Sunday, October 28, 2007

Feta Ice Cream with Watermelon Granita

Recipe and Food Styling by Tessa Liebman
Photography by Erin Gleeson

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Italy and the Mediterranean Diet: Food Culture, Nutrition and the Question of Quality

Last Friday, I photographed a panel sponsored by the James Beard Foundation and the NYU Food Studies program at the Casa Italiana in the West Village. It was part of a 2 day international conference called Italy and the Mediterranean Diet: Food Culture, Nutrition and the Question of Quality.

One panel that really struck my interest was made up of Lidia Bastianach (Food Network personality and cookbook author), Maria Guarnaschelli (renowned cookbook editor), Anna Teresa Callan (Author, My Love for Naples), and Fabio Parasecoli, (Gambero Rosso Magazine). This group spoke about the authenticity of Italian food in America and how the translation of recipes from Italy to the U.S. by immigrants and fusion foodies defines what Italian food has become today.

If a family in Italy in the 1940s substituted lard in a recipe traditionally made with butter because that's all they could afford, and that recipe got passed down through the generations, can it still be considered an authentic Italian dish? If a hot shot contemporary chef puts kiwi on a pizza at his Italian restaurant, can it still really be considered Italian?

Years ago when immigrants were bringing Italian food to the U.S., many essential ingredients needed for traditional dishes were not available so substitutions were made. Today, many of those ingredients are available, but recipes have been shifted so much throughout the years that it is perhaps hard to revert back to traditional recipes. When writing Italian cookbooks for an American audience, these elements must be considered. Americans have a certain expectation for Italian food and they are used to it being prepared in a certain way. My Californian mother could never get over the fish heads that kept reappearing on her plate every time she ordered seafood while visiting the Amalfi Coast. Does presentation, then, also determine the authenticity of an Italian dish?

An Italian wine tasting followed the panel.

For more information on this panel, please click here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

We Heart Di Fara's

That's it, I'm hooked. The pizza's amazing, but the best thing about a trip to Di Fara's in Brooklyn is to visit the divey little joint and watch the one and only man who is responsible for these glorious slices in action. Domenico De Marco, a small little floury man from Naples, makes all the pizza himself and even rings you up. He has raw crusty pizza dough up to his elbows and happily cuts fresh basil with scissors over each and every big bubbling pie. As we walked out the door with smiles he yelled, "Grazie! Buonanotte! Ritornate!" and went back to grating his undoubtedly imported cheese. Oh, don't worry- we'll be back!

Raw Dinner Party

My dear friend Josh has recently gotten into the raw food movement and hosted a dinner party last weekend at his apartment in Williamsburg in which we ate a meal consisting mostly of raw vegan fare. People who eat raw believe that food shouldn't be heated over 120 degrees because raw foods keep enzymes intact and sustain the ‘life force’ or ‘energy’ of the food. Keeping with this philosophy, Josh and his friends prepared an incredible meal!

Here are some photos from the evening:

Grapefruit Fennel Salad

Ginger Beet gazpacho dusted with cinnamon

Bell Pepper Jicama Salad

Raw Pizza made with a dehydrated crust of nuts and seeds. Topped with pesto, raw tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes and macadamia nut "cheese".

Dehydrated pear

Dehydrated blueberries

"Chocolate" granola, made in the dehydrator

And for dessert, the most incredible raw pumpkin pie that had a rich chewy crust made of dates and nuts.

...and good ol' fashioned chocolate cake (we're not that hardcore!)

Goody bags of dehydrated pears and apples we were sent home with everyone.

Thanks, Josh!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

2007 Star Chefs Congress, NYC

Two weeks ago, I photographed the 2007 Chefs Congress in New York City. All the big wigs and usual suspects in food attended, and there were 3 days of culinary presentations. For a summary of the event, please click here. For highlights, click here.

Attendees and presenters included Seiji Yamamoto of Ryugin in Tokyo, Daniel Boulud, Wylie Dufresne of wd-50 in NYC, Dan Barber of Blue Hill, Joël Robuchon of L'Atelier in Paris, David Burke of David Burke & Donatella in NYC, David Bouley, Pichet Ong of P*Ong, Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges, Will Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert and Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake in San Francisco to name a few.

Accompanying the chef presentations were workshops on wine, kitchen equipment, knife skills and mixology.

The event took place on the 52nd floor of a building bordering the WTC- incredible views to say the least. Here are a few photos I took: