Thursday, January 23, 2014

National Pie Day -- The Life of Pie on Blog Appetit -- A Round Up of Pies, Tarts and Other Pastry-Crusted Things

Today's National Pie Day so I thought I would list out a sample of pie and similar recipes available here on Blog Appetit.

While I  yield to no one on my love crust-enclosed goodness, I was a bit surprised to find out there is an American Pie Council with corporate members and sponsors ranging from ingredient producers, bakeries and equipment manufacturers to a pie plate maker. The fun continues with contests, festivals and a tie to the movie Labor Day (which apparently features lots of pie making and or eating going on).

No mention of band camp (American Pie movie reference), slapstick pies in the face, the number pi or other related things.  The council also did a survey of 1000 American pie eaters to find out their preferences.  Alas, they did not present this information in a pie chart -- perhaps I will feel ambitious later and cook one up.

From the overblown and relatively hard to read news release:

"The survey revealed that pie is a preferred dessert even on special occasions other than Thanksgiving, with 70% favoring it on Christmas and 67% considering it a staple of family gatherings. And, it’s not just an after-dinner treat. Pie is a great late-night snack, too, 58% of the respondents said."

No word on what percentage just prefer pie on non-special occasions.

The survey also asked about favorite pie flavors:

"Apple takes, ah, the cake, but perhaps surprisingly chocolate pie tied with pumpkin in the No. 2 spot, while cherry placed third, according to the survey."

I wish the APC provided more info (where for example are my favorites -- lemon meringue and strawberry rhubarb), but the rest of the new release touts the movie not the dessert.

For the record, pies also make a wonderful breakfast dish --- my mother was partial to apple pie with cheese as a way to start her day. (Honestly she would eat that pretty much any time of the day).  I've made oatmeal as well as white bean breakfast pies.  Savory dinner pies (think quiche among others) are also popular.  In addition to the usual slice, pies have gotten themselves tarted up lately with trendy pie pops and hand pies. 

Keep reading for a round up of appropriate recipes from Blog Appetit.

Monday, January 06, 2014

There Is No Place Like Roam (for Burgers, Sodas and Fries)

A Roam beef burger with all the trimmings (Photo courtesy Roam)
It's tough being the parents of hip, young adults.
You want to impress them with your street cred and insight into new places.
You are anxious to find experiences you can share that you'll all enjoy.

Just when I told my two sons I found a great burger place I thought they'd like and offered to take them, I found out not only did they know about the small Bay area regional chain I had newly experienced and become enamored of, that they had eaten at one of its two San Francisco locations often.

Oh well, at least they agreed that the burgers, fries and house-made sodas at Roam Artisan Burgers are exceptional which did help my street cred with them a bit.

It also impressed them somewhat that I had been invited to one of the opening parties for Roam's new Lafayette, CA, location and got pretty much unlimited free food.  (Although, I'm not sure if it is the honor of being invited or the free part that impressed them the most.)

I was impressed enough myself with Roam that I would go there regularly and pay for their delicious beef, turkey and vegetarian burgers (they also serve burgers made from bison as well as elk, but I did not get a chance to try them).  Not to mention their fries, sweet potato fries and a transcendent dish of filament-thin fried sweet onions and zucchini. Oh and the fizzed-just-for-you fruit sodas -- I may never drink Coke again.

It's attention to details that really makes these burgers shine -- Roam uses top quality meat, creative, fresh toppings, and great buns. It's cooks treat griddling burgers like they were cooking filet mignon -- carefully and lovingly.  As a result the burgers look and taste great. 

While the beef patty flavor was rich and satisfying, it was the turkey burger that amazed me.  It was the best turkey burger I've ever eaten. It was moist, flavorful and worked well with toppings.  I've also been raving about the beet and black bean based vegetarian burger.  It doesn't try to fool you with pretending to be something it's not -- it just has good heft, texture and taste. It, too, is sturdy enough in flavor and substance to stand up to Roam's range of creative toppings.

You can see the menu here including a list of the toppings and combinations they offer.  Pick one of their combos or choose your toppings ranging from ketchup to truffle parmesan fries (yes on your burger).  That pickle on your sandwich was made in house. Bun choices include sesame seed, whole grain and gluten free or you can opt to go bunless and have your burger in a lettuce wrap.

Pineapple and blood orange sodas
Roam makes it's own soda syrups and adds them to carbonated water when you order.  The flavors are sweetened but not overly so and are concentrated and intense.  I got to try the caramelized pineapple (the favorite of the ones I tried), blood orange (a seasonal offering) and ginger-lime.  

There are salads, milkshakes and other items on the menu, but I didn't get a chance to try those so I'm just assuming they are as thoughtfully prepared and delicious as the food I was able to taste.

I thought it would be helpful to get some burger making tips from Roam. Below is some advice from Roam's owners, Josh Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle: