My Ten Favourite Tastes at Eat Write Retreat 2013 in Philadelphia

June14

Our first dinner together at Eat, Write, Retreat 2013 was a casual affair in one of the conference rooms at the Hilton, Doubletree.  The buffet style meal meant that I was able to accompany my oregano chicken with heaps of spring asparagus and heirloom tomatoes.  I recall thinking, this is a great way to start a weekend of taste indulgences.

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I was sitting with the Carrot Cake gang.  Each table was designated with a different three tiered dessert tray and ours was laden with Carrot Cake.  We were encouraged to mix things up after dinner and visit other participants (and swap desserts).  This was a great way to arrange the seating plan and I am very much looking forward to adapting the principle, sometime in the future.  I made a beeline for the peanut butter chocolate brownies and added a fresh fruit tart-oh yum.

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The next day at lunch time we meandered through the adjacent streets to Supper, for lunch.  I didn’t get a chance to take any food shots at the Canadian Lentil luncheon but I can tell you that the food was expertly prepared and each little plate, a surprise: “really, this has lentils in it?” Being a Canadian prairie girl with my roots in Eastern Europe my favourite was the “Ode to Borscht” Lentil Dip but the bread pudding dessert, came a very close second.  I was so delighted to finally meet Rachel Kehrig in person.  We have chatted together many times via email and only live one province away from each other, but had never met in person!

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I would love to have the chance to return to the gorgeous Supper, perhaps next time for….supper.

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That afternoon, we settled in for a fascinating session on growing and harvesting mushrooms.  What I love best of all about being a “foodie” is meeting farm families, first hand.  The brothers Tony and Joe D’Amico who led this session could rival the siblings that host the home renovation shows.  HGTV sign them up!

One of the best things that I ate, as a result of attending Eat, Write, Retreat 2013, I actually consumed just last night.  I sometimes make dinners ahead of time before we head out for weekends at our little beach house.  Last evening, I decided to refer to Mushroom’s “Trend to Blend” announcement.  I devised a meatball recipe that incorporated 1 1/2 pounds of cremini mushrooms that were first sauteed with onions and red peppers.  I used the OXO Mini Chopper that I was given last year at the conference, so that I didn’t have to lug out my food processor, to finely chopped the sauteed veggies.  Holy, moly, whadda meatball!  Absolutely jammed packed with earthly flavours and the texture was soft and inviting.  I simmered a sauce of tomatoes and fresh rosemary with lots of red wine and now I cannot wait for Saturday night’s dinner on the deck.

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The Saturday evening gala featured the “secret ingredients” from the “Amazing Apps Culinary Challenge”.  I hung around the fig table most of the evening.  Remembering our mornings in Sicily when we would go out to the orchard and pick fresh figs and almonds to have with our breakfast, to my surprise, California figs are equally divine. My love of sweet and salty is beautifully satiated by a shard of salty cheese and a wedge of fresh fig.

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This WOULD have been what was served, had I won the Culinary Challenge (speaking of Sicily).  I took my friend Concetta’s pasta recipe of cauliflower, pine nuts, and raisins and wrapped it into layers of phyllo dough-just saying…..

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The next morning, I learned how to make this “Grilled Potato and Kale Pizza“.  My readers know that I am potato crazy and I absolutely loved the variety that the “BBQ Queens” quickly demonstrated on Sunday morning of the conference.  I plan to make every recipe in my “Get Grilling with Potatoes” pamphlet over the summer.  The pizza, by the way, was tender, funky (in a good way), and fused with delicious and nutritious new taste combinations.

To top it off-I won the Calphalon 5-in1 Grill that we used for the pizza!  I was thrilled.  Last year I won a Calphalon Panini maker and I didn’t have enough room in my luggage to take it home, so I traded it with another attendee.  I had been grieving that loss ever since.  This year, I brought an entire empty suitcase (thank you Air Canada) and the grill was the first thing that I found a spot for.  Atoosa, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  The grill has a place of honour on our counter top because we use it every single day.  Last night I seared the meatballs (above) before plunking them into the simmering sauce.

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I was very full of potato pizza by the time we made our way across the street to the Williams Sonoma at the Bellevue for our “Taste of Philly Lunch”.  I did indulge in this fantastic nibble.  I followed directions and placed the entire spoonful in my mouth at and the varied tastes literally exploded in my mouth.

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My roomie and I sat in the lobby and hugged new friends as they departed for home.  We had made arrangements to stay an extra night and so the eating adventure did not end with that farewell lunch.  Supper that evening was on a nearby sidewalk patio at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria. There will be more details to come regarding that delicious evening.

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And of course, no visit to Philadelphia would be complete without a Philly Cheese-steak.  This too will be described in a future post-suffice it to say, the city and its food is calling me back.

Was that 10?  Who’s counting?

Kath’s quote: “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes
tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. ”   Matthew 24:32

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Love-that is all.


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