Announcing Food Blogger Camp & Free Trip Give-Away!


I’m going to try not to use words like “Yipeeee!” and “wowwza!” to describe how excited I am about this. Some food bloggers, a few you may know, have teamed up with Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico for the first ever Food Blog Camp.

This event in January includes Diane Cu and Todd Porter, Michael and Donna Ruhlman, me and my partner-in-crime Adam Pearson, Dianne Jacob, Jaden Hair, Elise Bauer and David Lebovitz.

Seminars include Food Writing With Your Senses, Best Blogging Practices, Building A Better Blog with Multimedia, From Blog To Book, and even Food Photography and Food Styling.  You can read more about them on the Club Med Insider site here.

In addition to the seminars there will also be some pretty nifty activities like a walking tour of the Zijuatanejo market, a visit to the fisherman’s market, as well as meet-and-greets with local farmers to talk about their sustainable agricultural practices. I’m pretty sure there will be some gorgeous sunsets thrown in there for good measure, too.

Hope to see you there! And make sure to check below to find out how to win a trip to the Food Blogger Camp!

To sign up, visit the Food Blog Camp booking page.

1. At the bottom of the page, click where it says Click Here to Book

2. Use Login: blogger, Password: 160606, to get the special ‘Food Blog Camp’ discount price of $599 to $999 US based on double-occupancy for this all-inclusive trip.

3. There will be a drop-down menu so choose ‘Ixtapa’, and type in the dates: January 9-16, and 7 days for length of stay. You can come for less days, or all of them. (3-day packages are $599.) The booking page will open showing the discounted price just underneath the regular price. (It will say “Best Available Offer: Food Blogger Camp”) A slightly-higher price may be shown if you’re basing your search on single-occupancy. The $999 US 7-day price is based on double-occupancy.

Other questions*? Call 1-888-WebClub

Win a Free Trip!

Club Med is giving away a place free to one participant. Included will be all seminars, room, meals, and beverages. Airfare from anywhere in the continental United States is included. To enter, all you need to do is to leave a comment here, and if you wish, at any of the websites of the other participants listed below, and/or by following Club Med Insider on Twitter.

The more sites that you post on, the more your chances are of winning. Although you can comment at each of the sites, only one comment per site. Entrants who make more than one comment per site will be disqualified.

(Please note that due to time differences, the various participants will be posting their entries at various times. Kindly be patient and when they do post, you’re welcome to leave a comment there to enter the contest.)

The contest begins now and ends on Sunday September 13, 2009 at 11:59 p.m EST (US). A winner will be drawn at random from the participating websites and the Twitter followers on or around September 15, 2009. Winner may bring a guest for the discounted price of a double occupancy room. Their airfare is not included.

This event is open to all food bloggers and the winning includes attendance at all the seminars. When you leave your comment, please leave a link to your blog in the URL.

Please read the contest rules before entering. If you do register and end up being the winner, your payment will be refunded.

For more information, check out the Food Blogger Camp website.

And please note that due to the number of entries I won’t be able to answer any questions personally about the contest. For booking or other questions, please call 1-888-WebClub

(and the photo above was taken earlier in the year in the Bahamas and isn’t representative of who will be in Mexico. Although it’s pretty darn close!)

Carne Asada Fries. Bong Not Included.


I love living in California. We pay too much to live here, teeter on the brink of earthquakes and state budget emergencies, and wholeheartedly embrace political correctness as a lifestyle. Not that you could tell what we embrace, on account on those botoxed foreheads and stuff. And this is just Southern California; don’t even get me started on my Northern California Relatives. In fact, while in Santa Monica last week I encounted no fewer than three-hundred-and-forty-seven placards letting me know that I could park only on the street between the hours of 8 to 1, that I couldn’t park there because my car used gasoline, no, wait, that the spot was actually reserved for visually-impaired drivers, or that the parking meter I did actually find didn’t take money but some kind of space-aged FOB made out of recycled water bottles and–my favorite– to be quiet or not to honk or block the intersection or use peanut oil out of respect for those with allergies.

It’s really enough to make someone want to move to the IE, I tell you.

But on those moments when California does get it right, well, it’s a beautiful thing.  You could be as wacky or flamboyant as you want and no one notices. You can drink bottles and bottles and bottles of wine from your backyard. You can lose your winter coat. You can worship at the alter of vanity and spandex and feel rewarded and no one will look at you funny when you hold a soy latte and say  “I’m currently workshopping my treatment.”  And you can even make nachos out of fries.


I’m sure to get many comments and emails about this when I claim this is a Southern California Original. But while my research is limited, my appetite is huge. And do I care whether these things were born in San Diego or San Isidro? Not really. I’m sticking to the version of this story I’ve made up in my head that involves a taco shack, a surfer, an ounce of Blue Mystic and some rolling papers. Because really, how else would these things come to be? It’s the collision of Mexican Cuisine and an American Favorite, a big salty pileup that takes no prisoners and requires you, the eater, to really really really really want it like you’ve never wanted anything before. Because this dish isn’t for wimps, purists or those afraid of getting dirty. It is what it is and it’s freaking marvelous.

And do you really need a recipe for this? Aw, well, ok, I’ll indulge you. Grab that slab of Carne Asada and chop it ever so aggressively into small chunks of meat. Top the french fries of your choice (double-fried method for me, thankyouverymuch) with the carne and then go absolutely insane with cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapeños, queso fresco, whatever…you see where I’m going with this. There’s no rhyme nor reason. And why would you expect there to be? And while we’re still on the topic, you do have my permission to go crazy when no one’s looking and dig in and thank the great State of California for her culinary greasiness, er, I mean greatness.  Lord knows I did twice this past week.

And I don’t even smoke pot.

Tortilla Soup for A January Summer


Let’s pretend for just a tiny moment that it has not been in the 80s here in Los Angeles over the past few days. We can also pretend that I did not lay outside in shorts and no t-shirt in the sun on a big madras print blanket with a book and three small dogs who insisted on standing on my back, butt and head. And let’s also pretend that yesterday I didn’t get home and fight the urge to run straight to the grill with a beer in my hand.

Let’s just pretend, shall we?

It’s during these chilly months that we turn to soup and all things comfort.  With the chillier



I really wanted to wrap myself in the briskness of a Southern California winter but damnit it’s just not going to happen! It’s hot here — as in yes, you will sweat if you stand outside — and it’s throwing my seasonal eating outta whack something terrible! How on earth can I crave comfort foods when it not only seems like summer but smells like it, too? It’s hot and all my plans of braising and roasting just really don’t make that much sense. And you know it’s bad when you stroll around the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market looking in earnest for summer vegetables when you know it’s smack dab in the middle of January.

It’s wrong wrong wrong.

So something funny happened as I began working on this post. I wanted something warm and homey but wouldn’t you know it the temps soared and I was distracted. And then I realized that tortilla soup actually worked for everyone: it’ll warm you up in the dead of winter and it’ll also warm you up (and cool you down provided you keep plenty of cold cerveza nearby) in the, um, JanuarySummer of Southern California.

Tortilla Soup

I grew up with Caldo De Res, Menudo and Albondigas soups and stews and didn’t discover the pleasures of Tortilla Soup until I was an adult. And even then it seems like a funny invention to me. Why not Enchilada Soup or Taco Soup? Luckily this recipe isn’t really about throwing something else in a bowl with liquid and giving it a new fast name as much as it’s a very simple soup with some crunchy bits on top. Because we all love crunchy bits, don’t we? And once again the cuisine of my peeps is so ever adaptable and can be made brighter and snappier (limes! lemons!) or mas caliente (salsa! peppers!) or ever thicker and cheesier (cheese! cheese! cheese!). I’ll go ahead and stop now with the snappy! remarks! because I’m sure I’m annoying you.

But seriously, this soup is really simple and delicious and hits the spot.

8 tomatoes
3 garlic cloves with skin on
1/2 yellow onion
8 cups chicken stock (you can easily use vegetable stock too!)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 anaheim chiles
1/2 cup water
8 corn tortillas (and of course you can fry more if you want, I certainly wouldn’t mind)
oil for frying
1 cup Oaxacan cheese

Broil the tomatoes, onions, chiles and garlic in the oven til blackened. Make sure to flip over and broil them completely. Once done remove the skin from the tomatoes, garlic and chiles.

Place the tomatoes, onion, chiles and garlic in a blender with 1/2 cup of water and puree. Strain the mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium high heat and add the pureed mixture. Boil it until it thickens and turks a dark red, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and salt to taste and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Cut the tortillas into 1/2-inch strips and fry in hot oil until golden brown. Careful not to burn them! Dry them on paper towels to remove excess oil.

To serve the soup place the tortilla strips in the bowl and ladle the soup over them. Garnish with cheese and a wedge of lime and if you’re feeling colorful you can add chopped cilantro on top.

Winter Citrus


I know many of you love winter so I shall do my best not to disparage
it. However, it’s not my most favorite time of year as I’m a creature
of warm weather and open-toed shoes. But if there’s one bright shining
spot to the season it’s most definitely citrus. Citrus in any form.
When I begin to see the beautiful stacks of pommelos and meyers I can’t
help but get excited and my mouth begins to experience sympathy pucker
just looking at them.

[Read more…]

Will I still have friends after this post?


Funny how my brain works. Like one time I unlatched a screen from the second story window of our home and jumped out and landed in the bushes.

I was three years old.

Another time I thought it’d be “cool” to take a black permanent marker to my Donny Osmond doll. But what’s even more disturbing is that I had a Donny Osmond doll.

Fast forward about 30 years later. My brain is still short-circuiting and doing the strangest of things. But luckily they don’t involve bodily injury or staining Mormons.

Today I had a huge chunk of duck rillette in my fridge. I also had oil, corn tortillas and fresh salsa.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Small tortilla triangles went into hot oil in a skillet until golden brown, pieces of rillette went on top of those chips and then salsa went on top of that. And can I tell you something?


No, really.

I mean, like, really freakin’ awesome.

And trust me, I’d even use the real F word if my mom wasn’t a reader of this blog.

So there you have it. Duck Rillette Nachos.

Am I strange? I mean, it’s like carnitas, no? Can we still be friends?



Growing up there were just some things that this little pudgy boy would not eat. High on the short list of food items, along with sour cream and avocados, was this recipe called Capirotada. No matter how hard they tried I just wouldn’t move past the strange blend of ingredients that went into this Mexican bread pudding.

Now it’s the only thing I want to eat.

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Anything Inside A Tortilla


Spend enough time with me and inevitably you’ll find yourself asking me the
same question. Because almost everyone I know has asked me.

“You’d put anything inside a tortilla and eat it, wouldn’t you?”

Ok, so maybe it’s a bit rhetorical, but the truth of the matter is that
yes, I would put just about everything inside a tortilla and chances
are I have at some point. But don’t laugh — I come to this place from
a long line of those who have done this before, from tortilla eating
people and a culture that has been enjoying them some 10,000 years
before Jesus Christ.

It’s genetic.

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