Surviving food festivals

I posted yesterday that Jason and I went to the Delray Garlic Festival. It’s always held around my birthday, so it’s fast becoming a birthday tradition for us. I’m the kind of person who likes “experience gifts” a lot more than material gifts. I can never remember what Jason got for my birthday any particular year, but I always remember the fun things we do.

I was texting my sister on and off that afternoon, and at some point she asked, “So what do you guys do at food festivals anyway?”. Oh sweety, don’t get me started. Too late, you just did…

Jason and I have been to a few festivals. This was our second Garlic Festival, we’ve been to Epcot Food and Wine a couple of times, and also a Festival of Chocolate. I feel like there was one more, but my mind is going blank. We tend to steer clear of the bigger festivals like South Beach Food and Wine down in Miami. Right now they’re just too expensive (and too crowded). But someday…

In the meantime, we try to hit up as many local festivals as we can, plus cultural events like at the Morikami, or the Filipino festivals. Though they don’t center around food, where else can you get ice cream with red beans?

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Food and Wine 2009

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Food and Wine 2010.

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Festival of Chocolate 2011

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Garlic Festival 2012

Here are a few general tips for going to Food Festivals-

Plan ahead. We usually try to do as much research as we can beforehand, especially for bigger events, like Epcot. We make our plan of attack and pick our very favorite things that we know we want to try. That way we can budget, and get all of our food tickets in one go, avoiding extra line standing time. This is also when we decide which demonstrations or classes to hit up. None of this is set in stone, so there is plenty of room for changing of plans. We just tend to be more efficient with time if we have a vague idea of what we’re doing.

Bring cash and buy food tickets first. Some festivals and vendors don’t take credit cards at all, and the cash lines are almost always shorter than credit/ debit card lines. Go ahead and buy your food tickets (or bracelets in the case of Epcot). Do it before you even start looking at things. Who wants to stand in line for tickets when you have tasty arepas staring you in the face?

Divide and conquer. Pick a meeting place and split up if the lines are super long. This isn’t always necessary, but it helps a lot at the larger festivals.

Bring your hat and sunscreen to any outdoor festival. It doesn’t matter how overcast the sky looks, do it anyway. Also be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if it’s hot or you’re drinking alcohol. Don’t want to cut into your eating time with a visit to the medical tent for dehydration.

Pace yourself and take breaks. You’re there all day, so scope out the shady and quiet spots and use as needed. The Nemo ride is especially nice for taking a break if you’re at Epcot.

It’s more than just food. Check out the vendor areas. You can find the coolest stuff there, like jewelry made of computer parts and kitchen utensils. It’s a lot of fun wandering around and looking at all the art. And “non-art” like the Hottie Lane street sign. Still kicking myself for not taking a picture of that.

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Chocolate covered cricket. Tastes a bit like chocolate covered rice krispie.

And the most important thing (I think)… try something new! This is your opportunity to go way outside your comfort zone, so don’t play it safe! I’ve tried Filipino milkshakes, escargot, and chocolate covered crickets for the first time at food festivals. (also mimosas and chocolate martinis, but who’s counting?) Everything is not going to be a winner, but you might discover your new favorite thing. (hello, arepas!)

 

Delray Garlic Festival

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The weekend before my birthday, we went to the Delray Garlic Festival. It was a gorgeous and sunny, but not too hot. Perfect for spending the day outside.

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One of the most famous things at the Garlic Festival is garlic ice cream. I had some last year and liked it okay. Jason didn’t, but he’s not a huge fan of weirdly flavored ice creams.

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My very favorite thing there is always the arepas. They’re sweet corn cakes with cheese inside that they fry up fresh for you. Soooo good! (I think the cheese is mozzarella, but I’m not sure).

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My other favorite thing from last year was the corn on the cob, so I had to get that again.

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The ambassador to the Garlic Festival is, of course, Mr. Garlic. It’s the same guy every year and he’s a lot of fun. Love his pimp-ish necklaces!

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We skipped the Iron Chef competition this year, but we did stop to see a demonstration by Lindsay Autrey from Top Chef. She was so sweet and personable. She’s working as Executive Chef at Sunday House in Delray (right don the street from the Festival). We need to go there asap.

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We got to sample her dish, Ricotta Gnocchi with crispy garlic chips. How have I never had gnocchi before?? It was super tasty.

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I’d like to say we stopped eating at that point, but no… Next up was crab cakes for Jason and curry chicken for me. They were both delicious, but I was so stuffed we had to take my chicken home.

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Before we left, I stopped at the Blood Bus to donate. I’m a peds donor and they’d started calling me every weekend, so I figured it was about time I donated again. That was an experience. To say they were disorganized is the understatement of the year. I swear I think it was my lady’s first day on the job. But it was worth it, and totally gave me the excuse to eat all day. “Oh I need another bite of your crab cake sweety, I’m donating blood before we leave!”

We had such a fantastic day. Can’t wait for next year!

 

Currently

Watching CSI reruns and Top Chef
Reading Midwives (so good!)
Listening to podcasts, as always
Making all kinds of random food. Carrot puree, Homemade cheese crackers, and lots of soup and fish.
Feeling worried about the huge pile of cash we owe in taxes this year.
Planning some homey projects.
Loving this sudden nesting instinct to prune, purge, and organize my plants and spices.
Annoyed that between Jason being on call and the cat being psycho, it feels like we have a baby in the house interrupting our sleep every night.
Looking forward to sunrise on the beach and the Garlic Festival this weekend.

High Five for Friday

This has been a week of ups and downs. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Jason is on the road to recovery. He’s asked me to keep details private, so I’ll respect that. I’m just happy everything went well and he got to stay home a few days this week. So great to have him home all day. I think the worst is hopefully over and we can get back to normal in the next couple of weeks. So happy and relieved. This has been a stressful couple of weeks for us.

2. This soup. My first attempt at cream of chicken soup and it was fantastic!

3. How Stuff Works podcasts. I love almost all of these podcasts. A couple of recent favorites are the Cult of Domesticity from Stuff Mom Never Told You (a must-listen for any hipster/ lifestyle blogger/ home cooks) and The Parenthood Wars from PopStuff.

4. Netflix Streaming. We’re blasting through the last season of Alias right now. The implausibility verges on the ridiculous sometimes, but it’s a nice escape. And they still make our jaws drop every couple of episodes. Last weekend we had an Independent film marathon. Ten Inch Hero, HottieBoombaLottie, Splinterheads, and Miss Nobody. All really good. Nice, light funny movies.

5. Cooking at home. Sometimes I get so tired of cooking. I just want to grab a box or bag of something and throw it in the oven or microwave. We all have days like that, right? Well I think my days of boxes and bags are numbered. I found something so disgusting in a bag of fries last weekend that I think I’m completely turned off of processed foods for the foreseeable future. It still makes me shudder to think about it. So my new rule is, if I can’t see what’s in the package, I’m going to think twice before buying it.  Which means if I want fries, I guess I’ll have to learn how to fry things. Which I’m terrible at. Anyone know of any good baked fries recipes?

 

Green Smoothies

Recently, A Beautiful Mess did a week of green smoothie recipes. I was intrigued because I wasn’t sure what exactly green smoothies were. After a little research, I discovered that they were just regular smoothies with some green stuff added in, like spinach or kale. Ohhhh, right. My sister has been raving about those for forever. So I thought I’d give them a try for a few days.

I’ll be up front. I don’t super love smoothies. They’re ok, but I don’t want to drink my calories. A big reason why I gave up soda a few months ago. And I really love whole fruit. Why mess it up by liquifying it?

But the more  looked into it, the more interesting green smoothies looked. So I decided to try it, using ingredients I already had in the house. Like those frozen mangoes that I don’t remember buying.

Here are a few that I tried last week. Everything is measured as 1 cup, unless otherwise noted.

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Spinach + Frozen mixed fruit (strawberries, peaches, grapes, pineapple) + 1 banana + milk

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Spinach + frozen mango + strawberries + banana + milk

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Spinach + Mixed frozen fruit + banana + 1 orange, juiced + ice + splash of water

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Spinach + whole peeled orange + strawberries + frozen mixed fruit + splash water

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Spinach + apple (cored, peel on) + banana + celery stalk + ice + water

Some thoughts.

I actually liked them all! Some better than others.

I was running low on milk towards the end of the week so I switched to water. Both worked out fine and I couldn’t taste much of a difference.

Towards the end of the week I stopped really measuring, just throwing in a handful of spinach or fruit.

The only one I didn’t really love was the mango, and I’m going to try adding lime and mint next time I use it. I still have a ton of mint from the garden so I can use that.

I really like adding oranges into my smoothies. I juiced it the first time, but the second one I just peeled and plopped the sections in. Yum! I love lots of pulp, but if you don’t, you can juice your oranges and it’s still great.

I found that if I use bananas, I can’t taste the spinach at all. But if I don’t it has a slight grassy taste. I don’t mind it, but something to keep in mind. For me, bananas seem to disguise the spinach taste the most.

I really like the idea of adding more veggies into my smoothies, but Jason is not on board with the celery idea. I liked it. Made me want to make a bloody Mary. I’d like to try carrots sometime.

My favorite time to make a smoothie was before or after working out. Maybe it’s mental, but it makes me feel healthier. I’d drink mine, then give Jason the other half when he got home from work.

The best way to store a smoothie without having it separate is to store it in the fridge in an insulated cup or thermos. If you put it in a glass, it will separate and you’ll have to stir it. It’s still good, but smoothies in layers turn me off for some reason.

Smoothies will never ever be a meal replacement for me. I don’t like yogurt or protein powder in my smoothies, so they just don’t fill me up. Great for snacks though.

You can clean your blender between making smoothies my squirting a little dishwashing liquid in and filling it up about halfway with warm water. Be sure to cover your blender well. Then pulse it a couple of times and rinse.

So I think I like smoothies after all. Who knew? I don’t want them every day, but they’re a nice addition.

Oshogatsu 2013: Year of the Snake

Last weekend was the Japanese New Year, Oshogatsu. We always spend it at the Morikami Museum and Gardens. No, we’re clearly not Asian. But I really like the kind of New Year where you walk around a pretty garden, hear cool music, and eat tasty soba.

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Love this place. So many good memories here.

And where else can you get a kimono for your beer??? Kiran in Kimono was so adorable, he might get his own post.

Cool story about those balls. (That’s what she said). They’re called mochi ice cream balls. Mochi is a kind of dough made from pounding rice until it has the consistency of bread dough. We watched them make it a few years ago and got to try some plain mochi. It was not the tastiest thing ever. But sweeten it up and wrap it around ice cream and it’s awesome! It came in a bunch of different flavors, traditional chocolate and strawberry, plus fruity kinds too. Very unique and we’ll definitely have that next time.

Happy Year of the Snake!

You can see our last visit to the Morikami here.

High Five for Friday is back!

I missed you, H54F.

1. NFL Bad Lip Reading. Damn you Molly Wood. One night this week I was all set to go to bed at a decent hour, but noooo. You had to tweet about NFL Bad Lip Reading. Which led us down the rabbit hole of all the Bad Lip Readings. An hour and a half later…

2. Halfway there. I mentioned in my goals post that I want to walk 40 miles this month and do 12 (small) strength training workouts. Still working through that, but doing well despite an uncooperative knee. Already thinking of what I want to add in next month.

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3. Squash and smoothies. I’ve eaten something with summer squash or zucchini four times this week and I could keep going. Smoothies still aren’t my favorite, but I’m experimenting with green ones.

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4. Picture of the Little Man’s new hair cut.

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5. Oshogatsu at the Morikami was last weekend. It was awesome, as always.

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What’s for dinner? Vol. 11

I took a hiatus on WFD during Thanksgiving, but I’m back and ready for some menu planning goodness! Okay I know I’m the only one remotely excited about menu planning, but that’s okay :P.

I’ve been continuing with the Menu Mailer on and off the past couple of weeks. Still eating lots more veggies when I do that, so yay! This week’s MM wasn’t really inspiring me much, so I decided to do something a little different. Each week I print out the MM and mark the recipes I want to make and write down any changes or substitutions. (I always substitute chicken for turkey recipes, etc.) So this week I took out my recipe pile and picked our favorites from the past month and made our menus from that. I want to start some kind of file or list with our favorites for weeks that I’m not inspired by anything.

Also, we’ve started doing the grocery shopping on Friday, so it makes more since to post my WFD on Fridays or Saturdays now.

Here’s the plan for next week-

Friday– Ladies Night/ Burritos for Jason
Saturday– Beefy Mushroom Soup
Sunday– Crock Pot Steak or Pizza
Monday– Creole steak soup
Tuesday– Pork Chops with mustard sauce
Wednesday– Garlic Basil Chicken, Zuccini from Kaylin’s recipe
Thursday– Stir-fry
Friday– Bacon mushroom chicken sandwiches or Checker’s

You can find more What’s for Dinner? posts here.

What’s for dinner? Vol. 10

Here was the plan for last week.

Sunday– Crock pot steak
Monday– Bacon and Mushroom Chicken Breasts with Kaylin’s roasted zucchini and feta
Tuesday– Mushroom stuffed peppers
Wednesday– Pork chops with mustard sauce
Thursday– Creamy Lemon Chicken
Friday– Checker’s or something garbage-y
Saturday– Ravioli soup

This is what actually happened.

Menu-Mailer week was a success. I’m going to try it for at least one more week. I’m really liking getting more variety in our dinners. And a ton more veggies, thanks to the side suggestions. I don’t always follow the recipes or the side suggestions exactly, but it’s a great starting point. One thing that I need to be wary of is portion sizes. Sometimes the meals that are supposed to feed 4 people just barely feed both of us. Also I’m going to make more carb-y sides for Jason. He doesn’t complain, but I know he gets weary of meat + veggies every single night.

Sunday we had crock pot steak (my favorite way to cook steak because I’m very bad at cooking it in a pan. I added broccoli and cauliflower, black-eyed peas, and biscuits.

Monday we had bacon wrapped chicken breasts, red potatoes (frozen), and my very favorite zucchini recipe from Kaylin’s Kitchen. It was really tasty and I think I’ll make something similar again, this time with cheese.

Tuesday was Election Night. We were so stressed out that we made an executive decision to have Checker’s.

Wednesday night we had stuffed peppers. They were good, but not at all filling. We had pinto beans and corn as sides.

Thursday night I made pork chops with mustard sauce. I was expecting it to be really tasty, but once I cooked them, I noticed they had an odd smell. We decided to err on the side of caution and tossed them. We had the planned sides, green beans and mashed potatoes. I usually make two kinds of green beans since Jason likes canned and I like fresh.

We almost always have frozen rolls with little sausages in the middle for emergencies so we had those as well.

Friday we practiced great self-restraint and didn’t go for a second round of Checkers in one week. Instead I made crock pot lemon chicken and green beans. I also made lemony rice and asparagus cooked my favorite way with pesto.

Saturday we had a busy day with errands. We got preoccupied with file management (me) and the Force Unleashed (Jason) and forgot all about dinner until late. So we did our old standby of PB&J and cereal.

Here’s this week’s menu-

Sunday– Beef and Mushroom soup
Monday– Chicken stir fry
Tuesday– Pork kabobs
Wednesday– Tilapia with apples and peppers
Thursday– Crock pot Lemon Chicken
Friday– Ravioli soup. Or possibly Checker’s.
Saturday– Date night!

You can find more What’s for Dinner? posts here.