Matt & Cheese!

Hey folks!  I’m super excited about this quick little teaser for a new video series project I’m working on with a really incredible production team. In the upcoming video I’ll take you behind the scenes in my studio as I work on some cheese related stuff, check back soon for the complete video. In the meantime enjoy my big fat giant head, won’t you?

Bound By Love and Honor. And Mayo.

I live my life according to these Four Culinary Truths:

  1. Nothing is better than food shared with friends.
  2. Know where your food comes from.
  3. Slow down, pay attention and enjoy the moment.
  4. Anything Swimming In Mayo Is A Salad.

While I earnestly try to live by items 1 through 3 I must admit just a little facetiousness with the last little entry. But I do marvel at those bowls of creamy offerings presented from coast to coast. You know what I’m talking about: Potato Salad (bound in mayo), Salad Olivier (bound in mayo), Lobster Salad (bound in mayo), I could go on. No, really, I could go on. Because I just happen to love things held together with mayonnaise. Probably a bit too much. And therein lies a problem: I live inside a constant battlezone where salads swimming in mayonnaise call my name every single second of the day. Even if it’s only in my head.

For the record there is nothing wrong with mayonnaise. There is nothing bad with jars of mayo nor handmade creations. There is pure delight in dipping vegetables in it and adding it to spreads and sandwiches. I will never be a Mayo Hater. I’m more of a Mayo Lover Who Has Learned To Control The Urge To Add It To Everything. And why is this? Because I try to adhere to the belief that I should only consume as many calories as I’m willing to burn on a daily basis or something like it. As 40 approaches this becomes more important to me. But enough about my dietary habits. That’s the stuff of boredom.

Try as I may to limit my mayo intake (Okinomiyaki with generous ribbons of Kewpie Mayonnaise on top doesn’t count because it’s Japanese and self-rationalization is a powerful thing) there are just some things that are unavoidable. Currently it’s my fixation with Broccoli Crunch Salad. I have no idea where this salad comes from but the combination of raw broccoli with the sweet bites of raisins and the crunch of nuts makes me so very happy. Oh, and did I mention it’s got mayonnaise all over it? Hellz to the yea.

It’s a very simple salad to make as nothing is cooked. One could argue that bacon is essential to a Broccoli Crunch Salad but it goes against being a very quick salad as you’ll have to fry some up. I don’t believe in cooking bacon to just add it to a salad, no way. It’s too much trouble for me. Is that heresy in this porcine-obsessed country? Probably. But I honestly don’t miss it in this version of Broccoli Crunch Salad. Made with Mayo. Made with Mayo. Made with Mayo.

God I just love typing that.

Broccoli Crunch Salad
You’ll find versions of this salad all over the interwebs. This recipe was adapted from Some ask for a quick blanching of the broccoli, others cook it until it’s mush. Why bother? I don’t mind raw broccoli but some of you will surely scoff. Go ahead. I’m used to it. And please note that these measurements here are only guides and a salad like this is adaptable. Add more of something if you like.

4 cups of broccoli flowerettes, chopped
2 green onions, diced with both white and green
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 handfuls of golden raisins
2 handfuls of sunflower seeds
1 handful of walnuts

1 cup of Mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons of cider vinegar

Mix the dressing ingredients. Toss over the salad ingredients and chill. You can use less dressing if you’d like, it doesn’t have to be completely coated.

Food Blogger Camp at Club Med – My Top 10

Our week at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico has come and gone. I had every good intention of being as diligent as my fellow bloggers who posted regularly, but a scientifically-proven physical reaction occurs whenever you combine these elements: Cerveza, sunshine, beach and great company. You cannot blog. You cannot stand up straight. Every tendon and corpuscle fills with an antidote for working. It’s only now that I’m able to sit at my computer and gather my thoughts. And I’m pretty sure my shorts are still filled with sand.

Last week Adam and I headed to Club Med Ixtapa for the 2nd Annual Food Blogger Camp. I joined a team of my fellow bloggers and led a workshop on food photography while Adam taught a very informative session of food styling for food bloggers. The camp was attended by several food bloggers from all over the world, some I know quite well and many new faces that I’ve come to adore in just one short week. Our days were filled with extremely informative lessons about writing for blogs, best practices and all things creative while our nights were filled with cocktail hour(s) and amazing dinners overlooking the pacific ocean. There were daily activities like market tours, fishing trips and trapeze acts but I cannot convey the true beauty of the entire weekend: Club Med’s gracious resort and the amazing people I met.

My head is still water logged and I have no doubt I’m still on Mexican time. Please enjoy my Food Blogger Camp at Club Med Ixtapa Top 10 List and when you’re done would you pass me another beer? Gracias.

10. Tortillas
A great tortilla is a marvel: warm, fluffy yet dense with a chewy texture and true corn flavor. One bite and you begin to curse the grocery store variety for its lack of character and its boring uniformity. Luckily for all of us we were treated to glorious handmade tortillas three times a day: as the base for a hearty huevos rancheros, wrapped around tender lengua for lunch, and as an ancient utensil for folding around mole de pollo for dinner. And the tortillas de maiz were just so perfect that no plate ever went uncovered with at least a few thrown on top for good measure. Many times I’d tuck spoonfuls of fresh guacamole inside, top with a sprinkle of salty cotija cheese and dollops of cool-yet-picante salsa y nada mas. A perfect lunch.

9. The People
The more I teach the more I learn. And this past week I may have stood up in front of a tripod and monitor with a plate of tropical fruit but the real lesson was learning from everyone who attended. I’ve learned so many things, been touched by so many personalities and made new friends that I cannot wait to see again. Oslo, here we come.

8. La Playa
Be still my heart. Warm water invites you in as rocky islands stand guard in the distance. Add a constant sticky breeze to the mix and you know you are in Mexico and no place else. Our collective goal was to sneak in beach time in whenever we could, engaging in shoptalk from lounge chairs as we sipped margaritas and beer. And the constant back and forth between Ruhlman and Lebovitz added fireworks to an otherwise lazy afternoon. Just so you know, they’re both always correct.

7. Plenty of Lebovitz Isles & Ixtapa Cocktails
Allow me to take credit for the naming of a delicious cocktail that was once ordered by David Lebovitz in the Bahamas. His preferred sippy was a drink made from champagne and pineapple juice. And folks, it’s goooood. So yea, we had plenty of Lebovitz Isles all week long as well as the resort’s signature drink, The Ixtapa. Muddle slices of lime, orange and pineapple, top with soda water, tequila, a splash of peach schnapps and add plenty of ice. You’re welcome.

Despite appearances I was enjoying it. Really.

6. Trapeze
Flailing high in the air doesn’t make my list because it was fun but rather for the lessons it taught me about life: sometimes no amount of harnesses or belts can keep you from looking like a fool. You simply must go for it, put one foot in front of the other and let go.

5. The workshops
This was the real reason we were all in Ixtapa, after all. And the amount of helpful information and the exchange of ideas has proven invaluable. It was an eye-opening experience to discuss best blogging practices, what motivates us to blog, how to style a gorgeous plate and to incorporate multimedia into our sites. Word on the streets is that this will happen again, I’m not going to miss it for the world. Make sure to check out the end of this post for workshop summaries.

4. The Ruhlmans
What a lovely couple they are. Donna rocks. And that Michael, well, he’s just filled with so much passion for his craft you cannot help but feel the inspiration. The man is a wonder with his words and has helped me to challenge my own ideas about cooking. I forgot to ask him to sign my copy of Ratio but it was in use every day: 1/3 beers, 1/3 margaritas and 1/3 endless guacamole makes the perfect happy hour.

3. David Lebovitz. Even when he reveals my most private and tender moments on the high wire I still can’t help but cherish our friendship. Paris is so lucky.

2. The  Mercado
We sneaked out early one morning with our best friends to experience the market in Zihuatanejo. Diane is the world’s best guide, fearlessly moving towards the good stuff like a fish swimming upstream. You’re wise to follow her lead lest you get left behind. At the market we sampled local fruit and tacos de carnitas washed down with beer. The market ladies greeted us with smiles, stopping to ask me about Adam’s tattoos and jewelry to which one clerk coyishly called out “Guapo!” Tell me something I don’t know!

1. The Lady Miss Jaden
I’m stating the obvious when I tell you that they broke the mold after making Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. Gorgeous, sharp as a tack, funny as hell, the more time I spend with her I just can’t help but love her that much more. And between Steamy Kitchen, her fantastic family and recent book, Jaden’s flawless organization kept us together the entire week like a true professional. How on earth does she do it? I have mad respect for this woman. Thank you Jaden!

Related Posts from Food Blogger Camp Participants
Food Blogger Camp, Part 1 (David Lebovitz)

Food Blogger Camp, Part 2 (David Lebovitz)

All I Got From Food Blogger Camp… (Steamy Kitchen)

Food Blogger Camp: Food Writing, Photography & Styling Tips (White on Rice Couple)

Food Photography, Getting a Cookbook Deal & Zihua Market (White on Rice Couple)

Food Blogger Camp at Club Med Ixtapa (Dianasaur Dishes)

Clicking the Mental Refresh Button in Ixtapa (Foodspiration)

Food Blogger Camp Part Uno (A Beach Home Companion)

Food Blogger Camp Part Dos (A Beach Home Companion)

Food Blogger Camp Part Tres (A Beach Home Companion)

Kickin’ It at Food Blogger Camp (Dianne Jacob)

Food Blogger Camp Tips & Insights (Dianne Jacob)

Sensuous Writing with Corn Pops (Dianne Jacob)

Eating in Paradise (Frantastic Food)

Sunset (Frantastic Food)

A Day at the Beach (Frantastic Food)

And He Said, “Let there be light” (Frantastic Food)

Constants (and Tequila) (Vanilla Garlic)

Zihuatanejo Market: A Short Tour (Vanilla Garlic)

Food Blog Camp Flickr Pool (Photos)

Food Blogger Camp: Ixtapa, Mexico 2010 (RecipeGirl)

Ixtapa Food Blogger Camp Recap (Wasabimon)

Over at Design*Sponge…

Last month Adam and I did some work for Design*Sponge’s In The Kitchen With Column. Our friend Kristina, the column’s editor, was in town from Rome and we spent a marvelous day styling and photographing. I had a slight creative melt-down over one of the recipe’s images, more on that later. But it’s always a blast working with Grace and Kristina. Make sure you head over there for the recipe for this delicious salad and check out the column over the next couple of weeks. Have a great weekend and for those of you heading to the Food Blogging Camp in Mexico this weekend I’ll see you guys soon!

Mexican Pastries


As I prepare for an upcoming trip down south to Mexico with a few of my brilliantly beautiful blogging besties as well as the one-and-only-Michael-Ruhlman I thought I’d share a photo with you taken by my amazing friend Gabriel Goldberg. A few months ago I asked if he would come over and photograph me with a concept I had. After brainstorming and a little bit of set building our sweet pink wonderland we spent the day laughing, lighting and crawling under tables and c-stands. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had and being in front of the camera is a million times harder than being behind it, trust me on this one.  Luckily for me I was in the hands of an amazing photographer who usually only shoots people that are famous, beautiful, beautiful and famous, beautiful and famous with .0002156% body fat and other assorted gorgeous Hollywood types. It was great to just let go and enjoy the moment and embrace my silly side because folks, you know how incredibly serious I am most of the time, don’t you?

Enjoy my head in a box but know this: if  you sing the SNL song about something else in a box while referencing me I promise to pinch your arm really really really hard like my mom did to me when I started acting up while shopping at Woolworth’s as a child. And then I’ll join you in song.

And just so you know it did take forever to screw my head back on.