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There were so many highlights for me today. I felt like I totally dorked out when it came to getting photos with chefs but that’s okay…I’m not embarrassed:). It all started when I spotted Fabio Viviani…I LOVED him from Top Chef Season 5. He was so cute with his Italian accent and man-crush on Stefan!

Next I laid eyes on Ming Tsai and Michael Chiarello who were nice enough to pose with me for a photo. After that I had a cookbook signed by Bobby Flay and got a photo with him and Michael Symon. Both were so nice and personable! After that I spotted Ed Lee from the most recent season of Top Chef. I wish he had made it further in the show but I have no doubt he’ll do well.

We went to 3 seminars today…all which were great! First was Jose Andres…so full of energy and it’s clear he loves what he does. I wish I could have a private meal with him. He seems so interesting and I’d love to pick his brain. And I can’t forget to mention that we sat right next to Nobu and had a really nice conversation with him! (we’re going to his restaurant tonight and are really looking forward to it!). Next was Paul Qui – the Top Chef Season 9 winner! He’s new to his “famous chef status” but was so authentic and seems so appreciative of everything he’s been given since. Last but not least was Bobby Flay. He’s just classic when it comes to the food scene. He’s been a part of the Aspen Food & Wine Festival for 14 years…that’s crazy! But he’s clearly deserved it and seems like a great guy.

Can’t wait for tomorrow!!!

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I have no idea who the woman is getting her picture with Giada is but I had to get a picture of Giada:) She’s gorgeous! And so tiny:)

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I have a little obsession with cookbooks.  Not only do I love using them to cook with but I also love reading them front to back.  I have a lot of people ask me what my go to cookbooks are.  Honestly, there isn’t just one but, below are some of my favorite and most used cookbooks and ones that I feel round out my library pretty well…

Tyler Florence Family Meal – I got this cookbook at a wedding shower and have been in love with it ever since.  I’m a huge fan of Tyler Florence’s restaurants – Wayfare Tavern, Rotisserie & Wine and El Paseo and have found that all of the recipes I’ve tried at home aren’t as complicated as one might expect.  His signature Popovers were definitely a hit at Christmas this year!

Greek Cooking In An American Kitchen – Hands down my favorite cookbook for many reasons.  First of all, I’m Greek and I grew up with this cookbook in my home.  It comes from St. Demetrios Church where I grew up going and now live a few blocks from.  You can buy it directly from them for $25 (bring a check book).  Be sure to check out the Greek Festival they throw every fall.  It’ll really make you want the cookbook even more:)

Williams-Sonoma Cooking For Friends – This cookbook is unlike any other I have.  One of the things I love most about it is that for certain ingredients, they show you 3-4 different ways to cook/prepare them.  For example: Savory Tarts Four Ways – Greek-Style Tomato & Feta Tart, Plum & Goat Cheese Tart, Pear & Gorgonzola Tart and Leek, Pancetta & Gruyére Tart.  It’s a good one I swear!

Cristina’s of Sun Valley – While I lived out my ski bum dreams in Sun Valley about 10 yrs ago my roommate and childhood friend worked at Cristina’s and I was lucky enough to have goodies brought home to me on a consistent basis.  I have been a fan of Cristina’s Italian food for a long time now and I love that I can make it in my own home for friends and family.

I’ve recently added (and have been gifted) a few new books to my collection that I’m dying to cook with.  Here are a few of them:

Good Fish – Written by a local Seattleite, this cookbook provides endless sustainable seafood recipes from the Pacific Coast.  I love seafood and am always looking for new recipes…especially ones that don’t require the BBQ since I don’t have much patience for our coal Webber:)

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors – One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco…this used to be my stomping ground whenever I had a Greek food craving.  It’s upscale and more modern than most Greek spots but the food is memorable and so well executed.

Simply Truffles – My sweet sister-in-law (who knows me well) gave me this cookbook for Christmas.  Trouble…because I’m a truffle addict and this will just give me endless ideas and cost me a pretty penny to try them all.  I’m in!

Bottega – One of my go to spots in Yountville, CA, this oversized cookbook is full of stunning photos and recipes that define California Cuisine…something I miss.  The Parmesan Dip I blogged about is from his other book Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking which I love so I have no doubts that this cookbook will win me over too.

SALSA DO PARMIGIANO (“Parm Dip”)
Recipe Courtesy: Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Cookbook

For those who have had the pleasure of dining at Bottega in Yountville, CA…you know what this dip is.  Rather than your typical oil and vinegar you’re given this savory Parmesan dip along with the most exquisite artisan bread to smother it in.  It’s sharp from the cheese, rich with excellent quality olive oil and spicy due to chili flakes.  Truly delicious…it’s easy to loose your appetite with this stuff.  Beware!

Makes 3 1/2 Cups to Serve 16

  • 1/2 pound Parmesan cheese, not too dry
  • 1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses in a food processor until reduced to the size of a fine pea gravel. Transfer the cheese to a bowl and stir in the green onion and garlic. Add the oregano, rubbing between your fingers to release it’s fragrance. Add the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. Stir well. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours before serving.

Bottega – Yountville, CA

Michael Chiarello’s restaurant in the heart of Yountville is truly a gem and continues to be packed night after night even after being open for 2 years.  It’s not uncommon to find Chef Chiarello making the rounds and greeting customers at tables.  The setting is comfortable whether you’re setting at a booth or at a table.  The open kitchen is always fun and let’s you see the beautiful team work that is responsible for the fabulous food.  The menu is very seasonal so depending on when you go, don’t expect to see the same thing on the menu time and time again.  Reservations are highly recommended otherwise you may find yourself eating at 10pm.  Enjoy the couches and fire outside on the patio for some late night drinks and just relax!

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