the limo turned out to be a shuttle bus but at that late hour I was the only passenger. The driver was a chatty fellow, a part-time actor, who had appeared in the Bruce Willis movie made in Baltimore called 12 Monkeys. He played what Bruce thought was his alter ego in the men's room in the last scene (so my shuttle bus driver says). Whoa, a bobcat jumped out in front of the shuttle van but was out the way before we could hit it. That should have been the subtle hint that I wasn't in Metropolis anymore.

I get into my hacienda-style room around 12:30 a.m. - unpacked and unwound and to sleep at 1:30 a.m. (or 3:30 a.m. east coast time). Upon checking my cell phone there was a voice message from Steven to meet at the restaurant at 6 a.m. the next morning.

I have food styled for Steven twice, one-day jobs for MPT where I had recipes in advance, I styled the food and brought the dishes, platters, flatware etc. I was in for a rude awakening. A new production company, a new location, young chefs who have never done this before and me, coming in at the 11th hour and not sure of my responsibilities.

We were shooting in a field with cows who meandered as they pleased, the flys were outrageous and then the bees.

It was a tough shoot and when I was finally up to speed the shooting was over. There were days I could have cried because I wasn't getting it together in the exacting form I'm used to and being a personal assistant was different than a food stylist. At moments I felt like one of those ducks in a shooting gallery that changed direction so many times.

The only time I saw daylight was on set. I left my room in the dark and returned in the dark. On the last day of shooting I got off set before it turned dark and saw the courtyard and fountain outside the back of my room.

One morning I had a large animal jump out in front of me and run across the field. I wasn't sure what it was but it scared the living ***** out of me. I learned it was probably a "javalina", a giant rodent that looks like a wild boar. If they have young with them they can attack. Well after that I would make someone drive me to my room every night after that. Meantime I still walked to the set in the a.m. in the dark. Hey at the end of the day, I enjoyed not taking those extra steps.

There were laughs on set but it was pretty much down to business. Steven was and is such a gentleman with everyone when most would have been flipping out. The producer, Matt reminded me of Steven being similar in stature and coloring to Steven, you might have thought them brothers.

I got off campus one night when someone drove me 15 miles or so to a grocery store so I could find a pumice soap for Steven. The store didn't even have Lava soap. Thrilled to be off the resort I took the opportuity to buy bottled water and Milano cookies for my room - aren't Milano's cookies one of the core food groups.

As our time was running short at Tubac we went into night shoots. One day was 6 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. and the next 7 a.m to 8:15 p.m. The days were hot and very cool when the sun went in.

I still have notes to type up for Steven, changes in recipes etc. I did get off the premise the night before I left for a "wrap" dinner. I finally could kick back and show my sense of humor - it was a fun evening.

Click HERE for photos

Friday, November 16, 2007

Guess Where I Am?

Things happen spontaneously, without warning, things that would never cross your mind and POW and a challenging and exciting opportunity came my way. The king of BBQ, Steven Raichlen, called to ask if I could fill in for his personal assistant who is having some health issues. The job was flying out to Tucson and working with him as he films his next 13 episodes for PBS. I am offically a food stylist, plate wiper, meat rubber and runner.

It has been challenging to say the least, with a new crew, new location, new chefs and me. Days start at 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. We are at a golf resort and I haven't been off property since getting here. Travel time included it is 11 days. I have great photos but I don't have access to download them from the resort.

One of the crew offered to take me to the grocery store tonight, who knew I would be excited to go to a grocery store - anything to get off property.

More to come!

P.S. You know how people who eat a lot of garlic ooze the scent. Well I am full of smoke; hickory, cherry, apple etc

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's A Book - YUM is here!

YUM! Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats

Birth Date: Thursday, October 25th

Birth Weight: 2 lbs 10 1/4 ounces

Total Recipes: 100

Color Photographs: Yes

Gestation: 4 months conceiving
6 months to publish

Delivery: Aided with the help of many great culinary friends and experts it was easier than expected.

Compiled by: Dara Bunjon (aka Dining Dish)
Jeff Spear - Studio Spear

Four months was a tight time frame but Jeff and I were able to get this book together and off the the publisher. Craziness ensued, my house not central to the recipe testing was still home to the food items over Xmas break at Eastern Technical School. On the final day of photography we were testing recipes at my home late into the night. I'm outside in January working two charcoal grills in the dark. Thank goodness for Steven Raichlen's BBQ tongs with the built-in light, a miner's hat with a light would have been better.

The Offical Press Release:

YUM! Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats (Cumberland House; October 25, 2007; $28.95) is ready to be eaten. A “giving” book from the onset, being underwritten by Microplane® with their profits on the sale of the book going to the National Kidney Foundation. The giving continued when Dara Bunjon of Dara Does It – Creative Solutions for the Food Industry and Jeff Spear, Studio Spear, co-authors reached out through the Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation to the high school ProStart culinary students to assist in the recipe testing. The students got to work with products they had never seen before, learned the ins-and-outs of a properly written recipe and see alternative career options with food styling and food photography.

Culinary Greats Give!

A collection of mouth-watering recipes from culinary greats renown for their prowess in and around the kitchen. Some of the stellar contributors are Sara Moulton, Nick Malgieri, José Andres, Charlie Trotter, Roy Yamaguchi, Rick Tramonto, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Elizabeth Falkner and Susanna Foo.

If those names are not impressive enough, the book also features recipes from Steven Raichlen, Rick Bayless, Nathalie Dupree, Dan Barber, Tom Douglas, Jodie Adams, Ana Sortun, Suvir Saran, Michel Richard, Gael Greene, Susan Hermann-Loomis, Jacques Torres, Joanne Weir, Norman Van Aken, Scott Peacock and many others.

Whether they excel as chefs, restaurateurs, writers and/or culinary educators, they have all worked their way to the top of their respective culinary fields. Each culinary great answers assorted questions with humor and passion on the pages of YUM! giving readers insight to what makes them tick.

You Can Donate

YUM! Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats is being sold through the normal channels but if purchased at the Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation $15.00 is tax deductible and will benefit the MHEF ProStart program and scholarship fund or direct from Microplane® where all their profits go to the National Kidney Foundation.

Better yet, YUM! is an ideal holiday gift for either the hobby cook up to those avocational cooks who like a good challenge. There is diversity and great recipes for all.

About the Authors

Dara Bunjon, president of Dara Does It – Creative Solutions for the Food Industry, works within and with many aspects in the food industry from public relations, food styling, freelance writing, product development and much more. Also known in Baltimore as Dining Dish, she writes a food blog ( )as well as a foodie newsletter by the same name. Baltimore Style Magazine recently wrote about the blog, “If Lucy Riccardo wrote a blog this would be it.”

Jeffrey Spear is president of Studio Spear, a leading national marketing consultancy based in Baltimore Maryland. The company focuses its strategic and creative efforts on kitchen based “lifestyle” products and caters to both consumer and trade audiences.

Some of Studio Spear’s better known clients have included Anheuser Busch, Disney, BaskinRobbins and Hasbro. While these companies are some of the largest in the country, if not the world, Studio Spear maintains relationships with companies of all sizes and geographic influence.

In Conclusion

What I learned from this experience:

1. I can work closely with someone for 4 months and not put a contract out on their life.
2. The ProStart high school program needs additional help with educational information. A big thank you to Frieda's Produce company for donating their fabulous book The Purple Kiwi for the instructors.
3. Not all chefs can write a recipe well.
4. Most people don't read recipes through.
5. I'm blessed to have so many friends who helped pull off all the recipe testing.
6. I've learned the ins-and-outs of many ethnic groceries in the city.
7. There is a white soy sauce.
8. Geoduck clam is pronounced "Gooey Duck"
9. Jeff and I have different food profiles - his favorites were not mine and vice verse
10. My passion for food and bringing people to the table grows more each day.
11. Rachel Ray, Paula Dean and Giada have nothing to worry about, I'm no threat.

This is a cookbook that keeps giving. Do you need to raise funds for your charity...sell the book, cookbooks are hot for holiday giving. Contact Cumberland Publishing.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Mystery Hot Sandwich

Time to catch the bus back to Baltimore from New York. The bus leaves at 4 p.m. and they ask you to be there 30 minutes ahead. This was my first time on what are commonly called the Chinese buses that transport you to New York and back to Baltimore for $35.00 round trip. That is a whole other story.

The weather was on and off rain and I have learned from one previous trip to be prepared. I head off with a trash bag over my rolling luggage and umbrella in hand. I get off the subway and have a 6 block walk. I'm running late and the bus was waiting but it was still about 3:40 p.m. I stake my claim on two seats hoping that the bus doesn't get full. Even with the umbrella, my hair is dripping wet and my glasses steamed up. I scramble off the bus looking for food. My immediate options were a bakery or little stores where they sell beverages and snacks. I walked into one and asked for food. He said "I have hot sandwich" - I go okay and grabbed a bottle of water - $4.00.

The sandwich was on a crispy sub roll. It was colorful, I recognized carrots, mayonnaise, a pickle and some mystery meat. Not lunch meat, maybe a sausage of some kind. There was some cilantro. I was starving (I only ate breakfast), I was tired,
and I was I indulged in the mystery hot sandwich.

As the bus pulled out of E. Broadway I saw a PHO place and wished I had known it was there and had time to have grabbed that instead of the mystery hot sandwich. If you have a clue of what I ate, let me know. I tend to think it might be Vietnamese in origin.

Friday, October 19, 2007

At The Table with Women Chefs -New York City

A great evening was had by all at Women Chefs and Restaurateurs "At The Table" dinner. I got there a bit early and helped a small bit with setting up the silent auction. Boo hoo, someone out bid me for the 2 tickets to David Letterman and dinner at the Monkey Bar.

What's with the music, well it highlights the photos from the evening's festivities-check them out just below the menu.

It was a great evening and we raised money for culinary scholarships.

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Prince George Ballroom
New York

Honorary Chair: Sara Moulton

Chefs: Anne Burrell, Centro Vinoteca; Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, Lassi; Rebecca Charles, Pearl Oyster Bar; Mary Cleaver, The Cleaver Company; Alina Eisenhauer, Sturbridge Baking Company (Sturbridge, MA); Patti Jackson, Cento Vini; Nancy Olson, Gramercy Tavern; Amy Scherber, Amy’s Bread; Barbara Sibley & Margaritte Malfy, La Palapa; Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos;Patricia Williams, District

Sommeliers: Julee Resendez; Yukari Pratt


Hors d'oeuvres
Almond Shorba

Hudson Valley Lamb and Feta Burgers with Tzatziki on House Made Buns

Mini Roasted Chile Poblano Corn Muffins filled with Queso Cotija, Serrano Ham and Guacasalsa of fresh Tomatillo and Avocado

Ceviche of Fluke with Citrus Ginger Mignonette

L'Hemoniere Sauvignon Blanc, 2006
The Wines of the Alto Adige
Rogue Bower Beers


Hudson Valley Antipasto Carponata, Pumpkin, Pickles and House made Crackers

A Selection of Amy's Breads

Scallop Chowder with Pernod and Thyme
Buttonwood Sauvignon Blanc, 2006

Roasted Pumpkin Farrotto with Gorgonzola Dolce
Ryan Patrick Estate Chardonnay, 2005

Wild Salmon with Charmoula, Couscous and cucumber Lime organic Soy Sour Cream
Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvingnon, 2005

Beef Shortrib Brasato in Sforzato di Valtellina with Spaghetti Squash, caramelized Cauliflower and Pioppini Mushrooms
Trinchero Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvingnon 2005


Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

Petit Fours

It's Not Sara's Secret Anymore

Praise the lord!!! Hot off the press!!! Sara Moulton is coming back to TV. Sara has gotten her funding and has just started to shoot a PBS TV series. I loved her on the Food Network, I loved her live programming and I've missed her natural grace and sense of humor.

I spoke to Sara last night at a dinner event and we made arrangements to chat for greater details on this upcoming series. Keep you eyeballs glued to Dining Dish for updates and/or sign up for the Dining Dish E-Newsletter. Please know that if you sign up for the newsletter you can safely unsubscribe at anytime.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm So Far Behind

EEEgads, the November Baltimore Style Magazine is coming out and new people will be reading the Dining Dish. I'm not quite sure what Style meant saying my blog was if Lucy Ricardo wrote a blog but I will take it as a compliment.

Okay, so all you new readers here is the poop on Dining Dish. I have multiple post to make but I don't seem to be getting to it. Here is the synopsis.


Yes cheap, we got the AARP discount at the Fenwick Inn the week after Labor Day at $39.50 a night for the room. We ate dinner at happy hour at Jordon's restaurant rooftop at our hotel with 1/2 a pound of shrimp for $3.50. Found a great cyber cafe
Java Surf Cafe - 15 Village of Fenwick. They have wonderful ice cream from Woodside Farm Creamery that was written up in Gourmet or Bon Appetit's August edition. The proprietor is Jeff Goldberg. Do stop in and tell him Dining Dish sent you.


I finally met my client, Donna Shields,RD, MS,CPT - an amazing woman. I have been working as her publicist since July and we finally met. She lives in Key West. We had a great time walking the show and dinner later at Sotto Sopra Restaurant I spent
a couple hours at the Maryland booth promoting tsp spices,certified organic spices conveniently premeasured and sealed in individual teaspoon packets.


Last summer while having lunch with Hiroko Shimbo at 11 Madison in New York she asked who I suggested to be on stage with her during a cooking demonstrations. I told her to reach out to Sara Moulton who is also a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and she did. Fast forward to October 1st when I day bus it to New York for the Japanese Food Show.

I was amazed when I walked into the lobby and an acquaintance I met a couple years ago with Wiley publishing said hello. She is now working for a very hip caterer. I start going to the booths, had some wonderful udon noodles, tasted the new soy paper and then scurried to get a seat for the cooking demonstrations. I squish by a couple of women and sit down only to realize it was Phoung Hoang and her daughter Lyly who used to own Hoang's restaurant in Baltimore. They now have a restaurant in Fairfax Virginia called Hoang's. I cried when they moved away from Baltimore, I just loved them and the education they gave me on Vietnamese Food. I had a great day with them, chatting with Hiroko and Sara Moulton. I even ran into three other people I knew, Lisa Ekus PR Maven,
Jamie Tiampo a fabulous food photographer and cookbook author, Julie Sahni.

Phoung Hoang, Sara Moulton, Hiroko Shimbo, LyLy Hoang


I wanted to give you a link to a story that Riccardo Bosio wrote about a dinner I fixed for him. Click here for the story This should keep you busy.


I still have the cookbook reviews to write..that will be sent with the Dining Dish E-newsletters, archives are at You can sign up here on the blog.


Hard to believe but the cookbook will be out October 25th. My co-compiler Jeff Spear and I will do big e-mail blast. We will be at the City Lit Project fundraiser Saturday, October 25th and the Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation will be selling the book to raise money as well. More to come.

WOMEN CHEFS DINNER - This Thursday in New York ...notes to come.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lemonade at Jack's Bistro

I’m not sure what others do when they have insomnia, it looks like I write on my blog.

I have had good intentions about writing about the correct way a restaurant can and did handle a bad situation.

The Who: Jack’s Bistro at 3123 Elliott Street, Baltimore, MD

The When: Last Week – Tuesday, August 28th

The What: Busted water heater on 2nd floor – damaged ceiling

I was in Canton for Koffee Talk Brew Happy Hour, had my token one drink, schmoozed, took some photographs for the web site and decided that I would go to Jack’s Bistro which was just a couple blocks. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about Jack’s so off I went to sit at the bar, peruse the scene and get a light bite.

Upon entering I see the chef and others sitting at the bar. “I’m sorry we’re closed” one of them stated and explained the busted water heater that destroyed part of the ceiling. "Here, please take this gift certificate and use it on your next trip, sorry for your convenience. Here is some crab salad to go."

I can think of many other places who would have just put a note on the door and gone home but these are very savvy people, they truly took the lemon and made lemonade. Before I left they handed me a walk-away menu with their specials.

Disappointed they were closed? Yes. Will I be back? Yes, and with friends.

P. S. The crab salad was excellent.

Jack's Bistro in Baltimore

Monday, August 13, 2007

Service Included - One Book, Two Reviews

One of the "hot" forthcoming books for the fall is Service Included: 4-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch. I read the review copy but didn't feel qualified to render a review for the subscribers of the Dining Dish E-Newsletter and the blog. Fortunately I have very talented and savvy Dining Dish subscribers/readers and two volunteered to read the review copy and render their opinions.

Our first reviewer is Barbara Tasch Ezratty. Barbara shares her time living in Puerto Rico and Baltimore. A talented women by anyone standards, she is a food critic in Puerto Rico as well as editor/author of cookbooks featuring What's Cooking - Que Se Cocina En Puerto Rico: An English-Spanish Cookbook, Kids in the Kitchen/Ninos En La Cocina: An English-Spanish Cookbook and The Great Chefs of Baltimore. Barbara also has her own publishing company.

Service Included: 4-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter
by Phoebe Damrosch
in stores September 25th

(William Morrow; $24.95; 240 pages; paperback; ISBN: 978-0-06-1228114-8)

Barbara Ezratty's Review:

Phoebe Damrosch, aspiring writer (at times); living in an apartment above her (ex) boyfriend in Williamsburg (Brooklyn); and out of a job, becomes a busboy (girl) in a funky café, which she describes as “rife with clichés: roaches in the dry goods, mice everywhere, shady finances, messy love affairs, drugs, theft, basement flooding and chefs with a penchant for throwing pots, pans and produce.”

So it’s perfectly natural that after a year of rising above such distractions, she would seek and be awarded with a job on the staff opening New York’s prestigious Per Se Restaurant, an offshoot of California icon chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry.

Service Included” takes us into the kitchen, dining room, aisles and hallways of Per Se, as Damrosch, as she learns how to be one of the best backservers (waiters) in the business. It also takes her into various bedrooms, until she finds Mr. Right.

But as fascinating as her love life might be, it’s the restaurant rules, disciplines and gossip that have us eating out of her hands. Once she was taught how to walk, stand, bow, and curtsy (they called it “the dance; the grace of serving”) … and learned the uses for assorted glassware, flatware, china and linens… and memorized the history of various foods and their suppliers, and the lineages of GCSB (goat, cow, sheep, and blue cheeses) … and knew each and every detail about the menu, she was ready to take the floor. Oh, almost: she also learned that “the secret to service is not servitude, but anticipating desire.”

For instance, when the New York Times critic arrived for his second visit with three tablemates, they each ordered separately from the Extended Chef’s Tasting menu, which totaled about 20 courses and close to 80 different dishes. Phoebe pulled it off.

Per Se is not a restaurant most people will pop into for lunch. But those who can afford lavish luxury become regulars. One sentence sticks with me: “some regulars spent $20,000 on their first visit.” And yes, that is enough to get them to the top of the lengthy reservations list each subsequent time they call.

But then again, look at what they get. Starting with Damrosch’s Diners Bill of Rights: the right to
1) Have your reservation honored;
2) Water;
3) Food ordered at the temperature the chef intended;
4) A clean, working bathroom;
5) Clean flatware, glassware, china, linen, tables and napkins;
6) Enough light to read a menu;
7) Hear a dining companion when they speak;
8) Be served until the restaurant’s advertised closing time;
9) Stay at your table as long as you like; and
10) Salt and pepper.

The fresh flowers are nice too. As is the sterling silverware. And an incredible wine list. All of this and total commitment by the wait staff.

In “Service Included,” Damrosch quotes a chef as saying “In an American breakfast of bacon and eggs, the chicken was involved but the pig was committed.” Damrosch says “This is a story about commitment to food, service, love, perfection and to being the bacon.”

Our second reviewer is veteran cookbook author, Linda West Eckhardt who possesses that rare quality known as voice. Linda is funny, authoritative, and unique both as a personality and a cooking talent. In addition to winning the James Beard Award, for Entertaining 101, Linda also won the Julia Child IACP Award for her innovative book, Bread in Half the Time, 1991 which was not only named the Best Cookbook in America for 1991, but also the best book on the subject of baking for that year.

In addition to a busy schedule writing books and magazine pieces, she co-hosts the national radio show “Don’t Talk with your Mouth Full” with Jennifer English on The Food and Wine Radio Network, nominated for a James Beard prize in 2002, and teaches monthly Master Classes at A Cook's’ Table, Baltimore, Md, as well as teaching in cooking schools from coast to coast and managing a small group of select food public relations clients.

Linda Eckhardt's Review:

Books about food have begun to climb not only to the best seller lists, but to lists of the Best by such luminaries as the editors at the New York Times. We’ve heard from the back of the house from chefs, see Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, we’ve begun to think deeply about food, see The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, and even the essayist David Foster Wallace chose a discursive bit on the plight of the lobster in the boiling water to head up his latest collection. But a waiter? How could a member of the front of the house staff cobble together enough words to make up a book?

Phoebe Damrosch, who, by her own admission, is not a painter/actor/artist who must earn her keep as a waiter, but rather the other way round, is a waiter who feels the urge to write it all down. And write she has. Miss Phoebe was one of the original wait staff at Thomas Keller’s Per Se, when it opened in the New York Time Warner Center. She was there for it all. The grueling training, the fire that shut the place down, the reviews by the big guns. And through it all, Miss Phoebe rose from bus person to Captain with a remarkable alacrity and managed in the process to create a book that I, personally, could not put down.

The book follows the expected memoir/confessional pattern that has fueled such books as the Devil Wears Prada with one notable exception. Miss Damrosch can actually write, and think. If you’ve ever wondered just exactly what’s at stake for a big restaurant when a notable reviewer, say Frank Bruni, of the New York Times, drops in, here’s your book. There is so much at stake, and the reviewer has so much power, that its quite mind boggling to read about.

But this book points up one thing clearly. The restaurant world is big business, and requires an army to keep it running. People, product, and beyond all that, a philosophy. You will learn a lot about Thomas Keller reading this book. But perhaps, more importantly, you’ll look at the wait staff in the next restaurant you go to, with a newfound respect. I recommend this book unreservedly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Cheez-It Tour

I was asked to help promote Cheez-It Crackers with their "BIG CHEESE" taste this weekend. My gig was to talk about the amazing 700 pound block of cheddar cheese that was carved by a Wisconsin cheese carver, Troy Landwehr into Mt. Rushmore. The carving is on a 15 day road trip in a brightly colored semi that has clear side walls.

Simple gig, talk the Cheez It talk and hand out samples. Like in life, things don't always run smoothly. My samples didn't arrive as well as my Cheez It t-shirt. So out to get bulk snack packs of Cheez It's - 500 packages. Another call, one of the walls of 1 lb Cheez Its on the truck had fallen down, could I, would I, go buy 100 boxes of Cheez Its and meet the touring truck at the Baltimore Farmer's market at 6:30 a.m. and rebuild the wall.

I had no problem with the snack packs but that warehouse store didn't carry the 1 lb boxes so off to Giant Food. I went to the service desk to see if they had cases of the 1 lb boxes. I heard her tell the other staff on the phone 1 lb off course they came out with the wrong size.
Okay, so now I went to the shelf and took every box that was in good shape off their shelves, 62--I counted them. I went to the service desk thinking it wise with such an unusual check out. The original young lady wasn't there and I was directed to take it through the regular check out line.

I proceeded to tell them I have 62 boxes. I was ask to put all the boxes on the conveyor belt where she scanned each box and more. They had charged me for 65 boxes. I told them to take 3 boxes off. No, they credited the whole thing and the supervisor with one box kept going by the scanner 62 times. What a chore and what an inane situation. Later that day I went to Shoppers where I picked up the 38 boxes. The checker counted the boxes and enter 38 times the price. Simple. Meantime Shoppers was having a sale at $2.50 and I paid $4.19 at Giant. If this is tedious reading you should have lived it. Now getting everything in my car and out of my little Corolla.

Out the door at 6:15 a.m to meet the truck at the Farmers Market. They ask him to move from the Saratoga street entrance to the Fallways entrance where he couldn't go because the truck was too tall. So everyone was staring at each other and I finally said, let's go back to Saratoga Street. Then once there to back in and then to move because the motor of the truck was driving the flower vendor crazy.

As Kenneth, the driver, and I tore down the wall of Cheez Its we had to store them and then load the 100 boxes. Kenneth and I both worked on gluing the boxes. When Kenneth had everything under control I went home for a bit and then off to meet the truck at the Bowie Walmart and then on to the Glen Burnie Walmart.

Pour Abe Lincoln's face was melting, or let's say compressing...he actually reminded me of a friend of mine.

We went through 1/2 the samples in no time flat but Kenneth had found some extra in storage. It was fun interacting with most the people, money was earned and I picked up some steamed crabs as my reward. Always a foodie ending.

You can see a picture of the Cheese Mt. Rushmore at this link

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top Chef Winner Ilan Hall - How He Got on the Show

Ilan Hall at Great Grapes in Annapolis Maryland explains the interview process that got him on Top Chef. Click on the title to see the video.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer International Fancy Food Show

After 2 days working at the Fancy Food Show and limited time to walk the floor I have come up with a couple of picks. Chocolate with booth mate and president of Tsp Spices mentioned it as well as Deann Bayliss of Frontera Grill...I made a beeline to Vosges Chocolate to taste it. It was good but after munching so much I really couldn't determine the bacon flavor. I will get more information.

Okay, the next item is soy salt which used aged soy sauce (3 years) and freeze dried it and you sprinkle it on your food. Also white soy sauce which is used in food dishes where you don't want the deep soy color. This is a combination of wheat and soy.

I had a great lunch with the bad boy of baking, Nick Malgieri at the Great New York Noodle Company (we dined there last year). Beef Mai Fun, Shrimp with Eggs, Roasted Pork, Millionaire's Chicken, Soft Shell Crabs - we were quite full. Nick was off to the butchers as we went and got some sorbet. More to tell later on. So those were my Fancy Food Show picks as nifty new items.

There was a proponderance of energy drinks and waters, organics (a whole new section adding about another 100 booths to the show). Wellness is what it is all about.

I will hope to have a newsletter out in the next two weeks.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In Search of the Holy Pizza

My food buddy and I decided to try two pizza places in Baltimore that have had rave reviews. We had an early start and off we went to Eastern Avenue to Matthews Pizza, which has won best pizza in Baltimore numerous times. I was extremely hungry with just eating a slice of watermelon all day. I was up and ready for this pizza. Since we knew we were heading to two pizza places we ordered the small margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil.

I have to admit I have a preference for thin crispy pizza, it doesn’t make it a better pizza, it just meets my personal likes. Matthews offers a thicker crust ..but then again it isn’t a crust, it seems more like a focaccia dough. The tomato was in cubed pieces with sufficient mozzarella and strips of baked basil. The texture was fine but the taste was bland. We both added more Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano and chili pepper flakes. The staff was pleasant enough but to me Matthew's wasn't "all that."Matthew's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Next, Joe Squared on North Avenue next to the Maryland Institute of Art Building. It isn’t in the best of neighborhoods. My companion wanted to sit at the bar which gave us the added benefit of 2nd hand cigarette smoke. I let it ride and put it in the atmosphere column. We settled in on the mushroom pizza with sautéed mushrooms and mushroom powder.

I thought I would order a cup of gumbo while we waited for the pizza. When the gumbo arrived it was a conglomerate of meat sauce, some shrimp like creatures, sausage, ground beef and okra…it was a mixture of what seems to be their Bolognese sauce and regular gumbo. It needs to be listed on the menu as Gumbonese. As we both are finishing the Gumbonese we were informed there were no mushrooms so we chose another pizza margarita. Another disappointment. The crust was thin and crispy but they seemed to have just spread tomato sauce on this square pizza with limited mozzarella and fresh strips of basil. It was lackluster except for the crust. We picked off the mozzarella on half the pizza and added it to the slices we were eating and left the naked slices.

Joe Squared seems like a cool hang-out for the art students but not worth my return. I found I was barstool dancing to some of the music but eventually there was too much rap. Was it Eugene O'Neill who said "you can't go home?" I can't go back, funky places are a part of my youth.Joe Squared Pizza and Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friendly's Revisted

I’m not usually swayed by television ads but there was something about the ad for Friendly’s burgers a couple months ago that had me salivating. Maybe it was that my husband has been dieting for months and we are eating salads almost nightly, maybe it was sense memory of a gooey mushroom Swiss burger I had 20 years ago, maybe I was sick of our Friday night restaurant haunts, in the end I craved their burger. This may not be something you expect from one who professes their love of foie gras, caviar and all things gourmet but I do have my dark side.

I convinced the husband to go outside of his 1 ½ mile radius for our Friday night restaurants to trek to Towson to Friendly’s Restaurant. Surprisingly, the husband ordered a bowl of their Manhattan clam chowder and a Caesar salad with grilled chicken (yup, another salad). For some reason beyond my own reasoning, I ordered a cup of chicken soup - knowing full well it would not taste homemade, and you guessed it, the mushroom Swiss burger - which now comes with smoky bacon.

I tasted the “home-made” clam chowder and it was really good, really tasty, much better than my soup and made a mental note to get it upon on my next visit. My burger arrived with an abundance of French fries that the husband inhaled. I took off the bacon, unhinged my jaw in preparation of this large burger, and bit into the nice juicy, gooey burger. It was Nirvana, the perfect burger for the perfect sense memory. I indulged in the "happy endings" hot fudge sundae to complete this degustation menu. His soup, my burger and the hot fudge sundae rocked my world that night.

I really need to find out who the ad agency is for Friendly’s because the ad must have some subliminal messages “you will go to Friendly’s”. Well, a new ad appeared on TV and you guessed it, it played, I craved and I had to go to Friendly’s. I was thinking juicy, gooey burger and a great cup of clam chowder. The husband agreed again to go outside his comfort zone for Friday night dinners but this time we went to the Friendly’s in Reisterstown. This outlet looked fresher in appearance, not as old as Towson’s.

I knew what I was going to have; you guessed it, the clam chowder, the mushroom Swiss burger and the hot fudge "happy ending" sundae. Well the clam chowder was tasty, maybe a bit saltier and the potatoes were hard. The cheese wasn’t quite melted on the burger and the mushrooms didn’t abound. The husband knew he was going off diet food so he did a burger as well, ate all the fries and then dipped into mine – he was a happy camper.

Maybe there would be a reprieve with the sundae. I asked the waitress for extra hot fudge. I wanted to totally indulge even though I was quite full, full indeed, from the soup and the burger. What I got was an extra cherry and no extra hot fudge. It wasn’t a bad meal it just wasn’t the one I expected. What I ended up with was a meal of a trillion calories, lots of cholesterol that wasn’t worth the anticipation or taste.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gelatin Man

Well folks, here is a photo I took at the opening event for the International Association of
Culinary Professionals in April. It was held at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago where the committee went all-out to prove that Chicago is a cutting-edge food town.

If you look at this photograph closely you will see that all the parts of this life-size gelatin man is made up of food. I bet Bill Cosby didn't think this when he was pushing Jell-O to the kids.

They also had mannequins clothed in food.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Up at 4 a.m. and ready to go by 5 a.m. on a ROAD TRIP to New York City. Camera, cell phone, mp3 player, one large empty suitcase, two totes, contact lens case and solution, cash, and two sandwiches on pumpernickel with butterfish and a selection of books-on-CD. My friend Jeff and I are off to New York for BookExpo America – the big show for the book industry. Seat belt buckled, hair pulled back in a scrunchy to keep it straight and ready for some serious doings on our ROAD TRIP.

At 5 a.m. there is no traffic on I95, and with Jeff’s EZPass we keep zipping along just talking away. We never seem to run out of conversation between his marketing business, my public relations business and our passion for food….yada yada yada. A quick pit stop and an oversized Crunch bar and we are in New York, parked and with the large empty suitcase in tow.

As an experienced BookExpo attendee, I immediately head to the special ticket counter where it is first come-first served for ‘celebrity author tickets’. Aah, I see Alan Alda is there with a book but they were out of his ticket and the same for James Patterson. I did get a Charles Grodin’s ticket.

BookExpo is not for the faint-of-heart. There are throngs of book retailers and librarians converging under one roof. Don’t get in the way of any librarian trying to get an autograph from Alan Alda, you will be trampled. I constantly felt like a car going the wrong direction on the Capitol Beltway at rush hour.

So visualize two floors of the entire Javits center. The lower back half are 34 partitioned lines where authors sit at the end autographing copies of just released books or galleys of forthcoming books. There are also authors signing at booths upstairs so you need to have an A, B, C plan and also having a friend help by standing in line and while your in a different one.

I take up what seems like permanent residency in the Silver Palate 25th Anniversary Edition autograph line. Ron Longe, publicity for Workman Publishing counts off heads. They only have 250 books to give away. From there it was to line 11 where Robby Benson was signing his book. He was more a teen actor and the original “Beast” in Beauty and the Beast. I looked at him and joked how he has grown up, with the long dark hair with streaks of grey. I had left Jeff in line for the Charles Grodin signing. Charles was always an entertaining actor and great conversationalist on the TV talk shows so I’m anxious to read his book.

Okay, we were pretty loaded with books so we go up to coat check and unload the totes of the books into the large suitcase. This will be one of three trips.

So we went upstairs with some time specific stops and on our way stopped at Cumberland House who is the publisher of YUM-tasty recipes from culinary greats, a cookbook co-authored by myself and ROAD TRIP buddy, Jeff Spear. Back lit in their booth is the image of our book cover which we had not seen and had little liberties as to the design. Of course, my name was spelled incorrectly but in their catalog it was all correct except for the book cover. Fingers crossed, they correct the cover. There is a lot to tell about the book project but for today, for the here-and-now, the book’s official release date is October, 2007.

We stopped to talk to two gentlemen who have a BBQ book coming out, a re-release as to where you find great BBQ in the country. Fate being with us, they were about to offer up some real BBQ. Jeff and I grabbed some slaw, BBQ chicken and beef, and corn. The only cool place in the convention center was the Press Room so off we went to enjoy our meal.

After our repast, we were off and running. There were many more books to get, many more authors to sign books. Actor Bruce Dern was promoting his upcoming memoir. I thanked him for entertaining us over the years and Jeff talked about Dern’s roll in Silent Running. Chris Kimball, Cooks Illustrated, was signing his new cookbook of lost recipes. I had a moment to chat about my old cookbook called Wartime. He seemed interested so I think we will take that contact to step two.

We ran into the Chef Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake in San Francisco. We thanked her for her recipe donation for our cookbook and munched on some of her chocolates that she had made. Elizabeth will have a cookbook release this fall.

At around 3 p.m. Jeff called uncle and proceeded to wait for me in the Press Room. I visited more booths, gathered more catalogs, and more books. By 4 p.m. we were leaving with the suitcase repacked and one tote of books for Jeff. We drop everything off at the car and grabbed a cab for to go to east 18th Street. Time to kill before our dinner reservations; we walked past Maury Rubin’s City Bakery, through Union Square’s farmers market to a tiny Italian restaurant where we had drinks and an appetizer. We high-fived each other considering all that we accomplished in a short time. Understand I had to jump to accomplish that feat. Jeff is well over 6 feet and I’m sure I’ve shrunk below my formal five foot tall status.

We were off to make our dinner reservations but the restaurant’s air condition was broken. We politely decline to stay and went to BLT for dinner. Their Saturday night special was a lobster tail, filet mignon, corn, and potato for $29.00. So after a hearty dinner, we were in a cab back to the parking lot, and on the road for home by 7:10 p.m. Jeff removed his boots and back into his sneakers. I had my shoes off, my contact lenses removed and my hair back up in the scrunchy and set to roll in record time. As we chatted about the day, our cookbook, food and what we did in our crazy younger years the Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young serenaded us on the way back home.

Jeff got the suitcase-from-hell out of the trunk and in my front door. The ROAD TRIP was over. We decided we need to do more, a day jaunt to the shore, maybe a Chinese Fire Drill here and there. Nothing says we have to act our age.

As for names of these books, I haven’t opened the suitcase. I’ve just rolled out of bed and thought while thoughts were fresh I would jot this down for the blog. I will write more about the subjects in the Book Expo Dining Dish special edition. It is only 8:21 a.m.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Is This What A Reality Show Feels Like?

I attended the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in Chicago in April. I want to share an experience I had and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had participating.


I'm up early, pumped to be participating in a workshop for food photographers and food stylists. I hopped on the bus taking us to Stephen Hamilton Photographics, our host studio for the day. You need to go to Stephen’s link not just to see his photographs but to see his studio – two full kitchens plus a small side kitchen, a room the size of my living and dining room filled with china, glassware and flatware (a dream for a plate junkie like me)…. this was big time.

I am not going to bore you with the panel discussion; it was pertinent to those in the room. What I am going to tell you about is the “challenge” set forth to the 40 stylists and photographers. Don Odiorne, a vice president at the Idaho Potato Commission presented the challenge of re-creating Tater Tots and having a completed photograph to go along with the campaign. No choosing teams, they were pre-arranged. We had about 30 minutes prior to lunch, plus lunch to come up with a concept. Ten strangers, ten different ideas that had to be narrowed to one concept, cooked, styled, and photographed in three hours.

As for my team, Team Red, we had photographers, a chef, and a representative from a manufacturer (I think), add me and a bright, vibrant stylist-chef, Danni Bleil to the mix and that was our team. My thoughts were, you liked Tater Tots as child, you’ll love them as an adult-reinventing them for an adult market. Danni had the idea take-off on the mashed potato martini bars and after what was a very, very, long, tedious discussion we came up with an adult drink concept with the Tater Tot garnish. By the time we went to the kitchen/studio I had become team leader (I got to make the presentation) and Danni was lead on the styling.

Let me say here and now, my styling skills have been for live cooking demonstrations and TV segments. I took the workshop to learn more about photographic styling. Danni showed me a fabulous mini photo album of beverages taken by Steve Adams , a photographer on our team. We immediately made him lead photographer. The team spent a lot of time coming to an agreement on a concept which left us last-in-line at the prop room. Then there was a problem with the camera/computer set up. If this kept up, as team leader, I knew Donald Trump would fire me in the board room.

To keep the odds even for each team, each were presented with identical food baskets. I’m trying to remember every teams work. One does sticks out, it was a Tater Tot baked with a Rolo (chocolate – caramel candy) on top - need I say more. One team made it mini foods by cutting the Tater Tot in half and making mini-burgers and the other team dressed them up for hors d’oeuvres.

Another team leader put together a PowerPoint presentation. I was in spasms about memorizing the presentation, at my age I’m lucky to remember why I walked into the next room. When I was advised I didn’t have to memorize it and could use notes, I was golden.

Team Red really pulled together after a very rocky start. Danni came up with the name, Tatertini, and I used my public relations/marketing skills to drive the team story home of opportunities in the adult market, co-branding with potato vodka companies, creating a signature drink that will boost sales and expand the advertising market to magazines like Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Santé. Steve Adams addressed how he photographed the product and we presented the photograph in color and in black and white.

I am pleased to say Team Red won the challenge, which I’m sure was obvious, why else would I write about it. As the winners we received a little potato doll and an autographed copy of Art Smith’s new cookbook. A cocktail reception awaited everyone with a wonderful lobster cerviche, wine and cheese. At the reception, two of my team members proceeded to tell me that couldn’t believe that we won, they thought our concept was, hmmm, let me paraphrase “stupid.”
Reality, what can I say – IT WAS A BLAST!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Second Chance to Save Chocolate

U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended its deadline regarding what can be called chocolate

Due to an overwhelming outcry from the public, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended its public comment period for proposed changes to the ingredients in chocolate from April 25th to June 25th. If the change in the ingredients listing passes, the FDA will allow chocolate companies to begin substituting artificial fats and vegetable oils for the naturally existing cocoa butter found in chocolate and they will still be able to label and call the final product “chocolate.”


The ‘why’ is simple. The mega-chocolate companies want to reduce their costs with the cheaper vegetable oils and then be able to pass the final product off on the public as chocolate. The recipe for chocolate has virtually been the same for hundreds of years; changing it now is not for better taste or health benefits, it is to keep the manufacturing costs down.

Art Pollard, founder of Amano Artisan Chocolate, one of the few small artisanal U. S. chocolate manufacturers, continues the fight to keep chocolate natural. Pollard states, “When you take the cocoa butter out of chocolate it’s like taking the cream out of ice cream and still calling it ice cream. Removing the cocoa butter and replacing it with artificial fats and vegetable oils creates a monstrosity, I call it FrankenChocolate.”

“As for the consumers, buyers beware,” says Pollard. “FrankenChocolate will leave the consumer misled, confused and ultimately dissatisfied. It is very important that the public fight this. If they do not, the chocolate we grew up with will never be the same.”

How YOU can save chocolate!

More detailed information and a link to where the public can leave comments for the FDA can be found at the Amano Chocolate's website
“Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolate has taken a very public stand against these proposed changes in chocolate,” states Amano Artisan Chocolate founder Art Pollard. “To the best of our knowledge, Guittard is the only large U. S. chocolate company to oppose these changes in a public way.” Guittard has created a website with additional information -

If the public doesn’t reach out to the FDA and make their voices heard they can be assured that grandma’s chocolate chip cookies will be full of artificial hydrogenated fats instead of the chocolate she intended.

Cause and Effect

As the giants of the chocolate industry create artificially low pricing, they are harming the industry over the long term. The replacement of cocoa butter with cheaper ingredients will depress the cocoa prices, forcing cocoa growers to look for other livelihoods. In fact, a number of growers are now cutting down trees to plant more profitable and less labor-intensive crops such as pineapple and passion fruit.

Cocoa farmers have long subsisted on the edge of poverty with the large chocolate makers paying only the bare minimum - just enough to ensure the next year’s harvest - a practice Amano Artisan chocolates decries. With the higher cocoa prices the labor situation on the Ivory Coast has been improving and diminishing the trafficking of children. By depressing the cocoa prices it will reverse all the gains made in protecting these children.

Menus * Substitutes * Cooking Recipes

As I touch this delicate paper cookbook/pamphlet, Wartime from July 1944, it starts to fall apart in my hands. My husband, a flea market-yard sale devotee, garnished this piece of history for me a couple of months ago. I thought I would share some of the interesting parts of this wartime food legacy with you.

Wartime rationing is not anything most of us have had to deal with in our lifetime. These were times when you didn't have strawberries in the dead of winter; no one knew about nutritional packaging, there were no TV dinners or fast food joints. In those days you barely had enough butter.

Recipe: How to Stretch Butter
1 envelope gelatin
1 lb. butter
1/4 cup cold water
1 14 1/2 oz. can evaporated milk
salt to taste

Soften the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water (about 5 minutes). Place over hot water and stir until the gelatin is thoroughly dissolved. Soften the butter but do not melt it. Gradually whip the milk and dissolved gelatin in to the butter with an egg beater or electric mixer. Salt to taste. A little yellow vegetable coloring may be added if desired. Pack in a glass container and chill before using. DO NOT USE FOR COOKING. This recipe yields 2 lbs.

Americanism was promoted when the US was at war in 1944. The opening line of the foreword "We, as a nation, are great meat eaters ." The closing line "This series has been carefully prepared with the hope that it will be of real practical value in helping your family and every other family using them to be healthy and happy American citizens."

The Lunch Box chapter continues with the Americanism. "Good foods and proper ones are the bases of healthy, strong bodies. Healthy men and women are vitally necessary to win this war. Yet many workers are not eating the proper foods to give them energy and "pep."

Here is a peppy recipe for a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich:

Butter two slices of bread. Spread one slice with peanut butter and one with jelly. Put the two together and brush the outside with melted butter. Sauté in butter in a heavy skillet.

Note-Marmalade, or jam may be used in place of jelly.

In 1944 there were Seven Basic Foods:

Group 1
Green and yellow vegetables-some raw, some cooked, frozen or canned
Group 2
Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, raw cabbage or salad greens
Group 3
Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits - (raw, dried or canned)
Group 4
Milk and milk products -fluid, evaporated, dried milk or cheese
Group 5
Meat, poultry, fish or eggs, or dried beans, peas, nuts or peanut butter
Group 6
Bread, flour and cereals - Natural whole grain or enriched or restored
Group 7
Butter and fortified margarine - (with added vitamin A)

In addition to the seven basic foods, eat any other foods you want.

Wartime offered a 2-week menu planner so one could appropriately take advantage of the leftovers, no waste. Probably the most unusual combination I saw recommended was a bacon and pickle sandwich on enriched white bread.

In the Vegetable Cooking section one can learn how to cook Jerusalem Artichokes. I didn't fathom that this was something grown in the US at that time.

What a gold mine Wartime is for a view of how we lived in the US during 1944. I hope you enjoyed this snippet of history.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm a Walmart Special

The cookbook I compiled with Jeff Spear, Yum ~ Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats isn't even published yet and its being discounted from 26.95 to 16.47 on or let me translate that to yen, because yes, we're discounted in Japan as well- regular price 3,089 yen reduced to 2,781 yen. Why do I feel so dirty, demeaned ...I'm on sale at Walmart with that little trigger happy yellow face cutting the prices even more.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Little Exercise and Lots of Food

Took a walk yesterday for an hour and I did water aerobics for an hour today, suspended with no floatation device. My reward for the exercise was going out to lunch with Jeff Spear from Studio Spear. We talked business about the new cookbook we compiled coming out October 1st called YUM. The profits will go to the national charity. We hit Thai Landing and I had some average won ton soup but a wonderful bean thread salad with chicken and shrimp. I am so full!

Thrilled the sun is shining. Working from home has its benefits but I do find that there can be days-on-end that I don’t walk out of the house.

What’s up in Dining Dish land? Last Monday night was the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Annual Gala. Michael Birchenall, editor of Mid Atlantic Food Service Monthly, won the allied member award, and deservedly so. Michael hosted my husband and I at his table along with Andrew and Liz Evans of the award-winning and much publicized Inn at Easton.

Watch out Baltimore restaurateurs, Michael Birchenall has set me loose with my camera for a new photo section call Balti-More. You never know when I’m going to snap your photo.

I didn’t tell you I had just gotten back from 5 days in Chicago at the International Association of Culinary Professional’s conference where eating and drinking were a prerequisite. That is another blog story with photos.

So Monday had been the RAM gala and Tuesday was the 11th Anniversary at Sotto Sopra Restaurant. It was communal dining, family-style service (note the photos below). Riccardo doesn’t know how to do things in a small way. Platters of salads, then seafood, half lobsters for all, two risottos, grilled meats and braised lamb …too much but everyone loved it. Abudanza!

Lots of work on my plate---pun intended. Back to the paying jobs.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dining Dish is Alive and Well and Not Living in Paris

No recent Dining Dish Newsletters. No posts to the blogs. I swear I am alive and well and living (that is questionable) in my office working on a cookbook. The time frame on the book is very tight, so tight I haven't even made it to the gym. I continue to represent and promote Sotto Sopra Restaurant . Also on the table, pun intended, is planning the marketing and public relations on the opening of Pazza Luna Restaurant in February. Dining Dish has to eat so the paying jobs have come first.

I was in New York in September for the Star Chefs Conference. November had me in Atlanta for the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Conference. December I was back in New York for lunch and restaurant look-sees. I have a ton of material to write about. Don't give up on me. I promise to be back and delectably informative.

Good news, bad news. I receive a fabulous digital camera for the holidays. More personalized photos to follow.

So between recipe testing, recipe editing and promoting a new restaurant not much time for anything else.

To those who understand the title of this article, right now I wish I was Jacques Brel for I would be in Paris.

Keep the Sizzle Going!



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