Archive | February, 2011

Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour

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Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Administrator


I knew that wines had special reserves, but I had no idea that tomatoes had reserves. Thanks to Muir Glen for enlightening me to these special tomatoes. I was one of a lucky few that was invited to a special Tasting Dinner of reserve Muir Glen tomatoes. The event, the Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour, had stops in select cities: Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle, with a special tasting dinner. For Atlanta, the selection was Chef Gerry Klaskala’s Aria Restaurant in Buckhead.

The selection of Chef Klaskala and Aria for the Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour as they call it, wasn’t random. Chef Klaskala is one of five award-winning chefs from around the country who actually traveled to Yolo County, California, in August to participate in the hand-harvesting of the special tomatoes. The 2010 Reserve Tomatoes were grown exclusively for Muir Glen under certified organic practices. The tomatoes are hand-harvested at the peak of ripeness to guarantee exceptional quality and taste, going from vine to can in eight hours.



Our intimate group was treated to three appetizers (tomato-beef sliders, grilled cheese and bruschetta) while we were waiting for all the guests to arrive. Remember EVERYTHING on the menu had some of these rare tomatoes in them. The tomatoes were in a jammy consistency in the bruschetta, which was absolutely delightful. The grilled cheese with tomatoes was lovely, but it was the sliders that stole the show. The tomatoes added an overall sweet juiciness that was unlike any slider I’ve ever had before. I couldn’t resist having two – bear in mind, we still had a five course meal ahead of us.

Once seated, we started things off with a Tomato and Shrimp Bisque. Velvety and creamy, with the perfect amount of tomato, I was in heaven. The next two courses were a sort of tomato ragout – one with pasta and one with polenta. Fourth course was a perfectly cooked (and by perfectly cooked I mean medium) lamb chop served alongside a tomato and Eggplant ragout. I truly believe Eggplant and lamb were meant to go with one another and this dish upholds that theory, not to mention how perfectly it paired with the Sangiovese it was paired with.

So after tasting one each of the hors d’oeuvres, plus one extra slider, plus four courses, who would have room for dessert, right? But, oh, how this dessert was worth waiting for and saving room for. Now, when one thinks of dessert, tomato is not the first thought that comes to mind. Surprisingly, this was the highlight of the meal for me. This tomato dessert was panna cotta served with some sort of jam-like topping made from tomatoes, and served with it was a tomato sorbet. We were also treated to a shortbread cookie filled with tomato jam. If organic tomatoes are always this tasty, sweet and versatile, sign me up!

Many thanks to Muir Glen, Aria Restaurant and Chef Gerry Klaskala for allowing me to participate in this exceptional, one-of-a-kind, experience. Chef Klaskala’s passion for organics and farm-to-table foods is contagious. I felt like I was a judge on Iron Chef: Battle Tomato!

You can taste these tomatoes too. Sign up at Muir Glen and order a kit – click here for more info. For more information about the Tomato Vine Dining Tour, click here.

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When is it Right to Write for Free?

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Administrator

Writing without compensation is no doubt a hot button for bloggers and food writers these days. As bloggers we want the recognition for writing and we know if we don’t have prior writing experience under our belt, we have to pay our dues. Food critics dislike our writing for free as it lowers their earning potential in turn. So when is it right to write for free? The answer is when it benefits you as much or more than it costs you.

I’ve been freelance writing for three years. I knew in the beginning I’d have to work for free, so I started writing for a women’s website where I learned lots about writing for the online world and Search Engine Optimization, etc. I since wrote for a couple other online publications, although the compensation was little or nothing, my meal was taken care of and I had the opportunity to re-post that content on my food blog.

About a year ago, I just about jumped out of my skin when a local print magazine asked me if I would be interested in writing a monthly food column for them. Yes! Finally, my talents are being recognized! I drove across town eagerly anticipating sharing all the thoughts about what we could do with this column and how great it would be. We met in their conference room (me, the president and owner along with three other editors), and discussed the process of how the column would work – each of them giving their input and having to sign off on my review. We discussed everything involved except for one thing – payment.

As uncomfortable as it made me to ask, I couldn’t leave before finding out how much they were going to pay me. He boldly declared “We don’t pay our writers anything. They simply get a mention of their website in the byline of their articles instead of payment.”

I sat there, stunned and speechless for a minute while I wrapped my head around the idea that this magazine that makes lots of money from its advertisers isn’t willing to pay me a penny for my writing. I then politely thanked him for his time and told him I would consider the offer and let him know my answer in a couple days.

Ultimately, I decided that this wouldn’t be a good fit. I knew that there would be lots of revisions and critiquing from not one but the three editors I’d met with. In other words, it would be exactly like having a job just without any compensation. When I found out the meal allowance was next to nothing, it made it even easier to turn down the offer.

If your aspirations are to become a paid food writer, be aware you’ll have to pay your dues. You’ll probably have to write for free for some period of time to gain exposure and experience. You may even have to write about topics you have no interest in as well.

After you gain experience and are published in some online sites, make note of this in your portfolio. When you feel you’ve gotten sufficient experience, then start charging for your writing. You may feel inclined to write for free if it is tremendous opportunity – perhaps a magazine you’ve always wanted to contribute to or a guest post on a blog you admire.

Several factors to consider:

  • Are meals compensated?
  • Can you re-post the article on your blog?
  • If you sever ties do you still own the rights to these articles?

It is up to you whether you write for free or not. My advice is don’t ever do it because you don’t feel worthy. Blog traffic and exposure is great up to a certain point but it doesn’t pay the bills. Do you think your hair stylist, trash person, or car mechanic is willing to work for nothing?

As an observation, it seems that when we have a talent or something that comes naturally, we often discredit or undervalue it. Keep in mind that if you don’t value yourself, your skills and your talent, no one else will.

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International

Posted on 15 February 2011 by Administrator

Canada

Calgary

Foodosphoy
Foodie finds around Canada and US

Didsbury, Alberta

Melynda’s Muffins
Food Recipe Blog

Ottowa

Rachelle Eats Food
Lots of neat eateries and recipes

Toronto
Adventures in Dinner
Foodhogger

Vancouver

Chow Times
Vancouver blog written by couple Ben and Suanne with posts from travels as well.

Feast for All Seasons
Recipe Blog

Noshwell
This blog divides meals into categories like breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee break.

Sherman’s Food Adventures
Somewhat Asian Focused Food blog complete with excellent pics.

Smoky Sweet
Dining out, cocktails and even travel eats!

 

Vancouver Slop
An Almost Daily Food Blog

United Kingdom

London
An American in London
Musings of London eateries through the eyes of an American.

Dirty Kitchen Secrets
Recipes (including video) and other foodie information.

Give me Some Spice
Award-winning blog that lists Vegetarian Indian Entrees

Gourmet chick
Funny, insightful posts by a girl who lives to eat

London Eater
Photographer and foodie combined.

Petra Hallstrom
Travel, reviews, food experience.

Soul Curry
Former Business woman and vegetarian who quit her demanding job to pursue her passion of cooking.

What’s For Lunch, Honey?
Self-taught food stylist and photographer

Dorset

Jenny Eatwell’s Rhubarb & Ginger blog

Leeds
My Nom Nom Nom

Yorkshire
Yorkshire Dales Food Blog

Australia

Queensland
The Good Soup
Everyday Cook

Orgasmic Chef

Colombia

My Gastronomic Adventures in Bogota

Indonesia

Omar Niode

Israel

Bisstyle

Italy

La Tavola Marche
Simona’s Kitchen

Malta

Pimp That Food

Netherlands

Eat Amsterdam

South Africa

Vegetarian Zest

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3 Tips for Getting More Blog Traffic

Posted on 10 February 2011 by Administrator

Whether your blog is brand new or been around for quite a while, you can always benefit from more traffic. Here are couple traffic generating tips that have helped over the years.

1. Write Thought Provoking Content
Put a lot into your writing. As bloggers, we all know when we’ve poured our heart and soul into a post and when we’ve just “phoned it in” so to speak. Write remarkable content, and people will come to read it and share it. I find that lists do really well in generating comments. So for example, writing a list of “10 of my favorite tapas restaurants” or “16 Different Ways to Use Cilantro” are great ways to generate interest, readership, comments and sharing.

2. Market Your Blog
Even if you consider yourself to be a blogger, you must consider yourself a marketer too. Those great posts you need to write need to be read and that starts with you marketing your blog. Have a sharing mechanism in your posts, so that readers can share your content with friends. Publish your posts to Twitter when they go live. Link your blog to Facebook.

Besides Social Media, there are other ways to promote your blog. Comment on other blogs. There are no doubt blogs are more well-known than yours. Go to those and comment on posts. Having said that, there’s a right way and a wrong way to comment. The wrong way is to simply comment instructing the readers to go to your blog. The only thing you’ll succeed in doing is pissing off the blog owner and no one will bother clicking through to your site. The best way to do this is to provide some value of your own. For example, on a post about a restaurant that you’ve been to, briefly comment on your experience with the food. Below your comment where you put your name there may be a space for your blog url. If not add it below your comment in the body.

Alternatively, guest blogging is another way to generate interest in your own blog. I suggest writing to a few bloggers and asking them if they would like a guest post. Choose bloggers that have about the same level of experience as you. Very established won’t be willing to give you a chance if you are a newbie. Most will be thrilled as we bloggers are always looking for content. Right?

3. Ask people to comment
People are pulled in so many different directions, you have to be very specific about the action you want them to take. You might be surprised that by just asking them to comment on a post, the response you will get. If you are having trouble getting the ball rolling, ask one or two friends to comment. No one seems to like to be the first person to comment. Once they see some Social Proof, they will be more inclined to comment themselves.

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