Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

My pen will now rest for a bit, as I'm off tomorrow to the great state of Tennessee to visit with family and friends. SEASONS GREETINGS.
See you in 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Salads...Can Be Sexy

Or so says Carls Jr., who has signed on a new face to sex up its brand. Following in the recent tradition of burger-binging Padma Lakshmi (memorable ketchup licking moments from her lips, chin, and shin bone, etc.), Kim Kardashian will soon be pimping a new line of salads being introduced by the fast food chain.

"Salads can be sexy," Kardashian coos through pouted lips in a promotional video for the ad campaign, which does in fact feature a shot of the star scraping some salad dressing off her chest with a slice of apple. (Hey, easy there on that balsamic vinaigrette, Kim!)

Kardashian says her "favorite pastime" is what she calls a "bed picnic," which is a messy feast usually involving an after-meal bath.

And I'm sure the "booty-licious" little reality show darling just might need one after it's all over. Shredded romaine, radishes, and radicchio... oh, my.

Anyway, catch a sneak peek of Kim's sexy salad ad:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drinking For The Holidays

Just in time for all that "holiday cheer" we've been sloshing down so far this month, according to new laboratory research, people who drink may want to know that coffee won’t sober them up. Instead, a cup of coffee may just make it even harder for people to realize they’re drunk.

What’s more, popular caffeinated “alcohol-energy” drinks don’t neutralize alcohol intoxication, suggest the findings from a mouse study reported in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

“The myth about coffee’s sobering powers is particularly important to debunk because the co-use of caffeine and alcohol could actually lead to poor decisions with disastrous outcomes,” said co-author Thomas Gould, PhD, of Temple University, in extending the research to what it means for humans.

“People who have consumed only alcohol, who feel tired and intoxicated, may be more likely to acknowledge that they are drunk,” he added. “Conversely, people who have consumed both alcohol and caffeine may feel awake and competent enough to handle potentially harmful situations, such as driving while intoxicated or placing themselves in dangerous social situations.”

Read the rest of this "eye opening" study

Friday, December 04, 2009

Buy A Piece Of Tavern On The Green

In keeping with the sad end of a legendary era, Guernsey’s Auction House has released the details of New York's Tavern on the Green auction, after the landmark restaurant announced it was filing for bankruptcy earlier this year. On offer: everything from the chandeliers to the outdoor topiaries to 1,000 upholstered chairs. Artifacts from the old Russian Tea Room will also be up for grabs.

Can't tell you the number of wedding receptions, anniversary bashes, and company Christmas parties I've attended at this memorable eatery. Central Park will never be the same without it.

In any event, read more here

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Cheer: Blogging About Beer

In addition to being one of my favorite drink topics (coming in at a very close second to wine, of course), it seems the creative (and very thoughtful) folks over at Epicurious will soon be launching their new blog called, Holiday Cheers, a winter blog on entertaining with...yep, you guessed

Over the next few weeks, they'll be helping you prepare casual gatherings, impromptu dinners, and elegant cocktail parties over the holidays. And along with tips, ideas, and recipes, they'll provide you with information on how to cook with, serve, and enjoy a sudsy cold one during this festive, busy, yet very special time of year.

Thanks, Epicurious. Season's cheer and bottoms up! Photobucket

Friday, November 20, 2009

Paula's Southern Thanksgiving Turducken

It's that time again, and my favorite "Hey, yawwwl!" drawling, down home girl, Paula Deen (with the aid of her ever supportive hubby, Michael), shows you how to prepare Turducken. So make that all-important trip to the poultry counter at your favorite supermarket for the three main ingredients (that'd be a whole turkey, whole duck, and whole chicken, all gutted and semi-boneless, of course), and watch Paula show you how it's done in this video clip:

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Imperfect Match

The rather old (yet totally accepted) belief that red wine is not to be paired with seafood is nearly a religious dogma among connoisseurs.

Their reasoning is that the combination usually results in a strong and unpleasant fishy aftertaste. The traditional explanation for the "bad" pairing is based on the presence of tannins—the chemicals that make red wines taste dry and cause the mouth to pucker. Yet, every now and again, a tannin-rich red wine that does go well with seafood turns up. Even though which wines can manage this pairing, and why, has remained a mystery that even the best-trained sommeliers do not understand.

So, a bit "stumped" over this little wine-and-fish quandary yourself? Then trust me, you're not alone.

Read more here

Friday, November 06, 2009

Nation Of Food Bigots?

In an interesting opinion column published on CNN's website, Ruben Navarrette Jr. addresses "food racism" relating to a controversial statement made by ESPN sportscaster, Bob Griese, regarding Latino NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya. When fellow analyst Chris Spielman asked where was Montoya, Griese replied he was "out having a taco." And I think this is where I'll also point out that Montoya happens to be of Colombian... (not Mexican) heritage.

Griese has since been suspended by ESPN for one week, as well as having rendered an apology for the remark. And when asked about the comment, Montoya immediately and very succinctly rose above it all, stating: "Somebody mentioned it to me. I don't really care to tell you the truth. Yeah, I don't. I could say that I spent the last three hours eating tacos, but I was actually driving a car."

In any case, watch this following video clip -- and you decide.
Tempest (or in this particular case...taco) in a teapot? Or, are we indeed becoming a nation of cultural "food bigots," as the above opinion column might suggest?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cookbook Sales On The Rise

Not only is Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today selling better than her 2006 Gourmet Cookbook, it seems that interest in both cookbooks have increased dramatically, since news of the shut down of Gourmet Magazine earlier this month.

Could it be the start of a post "foodie magazine" trend? (Sure hope so, cookbook shelf enthusiast... that I am.)

Anyway, read more about it here at Eater.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cook Or Be Cooked By Wii

The Food Network is making a game out of teaching you how to cook.

No, really.


Coming November 3, 2009 is the Food Network's Cook or Be Cooked video game by Namco for the Nintendo Wii ($39.99, preorder at Amazon ). This new cooking video game offering also appears to be a more "professional" version of the Cooking Mama series of games.

That said, I totally agree that it really couldn't get any cheesier than the obvious train derailment that was Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine for Wii. Oh, well. Cookbooks and their hallowed kitchen cookbook damned.

In any event, catch a sneak peek at how to: "Flip, chop, slice, and dice your way to the table!" in this nifty (yet also slightly cheesy) Food network Cook Or Be Cooked trailer:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twitter Wine (For Reading Sake)


In collaboration with the San Francisco-based wine-making enthusiasts, Crushpad, Twitter is launching its own brand of wine -- for a literary cause.

The wines (pinot noir and chardonnay) will carry the the label "Fledgling Wines," and a portion of proceeds from sales will go to support Room to Read, a literacy organization.

There's a website with more details and how to purchase the wine (and how to start a twitter account too @fledgling).

"Because if you can't read you can't Tweet!" say founders Biz Stone & Evan Williams in promoting their philanthropic effort.

Then again, it also begs the question: If I had the "Room to Read" (so to speak), when would I have the time... to Twitter? This, in addition to Twitter's own notable contibutions to literacy, of course, in the forms of: LOL, OMG and How r u tday?


Friday, October 09, 2009

Jonathan Safran Foer: Eating Animals...Not

This Sunday's New York Times Magazine "food issue" showcases one of my favorite modern-day fiction authors, Jonathan Safran Foer , on not eating meat, in an excerpt from his upcoming book titled, Eating Animals, which has a scheduled release date in November 2009.

Makes for some truly interesting (as well as reminiscent) reading, especially, how he depicts his grandmother as the family's kitchen "Sentinel" while growing up. Like so many mothers and grandmothers we remember from those years, she was the one who was so consumed by the masterful meal she had created -- that in most cases it had already filled her stomach to the proverbial "brim," so that there was no desire on her part to eat another bite.

Memories.... (Even, if it probably has very little to do with the "key" focus of Foer's new non-fiction book, which explores his own personal eating habits, overall.)

In any event, I'm really looking forward to this new one from Foer, who made me an instant fan with his offbeat and quirky runaway debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Emotional Dinners

Posted by PicasaWe've all probably had at least one (if not more) emotional memories of some of the most meaningful meals we've ever eaten. And over at Epicurious this week, Editor in chief Tanya Steel interviewed chef Daniel Boulud in the kitchen of their Entertains NYC pop-up event. There, Boulud describes the "emotional" dinners that have impressed him most in his career.
Interesting (as well as heartwarming) stuff. Especially the story of a retiring chef who signed his chef coat and gave it to Boulud as a memento of the event.
Catch a peek at the video clip here

Friday, September 25, 2009

Trouble "Brews" In The Pairing Of Wine and Cheese

Posted by PicasaPictured above: A recent beer-and-cheese pairing class at the
Slow Food association's Cheese 2009 festival in Bra, Italy.

The combination has long been a staple in Belgian cuisine, but in recent years, the pairing of beer and cheese has gained legitimacy even in wine-obsessed Italy -- where beer is hardly the default drink to accompany fine dining.

And here in New York, at gourmet beer spots such as the Beer Table, serving cheese with a $10 brew -- no longer raises an eyebrow. According to sources: "People are struck by how easily the two go together."

Read more about what the Wall Street Journal had to say about this new pairing here
(Hmmm... An actual "class" over in Italy on this? When I'm sure some of the good folks in my favorite watering hole in beautiful, downtown NYC, could probably have…oh, well, never mind.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

But Is It Really?

Posted by Picasa
Ever wonder if that cup of decaf you just ordered at your local diner -- was really decaf? Or, just the same old cup of over-caffeinated java they serve everybody?

Well, no matter what some of us may think, you can’t tell by looking, or even tasting. And studies have shown that up to 30% of decaf coffees ordered at coffee houses and restaurants contain unacceptably high levels of caffeine, or aren't really decaf at all.

But now the good folks over at Spoon Sisters have stepped in with these nifty little tester strips, that will help you determine whether your coffee or tea is really decaf.

Just drop in a strip, and find out whether you've been truly decaffed -- or totally put on caffeine overload.

And only $9.95 for a pack of 20 strips. Love it!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 11, 2009

Caught, Bare-handed

Posted by Picasa
Over at the Food Section blog, is a post about the irony of the new cookbook from "Top Chef" alum Fabio Viviani, and the likeness of the book's images to a photo from another chef cookbook.

The above image of Ludovic Lefebvre (left) from his cookbook Crave is strikingly similar to that of Viviani (right) in his new book: hunky bad boy chef dude trampling through the waters with rock-solid abs and rolled up jeans -- seemingly snatching two giant fish from the water with nothing but bare hands.

But back in 2005, staff writer, Leslie Brenner, went fairly giddy and ga-ga over the photo of Lefebvre on the pages of the Los Angeles Times: "Look at him, emerging from the surf like a chef-Adonis, kelp fairly dangling from his biceps. He caught those big fish with his bare hands!"

(But honest, folks...she really did hold on to that edition of the LA Times Food Section all these years for the recipes. Honest, she really, really did.)

In any case, hot bods, badassed tattoos, and bare-handed fishing...oh, my!

Which truly begs the question: At this rate, who needs fishing poles?

Who, indeed.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Meal Fit For A Critic

Posted by Picasa
Finally out this week, is the trailer for Bitter Feast, an upcoming low-budget horror film about a chef who takes revenge on a food critic, already being tagged as a horror flick for the "latent" foodie in all of us. Mario Batali (not featured in the trailer) plays the owner of the restaurant.

Merciless editors and book critics -- please also feel free to take note. Bwahahahaahaa!

Catch a glimpse here

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kitchen Gadgetry: Alton's Judgment Calls

Posted by Picasa
One of my favorite food nerds (even by his own admission) is the well-known Food Nertwork TV host, Alton Brown. One part chef, one part "Bill Nye the Science Guy" of the kitchen, he's also well-known for his disdain toward spending money on "unitaskers" and other kitchen gadgets, when you can just as easily (and far more cheaply) get by with what's around the house.

In any case, over at the Gizmodo Gadget Blog this week, from stick blenders to melon ballers, Alton gives a detailed rundown on the kitchen aids he feels are useful, and those that are a waste of time, as well as your money. And topping his list of time wasters, are two of my own personal pet peeves -- as well.

Ice Cream Maker

• I don't have a lot of reasons for a regular ice cream maker. Good continuous-churn models are expensive, $800 to $1000. Frozen core models are messy—you have to store them in the freezer, and you're always losing parts. I don't have any great need for that.
If I didn't have access to liquid nitrogen, maybe I would. Maybe I could use one for something other than ice cream that I haven't thought up yet.

Garlic Press

• There is absolutely no reason for a garlic press to exist. It is utterly completely magnificently useless.

Amen, Alton.

Read more here

Friday, August 21, 2009

White House Fruits and Veggies

President Barack Obama visiting the farmer's market in Greensboro, N.C. last summer.

According to remarks made by President Barack Obama at yesterday's Organizing for America health care forum, the creation of a small farmer's market is being considered just outside of the White House:

"So, you know, Michelle set up that garden in the White House. One of the things that we're trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmer's market outside of the White House -- I'm not going to have all you all just tromping around -- (laughter) -- but right outside the White House so that we can -- and that is a win-win situation. It gives suddenly D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue maker for local farmers in the area. And those kids of connections can be made all throughout the country and has to be part of how we think about health."

Enterprising. Now along with local D.C. farmers...if we could just focus on some potential revenue for "everyone" by putting millions of Americans back to work....

You know, by putting a paycheck in their direct deposit accounts again, as well as a few dollars in their pockets to pay these local farmers at this new White House market?

Much good, wholesome food for thought, wouldn't you say, Mr. President?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Julia and Jacques

With all the recent success of the fantastic new movie, Julie and Julia, featuring Meryl Streep as my goddess, the late great Julia Child, I just want to remind all of you that one of the greatest "pairings" of chefs was the match up between Julia Child and master French chef Jacques Pépin.

And along these same lines, a simply must-have for your cookbook shelf is Cooking at Home by Jacques and Julia. The book, released in 1999 was (and is) the companion volume to Julia Child and Jacques Pépin's PBS TV series of the same name.

Julia Child often defended some of her trademark dishes, that people over the years have touted as extremely "high" in fat content...and not very slimming. According to my dear Julia's words:

"The only key to your weight choosing your grandparents more carefully."

Miss you, Julia.

And check out the absolutely sinful mashed white and orange (sweet) potatoes she and Jacques whip up toward the end of this video clip.

Good Lord!

Friday, August 07, 2009

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service...Baby?

Hello, all. I'm back.

And yes, the summer so far...has been great. Barbeque, barbeque, and more barbeque... 'nuff said. Wildwood Barbeque here in beautiful downtown NYC, you ROCK. Talk about getting totally sauced? Yowsa!

But now that I'm back check this one out.

Ripe for my "Come on…Are You Kdding Me?" file, is this recent happening from the good folks (or should I say fast food Nazis…er, um…"engineers") at a local Burger King in St. Louis, Missouri.

It seems that like most restaurants, the Burger King in a St. Louis suburb has a no shoes, no shirt, no service policy. And baby, do they enforce it. Too much so, the company admitted, after apologizing for restaurant workers who asked a mother to leave because her 6-month-old wasn't wearing shoes.

Jennifer Frederich, her mother and Frederich's infant daughter, Kaylin, stopped at the Burger King in Sunset Hills on Sunday. The baby was shoeless - Frederich figured tiny baby feet were immune from the rule.

But workers told the family to leave because the shoeless baby was violating a health code. In fact, shoelessness is not a health code violation in St. Louis County.

Frederich told KTVI-TV that she and her mother ate hurriedly and left before they could be kicked out. Frederich did not have a listed phone number, and The Associated Press could not reach her for comment.

Burger King released a statement Thursday indicating workers had taken the no shoes, no service policy too far.


In any event, read more here

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking A Break

I'll be resting my pen for a while, in order to catch up on some summer fun, food and enjoyment while it lasts. Let's face it, we'll all be shoveling out from under mega-mounds of snow here in New York again -- before you know it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your lazy days of summer, and see you soon.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hummus...or Hamas?

Isn't Pita The Real Enemy?

Here's a clip from the new movie "Brüno," where Brüno a.k.a. Sacha Baron Cohen (and Borat in yet another life incarnation) confuses Hamas with a certain Middle Eastern puréed bean dish.

Who knows? Maybe food can really bring peace among nations. (At least it's got them sitting down at a table with Brüno …and talking about it.)

Stay tuned….

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fill Your Cup

Or not...depending on how you look at photographer Annie Leibovitz's new collaboration with Lavazza. (Jeez, you can "barely" see the demi-tasse cup in the model's hand in the picture above.) It's a 2009 calendar and marketing campaign that features scantily clad women lusting for (get this) . . . coffee.

Leibovitz's photos feature models in various poses in Italian locales, mainly holding demitasse cups filled with espresso. There's a photo of woman "baring all" in a plate of tossed noodles (above), a frolic in the Trevi Fountain, and a rather strange recreation of Romulus and Remus suckling from a highly caffeinated model/she-wolf.

See more images of how Annie and Lavazza keep things brewing at

Friday, June 26, 2009

Le Chocolat Goes Postal

Posted by Picasa

Blogger and author David Lebovitz tells us this week about these new chocolate stamps that are being printed by La Poste, the French postal service.

Unlike those popular Chinese Year of the Pig stamps (which were touted to taste like sweet and sour pork, but by all accounts...kinda didn't), Lebovitz writes that these stamps really are scented (with the aroma of chocolate).

A set of 10 stamps -- which come in a booklet made to resemble a chocolate bar -- is 8.5 € over at La boutique web du timbre.

Interested? Why not? These chocolatey-good stamps can also be purchased online and shipped to the U.S.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Five Meals, Ten Ingredients

Right now, go and take a quick peek inside your fridge. Think you can do it? Well, in this video clip, Mark Bittman food writer and and author of How To Cook Everything shows you just how easy it is. (Love that shrimp and asparagus pasta dish!)

So watch here as he shows you exactly how to stock your pantry -- and make five (yes, count them...FIVE) dishes from the 10 average ingredients you should have on hand.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

NYC Food Film Festival

I'm off to the third annual NYC Food Film Festival this evening here in NYC. And, if you happen to be a foodie living in or around the NYC area, it pays to hop on down to the Astor Center today, or one of two other NY area locations through June 19th.

The complete food movie schedule lists at least several dozen films. From the inspiring -- to probably the slightly ridiculous, some of these movie titles (such as "Buttermilk: It Can Help" and "Mutton: The Movie") have totally peeked my interest, and I've gotta check it out this year, for sure.

Have a quick peek at the event's official trailer here:

2009 NYC Food Film Festival Trailer from George Motz on Vimeo.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Spherical Ice

This month, New York's B Flat Restaurant's drink mixologist, Takaaki Hashimoto, is giving a video demo on Star Chefs where he demonstrates how to carve jewel-shaped and spherical ice, just like the ones on New York Magazine's slideshow of the city’s best cubes. (Yes, folks...there seems to be a definite "art" to sculpting ice cubes, obviously stretching far and beyond those dinky little trays in our refrigerator freezers.)

By using only a few extra-sharp sushi knives and bare hands to shape a frosty slab of ice, Hashimoto makes the round "jewel" cut look especially easy.

Then again, given the sharp blades (and bare fingers) involved here, I really wouldn't suggest trying it -- at home.

But on the other hand, if you really think you've got the ice sculpting "cojones" -- the end result might wind up looking as gorgeous as this:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Food and Family vs. Twitter and Texting

Posted by Picasa

I've seen it, as recently as this past week, when a friend offered me a lift and her two young daughters were text messaging each other -- in the back seat of the car -- seated right next to each other.

But these days, the phenomenon of "texting" has also found its way to family dinner tables, including important holiday meals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, breaking the fast on Yom Kippur, Passover -- you name it.

According to Emily Post’s great-granddaughter, Cindy Post Senning, it's called texting anarchy, and "People are texting everywhere," she says.
Husbands, wives, children and dinner guests who would never be so rude as to talk on a phone at the family table seem to think it’s perfectly fine to text (or e-mail, or Twitter) while eating.

But Dr. Post Senning says that it's not perfectly fine. Not at all. So new is the problem that her latest book, Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids (HarperCollins, 2009), written with Peggy Post, covered it only generally, in a blanket ruling: "Do NOT use your cell phone or any other electronic devices at the table."

Works for me, Cindy.

Read more here

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zip Code Winery?

Yep, seems it's a new term for a winery whose vineyards may be located in one place, but seeks to associate itself with another area.

In a profile of wine mogul, Fred Franzia, the May 18, 2009 issue of The New Yorker describes how Franzia's popular "cheapie" Charles Shaw wine, also known as Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe's, gains from the prestige associated with the Napa Valley wine region -- where it is bottled -- even though it is made from grapes grown in vineyards in California's less desirable Central Valley.

Although Charles Shaw wine falls under the generic California branding, it can legitimately be labeled "Cellared & Bottled by Charles Shaw Winery, Napa, CA," a practice that strikes many in Napa as a bit unsavory. "It’s called a Zip Code winery," Vic Motto, a business adviser to Napa Valley wineries, says. "The unsuspecting consumer may not realize it’s not Napa wine."

This sort of reminds me of the rumored waters from the French Alps -- which actually start out from a kitchen tap somewhere in The Bronx. On the other hand, the "bottling" is probably happening in The Bronx too...but you get the idea.

Anyway, if you'd like to know a little more about zip code wine processing, read more here

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mike & Martha

Posted by Picasa

Straight from the "The Martha Stewart Show" are these sound bites from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appearance this past week on the daytime television show.

In addition to showing off his cookie-baking skills, the Mayor expounded upon his gastromantic techniques:

MS: When people ask you about New York City, what are the three things…that are absolutely important for out-of-towners to do, to see, to visit?

MB: Well, number one, I would take the Staten Island Ferry over to Staten Island – get off. There are lots of cultural things on Staten Island, but even if you don’t have time to do that, take it over and back. It’s free and you get a phenomenal view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and the skyline of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

MS: You don’t know this, but do you know what happened to me on the Staten Island Ferry?

MB: What?

MS: I got engaged.

MB: Mazal tov! I wont asked what happened after that.

MS: Well that’s history, but it was very exciting and the view is very nice.

MB: I used to buy a six pack of beer and a pizza and take a date…it was very romantic and something I could do. The second thing I would do is go to a Greek diner. Greek diners are something that is unique to New York. There’s a thousands things on the menu; they all cost about five bucks; they come in 30 seconds; and they all taste good. If I was going to eat every meal for the rest of my life in one restaurant, it would be a Greek diner…and then I guess the last thing I would do…Broadway show.

Hmmm... A six pack and a pizza on the Staten Island Ferry, eh? Sounds like a real "low budget" date, for sure. But hey, um... "when" exactly are we talking about here, Mr. Mayor...Bloomberg??

Friday, May 08, 2009

Let Moms...Eat Cake

Don't know about the rest of you moms out there, but I personally can't think of anything I'd like more for Mother's Day, than my all-time favorite, Red Velvet Cake.

This cake is a southern tradition for festive occasions. It can be completely assembled and chilled one day before serving. And…it can also be totally pimped out and "jazzed" up with raspberries and blueberries (as seen in the picture above).


Red Velvet Cake With Raspberries and Blueberries


Cake • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 tablespoon red food coloring
• 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 large eggs

Frosting • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

• 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
• 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries


For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake.

(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Julia: The Movie

If you knew her, you also knew that the late, great Julia Child disapproved of using her name for anything deemed "commercial." It was so much so – that she even refused to put so much as a blurb on the back of a book for some of her closest friends.

But with that said, I know if dear Julia were still here, she'd have to at least smile at seeing Meryl Streep portray her in the upcoming movie, Julie and Julia. (Scheduled to be in theaters somewhere around August 1st.)

The movie is an adaptation of two books: Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life In France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homm.

By the way, if you'd rather skip the movie, but still interested in a good read, then I highly recommend former food blogger Julie Powell's award-winning book titled Julie & Julia (mentioned above). I read it several years ago when it was first released – and totally loved it.

In any case, here's the first trailer of director Nora Ephron's screen effort, based partly on this terrific book: