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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

I opened up the Bucks County Courier Times/The Intelligencer yesterday to the Food Section (of course). I’ve become a follower of Betty Cichy. She does great, creative articles on local food people, restaurants and stores. I wish I could link to more of her stories but the newspaper doesn’t post Lifestyle/Food pieces online. Hmmn. I think there’s a letter to the publisher in my future.

Mastering Art of French CookingBetty is running a contest involving food and blogging. How could I not like it? If you haven’t heard, a movie-based-on-the-book is coming out in August called, “Julia & Julie.” It tracks the famous cook and TV chef Julia Child’s beginnings and career. For those of you not old enough to remember anything before the Food Network, Julia WAS THE FIRST. The book was written by blogger Julie Powell, a New York office worker, who decided over the course of a year to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and blog about it.

Now Betty has thrown down the potholder, so to speak. She is challenging folks to try a Julia recipe and blog about it. Here are the contest rules:

We’d like you to be like Julie on a small scale. Pick a recipe from one of Julia Child’s first four cookbooks, follow it step by step, and blog about your experience. Choose a recipe that challenges or intrigues you in some way …

Make your post as interesting and personal as you can. Tell us why you chose that particular recipe. Describe the problems and disasters you had along the way, from shopping to serving. Look back over the experience and reflect on what you learned from it, and whether you think the recipe is worth making again. If you did make it again, how would you change it? Are there ways you’d update or simplify the recipe for 21st century cooks?

Take some pictures and notes as you follow the recipe, and when you’ve finished, tell us how it went in a post on the Julie/Julia blog we’ve set up on phillyBurbs. When all the entries have been posted, readers will be able to go online and vote for their favorite blogger.

As for judging, the top vote-getter and two bloggers chosen by a panel of experts will compete in a cook-off at Manny Brown’s in Neshaminy Mall on Aug. 5. Each of the three finalists will put on a little cooking show, demonstrating key steps in the recipe and then showing off the finished product.  A panel of judges will choose the grand-prize winner and two runners-up. Then the contestants and the audience will attend a free screening of “Julie & Julia.” Go to the newspaper’s website for the full contest rules.

I must admit, I’m intrigued – and intimidated. I started cooking in the ’80’s and by that time classic French cooking was considered passe, and Julia Child, well, I think Saturday Night Live took a few jabs at her (or was it she just sounded too much like Terry Jones from Monty Python?) I will admit, publicly, that I don’t even own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But I’m seriously considering it. I mean, after all, what kind of food blogger would I be? I’ll keep you “posted.”

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Driving to Linden Hill Gardens for the Bucks County Slow Food Farm to Table Dinner the evening of June 26th, Lynne and I got caught in one of this summer’s downpours. As the black sky flashed blue bolts of lightning and gray rain blew sharply across the road, we imagined ourselves huddling beneath a tent with a bunch of good natured souls trying to make the best of a wet situation.

barnWe needn’t have worried. Kimberly Kaufmann, of Slow Food Bucks County, and Kristen Perry, of the Kitchen Potager at Linden Hill Gardens, had set the dinner up in the lovely stone barn of the Gardens’ owner, Jerry Fritz. As we ran from car to barn, Jerry himself pulled open the door to welcome us inside.

About forty people attended the dinner, and since we all had a common interest – good food – introducing ourselves and chatting wasn’t much of a chore. But we were a bit distracted, not by the rain, but by Pit Master Hugh Mangum’s pulled pork, marinated chicken and dipping sauce cooking in the wood smoker outside. Let’s let chef Ron Spada speak for himself:

With the main course came home-made Buckwampum Egg Noodles, Swallow Slow Food Dinner - June 2009Hill Farm Kale Casserole and Milk House Farm Market Beet Salad, by Linda Jacobs of Soup to Nuts Caterers in Washington Crossing, Rise Bakery Artisanal Baked Bread, and ice cream from oWowCow Creamery in Ottsville and fruit pies by Tabora Farm & Orchard in Chalfont.

Kimberly and Kristen are hoping to stage another farm to table dinner later this summer. We’ll pass on the details as soon as we get them. We’ll see you there.

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Bucks County Taste has moved! See this post on our new server.  

One Saturday this past May, we struck out with our friends, Sharon and Mark, to attend the 2nd Annual Breakfast on the Bridge in Perkasie, run by the Bucks County Covered Bridge Society.

One of the benefits of maintaining our calendar of Food Events in Bucks County is that I find all kinds of great stuff to go to. Case in point. Where else can you enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast (provided by Joseph’s Italian Market in Perkasie), sitting on a historic covered bridge, satisfied in both body and conscience? It was a lot of fun, as well as educational. Make sure to look for it next year.

Pasqualina's Italian Market & DeliOn our way to Perkasie, we passed Pasqualina’s Italian Market and Deli, in Blooming Glen, and I made a mental note to waylay our little culinary party on the way home. It wasn’t difficult. Sharon, as our intrepid readers may remember from previous posts, doesn’t need her arm twisted to stop at an Italian market.

Pasqualina’s is a gem. From the moment you walk in, it sparkles and beckons, enticing you with sights, smells and tastes. Cheeses, pastas, meats, olive oils and vinegars, homemade sauces and meatballs, Italian and Mediterranean groceries, and fresh hot and cold sandwiches – all in one compact, clean and inviting space.

First let’s get the Blooming Glen thing over with. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Blooming Glen? Huh?” It’s actually not as remote as it sounds to all you folks in Central and Lower Bucks. Go up Route 313, past Dublin, to Route 113, turn left (west) and go two miles. Voila. You’re there. There’s also a number of interesting food places on that stretch of Route 113, including Blooming Glen Catering (Big Bob’s BBQ), Tussock Sedge Farm Beef, Bolton Farm Market and the Blooming Glen CSA Farm.

Patty and Brian Gianfelice opened the market almost four years ago. Patty’s a native of Bucks and the couple raised their family just down the road. The market was Patty’s dream, and she nurtures it like a good Italian mother. (“Pasqualina” is her Italian name.)

“This is like one of my children,” she explains. “My name is on this. It was the name of my grandmother whom I adored, the best cook, the sweetest person. It has a lot of family strings for me.” Patty even has her cell number on her business card so customers can call if they have a question or need help with one of her recipes. Brian, who’s been married to Patty for many years, raising children and grandchildren, has come to appreciate her in a new way. “I’ve learned how incredibly talented my wife is because this is a very difficult thing to do. ”

Cheese samples at Pasqualina'sPasqualina’s has many delectable things, but let’s start with cheese since it’s my favorite, and their selection is deep and interesting (rivaling Wegmans). The market carries over 90 kinds of cheese – from Italian classics like asiago, parmigiano-reggiano, and mascarpone – to others from all over Europe. My newest favorite is Ravenno, a Dutch cheese with “the nutty, caramel flavor of parmesan yet the sweetness of gouda.” They’ve laid out small tasting stations throughout the store, with freshly cut pieces to try, and informational signs.

“We’ve cut over 8 1/2 tons of cheese,” says Brian, a bit surprised himself, including cracking more than one wheel of parmigiano-reggiano. It’s worth stopping by frequently since they always have something new, and Brian loves sharing and teaching about cheese.

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The Taco Burger

One of the things I love about Basically Burgers is the sheer creativity behind their food. (There’s taste, too, but I’m going for something a little deeper here.) To hear Wes Goddard tell it, many of the stalwarts on the menu stem from his son Jay’s insomnia, when it’s one in the morning and he can’t sleep. There’s the ranch burger, the jalapeno popper burger (one of my favorites), and the taco burger. All of them show off the Goddard family’s approach to food: local ingredients, prepared fresh, with strict attention paid to quality, flavor and fun.

The Goddards were nice enough to let us cram into their kitchen one recent night so we could watch them at work. Rather than describe it at length, see it all for yourself. Here’s Jay on making a taco burger. (The video runs 3:41 minutes.)

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I first met Karen McGinn over a bowl of soup. Well, several bowls of soup, to be precise. IChef Karen McGinn attended a cooking demonstration last March hosted by Network Now. You could say that Karen was the main act. She cooked, we watched, we ate and we drank. It worked on so many levels, as the saying goes.

Karen is the chef and proprietor of Heaven on a Plate, a personal chef service, which means she plans menus with her clients, does the menu-related grocery shopping, prepares the meals in your home, packages and labels the meals, and cleans up your kitchen afterwards. With today’s busy families, it’s a service many appreciate because it gives them more time with family and friends.

That cold and dreary Sunday in late March was warmed considerably by Karen, who entertained and educated us about food, nutrition and cooking techniques. Over the course of two hours, she made four soups which we all got to eat along with an appropriately paired wine.

What impressed me most about Karen at the time was how she easily juggled cooking, teaching and serving, never flummoxed, and enjoying every moment. I knew I wanted to interview her for Bucks County Taste.

After playing phone and email tag for a couple of months, we finally settled in on some rocking chairs at my house, and I admitted to Karen that I was using the interview as an excuse to get to know her better. I had a feeling we had a lot in common, and I was exploiting my “press pass” to become friends.

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If you think following good tea time manners is difficult (“pinky up!”), try doing it when you need your hands to “chat.” That’s what a group of high school students from the New Jersey School for the Deaf  learned when they visited the Talking Teacup in New Britain recently.

You’ll find the interesting article in yesterday’s (Sunday, June 7th) Intelligencer describing the students’ experience, learning how to make small talk while munching on highbrow finger food. One of the students, Erin Gasque, had read about a tea house and wanted the experience firsthand. She suggested it and teacher Sherri Anderson, a communications instructor, set up the trip for Erin and other interested classmates. Anderson wanted to give the teenagers a real-world experience with making polite conversation while eating – “no simple task when your hands are required for both.” We probably all know some non-hearing-impaired teenagers who could use the lesson too.

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A great place to have a party just became even better. MaxHansenCaterers is now the exclusive caterer at the Michener Art Musuem.

Max Hansen is “a Carversville resident who understands our mission and appreciates Bucks County’s artistic heritage,” explains Hollie Brown, the Museum’s Director of Visitor Services and Retail Operations. “Max has built an impressive reputation for offering not only the finest and most innovative food, but also an unmatched level of service and devotion to detail.”

Max Hansen with Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO of the Michener Art Museum

Max Hansen with Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO of the Michener Art Museum

It’s an exciting time for the Museum as they prepare to unveil a new 5,000 square-foot upper level gallery in September, one that is large enough—and flexible enough, to accommodate major nationally touring exhibitions and the permanent collection. The patio area of the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden will be covered with glass, creating a premier indoor event space for large public programs and private events. The second phase also includes the renovation of the Ann and Herman Silverman Pavilion which will include, among other things, an expanded museum shop and café.

Museum visitors can now enjoy MaxHansenCaterer’s great food at the café, adjacent to the Museum Shop. “We’re excited to introduce a new menu at the café, featuring healthy options such as yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, smoked salmon and bagels, salads, sandwiches and seasonal soups, as well as our homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies, plus delicious scones from J. Scones in Doylestown and freshly roasted coffee from Rojos’s Roastery in Lambertville,” says Hansen.

MaxHansenCaterer is working with the Museum’s staff to schedule weddings, bridal showers, gala dinners, cocktail receptions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate meetings, workshops and luncheons onsite at the Michener Art Museum’s various event spaces. For additional information or to set up a consultation, interested parties should call Rita Gehkt at (215) 766-3439.

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