Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On the half shell

We went on a little adventure up the coast this past weekend.  It was my special someone's birthday and I planned a relaxing few days in Bodega Bay.  But what made me pick Bodega Bay was actually an area about 20 miles south of it: Tomales Bay.  If you like oysters and live in the Bay Area, you should know about Tomales Bay and specifically Hog Island Oysters.  There is also Tomales Bay Oyster Company for those who want options!  We LOVE oysters on the half shell.  Actually prefer them over grilled/cooked oysters!  So I made my reservations at Hog Island before I decided where we were going to stay in the area!  Fortunately, there are many options right up the coast.
Un-shucked Sweetwater Oysters from Hog Island Oyster Farm
Perfect, and ready to down!

Along with wine, avocados, Dungeness crab, artichokes, olallieberries, garlic, Thomas Keller and sourdough bread, oysters can also join this list of "California does it better".  I love West Coast oysters and the ones from Tomales Bay are fantastic.  I'd been waiting years to get to the Farm (and was excited to disguise it as a birthday stop for my man!)
There is a lot of construction going on right now as they expand (notice far right)
If you just want to eat Hog Island Oysters, you can go to the Ferry Building in San Francisco or the Oxbow Market in Napa.  Sit at the bar, order them shucked with a glass of white wine and some crunchy French bread and you're good to go!  But if you want a different, more hands-on and memorable experience - head across the Golden Gate bridge and up Highway 1 about 45 minutes north of the city and you'll be at the Hog Island Oyster Farm.
If you're shucking - buy your oysters here (for shucked, around the corner at The Boat Bar)
Clams and oysters for sale today
The oysters are about half as much if you shuck yourself!
It's sort of shi-shi, rustic here.  Where hipsters and yuppies can break bread (and oyster shells) while sitting astride picnic tables and chatting each other up.  I might wager a guess that this is the only business in Marshall, CA that has a valet out front (for strictly practical reasons tho, not the glam factor).  However, we rolled in on a Friday afternoon which is still rather light, and said hello to the valet after we parked our own car right in front.  We checked with him upon leaving and he'd parked 8 cars, but was planning for 3-4 times that, come weekend...

Here's how picnicking at Hog Island works...

[Because I am a foodie and a thorough/organized perfectionist] I packed up half my kitchen and trekked it all to our picnic table.  I had originally made a reservation (they book up THREE months in advance on weekends!) but since it was so light that Friday, we didn't really end up keeping it.  We checked in at the bar, picked a picnic table and started setting up our food-stuffs.  When I said rustic, I meant rustic.  There is no indoor place to eat.  You either buy shucked oysters and sit at a picnic table to eat them, or you buy unshucked oysters and sit at a picnic table to eat them.

With all the gear you could possibly need...
It got very easy very quickly!
But we were there for the experience.  We got a quick lesson in shucking, then opened a tab at the oyster bar and dug into some small Sweetwater oysters!  Shucking was not difficult after the first 2-3 and the oysters were delicious.  Smooth, plump and creamy...  I made a shallot jalapeño mignonette which went over VERY well with the birthday boy.  We managed to break into 36 oysters - I think we beat some personal records, but once you start you just don't want to stop!

Get in my tummy please!!
Brought other picnicky items and ended up making them into a fantastic grilled cheese sammie!
Forgot to get an "after" shot: Gruyère & St. Andre cheeses, tomatoes and prosciutto!
On this particular October Friday, the weather was PER-FECT.  In typical California coastal weather fashion, Fall is beautiful and clear.  The sun was warm while the air was cool.  Music flitted past the tables.  As we shucked and ate and BBQed, you can't help but befriend your neighboring picnickers.  We didn't want to start our own BBQ but were able to toast a grilled cheese sammie on our friendly neighbors' after chatting for a while.  It was all very pleasant and nice.

Making friends, shucking oysters, enjoying the sun, pigging out...
A shucking master now?...
I came prepared (as I frequently do...)
So what do you need if you go on an oyster picnic?  I highly recommend the following:
  • shallot jalapeño mignonette (recipe below), lemons, hot sauce, horseradish
  • a chilled Riesling and (real!) wine glasses - don't forget your corkscrew
  • crusty bread (ciabatta, French or sourdough)
  • your favorite cheeses (I brought Gruyère and St. Andre triple creme)
  • meats (prosciutto, salami, deli meats)
  • veggies (tomatoes, carrot sticks)
  • fruit (melons, berries, apples)
  • cookies or brownies (I brought homemade crispy oatmeal chocolate chip)
  • since we ended up grilling our cheese sandwich, I also had tin foil, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper, olive oil
  • knives for spreading and cutting, small forks for the oysters, spoons for the sauces
  • tablecloth, napkins or paper towels
  • wet wipes and a plastic bag for transporting dirty items home
Shallot Jalapeño Mignonette:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 large shallot, finely diced
1/2 - 1 teaspoons (per your taste) seeded Jalapeño pepper, minced

Combine all together and serve with oysters.  Will keep for a long time in the fridge (up to a month).  
If you don't have the mirin, it's fine to opt out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perfectly salted

Note: in response to the requests for my recipe...I'm really very sorry, but since this is a potential business venture for me, I won't be publicizing the recipe. However, if somehow/some way it is successful and grows - you could then order some! :)

It's a slow afternoon.  That doesn't happen too often as is perhaps illustrated by the amount of time that has passed since my last blog post.  I know I've made these empty promises over the last year that I *will* get back to my blog and *will* try to post with more frequency.  But I guess I'm not gonna say that anymore since clearly - I won't.  But it doesn't mean I'm gone forever!  It just means that life is so busy and full that you will have to be patient between postings!!

I'm really not cooking a whole lot of new stuff.  And only baking for special occasions.  But you know what I AM making a lot of?  Like literally by the hundreds?  Caramels...

This might be the perfect little candy...

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels to be exact.  This is an old, old recipe that my aunties have been making for my entire life (and I suppose, longer).  Originally there was no vanilla bean, no salt, and included walnuts.  The aunties would make huge batches around the holidays and they were given out as gifts.  And occasionally off-season, if you showed up at someone's house they'd bring a bag out of the freezer and you had to be PATIENT as the caramels warmed to room temperature...or just chip a tooth (they're just about worth the sacrifice.)

I don't precisely recall when I started playing with the recipe.  It was probably a few years ago when I was making marshmallows and decided I wanted to attempt a "Scotch Kiss" à la See's Candy.  The scotch kisses (caramel covered marshmallows) didn't work so well due to the caramel hardening too quickly, but one thing I did discover is that the family caramel recipe is incredible!!
For the Bake Sale I made about 240 caramels - that is one HUGE batch

I had a large batch of vanilla beans -- Costco had been selling them.  And this was also about the time salted-fill-in-the-blank was becoming so popular on the dessert scene.  It of course started with caramel (salted caramel ice cream practically went viral), but I was also seeing salt sprinkled on chocolate and various chocolate tarts and even over unsalted butter to serve with bread at restaurants.  I personally love the flavor and crunch a sprinkling of salt adds to an item.

And there we have it.  I took out the nuts (woulda been a lot going on in there), threw in some vanilla bean, sprinkled them with sea salt and watched them get devoured.

The cutting and wrapping really is the hardest part - takes FOREVER

I've always said one of the reasons I love to cook and bake so much is to watch people enjoy the food I make.  Maybe it's an ego-boost, so maybe it's semi-selfish of me.  But who cares.  Making people happy is making people happy!  And I have not seen people get quite so happy about something I've turned out of my kitchen since the latest batch of macs!  People LOVE these caramels.  How simple it is to toss a few in a baggie and deliver them to a friend over lunch, dinner, coffee and then watch them smile!

Call me crazy and oddly frugal, but I cut my own wrappers out of wax paper too

They're very tedious to make (all that cutting and wrapping) but they keep forever in the freezer!  And they don't get crushed under the weight of a tissue (like macarons, I swear...)  So I'm loving my salted caramels.

In fact, I'm loving them so much - and so is everyone else - that I'm thinking I might start selling them to friends locally.  Just to test out the demand.  So friends - stay tuned!!  And watch Facebook!  And if you're not on Facebook - then I guess you won't get any... but who's not on Facebook?!!

I don't always enjoy eating my creations, but these I will devour!!

Depending on how this goes, maybe I'll expand and *gasp* ship.  And try new flavors - chocolate has already been attempted and is... fabulous!  But for now - the operation will remain small.  Small is good.  Small means I might actually still be able to blog once every few months...  like I just did, here!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trapped in paradise

I realize it's taken me like, two months to tell you about my entire Costa Rica trip, but a trip to the Monterey Peninsula and a very worthy bake sale took a handful of my blogging time away.  I also realize you might not even really care about the remainder of it but I write this for myself just as much as I write it for all of you.  And I guess I want to write a travel journal here!  If you don't know what I'm referring to, please click here.
Our third and final stop in Costa Rica: La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano)
Arenal Volcano loomed over us everywhere we went!
So... we left the rolling green hills and small quaint towns of Monteverde and headed down the mountain back to the heat and humidity.  Our next and last stop in Costa Rica was the town of La Fortuna.  However, La Fortuna is probably less well known by name than it is known for the active volcano whose shadow shades it: Arenal.
The drive out of the mountains towards the volcano in the distance

The "Jeep-Boat-Jeep" option from Monteverde to La Fortuna did not include a Jeep, but a van...
Arenal Volcano was thought to be extinct until it unexpectedly erupted in 1968 and killed over 70 people in the villages of Tabacón, San Luís and Pueblo Nuevo.  It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and while it should be viewed as a danger to the people living around it, it is also a fascinating draw to those who don't.  After the eruption in 1968, tourists began flocking to the area in droves, to see the steam and rocks it spits and marvel at its magnificence.
The doggies in La Fortuna know how to handle the heat and humidity

The town of La Fortuna sort of reminded me of a small California Central Valley town
Of course the small local towns and villages had to accommodate the tourist demand, but as will frequently occur, it seemed to happen hastily if not even a bit crudely.  La Fortuna shows signs of this for sure.  It's not really an attractive town, however there is no shortage of restaurants, tours operators, taxis or souvenir shops.  The area grew to accommodate the tourists as opposed to the tourists coming because it was such a lovely area.
We got fresh squeezed fruit juice smoothies everywhere we went!

The fact that we could see the top of the volcano most of the time was apparently very rare
At the other end of the spectrum are the large and luxurious resorts and hot springs which have popped up along the roads leading away from town.  They too, bank on the tourists and capitalize on the geothermal activity in the ground which produces naturally occurring hot springs.  And the people, they do come.
Our pricey prison ;)

One cannot complain that Tabacón was not gorgeous
We stayed at one of these places; perhaps the most famous, actually: Tabacón (named for the village the volcano buried 40 years ago).  I'd been told by 3 different friends that I had to stay here.  And I don't exactly regret that we did, though I have some mixed feelings about this place.  While it was gorgeous, had earned 5 stars and is considered one of the Leading Hotels of the World, I guess I am still too Chinese cheap for these accommodations.  The room was affordable in my book at under $200/night, but NOTHING else was.  No meal was less than $25 (even breakfast) and no drink was under $5 (even cans of soda).  The spa treatments cost more than some of the nicest spas in San Francisco and to "escape" to town cost $24 for a round-trip taxi.  Upon arrival we felt a bit "trapped".  But I suppose there are worse places to be trapped...
Can this be my room at home, too?

Some of the beautiful grounds at the hot springs
Tabacón is not only famous for being a luxury resort, it is famous for its prolific hot springs.  Set about a 1/4 mile from the hotel is the famous Grand Spa which we joked was like a Raging Waters for adults.  I lost count of the (supposedly all natural) hot spring pools and waterfalls that meandered through the expansive property.  They range in temperature from "holy-crap-I-think-I'm-sitting-in-lava" to "comfortable".  And fortunately for me (I get hot when the sun is out on a 65 °F day) there were also a couple man-made cooling pools.  I swear you could hear the steam sizzle off my skin as I'd drop into one of these...
Every pool you could see was open for lounging

Sitting under the waterfalls was basically equivalent to getting a massage
The one HUGE "cost savings" in staying at Tabacón is that unlimited access to the hot springs is included.  This is a pretty big deal since folks NOT staying at the resort are required to pay $60/day to access the hot springs.  And you can't pay hourly...  Not like anyone would really stay all day - I think we'd had enough after an hour or two each day.  But it still felt like a pretty good deal.
Patacones are flattened and fried plantains

We loved all these Central American Chinese sauces in the grocery store!!
We didn't do a whole lot else in La Fortuna, but that's partly because we'd already done a lot in Monteverde.  All those "typical" Costa Rican adventures (ziplining and the canopy tours) are available out of La Fortuna too.  So are white water rafting, waterfall repelling, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, etc.  But being on the tail-end of our trip we were happy to relax and spend our energy seeking out food which was not casado...
La Choza de Laurel - our lunch stop in La Fortuna

Beautiful presentation; food still tasted the same...
We did spend one day completely away from the resort.  We headed into town before noon and had lunch at a huge outdoor restaurant called La Choza de Laurel.  Food was very pretty to photograph and while it tasted good - it was nothing new.  We were getting so jaded by this point!  After lunch we took a cab to Arenal Waterfall where it cost us about $9 each to "hike" down to the waterfall.  By "hike" I mean descend a series of very steep steps.  Not so much, hiking but I was okay with this.  Arrival to the waterfall was speedy and cool, relatively speaking, since we were covered by shade the entire time.  The best part of this experience is that once you arrive at the waterfall, sweaty and sticky - you can jump in and swim in the water!
Steps on the "hike" down to Arenal Waterfall

You can see some people next to the falls for scale
As we waited at the Liberia airport to fly through Houston and back to San Francisco, we were dumbfounded at the number of Americans piled up waiting at each gate.  I think Spanish speakers were in the minority here.  It was just a little bit shocking to us.  We'd observed this repeatedly over the course of the last 9 days, perhaps commencing with the fact that we'd found our way to a "foreign" country where we didn't even need to exchange money.  But seeing all these Americans with iPods and laptops filling the small airport really drove it home.  
Breakfast in the room one morning

Our final view of Arenal Lake on the way to the airport
Costa Rica was a beautiful getaway and a wonderfully relaxing place to vacation.  There were fun activities and mini-adventures to be had.  The people were kind and made us feel safe.  And with the same time zone as Arizona, there is basically no jet-lag!  But the food was disappointing and the authenticity questionable.  It's sad to see what I'm certain is a beautiful culture and landscape transform itself to suit its tourists.  And yet this happens repeatedly in the big cities of third world countries.  We probably won't return, but this doesn't mean others shouldn't.  Just go knowing what you're getting into.  Take plenty of US dollars and remember you don't need electrical adapters.  You'll feel right at home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's coming...

"What's coming?" you ask?

"The BIG ONE!!!" I say.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area your next comment will be "oh yah... 'The Big One'. We've been hearing about 'The Big One' ever since Loma Prieta..."

But you are incorrect, since of course I'm not talking about an earthquake and instead am talking about San Francisco's SECOND ANNUAL FOOD BLOGGERS BAKE SALE!!!  And it is truly going to be BIG!
Gotcha, right?

But yes, it's true.  Remember last year?  We're doing it again this year!

This coming Saturday is the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale which is part of the Great American Bake Sale. Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking came up with the wonderful idea to invite food bloggers from across the country to unite and support the cause by holding bake sales in their states. May 14th is that day! Check out her list of food bloggers hosting bake sales in various states across the country.
Vanilla bean salted caramels are already made and will be there for sale on Saturday!!
Money raised will go towards Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America.

Anita, Shauna, Irvin and Annelies (and sorta, kinda, a little bit, moi) are generously hosting this year's sale during which we're hoping to DOUBLE our fundraising from last year, which was a whopping $1700!!  Yes, *just* 1 day of selling baked goods in San Francisco raised $1700 for Share Our Strength!
Join Us!!!
We have TWO locations this year.  At the last minute, I'm jumping in to manage the Kiehl's location and will be there at Kiehl's on Fillmore all day, Shauna and Annelies at 18 Reasons, and Anita and Irvin splitting time between both locations.

I'll have red velvet cupcakes for sale

And will also be selling cream puffs filled with vanilla custard

And if there's extra time - the "famous" chocolate chip cookies!

I'll be selling Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Vanilla Custard filled Cream Puffs and (time permitting) those "famous" Chocolate Chip Cookies.  But don't forget - there will also be 20+ more bakers contributing to the 18 Reasons location and 10+ more bakers contributing to the Kiehl's location!  Come early to get the best pickings!!

The Deets:

Where: 18 Reasons, 593 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
When: Saturday May 14th, 2011 from 10am-6pm
Who: Shauna, Annelies and 20+ additional food bloggers/bakers! Anita and Irvin will split their time between here and:

Where: Kiehls, 2360 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115-1813
When: Saturday May 14th, 2011 from 12pm-4pm
Who: I'll be here the entire time! And so will 10+ additional food bloggers/bakers.  Anita and Irvin will also be spending some time.

If you can't make it out or live too far from San Francisco, you can always make a donation from right here:
Click here to donate!

It's for a wonderful cause... but in reality - we'd prefer to meet you in person! Come on out - it's gonna be big!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I just returned from a gorgeous weekend on the Monterey Peninsula.  This weekend was something of a perfect storm for me.  I'd planned months ago to run a portion of the Big Sur Marathon on Sunday (10.6 miles to be exact.)  But as I poked around The Internets one night, I realized the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival was the same weekend!  Clearly, it was meant to be!  It was as if someone had wrapped up a weekend, tied it with a bow and handed it to me.  Eating and drinking, then running all in one of the most beautiful and charming areas of California!
Goat Cheese tart from Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas, TX
The hustle and bustle under the tents at the Grand Tasting on Saturday
I'd been wanting to go to Pebble Beach Food and Wine for a couple years now.  I remember seeing photos and reading statuses of my extremely lucky Facebook foodie friends last year and yearning for an opportunity to attend some time in the future.  Not so much to wine and dine and be fabulous, Dahling - but more to rub elbows (and perhaps protruding bellies) with some of the country's *pause* the world(?)'s greatest chefs!
Andre Bienvenu's crew working the Joe's Stone Crab booth (Andre was just to my right and not in the shot)
Joe's Stone Crab: Crab tamale and a butter rum shot -- yummy!
I pored over photos and blog posts dreaming of the spectacle it must have been...all these chefs in ONE PLACE?  What if there was an earthquake and everyone fell into a crevasse?  Could we as a world, risk placing all these amazing cooks in one place at one time?  Who would continue to receive Michelin stars?  Ok.... I over-dramatize a bit.  But it was still an occurrence I dreamed of witnessing with my own eyes (not the earthquake/crevasse bit - but the PBFW bit...)
Baby Burgers on brioche - from Justin Sledge of Calistoga Ranch
Tim Love of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, TX was serving more tamales (a popular item today!)
Hmm... well.... sooo....  while the event was almost fabulous, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed.  I knew my mind likely embellished the fabulousness of that which could be Pebble Beach Food and Wine, but even taking that into consideration, I was *still* disappointed.  I'm ridiculously thankful we were fortunate enough to receive comped tickets and didn't drop the $195 per person.  I'll save my $195 for an experience in a restaurant, thankyouverymuch.
Mindy Segal (far right) from Mindy's Hot Chocolate Restaurant in Chicago
It's not that the tents weren't beautiful or that the music wasn't fun and "club-like".  It's not that we didn't taste little bits of heaven here and there.  Nor was it that we couldn't have sampled 4-5 quadrillion wines.  In fact, for what it was - the event was nice.  There were lines, but they didn't take more than 10-15 minutes (and were made better if you had a sidekick to run and swoop up additional tidbits to bring back while you stood there and sipped wine).  It wasn't uncomfortably crowded nor were folks too pretentious or ostentatious (I said "too").  Really I was most disappointed by... the chefs.
Michael Ginor who is the co-founder, co-owner, & President of Hudson Valley Foie Gras & New York State Foie Gras
There was foie gras on this plate - I don't remember anything else because it doesn't matter... *drool*
OK, ok now let me fill in some blanks before I go off the deep end here.  We went on Saturday (perhaps they all came out to play on Sunday?) and we only attended the Lexus Grand Tasting as opposed to any other events.  I realize that the "schmancier" chefs perhaps were merely meandering with us Foodies under the tents that day.  Meanwhile for an extra $100-1000 one could hobnob with them more intimately at a cooking demo, lunch or dinner party, golf tournament, etc.  But the dreamlike delusions in my head saw me running from table to table, watching in awe as Daniel Boulud or Jacques Pépin or Christopher Kostow placed the finishing sprig of micro-green atop my pan-seared scallop with black truffles & butternut squash gratin, and gently handing it to me.  My bad.  This was not the case.
Jeremy Tummel of Stillwater Bar & Grill in Pebble Beach - cute isn't he?
More...tamales.  Crab too (not that they weren't good but why so many tamales?!)
Not that there weren't some incredible chefs at which I could ogle and whose food I could sample.  It just wasn't what I was expecting.  Jacques (and Claudine) Pépin did a demo, but they were not serving food.  Same goes for Michael Chiarello. Chefs like Charlie Trotter, Ming Tsai, Gary Danko and Tyler Florence were touted on the website, but I never once heard mention of them [at the Grand Tasting].  Again - maybe they were there on Sunday?  Or just doing demos... Or maybe they were just THERE hanging out and for that reason, PBFW can put them on the "Chefs List"?

The biggest "well known" chef serving food on Saturday was Tom Colicchio.  And really the people lined up at his booth were there to take photos of/with him and not to sample any food.  Wait, was he serving food?  Or just carving a pig...?
I spy Chris Cosentino (of Incanto in San Francisco) hiding behind Tom Colicchio!
What else would Tom Colicchio be doing other than carving a pig, right...??
I was also somewhat irritated and irked by the organization of the event.  While the website told me to go to the Inn at Spanish Bay for the Grand Tasting - the Grand Tasting was actually at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center: one of the stops along 17-Mile Drive.  We saw no signs along the route we traveled, to tell us this.  And it took us another half hour to find the Equestrian Center after leaving the Inn at Spanish Bay...  If we had paid $195 for a 3 hour event, only to arrive and be lost and confused for 45 minutes I would have been livid.  As it was, I was pretty frustrated...
Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas, TX
Kent Rathbun was serving truffle eggs with sweet pork belly bacon on toast
However, most of the time I'm a glass-half-full kind of person.  So I'm about done being overly critical of an event at which I really had a great time!  Moving on...
We're in berry country down here. It's like HEAVEN!  There was even a "berry station" along my run the next day!
Ohhhhh..... the berries.  They were PERFECT.
I knew one of my BBF's (Best Blogger Friend!), Anita would be there with her hubby, Mike and we'd planned to meet up with them.  But we were extremely lucky to literally BUMP into them about 20 yards into the tents!  Anita and I proceeded to run around like kids at Disneyland while our men patiently followed - making sure to fill up the wine glasses along the way.  What great guys...

I think that wine actually came into play here, because once Anita and I got going, we started shoulder tapping chef after chef to ask for photos - and were successful!
The wine made us a little braver: Bossy Lisa and Dessert First Girl pose with Daniel Boulud!
Next, Anita and I assaulted shoulder-tapped Michael Chiarello! (Funny, this is my 2nd photo with maybe 5 years)
One of the highlights of our traipsing that afternoon was stopping by Sherry Yard's booth.  Ms. Yard is of course THE pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck.  She's won a James Beard Award for Best Baking Cookbook and is responsible for some major dessert action at the Academy Awards (and the Grammys and the Emmys too...).
The famous Sherry Yard (head of pastry for Wolfgang Puck) with Yigit Pura (the first Top Chef Just Desserts winner)
My hand model proves that Sherry Yard *did* have macarons - they were just gone by the time I got there!
Ms. Yard's fantastic spread - Fantastic!
Not only is Sherry one AMAZING pastry-maker, she was totally fun and friendly and welcoming too.  She never stopped smiling even as people elbowed their way towards her sugary spread.  She happily answered questions and just seemed like such a NICE PERSON.  She had the most colorful and creative booth - nothing minimalist or modern or sleek.  It looked FUN.  It was pink and bubbly - just like Sherry.  On top of all of this, when Anita and I did our shoulder tapping here she not only welcomed a photo, she gave us cookies from her display (they were wrapping up and breaking down.)  And the icing on the cookie?  I mean cake?... when I mentioned to Sherry that Anita is basically The Sh%#, and dropped her blog name... Sherry had heard of it!  Warm fuzzies for Anita the rest of the day (and probably week? month?)
We totally look like BFFs, right??  And she gave us those cookies as she took down her display!
Anita joked to me that sometimes it's fun to pretend we're rich.  She's right.  As we both clutched our generously comped tickets (and giant colorful cookies on sticks) we did indeed feel lucky.  I shouldn't complain at all about an event to which I was *given* a ticket (tho it was not given by PBFW so I really don't owe them anything...)
Food bloggers unite! Anita, Lisa, Irvin and Sabrina
We were like little girls in a candy store!
At the end of the day we were stuffed silly, warmed by wine, excited at spotting a Baldwin brother and slightly high on capturing photos of ourselves with some notable culinarians.  It was a success as far as the day went.  And it's never a bad time when I'm with Anita!  I'm glad we went and I'm happy for the experience.  But I've taken note that until I no longer need to *pretend* I'm rich... I'll save this kind of money to sit, relax, and be served instead.