Boozie Friday: Cinnamon Hot Cocoa for Grown-Ups

2841853400_5861a7076c_bAlong with the changing of the leaves comes many gatherings and special events of all shapes and sizes. As we all know, spending time with those close to you while the weather outside remains cold, wet and windy is a wonderful way to make it through the coming season. Pairing good company with hot drinks is the perfect way to keep that warm feeling going throughout fall and winter, both metaphorically and literally. With bellies full of delicious spiced cocoa your guests will feel content and happy. Hot cocoa is the perfect backdrop for a festive cocktail enhanced with any liqueur such as amaretto, Grand Marnier, peppermint schnapps, or Chambord. You get the idea. I have also included some ideas for those of you that can’t have dairy products, I hope you find them useful. Cheers!
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Foodie Friday: Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple!

IMG_2182Last weekend, a handful of us from Brown Paper Tickets got a chance to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. Attending the largest specialty food event in North America was our chance to meet foodies from all over the world. Restaurateurs, chefs, bakers and vendors gathered over three days in the enormous Jacob Javits Convention Center to exchange ideas and sample each others wares.

The food industry is a particularly demanding field and requires a lot of creativity and hard work to stand out. Thousands of food samples of infinite variety were what caught our immediate attention, but the industriousness of the many food makers expressing their craft made the show what it was. As attendees, it was a great way to learn about the food industry’s latest achievements.
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Foody Friday: Orange Vanilla Apricot Short Ribs

2999294054_4f3eb98808_zSometimes in order to create a dish that is truly unique, you have to let go of the things you have been taught. After all, innovation can only exist if there is a starting point or an original idea, right? You might feel like creating a mint and arugula pesto, watermelon soup, or a mango shrimp pizza. All of these items may not sound appealing for everyone, but then again they must have sounded good at some point in order to have been born into the culinary universe.

When going out on a limb and getting creative in the kitchen, there are a few things you might want to consider:

* Test your idea in a small batch. Try simply tasting the ingredients individually first then making different combinations.

* Use your noodle! If you are putting chocolate and peanut butter together, it’s likely to taste good, but tarragon and papaya might need a third element to tie it together. Does it need acidity, salt, sugar, heat? Ask all the questions you can – it will only add to your bag of tricks to find out the answer.

* Recipes are your friend. If you want to make a vinaigrette you know it’s usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. The type of vinegar or “acid” – orange, lemon, or lime juice, for example – can be adapted or swapped out for the most part with good results. This being said, you should always taste as you go, rinsing your palate each time.

* Add ingredients in small amounts. If you think it needs more lemon juice, add just a touch, then taste. You can always add more, but you can’t take it back out.

* Keep it simple. Less can truly be more and if you have a good concept picked out, try not to over do it. Sometimes a cook will get swept up in the creative process and ends up ruining their dish. I have been there plenty of times and it’s a real bummer. Just try to relax, have fun, and keep things simple. If you do end up with a star fruit beef stew tower with almond milk foam, try not to feel bad about it – instead, feel good about trying something new. People get into ruts with food and you can’t make a magnificent discovery without a few attempts.

If you have never tried cooking fusion or sweet & savoury foods, try following a recipe at first in order to experience the balance the chef was going for – this may help you to create your masterpiece. Pick a dish you have made your own way with the “normal” ingredients so you have a jumping off point, and always get others involved when you can. In my kitchens, we taste everything together and talk about it. Is it too salty, does it need to be puréed more, or is it perfect? These questions shouldn’t put you on guard – they should open your mind up to what your guests will be tasting. With a little confidence and a lot of practice, you can be innovative and exciting in the kitchen all while satisfying your own cravings and curiosities. Enjoy!
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Mardi Gras Mayhem – Brass Bands, Beads and Crawfish Boils

Mardi-Gras-2011Two things that we love here at Brown Paper Tickets: Mardi Gras and brass bands! And there’s no other brass band that we love more than our buddies in Tubaluba. They marched with us at last year’s Gay Pride Parade here in Seattle and proved, without question, that they are the hottest, funkiest 2nd line brass band this side of the Big Easy.

With Fat Tuesday fast approaching, it’s time to start making your Mardi Gras plans and if you’re in Seattle, you’re in luck because Tubaluba are not only hosting a Mardi Gras bash at The Tractor Tavern but are also hosting a party bus that will take you to FOUR other Mardi Gras parties around town.

Mardi Gras revellers will meet at The Tractor Tavern at 4pm and then head over to Lower Queen Anne’s Tolouse Petit where Tubaluba will perform between 5 and 6pm. The party train will then head to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for KEXP’s Mardi Gras Bash at Havana Social Club. Next, is the Fremont neighborhood where Tubaluba will play at Nectar Lounge‘s Mardi Gras party. After Fremont, Tubaluba will head to their final destination, Ballard, where they will lead a parade down Ballard Avenue at 10pm, culminating in Tubaluba’s headlining performance on the Tractor Tavern stage. Your ticket to the party bus will get you admission into ALL these incredible Mardi Gras parties, complimentary beverages (including water), snacks and a commemorative Tubaluba Mardi Gras T-shirt. These tickets won’t last long so GET YOURS NOW!

Of course, for those of you not in Seattle, there are a ton of other Mardi Gras events going on nationwide, including, naturally, the home of Mardi Gras: New Orleans. We wanted to share a few of our favorites so you can start making party plans in your own neck of the woods.
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Foodie Friday: A Foodie’s New Year!

NYE ToastThis week our resident foodie Patrick is taking some time off with his family so I’m filling in. I, unfortunately, am not the well-spring of delicious recipes that Patrick is so I’ve decided to focus on Foodie friendly New Years Eve events coming up around the country on Monday, December 31.

I’m sure all of you are sick of cooking anyway after Christmas. New Years is a perfect time to relax, let someone else do the cooking, have a few cocktails (or “mock” tails) and reflect on another year gone by. On this list, we got seafood in Seattle, Bolivian cuisine in San Francisco, Asian barbecue in Chicago, craft beer in Houston, southern food in DC and a whiskey pairing dinner in the Big Apple. Plus, plenty more delicious events. For a full list of New Years Eve events in your neck of the woods, be sure to visit our website. Happy New Year everyone! We’ll see you in 2013.
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Jimmy’s No. 43 Brings Beer Love to the Big Apple

The good folks over at Jimmy’s No. 43 know their beer. Located in the East Village in New York City, Jimmy’s currently has 12 beers on tap and 23 bottled beers all ranging from local IPAs to German Kolsch to Belgian Tripels. They were awarded “Best Beer” by AOL Cityguide in 2008 and named Forbe’s Favorite New York Pub in 2009. Not only that, they host tastings with local brewers and even host a beer talk radio show called Beer Sessions.
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