Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let's Talk About Food Festival @ MOS

More than a month ago I stopped by this great event organized by the Museum of Science as a part of their Let's Talk About Food Series. A big shout out goes out to Lisa and her team from the MOS - as it turns out, the team I used to intern with at the MOS was running the event. Their goal was to bring together people to celebrate food, health, cooking and science - all along the Cambridge Parkway and the Charles. I planned to just swing by and look around, but ended up staying for a good four hours. Due to the rainy day the turnout wasn't great - but it meant that I got great front row seats and lots of face time with exhibitors. They had a big tent set up with the main stage - where various local celebrity chefs presented different dishes and sessions, in addition to a long line of exhibitors running all along the Charles. The Museum of Science was also marketing their new exhibit - Around the World in 80 Diets, which I'm hoping to check out next.
I arrived just in time to see Jody Adams (of Rialto in Cambridge) present her session on cooking with lobster - and the program listed a special guest, who turned out to be Deval Patrick! I was a big fan of Adams on Masterchef on Bravo, so this was so fun for me to watch. She talked about her new restaurant coming - called Trade (at Atlantic and Congress in South Boston), and the importance of cooking within the season. They introduced Governor Patrick as a secret foodie who likes to be the cook at home for his family. Just like me, he talked about going to farmers market, seeing what looks good and then cooking what he finds! He even joked that he often catches his State Troopers on his security team watching the Food Network. They showed us how to split a lobster for their recipe - a Lobster Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette sounded delicious - with tarragon, lemon and orange zest, olive oil, dijon mustard, vinegar, grilled corn, scallion.

Whole Foods had a great booth setup, where they were giving out organic apples and these all natural granola bar slices, as well as reusable grocery bags and recipe ideas.
I was also excited to see that Stonyfield Farm had a booth - they make one of my favorite greek yogurts, which they were sampling (caramel, chocolate and vanilla flavors).
One of the quick panel sessions was all about cooking with honey, with Chef Charles Draghi from Erbaluce. The nice thing about the panels was that they actually brought the food out into the audience so that we could sample the dish they'd just shown us how to make.
Though I'm not a huge honey fan in its natural state, this dish was nice - a parmesan crisp with some sort of diced fruit (I think it was pear) and honey. They also talked about how good Rose wines are this time of year - and that people don't appreciate them for what they are. A drink was made as well - with honey, lemon juice, sparkling water and mint.
HOOD had a tent up - and they were highlighting how to cook with cottage cheese for healthier eating. If I saw this recipe on my own, without being able to taste the dish I most definitely would've been skeptical as I hate cottage cheese. Perhaps the next time I make stuffed shells I'll use cottage cheese in the recipe instead of all ricotta - which isn't nearly as packed with protein.
For people like me who were sticking around for most of the day they conveniently had a whole street full of Food Trucks! While I didn't have the appetite to try anything out I was certainly tempted.
Eva's Garden had such a great idea to host a herb tasting booth - you know, those herbs that recipes call for, but you don't know what they are, where to find them, or if you even like them! They even let people take handfuls of fresh herbs home with you! I particularly remember the chocolate peppermint herb - something I've never seen before.
One of the highlights of the day for me was getting to meet Tiffani Faison (from Top Chef!) and sitting in on her panel, along with Mary Dumont (from the Next Iron Chef and Harvest in Cambridge). I've always loved the Top Chef series and most recently Tiffani was on Top Chef All Stars - she'll also be opening a new restaurant near Fenway soon, called Sweet Cheeks BBQ.
Faison and Dumont led a special panel on cooking with kids, which was really cute! They featured dishes with pineapples and strawberries - both savory and sweet. I feel strongly about getting kids engaged in cooking, starting at a young age - and both of these chefs talked about this sort of family activity can help to increase children's palates and be more open to trying new foods. The pineapple salad had mixed greens, citrus vinaigrette, pineapple, fresh herbs, and tortillas crisped and crushed up. The strawberry salad sounded even more delicious, with baby spinach, strawberries, whole wheat pasta, mushed up blueberries, EVOO, salt, lime and lemon zest, balsamic, mint, basil, ricotta cheese, sliced almonds, dried cranberries and sliced grilled chicken. A lot of ingredients - but sounds like it would be worth the effort for what seems like a great healthy summer salad.

The last note I made to myself before heading out was a tip from Chef Jay Murray from Grill 23 - it's one I knew already, but to hear it from a professional made it a little more real. Pre-grated, pre-chopped, pre-anything garlic is BAD! I know, I know - but it makes everything so much quicker! He did recommend a grated garlic product from Whole Foods if you absolutely must use pre-made garlic, so I'll be on the lookout next time I'm there! He was talking about the garlic because of the Thai-Style Chimichurri he was making to go with a nice grilled steak - basil, cilantro, ginger, mint, garlic, olive oil and coconut milk. It's definitely on my to-make list!

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