My coworker Melissa Rubel and I are four-fifths of the way toward my goal of baking 1,000 cookies by the end of Tuesday. These cookies will be among dozens of offerings from top chefs at Philadelphia's Great Chefs Event on Wednesday night. The Great Chefs Event supports Alex's Lemonade Stand an organization that raises money and awareness for childhood cancer research and treatment. It's already sold out! That's more than 700 people clamoring for cookies. Time to get baking.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q; Decatur, AL
BBQ Plate: Tender pulled pork shoulder with coleslaw—arguably the best BBQ at the event from Chris Lilly (left).
VIP Area: None, unless you count the small open space next to a sparkling new Komodo Kamado smoker/grill on display. (It’s being called the next Big Green Egg.)
Typical VIP: A V.P from Bad Robot, the production company behind Star Trek.
Hill Country; NYC
BBQ Plate: Pete Daversa and Elizabeth Karmel's succulent beef brisket (fatty burnt ends were especially amazing) and Cool-as-a-Cucumber Salad.
VIP Area: A small tent.
Typical VIP: Firemen from West Village Squad 18.
Beverage: Spiked Tea (though not for the firemen).
17TH Street Bar & Grill; Murphysboro, IL
BBQ Plate: Mike Mills’s smoked baby back ribs with awesome baked beans.
VIP Area: A big tent with picnic tables and a barbecue-sauce fountain that transfixed a Japanese TV crew. (A jealous pit master called it the red carpet of Big Apple BBQ.)
Typical VIP: Legendary food writer Calvin Trillin.
Beverage: Very potent Pink Pull Your Panties Down Punch.
With one of my coworkers planning a wedding, a hot topic in the Test Kitchen has been catering companies and all the add-ons they offer. There's the ubiquitous chocolate fountain (which has grossed me out since I learned that it takes gallons of oil to keep it flowing properly) and the late-night coffee bar. My colleague Kate Heddings has not stopped talking about the mashed-potato bar she encountered at one wedding, with toppings ranging from chili to caviar. The latest add-on in Austin? Snow cones. But instead of flavoring the shaved ice Snoopy-style, with artificially colored, faux-fruit-flavored syrups, local event-planning company Caplan Miller uses liqueurs like Kahlúa and Baileys Irish Cream.
Nine days left until the world's premiere food event, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 19-21. For those still looking for tickets, F&W, QVC and KitchenAid have partnered up to offer an exclusive package to Extra viewers that includes round-trip airfare for two, a three-night hotel stay, tickets to the Food & Wine Publisher's Party, front-row seats to the Classic Quickfire Challenge, a QVC gift card worth $1,000 and amazing appliances from KitchenAid. Check out Extratv.com to learn how to enter the contest, and tune in to QVC at 11 a.m. (EST) on June 21 for a live broadcast from Aspen.
Hill Country's excellent pit master, Pete Daversa, has some tips for competitive eaters (and for those who really want to maximize barbecue consumption at the Big Apple BBQ).
* Don't starve yourself before the contest. Your stomach will shrink.
* Prior to the contest, eat lots of plain lettuce, celery or boiled cabbage. They're made of mostly water and will help stretch your belly without filling it up.
* Once you're full and can't eat any more, call it a day; don't risk choking or suffering what professionals call a "reversal of fortune."
First came the blog, the Julie/Julia Project, where Julie Powell documented the trials of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Then came the book, Julie & Julia, based on the blog. And now, this August, comes the Nora Ephron movie based on the book starring Meryl Streep as Julia and Amy Adams as Julie.
Julie Powell and I have recently become friends, at least on Facebook, where I follow her hilarious daily musings. I decided to ask my new “friend” what it’s been like to see her words go from the computer to the big screen.
Powell says the most surreal part has been the paparazzi shots of Amy Adams in a Julie wig in front of her old office, at the Strand and a block away from her apartment. “The Julie of the movie bears some resemblance to the Julie Who Is Me,” Powell wrote me. “But, she’s definitely a fictional character.” For one, the movie Julie doesn’t curse as much as the real-life Julie!
Julie & Julia follows the basic plot points of Powell’s book, but is a very different creature. The voice is more Ephron than Powell. According to Julie, “The movie is very much Nora’s baby.” But, “Nora’s done an amazing job of weaving together the parallels between my and Julia’s stories, and how this is about two women finding themselves.”
The highlight for Powell: meeting Meryl Streep, who stayed completely in character—voice, wig, and dress—throughout their conversation about high heels.
Powell second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, is due out in December. Always busy, she’s got irons in the fire but says she’s giving up memoirs for now—“while the gettin’ is good.”
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