Do you find that taking a couple of days out of the office almost isn't worth it because of all the work you have to make up? That's where I am right now. But I wanted to jot down some quick observations from the Worlds of Flavor conference I just attended at the CIA Greystone campus.
1) The CIA must have done some mad fund-raising because that place is swank. The stone buildings, the gardens, the platters and platters of Spanish cheeses and crab and wild mushrooms. The wine. It's so...well, it's so Napa.
2) The last week of October and first week of November may be the prettiest time of year to visit the valley. The vines changed color overnight, and the valley floor was all gold and red. And the sun was set at a lower angle, so the light never got washed out like it does in the summer. The olives were ripe, too (I took that photo on the grounds of the Krug winery).
3) I have to get to Marnee Thai as soon as possible. Chef /owner Chaiwatt Siriyan was a guest speaker (here he is giving a demo class), and his food was phenomenal. Great Thai food has that same heady perfumey quality as Indian food, but it's so bright and refreshing. I have been trying to recreate eggplant in green curry (I'll post the recipe when I get it right).
4. Every night, the conference organizers turned the huge barrell room into an international night market lined with booths featuring the foods of Spain, Mexico, India, Viet Nam, Thailand, Turkey, Persia, and North Africa. It was extraordinary (though packed, with nowhere to stand -- a recurring theme). The food was prepared by a battery of chefs who were flown in to speak and cook at the conference. I'm still craving a dessert from the Thailand booth: little bannana leaf packets stuffed with a sweet rice flour and coconut milk dough surrounding a caramelized coconut center.
5. For a man who spends his time traveling the world to eat at fancy restaurants, R.W. Apple is a pissy and impatient grump. This is the second time I've heard him speak at a conference, and the second time I've watched him bully and embarrass audience members who take too long to pose their questions or forget to say their names first.
If you get to have this kind of fun for a living, you have a moral obligation to at least be pleasant.