Though I have dabbled in numerous forms of writing, I have really fallen in love with blogging. Some of this is the nature of the form – I’m an instant gratification junkie, so the quick efficiency of writing and posting blog entries holds great appeal – but what has really gotten me falling head over heels is the blogging community. Among a terrain not exactly known for its restrained, distinguished discourse, specific blogging communities remain calm, welcoming places of exchange ideas and opinions, experiences and photographs.
I have been accused of being a bit of a social curmudgeon because I’m not on sites like Facebook or Twitter. While I admit to some moderate prejudice against social networking sites, the real reason I’m not on any of them at the moment is that my time online is already maxed out. On a daily basis I’ve got a few dozen links to check on, and were I to sacrifice some of the time I dedicate to those sites for say, “poking” friends-of-friends or harvesting wheat in my virtual farm, I would be losing a significant percentage of time that I use to keep up my preferred social networking: Reading other people’s blogs.
Until recently, reading and commenting on other blogs was about as far as I had gotten into actual socialization with food bloggers. I learned how much of a shame this truly was when I finally made it to a Food Bloggers Meetup, this time at Paris 66 in East Liberty.
When you write about food, you want to talk about food. You want to talk about it a lot. And while I am lucky to have friends that are more than willing to humor my seemingly endless interest in the topic, there’s something very reassuring about being among members of the same tribe. When the food is served and my camera was only one of many pulled out, I got a warm and fuzzy feeling in my stomach – and not just because I had drunk half of my very potent French martini.
– Mike of Foodburgh
– Luke (organizer and former Paris 66 employee)
– Lauren of Burghilicious
– Erin (and Kevin) of Community Cucina
– Clara of Food Collage
– Roddy of Rodzilla Reviews
– Janelle of VegOut Pittsburgh
– Nicole (and her lovely spouse) of Yum Yum
– Laurie of Tuesdays with Dorie
– Me and the lovely Kait Wittig, friend and eating partner-in-crime
In addition to meeting these bloggers in person for the first time, I was also making my first visit to Paris 66. I’m a bit of a sucker for romantic little enclaves of atmosphere and expensive dining, and Paris 66 has all the best traps: Softly lit, furnished in polished wood and tables complete with laminated-antique postcard covers, back patio seating, and, of course, a small, concise menu of French specialties, including crepes, steak frites, duck, and some very foreign- and tempting- sounding hors d’œuvres. Billed as “everyday French cuisine” the menu still finds plenty of room for the mildly exotic.
Posted in Dining Out, Dinnertime!, Food
Tagged asparagus, bistro, blog, blogging, cafe, cocktails, crepe, dining, dining out, dinner, duck confit, east end, east liberty, food, food bloggers meetup, french, french cuisine, french food, french onion soup, local, paris 66, pittsburgh, Restaurant, review, savory crepe
My feature on the Dormont-Brookline Patch this week is on Sylvia McCoy’s Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tours, specifically the fairly new Brookline tour, as well as the Dormont tour that is currently being planned for a summer debut. I sat down on Monday with Sylvia and Cory VanHorn, her intern designing the tour – as well as the genius behind the fabulous Culinary Cory blog – and it was an invigorating experience.
Why? Well, as a food blogger, it can sometimes feel like you’re making a whole lot of fuss out of something fairly mundane. It’s easy to feel at home when you’re immersed in the world of food writing (both print and online), but it’s tougher when you find yourself going on and on about the history of pierogi in Western PA and you suddenly realize that your dining companions are bored stiff. Even worse than boring, it’s very easy to feel bad about the amount of time you talk about food. Talking and writing about food can come off as trivial to those who concern themselves with matters of seemingly much greater importance. To be honest, when comparing and contrasting the topics, it’s a fair enough assessment. Who cares which Pittsburgh neighborhood has the most pizza places when the city is enduring socioeconomic troubles that threaten every aspect of living in the region?
Sitting down with folks who are invested in food history and knowledge the way that you are can be such a relief. Having Sylvia really sell me on the meles at Colangelo’s in the Strip District, or finding out that Cory shares my high opinion of Square Cafe, or even just knowing that if I recommended a place that they should try sometime, they would actively consider the recommendation… knowing that we shared this very fundamental common interest made for a really easy-going, engaging conversation. This may have been one of the easiest stories I have written for the Patch.
I highly recommend checking out the Burgh Bits and Bites. Sylvia is an extremely intelligent, warm person who I bet leads a hell of tour, and if Cory is any indication of the quality of her tour guides, the rest of the people involved with the tours must be just as friendly and knowledgeable as she is. As Cory said in our interview, “It’s a great way to be a tourist in your own city.” I, for one, can’t wait to try one.
Posted in Food, New
Tagged blogging, burgh bits and bites, city tour, cory vanhorn, dining, dormont-brookline patch, food, food blogging, food tours, local, news, patch, pittsburgh, strip district, sylvia mccoy, tour, writing
All this muffin talking the past few days has got me curious about the latest and greatest in food-blogger muffin recipes. If I’m going to go through a crisis of muffin preference, I might as well travel the road to an answer that is paved in possibilities. Maybe I’ll start with these recipes:
– I don’t know if English muffins count in this discussion, but how can I deny this tasty-looking offering from This Wisconsin Life? A little time-intensive, maybe, what with yeast being involved and all, but the sound of a homemade English muffin toasted with a poached egg… I mean, just LOOK at those… Maybe this muffin road is the way to go.
Zucchini-Carrot Muffins from We Be Running
– Ah, the zucchini muffin. Poor neglected thing. Usually smaller than other muffins (and mostly devoid of the famed “muffin top”) and not as showy, it gets passed up for its flashier, sweeter brethren in the bakery case. I love making and eating zucchini bread, but have never made zucchini muffins. I think I’ll start with these recipes, the sturdy and slightly intimidating Green and Mean Zucchini Muffins from Baking’n’Books and the dainty, ugly-cute Zucchini and Carrot Muffins from We Be Running. On behalf of the zucchini muffins, I say sincere thanks to these blogs. To the zucchini muffins, I say, “Suffer in silence no more, my slightly sweet, slightly veggie friends!”
– If I could swing it, I’d put coffee in ALL of my food. Whitney in Chicago has taken an ordinary banana nut muffin and made it all the better with a tablespoon of fine-ground espresso. So you get the protein, the potassium, and the full POWER OF CAFFEINE! And do you know what she drank to wash down these powerhouses? A big ol’ mug of Intelligentsia coffee. Damn, straight, Whitney. You are my kind of person.
– I completely forgot how awesome Isa Chandra Moskowitz is at muffin recipes. Thankfully, E.T.F.C has reminded me of the fantastic Cherry Almond muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance. So what if she had a little problem removing the muffins from the tin? Her almond-placement on top of the muffins is nothing short of perfection. (By the by, love E.T.F.C’s elegant minimalist presentation. There’s something so appealing about a vegan-focused blog that doesn’t overly cutefy. Nothing against the sweethearts and kitsch-queens of the vegan blogging scene, but it’s refreshing to have something simple and quick and appealing to look at.)
– Lemon poppy seed muffins. Been there done that. But The Working Wok has baked up a special twist: Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Muffins. Desiree even includes a helpful reminder: “Be sure not to let these muffins make you fail your drug test.” Honestly, Desiree, drug test shmug test, I’m going to eat as many of these as I please. Consequences be dammed, I’m in a Muffin Renaissance!
Posted in Food, Good Morning, In the Kitchen
Tagged baked goods, banana nut muffins, bloggers, blogging, blogs, breakfast, brunch, cherry vanilla muffin, english muffins, espresso, food, food bloggers, good morning, homemade english muffins, kitchen, lemon poppy seed muffins, lemon poppy seed yogurt muffins, muffins, pastry, sweet, vegan muffins, zucchini muffins
- Andalusian Stew with Polenta from 30 Bucks a Week
I woke up and there was freaking snow on the ground. Seriously! On the ground, on the cars, on the rooftops. Snow! A fairly thin dusting, but still! That means only one thing: Time for more stew!
– The great 30 Bucks a Week blog linked to this New York Times recipe for Andalusian Cabbage Stew w/Polenta. The picture alone makes the article/recipe worth investigating, but it also further proves my theory that I don’t cook/eat cabbage nearly enough. Plus, this recipe gives me a good excuse to continue my experiments with polenta. Win/win!
– Kerry at Click and Cook has piqued both my stew and spice interest with her Indian Meatball Stew with Curried Cucumber Yogurt. A vibrantly colorful stew, I love how this mixes hot and cool flavors. Hmm, I wonder if it would work with lentil-balls…
– There are many dishes that I can’t really imagine as vegetarian or vegan, and Brunswick Stew is one of them. If you’re a meat-eater and are feeling like a ton of protein, check out a version of the recipe on Tales From Twisty Lane. Make sure to add the okra!
– Rock your roots! Dreamin’ It Vegan celebrates the last day of Vegan MoFo with the root vegetable extravaganza, Frosty Stew, a recipe borrowed from From Animal Crackers to Wild West Beans, a vegetarian cookbook focusing on recipes for the whole family, babies and children included. Ooh, and vegan peanut butter cookies too! These look especially delicious.
– Finally, thanks to Forever, Matryoshka because she reminded me of the terrific chopotle stew from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vegeance. The Matryoshka blog version is Buccaroo Stew, and it’s definitely worth a hoot and a holler.
Posted in Dinnertime!, Food, In the Kitchen, Lunchtime!
Tagged blogging, blogs, brunswick stew, cabbage, cold weather food, cookbook, cooking, curry, food, Indian, new york times, recipes, root vegetables, snow, stew, vegan stew, vegan with a vengeance, vegetarian stew