A day of Holocaust studies, human rights and Solomon’s Delicatessen

Today I took part in The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI) and Holocaust Educators Network Summer Satellite Workshop: Crossing Lines – Tools for Teaching Tough Topics. My colleague has been co-facilitating this workshop with another educator from Chico, CA for the past eight years and I’ve had the opportunity to be part of this engaging offering for teachers over several summers.

TOLI Banner

Each year brings new opportunities to connect with amazing educators who are passionate about teaching for social justice and providing students with an understanding of the common threads that connect the exclusion and forced removal of any group of people. Through the lens of the Holocaust, Japanese-American incarceration, the “Secret War in Laos,” and the recent Rwandan genocide, participants have the opportunity to examine the impact of “bystanders” and the power of “upstanders” to change the history of their communities and the world.

TOLI

Our first day included our keynote: The History of Antisemitism: Rescuers, Perpetrators & Bystanders – Carol & Sam Edelman, co-directors, The Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights, and Tolerance.

Carol Edelman is a Professor of Sociology at California State University, Chico, and Sam Edelman is a retired Professor of Communications at CSUC. They have been teaching courses on the Holocaust and genocide since the mid 1980’s and Carol continues to offer these classes every semester. Together, they have raised over $700,000 for their center and have been running seminars and workshops all over California for teachers on the Holocaust and genocide.

Sharing cultures and heritage through food traditions and giving each other nourishment through enjoying a meal together is one of the most communal things we can do – worldwide.

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from the get-go.”- Anthony Bourdain

(It should be mentioned that I was completely gutted to hear the horrible news of  Anthony’s death… I  can’t even begin to estimate how many hours of his stories I’ve watched and re-watched on his various TV shows and online. He was real, he taught me so much about food and brought me to countries and cultures I will never experience in my lifetime. Thank you Anthony for loving food and for delivering your spirit and enthusiasm into my living room and life.)

Today we shared an amazing meal catered by Solomon’s Delicatessen. Educators had the opportunity to learn a little bit about the history of how Solomon’s came about, while filling their plates with items from the delicious “Newish Jewish” deli spread. 

Named after Tower Records founder, the late Russ Solomon, the deli’s menu pays homage to Russ and his legacy. No Music, No Life – became – No Bagels, No Life. Just like Tower Records once was, Solomon’s Delicatessen is a community gathering place where music and culture is celebrated and everyone is welcome. 

Solomon’s Deli opened in the Davis Commons shopping center at 500 First St., Davis, CA in May of this year. Their Sacramento flagship location is expected to open at 730 K St. later this year – they hit some delays with the city, but are plugging along. I’m SO looking forward to the K St. location and will be waiting in line with other supporters when they open their doors. 

 

Solomon's Deli

Solomon’s breads and bagels are made daily through their partnership with Grateful Bread Co. The Challah was soft and airy and I WILL be comparing all rye moving forward… to theirs. 

Solomon's Delicatessen

I’m not kidding, the sliced rye was really amazing – I loved the little kick at the end.

Solomon's Deli

The spread included pickles, pickled onion, smoked white fish salad, egg salad, sauerkraut and horseradish cream. I was told that the white fish salad was a must try… so I did and would definitely order that again.

Solomon's Deli

The salad combined greens, pickled onion, cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers and beets – man I love beets. We had a side conversation about beets and how my husband and other friends think they taste like dirt. Ha-ha – apparently there are a lot of beet haters out there – they must hangout with the Brussels sprouts haters on the corner of no sense of adventure and you obviously haven’t had them prepared correctly.

Solomon's Deli

The corned beef, and pastrami was out of this world. Best I’ve ever had… the smokiness of the pastrami will be etched into memory for a long time. A slice of that with the spicy mustard on rye – yes please!

Solomon's Deli

The roasted turkey paired great with the black salt bagels.

Solomon's Delicatessen Desserts

Solomon's Deli

While my brain was left with a million thoughts and questions swirling around after discussing such a horrific topic and time in history, my body and soul were nourished with tasty Jewish food, new friendships and important connections.
Foo

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Friendship, Flowers and Food

I never take the day off to celebrate my birthday – ever. In fact I don’t really take many days off, so this was something new and different… and I loved it.

My girlfriend Carolyn and I started our morning off with a trip to Starbucks for a free birthday drink. I’m boring – Venti iced green tea, no sweetener. I made up for it later in the day with delicious eats.

Amador Flower Farm Oak Tree and Daylily Gardens

Our first stop was the Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth, CA … to get a sneak peek at their daylilies.

The flower farm hosted their Daylily Days event this past weekend. Their website claims to have more than a million flowers in bloom and after spending an hour plus walking the grounds, I believe it. The weekend festivities invited guests to join the flower farm family for picnicking, demos, wandering, free tram ride tours, garden art artisans and more. I would consider attending next year, but it was nice to have the entire place to ourselves… minus staff running around prepping for the event.

The farm is 14 acres of serene beauty – it was so peaceful to chat with each other as we wandered along the paths and enjoyed the shade of the huge oak trees.

Calla lilies and hydrangeas are favorites of mine and they had plenty on the grounds.

I was tempted to buy a bunch of things but refrained and instead took away some great ideas. I’m seeing a few Bergenia ‘Sakura’ –  in my future. When researching online I learned that if you place a Bergenia leaf between your thumb and forefinger and rub, you are rewarded with a very realistic pig squeak – for real? Now I really want some. The leaves also turn a deep plum tone in the winter – which intrigues me. While the plants at the farm didn’t have any of the pink flowers, the ones online are very vibrant and would add a pop of color to one of my more shady areas of my backyard.

Our next stop was a quick drive through Fiddletown, population 235 – I did say, “quick” – I had never been and it was fun to see the historic buildings.

Sutter Creek was up next, the home of my favorite garden store, The Antique Gardener on Main Street. If I won the lottery and opened my own little shop, it would certainly have the same type of vibe as this place. Every time I visit, I pick up more decorating and yard decor ideas. My take away this trip is that I need to find a rusty/old metal watering can and wagon that doesn’t cost $50-100. Hey Paul… I also might need your vintage stove 🙂 – just kidding. 

We then hit up the Sutter Hotel for a little lunch break. The hubs and I have previously enjoyed several meals at the hotel and I really like the overall vibe of the place.

Sutter Hotel

I ordered the Wedge Salad (Baby gem iceberg lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, and Point Reyes blue cheese) – it was perfect! Crunchy, creamy, and very refreshing on a hot day.

Carolyn ordered the Crab Louie Salad (Baby iceberg, cherry tomatoes, crab, shrimp, avocado, deviled egg and Thousand Island dressing)  – which she enjoyed as well.

After lunch we strolled through a few more antique shops and the Fine Eye Gallery where we both wanted to buy a bunch of stuff… but again, refrained. Go us!

The drive home found us stopping in at Meadowlands Restaurant in Sloughhouse for some cocktails and cake.

Pineapple mojitos and a piece of zucchini cake with candied orange…pure heaven. I could eat that cake all day long. Our server named off the desserts, they weren’t on a menu, so I don’t even know what the sauce was and never asked. We enjoyed the deck patio and watched the band set up for their evening performance. This picture below was from a previous visit where we enjoyed the outdoor patio and live music.

Thanks Carolyn for being my birthday buddy and planning a fun day!

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An Evening With Chef Curtis Stone

Last week started with a text from my girlfriend (AKA my foodie-adventure-BFF, Kristen) “What are you doing on Friday?” ending in a string of text messages that contained a photo invite to an evening with Chef Curtis Stone. YES PLEASE, I’m in. My other foodie BFF Michelle was also on the group message. We were all set, our Friday night would include the ever-so-dreamy Chef Curtis Stone for a meet and greet and demo in the Bosch test kitchen at our new Delta Shores, Sacramento RC Willey store.

Chef Curtis Stone at RC Willey Sacramento

Kristen arrived early to grab seats in the front row – woohoo, score! I’m going to owe her forever because this was hands down my favorite celebrity chef encounter and sitting in the front row had a lot to do with that. Her reward was getting an early glimpse of Curtis getting things ready, so jealous I missed that.

I’ve met Tyler Florence and Kristen and I together have met Chef Fabio Viviani, Chef Guy Fieri, Chef Giada De Laurentiis, Top Chef’s Ryan Scott (Season 4), Jamie Lauren (Season 5) and the Fabulous Beekman Boys – plus a handful of local Sacramento chefs.  My signed cookbooks are definitely my most cherished in my ridiculously growing collection/hobby. 

Speaking of cookbooks, how is it possible that I didn’t already own a Curtis Stone cookbook? And WHY did I not think of that until Kristen mentioned it the day before the event? It was too late for a last minute Amazon purchase to guarantee delivery, so off to Barnes & Noble I went. Kristen and Michelle needed them too, so of course the one I went to only had two copies of What’s For Dinner? – thankfully they called another store and I was able to grab a third copy.

Chef Curtis Stone - What's For Dinner Cookbook

We sat with our cookbooks in anticipation as we admired the beautiful Bosch test kitchen… while also noticing a stack of his newer cookbooks on a side table. My immediate thought, son of a #!%@*, then we found out that those weren’t for purchase, they were going to be raffled off. Have no fear, my cookbook errand running wasn’t in vain after all.

Chef Curtis Stone - Bosch Appliance Demo Kitchen, RC Willey Sacramento

Fox 40 interview with Chef Curtis Stone

Fox 40 grabbed him for a quick interview and then the meet and greet started.

Chef Curtis Stone and Foodiddy

He was chatty as he signed my cookbook – then he asked about the name Foo – I told him it was my food blog persona and he was stoked that I was a food blogger – my interpretation of the positive things he said to me. If he only knew how infrequently I blogged.  Ha-ha. 

Signed Cookbook

Once everyone went through the line, the demo  portion started. The crowd grew to standing room only. He introduced his assistant Vanessa Garcia, head pastry chef at Maude, the twenty-four seat restaurant he opened in Beverly Hills in February 2014. He talked about how they have spent the last three years creating monthly menus (ten course meals stemming from a single seasonal ingredient) and how that almost killed them… so the restaurant has recently shifted to focusing on a seasonal set menu (four menus per year, inspired by different wine regions). He shared how they travel to each region to experience the culture, history, food, and wine to help them create the perfect menu.

He started things off  by toasting some bread with a little olive oil, salt and pepper that would be the base to the Gambas al Ajillo – shrimp appetizer he was making. As he cooked, he explained the different features of the Bosch Flex Induction Cooktop, which included answering the question: Why use induction? His answer… it’s faster, it’s way more accurate, takes less energy (so costs less to operate) and once you turn it off, there’s no lingering radiant heat – so it doesn’t heat up your kitchen/house. He’s been using induction cooktops in his restaurants for years.

Chef Curtis Stone

Chef Curtis started with olive oil and butter in the pan and then added chopped shallots – the next steps were to add dry chili pepper flakes and smoked paprika.

This is where things got crazy. Once the chili pepper flakes and the smoked paprika hit the hot oil, he started to cough… choking on the heat from the spices. He joked about it, asking Vanessa where she got the stuff from. 

Everyone was laughing… then it hit us in the front row. We all started coughing. There was no hiding it. Then the row next to us got it – 15+ people all coughing simultaneously. The next words out of his mouth “Chef Curtis Stone comes to Sacramento for the first time and kills the entire front row – I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…” everyone continued laughing, it was REALLY funny. Luckily they had passed out water, so we were all good within a minute or two of breathing it in. 

Next up, the large, raw shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails intact) were added to the pan followed by some more butter, sherry, lemon juice, prawns stock and parsley. People were invited up to taste the shrimp.  Kristen let me try a bite of hers, it was delicious.

This is Kristen’s photo of me me taking a photo of him passing around the finished plate. Food blogger in action. Thanks for the shrimp photos Kristen, mine turned out shitty because he moved at the last minute and I was all a flutter due to his close proximity. 

Chef Curtis also demonstrated the speed boost feature of the induction cooktop by searing some steaks. He got the pan super hot and used the side of his tongs to push the steaks down into the pan. After a few minutes he dropped the temp down – he was looking for a beautiful golden brown sear. He explained why he didn’t add any oil to the steaks or the pan. There is enough fat already around the edges and through the intermuscular fat, which melts, creating caramelization. The less you use fat as a cooking medium and more as flavor, the healthier it is.

One tip I learned was resting the steak midway through cooking. I always knew to rest the meat after it was cooked, had never seen it rested ½ way through the cooking process. When he finally cut into the steaks, there was virtually no blood on the cutting board since all the juices remained in the steak. I will definitely be trying that out with summer grilling.

He created a sauce for the steak using red wine and beef stock combined with the steak pan bits – reducing that down. He mentioned that you could also add butter to smooth it out or fresh herbs as a finisher.

The steak was plated on top of wild mushrooms that he cooked with olive oil, shallots, garlic and fresh sprigs of thyme.

He shared… button, portobellos, ceps or trompettes, the type of mushroom doesn’t really matter since they all cook in a similar way. He mentioned the importance of adding the garlic after the mushrooms had begun to sweat down a little – if you add it too soon, it will brown too quickly or burn.

I forgot to mention that there was a roast cooking in the oven when we arrived… he also demonstrated the steam/convection oven by roasting asparagus and potatoes – both cooked simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.

He plated everything and then invited people up to taste. I was able to get a slice of the roast, a piece of steak and a potato – they had run out of the little bamboo plates, so napkins it was. I split my haul with Kristen. Michelle and her daughter were able to grab samples as well.

Steak

The demo portion of the evening ended with chocolate filled cream puffs decked out with edible gold flakes.

We each got one and as I bit into it, the velvety/creamy chocolate and ganache melted in my mouth. Freaking delicious!

Dessert was followed up with a raffle drawing. We had all put our names in. They raffled off ten cookbooks to be signed by him right then and there… the Bosch mixer that he used during the demo, which he signed, and a brand new Bosch dishwasher with installation. Heck ya! I won his cookbook – Good Food, Good Life – I never win anything, so that was super exciting. He signed that one – Dear Kathleen 🙂 and we chatted a bit more.

I was super giddy all night. He was so personable and I loved how he interacted with the audience in such a friendly, relaxed way – and not many people can say that Chef Curtis Stone almost choked them out in a cooking demo. 

A fun evening with good people all around. It feels great to dust off the ol’ blog. The weather is getting nicer and I’m looking forward to more local events and creating and trying some new recipes. 

Foo

 

 

 

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