Just when I was finally getting used to my new routine with Kirios as a roommate, I switched jobs. I left the Postal Service at the end of November and transferred to work as a contract specialist at another federal agency. It was exciting and sad. It’s a great opportunity for me, but I really did love my last job and many of the people with whom I worked. My first month on the new job has been a bit slow… you know how things play out around the holidays. It’s been a difficult transition to go from chatting with my coworker/friends in our cubicles to new faces of people working in offices with their doors closed. Additionally, I started a new compressed work schedule where I’ll be working 9 hour days most of the time in exchange for a Friday off every other week. I’m still trying to get used to coming home later and going to bed at a reasonable hour. I think it’ll be easier when the days are longer.
Anyhow, despite all of the transitioning, Kirios and I have continued to keep up with our busy social calendar and our foodie appetites, I just haven’t had much energy to reflect on our adventures and share them through the blog. But maybe I’ll make time to write up some of the highlights from the past two months. Here’s one to start things off…
Kirios and I ventured out to the DC Convention Center to attend the Metropolitan DC Cooking and Entertaining Show the first weekend in November. I’ve wanted to attend in the past, but the event is a bit pricey around $25 for general admission. And speaking of prices, if you want to see any of the presentations by celebrity chefs, it’ll cost you even more. Cookbook signings are more than that, and there are even VIP celebrity events if you’re willing to shell out around $500 per person. When I saw a living social deal for admission and entrance to a presentation by Tom Collichio and Gail Simmons and a second one by Giada de Laurentis for $30, I felt it was the right year to check it out. I also may have bribed Kirios to go with me – not because it wasn’t the type of event he would enjoy, but because it was the type of event which he would expect to be free.
We arrived at the cooking show about fifteen minutes before Tom and Gail’s presentation, and we found seats near a friend of ours who was also attending. It was a big theater area with most of the front rows reserved for people who paid extra, but compared to watching Top Chef episodes through the television I felt closer to them. Tom cooked a rabbit, which made me a little sad because bunnies should be hugged, not butchered. He actually stole the rabbit from two-time Top Chef contestant (and former executive chef of Kirios’ favorite Zaytinya) Mike Isabella’s kitchen at Graffiato, because the show was right after Superstorm Sandy hit and he couldn’t bring food with him from New York. Tom pan cooked the rabbit with basil, dates, and pistachios, with some earthy mushrooms and carrots. He told everyone they could replace the rabbit with a chicken or duck, but encouraged people to try rabbit. Gail made a cocktail basil ginger cocktail and a no-bake basil ice cream pie. Her crust was made from crushed ginger snaps mixed with candied ginger and dried pineapple. And she swirled the basil simple syrup from her cocktail into a container of ice cream before pouring it into the crust and refreezing. Tom and Gail weren’t allowed to provide any hints about the 10th season of Top Chef which started the following week, but they cheerfully answered questions about their favorite dishes from the show, shared family cooking memories, and provided advice to amateur chefs looking for meal suggestions.
After Tom and Gail, we sampled vendors’ products – mostly small companies making salsas, hot sauces, and baked goods. We tried sweet potato butter which tasted so good it would be problematic to own. We also saw our favorite local Greek olive oil salesman. Kirios and I had spent a long time talking with him at a Greek festival over the summer and purchased a bottle of blood orange olive oil for ourselves and lime olive oil for my parents at the festival. He appreciated hearing how much we love it, and that we use it on everything. (We’ve since ran out and refilled our bottle with the rosemary flavor.)
Giada’s presentation didn’t actually include her cooking. She had volunteers follow her instructions and prepare a shrimp bruschetta, lamb chops in barbecue sauce, and more. This freed up more of her time to answer questions. Regardless, the food sounded pretty good. She told the audience how her young daughter will eat anything that’s cooked in a muffin tin these days, and she frequently makes mac’n’cheese with veggies and chicken in muffin tins for dinner. She also gave advice on preparing large Thanksgiving dinners.
After Giada’s presentation ended, Kirios and I frantically went from booth to booth to visit the rest of the vendors before the show closed. We were moderately successful at that. But I was disappointed we didn’t have time to check out the recipe book store. Of course there are always other places to buy cookbooks. Overall, it was a fun day and I’m glad we attended. I’d go back again, but I’d probably wait a few more years before doing so.