Monthly Archives: June 2011

Brownie Battle 2011

We had the very first annual Brownie Battle this past weekend.  Matt had talked about wanting to have a brownie competition for some time, for no other reason than to find an even more perfect  brownie than the one he already had.  So we put out the summons and people responded very well!  We had about 25 people participate and some just come to taste and there were roughly 15 different types of brownies to try! At first we were going to have it outside at a park, but with the temps in the triple digits, Matt pointed out that drinking milk and eating chocolate in the heat might not be the best idea.  So last minute, we moved it inside to Smooth Fusion, which was just the right size for everyone to get cozy, talk and eat crazy amounts of brownies.   The participants and their brownies!

I voted for Summer’s as being the best.  It had a velvety texture and was just so…different.  Found out she used the back of the box recipe on the Ghirardelli brownie mix, only doubled the salt and vanilla and used dark brown sugar instead of light.  She won Best Traditional!

Matt and his favorite – dark chocolate brownies with melted chocolate toffee bars on top.  These got a lot of votes and was tied up TWICE for best traditional brownie

Louise was very ambitious.  These are two of her submissions.  She brought three.  The one on the left is the Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies and on the right are Chipotle Brownies with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle and on top.  Amazing.  She took home the gold(en) prize for the kahlua cheesecake brownies!

Rod and Jill and their strong contender.  It really got a lot of points.  A very classic, rich brownie!  (with a sample already gone)

Tim and Lindsey and the most amazing brownie with salted caramel!  They almost won (by like 2 votes) the best creative brownie.  Kahlua will get you every time 🙂

Jennifer and her ambitious entries – on the left, snickerdoodle brownies (and she made home made snickerdoodle ice cream to go with it!) and on the right, a classic brownie with chocolate icing.  She ended up winning Prettiest Brownie for her Snickerdoodle brownies, but she got a lot of votes for regular favorite, too!

Cassie, Nixon and their traditional (and amazing) double chocolate brownies.

Jonathan, the baker, and his amazing version with ground cherries and toasted walnuts.  These were astoundingly good.

Shannon with Peanut Butter Nutella brownies.  This girl loves her Nutella.  They were awesome, of course!

Kelson had heat exhaustion (he participated in a triathlon earlier that morning), I think because he stared at me like this every time I talked to him, haha.  He brought golden brownies – like a glorified sugar cookie!

Philip and his brownie/caramel/pecan concoction of awesome.

I am not pictured because while I did submit brownies for judging, they sucked.  I didn’t let them finish baking and they really suffered in texture.  I’ve since eaten some after letting them settle in the pan for a couple days and they are chewy and awesome but that day, they were a bit grody.

 Jill enjoying Nixon

 Danielle and Ty made it!

Richard, Louise and Shannon

 Sweet Cass

The traditional side of the brownie display.  So this category couldn’t include anything too crazy.  Just simple chocolate on chocolate action, maybe some nuts, toffee, coffee, etc.

The creative side.  Snickerdoodles, chipotle, salted caramel, cheesecake, Kahlua, etc.

Ashley and Audrey.

An example of a tasting plate.

Kelle had a little somethin’ on her teeth…

We voted with poker chips.  Blue chips = your top fav, Red chips = second fav, White chips = third and Green chips were for “prettiest” or really, just an excuse to give out another award 🙂

Who wins for worst fake smile?  🙂

Nixon should have got the Most Cuddly award.  Thank you, Cassie, for letting us all pass him around!

Handing out awards

Louise won the coveted Golden Whisk for her Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies!

Some of my awesome clients even came!  Rika and Joseph and Gunnar Brake

Taking home the spoils!

So what should the next battle be?  Enchiladas?  Sliders?  Cast your vote in the comments!

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Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha

Paris Restaurant Review: Spring

Our friends, Cali and Alex are in Paris this week.  We told them to go to Spring and even if they don’t make it, I know they will have fabulous meals while they are there.  Since they are there, it’s got me thinking about Paris all over again. I never really finished blogging about Paris so I will continue with a restaurant review of Spring, located at 6 Rue Bailleul, Paris, 75001.

It’s important to point out the address because we almost didn’t make our reservation.  We were in fact, nearly two hours late to our reservation at this very acclaimed restaurant.  We went first to their old location and discovered it was no longer there.  We asked anyone we could find where Spring was, but didn’t have much luck with our limited French. Matt tried to ask in Spanish to an old man who kept asking what the name of the restaurant was in Spanish (primavera? saltar? What “spring” should I translate, and why does it matter? The sign should say SPRING). Eventually an employee at a nearby bar pointed out a restaurant down the street that he said used to be called Spring. The chef at the old location (which is now a tiny bistro of another name) gave us the new address and even  tried to try to get a hold of Spring to ask them to hold our reservation.  He called on his cell phone during his own dinner service.  What a nice guy!  What stupid tourists!  He had no luck so we went out on the street and tried to find a cab.

We had very little luck hailing a taxi, too.  There weren’t many on the street and the ones we saw were immediately snatched away because they were either too far ahead of us or too far back and we couldn’t run fast enough to catch one.  I was beyond panicking and had pretty much given up hope.  I  knew Parisians were serious about reservations, that our reservation was NOW and we were a mile away.  Matt, being eternally optimistic (but only when I’m being pessimistic) kept trying to find a cab and was finally successful.  We got to the restaurant and pleaded our case to the hostess.  She went wide-eyed when she understood that we had gone to the other location and was basically apologetic to us as she took us to our table. I honestly couldn’t believe they let us in.  Guess that’s what you get when the chef is a native of Chicago and has trained his staff in the good ol’ American way of customer service (a skill severely lacking in anything Parisian)

Without further ado, our meal:

Started with an amuse of salmon on top of smoked eggplant

Matt finishing up the salmon

The lovely bread accompanying our meal.

The kitchen torching the salmon to get a nice crust.

First course: Red mullet (fish) on top of razor clams and a chicken broth surrounding everything.

Second Course: Veal sweetbreads, calf’s head and a sauce made out of red crabs.  Garnished with shaved radishes.

Third Course: Roasted Quail sitting on top of a mushroom/almond puree and garnished with shaved fois gras and pomegranate seeds.  Matt swears there were roasted grapes inside the quail.

We both REALLY loved this course!

That was our sweet waitress.  I believe she is named Alisa and had been with the chef since the beginning of his career in Paris.

She showed us an array of amazing cheeses.  We chose 4 although I can’t remember what they were.  Consumed?  Yes, entirely.

Dessert #1 – Blackberries with a sweet cream and sesame wafer

Thyme sorbet topped with a charred anise merinque

A chocolate cake drizzled in caramel sauce

The dashing waiter who told us about a great market that we went to the next day

Spring at midnight.  It’s literally in an alley.

The kitchen cleaning up after service.  We shut the place down 🙂

Chef Daniel Rose.  We went back to see if they had a copy of the menu.  They didn’t, so he wrote out the menu on the back of a postcard.  Too awesome.

Front of postcard:

Back of postcard with his writing of the night’s menu:

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Filed under Eating Adventures, General Hoo-Ha, Trips