To add to this smorgasbord of gastro-nerdery, I have recently been involved in two friendly cook-offs with some friends of ours. They both share our love of good food, and we both participate in a local farmers market bag pick up service. Essentially they have some delicious produce as well as some meats, cheeses, pastas, breads and even some gourmet popcorn (which I think leaves a lot to be desired, but I also don't love popcorn...I know, how un-American of me). However, I often forget to place my order by Sunday in order to pick up my bag on Thursday. So this past week, since I remained consistent in nodding off on placing my order, we decided that we would each hit up one of the actual farmer's markets with a budget of thirty dollars.
The last time we did this, I mailed it in. I tried to make a sausage soufflé and though I had two other dishes planned, I got around to making the food too late and well...I was just lazy. I know, Cat Cora would beat me with a spatula. So needless to say, I was beat handily by two delicious courses including a homemade ravioli.
For round two I had to step up my game and in addition I thought it would be fun to photo document the events...or at least the food.
Homemade beet bloody mary
Broiled oro blanco
grass fed beef meatballs filled with cheese curds
eggplant rollotini with parmesan, avocado, oyster mushroom, cheese curd and bacon
Monkey bread with bing cherries and chocolate chips
Harold's Menu (I forget the exact ingredients, so I am trying to remember as much as I can):
Homemade sausage pizza with goat cheese and pesto
Meatball soup with lentil and kale
Oh, and if you're wondering where my kids were, well, my 7 month old was fast asleep and my 2 1/2 year old was too shy to come out and join us. He does this. Even with people he has met on many occasions. I don't get it. So he stayed in his room, eating his own dinner and watching PBS Kids on the iPad.
Anyhoo..this is sort of how everything came together.
The first thing that should be clear is that I have never done food photography. There is an art there that I do not yet understand. But I think we can all agree that this is better than your average Moons Over My-Hammy. The second thing you may notice is that I sort of forgot to photograph a few items so some were gone (the delicious pizza - see the empty tray above) and some are showing the food half eaten. What can I say? Between cooking several dishes, enjoying some cocktails and grubbing up some good food it may have slipped my mind that I was actually trying to capture this event. Maybe next time.
After the wives got together to decide on a winner it was determined that based on the sheer number of dishes and the cheese filled meatballs that I was the evening's champion (there was also a bit of sympathy voting going on since I lost the first cook off...and I don't mind sympathy votes at all).
So with that being said, this appears to be becoming a regular happening. I have yet another channel to geek out about food and act like I know what I'm doing when picking out ingredients at the market. Just this past Sunday while trying to haggle a lobster tail salesman, I let slip that it was for a cook-off challenge hoping that he would give in right then and there. He didn't. But he did excitedly ask if I was a chef. For a short moment I thought about saying yes, but then the thought of bullshitting where I cooked and all of the awards I had won for my Manitoban/Finlandian fusion (not really thought, but am I the only person that thinks this whole "fusion" as a marketing tactic thing has gotten out of hand?)...then I thought better of it. Nope, just a stay-at-home dad that nerds out to cooking shows; and notice there were no lobster tails in my menu.