Food Blogger Playdate #2

by Jennifer Iannolo

What’s better than cooking, eating, drinking and talking food and wine with people who love (ok, are obsessed with) the subject as much as you? Not much!

We had our first food blogger playdate back in September in the Martha Stewart test kitchens, so Chef Mark decided to arrange another because these gatherings are just so much fun. This time we headed to Chelsea, where our wonderful host Tommy threw open his doors so we could run amok in his beautiful kitchen.

Our fellow bloggers and food friends arrived with cameras, wines and spirits (both physical and otherwise) ready for action. We welcomed Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen, Anu Karwa from Swirl Events, Olga Massov from Sassy Radish, intrepid food writer Betty Fussell, Grace Piper from Fearless Cooking, and we even had an uber-techie, Charles Hope, from blip.tv — who arrived right from the airport after attending SXSW and headed straight for the wine. Last, but certainly not least, Carrie Oliver from Oliver Ranch brought the pivotal piece to the table: a selection of gorgeous meats for us to do a blind beef tasting.

The first part of our afternoon was dedicated to testing and photographing recipes from our upcoming cookbook, so we cooked and scrambled to finish that up before the others arrived. Our dishes served double-duty for the night both as props and delicious sides.

Jaden was wonderful enough to help us with some photography tricks, so we can’t wait to see how those shots came out! I’ve included some snaps from the gathering (please forgive — some were taken with my iPhone, and are thus a bit blurry) to give you a peek. There’s a link at the bottom of the post to more photo albums online.

Carrie guided us through a blind tasting of different meats to help us (and thus you) better understand the differences, from the intense grassy flavors of Holstein to the buttery richness of Kobe-style beef. Everyone seemed to have a different favorite, and a lively discussion ensued regarding the labeling used for beef (Grade A, Choice, etc.), grass-fed vs. corn-fed, and what to look for in purchasing meats. Look for more details on our upcoming CMN video.

After the tasting, we began the other tasting — of delicious sides and wines. Anu brought a selection for us to choose from, including a tart, appley (my new word) Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige. We sipped those along with a Cauliflower Puree from Grace Piper, which we dressed with shaved Oregon truffles and a drizzle of olive oil, Pumpkin Bisque with Creme Fraiche and a Honey Port Reduction from our upcoming cookbook, bruschetta made with black garlic courtesy of Jaden, and a Radicchio & Endive Salad with Chevre, Candied Pecans and Figs, also from the cookbook.

Many thanks to everyone who helped to make this such a wonderful evening. We look forward to many more of these! You can see more photos on the blogs above and in the following places (I’ll keep adding these as more links come in):

My Facebook photo album

Grace Piper’s Flickr stream

Twitter IDs:

Jennifer Iannolo: @foodphilosophy
Chef Mark Tafoya: @ChefMark
Grace Piper: @GracePiper
Olga Massov: @sassyradish
Jaden Hair: @SteamyKitchen
Anu Karwa: @swirlwinesavvy
Carrie Oliver: @OliverRanch
Charles Hope: @CharlesHope

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