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Thursday
May262011

gastrophiles. alice & jared

We were introduced to Alice and Jared - the dynamic duo behind the blog Eat A Duck I Must - through the2010 Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest. In particular, their video entry titled, "In the Mood for Tuna" caught our attention and affection. They were lucky enough to have some videographer friends help them put together the film noir spoof.  They'd tell you they are not as cool as they appear in the short film, but read their responses to our questions, check out their blog, and I think you'll agree with us that yes, they are this cool!

In the Mood for Tuna from Sarah Krusen on Vimeo.

 

 

GD: How did you meet and what role did food play in your romance?

A&J: We had been friends for a very long time and had crushes on each other since... let's just say when we were MUCH younger! The timing wasn’t right until 6 years into our friendship when we realized we made a lot of sense together. Looking back, we see that so much of our relationship and travels together centered around food from the very beginning. While most folks look for dining options around the sites they'd like to see, we would plan our trips around the meals we want to eat. But seriously, doesn't that make more sense?  
 

GD: What have you learned about each other through cooking? 

A&J: Our cooking styles really reflect our personalities. I (Alice, the ENFP) like to freestyle with whatever is in the fridge though I fully admit that the results are usually not suitable for consumption. That’s why I am in 
charge of eating and blogging! Jared (the ISTJ) likes to plan out the meal and executes paying close attention to every detail. Can you tell why he makes a great chef?


GD: You have such a strong visual theme to your blog, do you find you cook more with your eyes or taste buds in mind?

A&J: Jared always creates dishes with the plating in mind as well as the flavors, and many times we try to come up with new angles and natural lighting techniques to stretch our photography repertoire. But clean and harmonious flavors reign supreme because in the end we still need to eat the dish and like it!

 


GD: You love to travel AND eat - what has been your most memorable meal away from home?

A&J: Most of our favorite meals have been when we were traveling in Japan. We had the most incredible ramen at a street stall in Fukuoka. In Osaka we ate at a fish market where we had the freshest and most luxurious otoro. We like to joke and say that we won't bother eating sushi anymore unless we are back at a fish market in Japan.


GD: Can you actually taste it when food is made with love?

A&J: Absolutely. Every now and then Jared gets inspired to plan out a fancy multi-course meal. I know firsthand the amount of thought and effort he puts into creating it and all of the small details he adds to make it far beyond what you call home cookin'. Though I probably more so appreciate his home-style and slow-cooked meals. Meals like that are incredibly comforting and feel a bit like your mama just gave you a great big hug. :)

GD: When it comes to cooking or your blog, what are you currently inspired by?
 
A&J: Jared and I love to travel and eat out when we can. Whenever a dish stands out, he loves to recreate the same dishes at home. Now that we have a 4 month old, it’s also nice being able to eat restaurant style food at home since we can hardly get out of the house for a date night meal anymore!

 

GD: What’s the secret to keeping your relationship cooking?

A&J: As funny as it may sound, writing this blog together has definitely made us a better couple.  It's given us the opportunity to work together (mostly) harmoniously and being able to celebrate the successes and commiserate over the failures as a team sure beats doing it by yourself! We do our best to not take it too seriously and keep it light and fun. For the most part, there's a whole lot of high-fiving going on!

 

Tuesday
Apr052011

gastrophiles. imen & richard

This month we are thrilled to feature the gastrophiles behind the lovely I Married An Irish Farmer. The blog was created in the fall of 2009 by a former co-worker of Lori’s, Imen McDonnell, whom after much time jet-setting around the globe as a producer for advertising, film and television, married a (you guessed it!) Irish farmer and moved to Ireland where she embarked on a whole new life and lifestyle. I Married An Irish Farmer was recently featured in The Los Angeles Times Daily Dish, where food editor Rene Lynch called the blog, “one of my favorite new finds”.  As Imen so eloquently describes it, “I Married an Irish Farmer shares my experiences along with my favourite Irish treasures with an audience of individuals living in, and, loving Ireland from abroad.” And love it we do!


GD: How did you meet your husband? And more importantly, how did you know you were in love?

Imen: We met when Richard was on holiday in Mpls-St. Paul visiting a mate that he went to school with who now lives in St. Paul. It was Valentine’s week and when he left for Ireland he sent an enormous gorgeous bouquet of flowers to my office with a card that exclaimed that I was his valentine. Naturally, I swooned. Love came after 1000 transatlantic phone calls & emails + several romantic trips from the USA to Ireland along with a string of mini rendezvous in Italy, Spain and the South of France.

If you’re into what Imen calls “sappy love stories”, you can read about the romance in more detail here.

 

GD: If your relationship was a recipe, what would the recipe be called?

Imen: Sherry Trifle. There are lovely sweet creamy bits, some fruity parts and pieces that go down hard.

 

GD: How has living and working on a farm changed your approach to cooking?

Imen: First of all, not living in the city means if you don’t know how to cook you’d better learn quickly. There is absolutely no convenience food in the countryside. We grow most of our own vegetables, use milk from the farm and eat our free range chickens. I have learned to cook and bake out of necessity and it has been the greatest gift.

 

GD: Who’s the Alpha cook in your relationship?

Imen: It would be me...I’m definitely the navigator in the kitchen (Richard being the trusty co-pilot). Cooking for guests is wildly addictive. It seems nothing pleases me more than to place a plate of grilled lamb chops on a bed of rocket or a slice of Banoffee pie in front of someone at the dinner table at any given time!

 

GD: What have you learned about each other through cooking?

Imen: There is a lot of trust and patience involved in cooking. My farmer will gleefully eat anything I prepare....and I am very patient when he is in the kitchen. Also, that we work well in tandem. We host a very large dinner party once or twice a year and we totally jam on it....it’s great working together in the kitchen, there is just something sexy about it!

 

GD: Can you actually taste it when food is made with love?

Imen: Richard makes the meanest Full Irish Breakfast......he doesn’t cook very often, but when he does you can definitely feel the love.

 

GD: What’s the secret to keeping your relationship cooking?

Imen: Living on a farm in the middle of the Irish countryside certainly helps =)

Tuesday
Sep142010

gastrophiles. jenny & zach.

Zach and Jenny always try to keep it local – local music, local beer, local ingredients, and recipes from deep in the family archives. Biking, bass playing, dog walking, twittering, home decorating, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking are among their hobbies. By day, Zach peers from behind thick-rimmed glasses at two large computer screens, plotting silently for the Internet generation’s coup d’etat. Jenny spends a great deal of time buried beneath a pile of dense legal reading, emerging every so often to catch up on the news and cook something extravagant. While their out-to-eat choices generally revolve around Thai, Indian, and the many culinary offerings of the deep South, they try not to stray from the simple joys of butter and ancient scotch. Though not necessarily at the same time, mind you.

 

Lori: Who’s the Alpha cook?

Zach: Jenny!!!

Lori: Wow, you answered without hesitation.

Zach: A lot of that has to do with the fact that she’s always home much earlier than I am…so it makes sense for her to get started with dinner, and I do the clean up.

Jenny: And I grew up with cooking. My mom did not “play with toys” with us, we cooked. It’s just more in my nature.

Lori: Was your cooking heavily influenced by your Jewish heritage?

Jenny: It’s a mix between Jewish heritage and my mom raising us in Santa Monica in the eighties. That was when the first real co-op’s started. She stopped eating meat. There weren’t packaged cookies in our house. It wasn’t a health food craze, but it was a homemade focus. She owned a cooking store when my sister was born and she ran a light catering business when I was a kid. And then there’s my grandma…

Lori: That sounds interesting. Tell me about her.

Jenny: I’m referring to my mom’s mom. 95 lbs, 5-foot three, grew up in the projects of north Minneapolis. She loves gin. Thinks butter is a food group. She eats a ridiculous breakfast every day – pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Every day! It’s not very Jewish of her.

Zach: She and I have bonded over her love of bacon.

Jenny: She’s really about taste over principle. My whole family is that way - very culturally Jewish, but not overly religious.

 

Lori: Given all the family history, are there other influences?

Jenny: I just started using cookbooks this year. I’ve been really liking Julia Child because she does a good job of teaching you the basics.

Justin: Sure, the fundamentals of cooking.

Zach: You’ve been reading it in bed before you go to sleep

Jenny: It’s true - I read cookbooks like they’re real books.

Justin: Me, too. I like to geek-out with my cookbooks.

 

Lori: What about you, Zach? With your father being a doctor, was he strict nutritionally?

Zach: Yes, that’s an understatement. He’s not a foodie. He treats food as nutrients he puts into his system. It’s very clinical.

Lori: So did you go through a crazy period when you left the house, eating everything?

Zach: Yes, as soon as I got my driver’s license.

Jenny: It’s called Taco Bell! He loves it.

Lori: What have you learned about each other through cooking?

Jenny: I want Zach to answer this question.

Lori: Well, you both get to answer it. If it helps, Justin and I learned, especially earlier in our relationship, that we do things differently. I personally had to learn to not be a control freak and to embrace that I may do it this way and he may do it that way, but it’s going to taste good either way.

Justin: Unconditional trust in the kitchen relates to broader things in life.

Zach: Probably what I’ve learned, to echo what you were saying, is about being open to experimentation. Cooking with butter is one thing I had never even considered. I didn’t even know how to do it, and it seemed very foreign to me. At first I was not quite open to it. I would think, “Are you seriously going to put a giant pad of butter into a pan?”

Jenny: Let’s be honest – were talking about more than one pad. You put one in there to start and one to finish.

Justin: Exactly!

Zach: And this may sound ridiculous, but the thought of salt and peppering things after you put them on your plate…I never did that in my entire life. I never even tried it. And it wasn’t like I was all of a sudden putting salt and pepper on everything, but more that I was paying attention to when I took the first bite of something to think “does this taste right to me, or would I like more seasoning?”

Lori: You were learning to trust your palate.

Zach: Yes, and I’ve been able to become more aware of how things taste as a result of that. Before I would just read a recipe and follow it to the letter. I’m really good at following directions. I could always get it to turn out right, but I never thought to take liberties to satisfy how I like things to taste.

 

Lori: So what have you learned about Zach?

Justin: I think Zach’s cooking is a lot like the way he does the rest of the things around the house which is…he reads a lot about it, and he takes in all the information, he makes a plan and then he executes the plan. He’s super methodical about it. It’s like the same way he’ll work on a stereo…he’ll read the directions, he’ll think about it, he’ll research it, then he’ll make something…it’s like a straight line.

Lori: It sounds strategic for you, Zach, and creative for you, Jenny.

Zach: I’m totally strategic about it.

Jenny: And I’m about just throwing stuff in.

Zach: I have to say, Jenny, that I’ve been very inspired by your lack of process.

Jenny: You mean my rabid chaos.

Zach: It’s complete chaos, but in a way that I never would have been comfortable with cooking on my own. And it takes the experience of seeing someone doing that and being successful at it consistently to think that it is a good thing…that you could walk into a set of ingredients and make something wonderful without thinking too hard about it. That you can trust your instincts. That you can say, “I like this much garlic,” because you’ve cooked with garlic forty times before.

Justin: You never get good at cooking if you don’t cook. It’s all about intuition through repetition.

Food connects us to our roots, the essence of our being. Cooking together connects us to our relationship, the nature of our partnership. As Zach and Jenny so perfectly exemplify, the kitchen is a perfect forum to learn about each other, and to learn from each other. 



Wednesday
May192010

gastrophiles. kim & erik.

He’s a web geek and she’s a fashion blogger. Sparks flew 11 years ago at their high school reunion and they have been fixtures in the North Loop ever since. With their locally famous super-sized blonde Pekingese “George” running the show, these 3 urbanites are constantly in search of inspiration. They find it in everything from travel to art to music to fashion to cooking. It has taken them around the globe from Okoboji, Iowa to the Great Wall of China.

 

One lovely spring night, not too long ago, we caught up with these jet setters long enough to enjoy their signature Chipotle Blue Cheese Burgers accompanied by Justin’s Michelada’s (beer + lime + hot sauce). Followed by dessert from The Salty Tart paired with a French Rose. Then cocktails and more wine at Bar La Grassa. Oh, and lots of stimulating conversation throughout. Here’s a taste…

 

Lori: Is this a classic “Kim and Erik” recipe?

Kim: Yes we have done this one quite a bit.

Lori: Where did you discover it?

Kim: At Byerly’s (a Minneapolis grocery store).

Erik: It was one of those afternoon cravings for burgers and we stumbled across this recipe.

Kim: I’ll make George’s into two patties.

Erik: Good idea.

Kim: George gets his own, unseasoned portion of every meal. Isn’t that crazy?

Lori: Not at all! You’re talking to dog lovers.

Justin: I think it’s great. I was raised in a house where my dogs were more likely to get Dairy Queen than I was.

Kim: You were? Me too!

 

Lori: What do you prefer, cooking in or eating out?

Kim: Eating out!

Erik: It really depends on the night. There are so many evenings when we enjoy making something here; having it all enclosed in the family. Obviously George is a big part of our meals, so we always make him something. And it’s nice to just relax, let the night settle in and watch a movie. It’s a totally different experience than going out to eat.

 

Lori: Is one of you the Alpha Chef?

Erik: I would say Kim is the Alpha.

Kim: Yeah, I decide what the meal plan is for the night. Erik is the breakfast guy. He does all the breakfast cooking. And he grills.

 

Erik: Food we love. And we love wonderful food. And we respect food. We honor food.

Justin: That’s beautiful. You should never feel guilty about taking an animal in its prime when its been ethically treated. That’s what you should do. There is beauty and history in that.

Erik: The food system is broken, and the more you learn about it, the more vigilant you get about what you’re eating.

Justin: Enlightenment is a good thing.

Kim: We find we are scrapping more and more things from our diet.

Erik: It’s like once you start…if you have any awareness at all…it just becomes even more frustrating.

Justin: People refuse to acknowledge it.

Kim: Refuse. They just want their food to be cheap.

 

Kim: As Americans we pay the least we ever have for food, and the more we ever have for healthcare. How is that a good thing?

Justin: I’ve always loved the quote from Hippocrates – “Let your food be thy medicine and thy medicine be your food.”

Kim: It’s about awareness

Justin: Exactly. What are you eating? Do you even know? I take such pride in knowing what my daughter eats. But it does take effort. It isn’t effortless.

Kim: I wonder where it came from that food is supposed to be effortless?

 

Erik: We are moving into this portion of our life where we feel less and less connected with everyone around us.

Lori: Food has become a controversial subject.

Kim: I come from a father who is a cattle farmer and a corn grower. My life has been surrounded by food production. It put me through college. And now I’ll get in an argument with him, because I only buy grass-fed beef. It’s like purgatory. It’s so hard.

Justin: I’m not anti farmers and I’m not anti where farmers are put.  I’m anti the system that put them there.

Erik: That’s the system he knows. He busts his butt. And it’s how he makes money.

Justin: There’s no changing the system.

Erik: That’s why you have to put it on yourself. You have to be the change. Just do little things. Small steps make a difference.

 

Be aware, be open to change, treat your dog as family – excellent themes to live and cook by. Thanks Kim, Erik and George for the inspiration.

Wednesday
Mar312010

gastrophiles. bethany & jason.

He's a professional b-boy (breakdancer) and she’s a brand planner. They met at the Minnesota College of Art and Design. She was doing ethnography about breakdancing and he was her research participant. They've been together for seven years and married for almost two. They are both active within the arts community - he performs at a variety of theaters and clubs, and she volunteers her marketing skills for different theaters and non-profit groups. His son, Elijah, is eleven and they both are having a lot of fun figuring out what it means to be parents to a (almost) teenager! 

During our night together, we enjoyed fish tacos, grapefruit margaritas and wonderful conversation.

GD: Do you cook together very often?

Bethany: I don’t think I’m great at making food. I’m not very creative in terms of "this would go great with this." It’s more like I could make one of these five things, or we could go to a restaurant and let someone who’s awesome cook food for us.

GD: Ha! That’s a difficult choice. The truth is that most people do create a routine of foods that they cook and like to eat on a regular basis, and sometimes, when inspired, they’ll experiment.

Bethany: Do you guys do that?

GD: Of course! We make a lot of the same things because we like them. We make spaghetti once or twice a month. We roast chicken a lot.

 

GD: Is one of you the executive chef?

Bethany: It would probably be me because I’m fucking bossy about everything in life.

Jason: No, it’s not like that…

Bethany: Jason is actually a better cook than I am. Seriously. He took cooking classes in High School and that stuck with him through all of his life.

Jason: I learned how to measure and follow directions.

GD: That’s not a bad thing.

Bethany: Jason is the one, if there isn’t any food in the apartment, he’s the dude that says, “Okay, we have this and this and I’m going to make this.” And he’ll put it together and I’ll eat the shit out of it.

GD: That’s awesome. That’s something we’ve been challenging ourselves to do lately. It’s fun to get creative. It’s actually a restaurant technique - because you order ingredients that you want to sell, but you can only sell so much of it, then you’ve got to figure out how to use up the rest and eliminate waste.

Bethany: You guys should teach a cooking class

GD: We are definitely talking about that. It’s going to happen, we are just trying to figure out logistics.

 

GD: Do you have any favorite cookbooks?

Bethany: You know what’s so funny? We have this collection of cookbooks from my grandfather. My mom’s dad was an amazing chef. And he would host these big dinner parties. There are actually menus in some of these books from the dinner parties he would throw. It was totally his thing. He was super social and an artist. I wanted them because of all the stuff that was in them. It’s ironic that I took the cookbooks because I didn’t really want the recipes, but I saw all the notes and the names and I knew this is like the quintessential things my grandpa would do.  I took the books because of that. 

 

GD: Do you entertain?

Bethany: It’s one of those weird things…I think I’m missing that gene that wants to have people over and cook for them. Maybe I was never properly domesticated.

Lo: I can relate to that.

Bethany: But well-behaved women - they don’t make history, you know.

Lo: I know that's right.

 

GD: When you were young, did you cook?

Jason: I didn’t know how to cook until I took classes, then I would cook for the whole family.

GD: You must have liked it.

Jason: Yeah, I did.  I watched Yan Can Cook growing up. He inspired me to learn.

 

GD: Do you cook more or less when your son is here?

Jason: More. He’s eleven, and now he can make stuff for himself.

Bethany: With him, I think it’s important to teach him stuff.  Especially with childhood obesity.  Are you guys down with Jamie Oliver?

GD: We are totally down with Jamie Oliver.

Bethany: When he won the TED award – and I heard him talking about how kids don’t know what different vegetables are – it made me feel like education is really important. I want to teach him how to cook so he’s not the kid who only eats at McDonald’s. I wouldn’t feel good about that.

GD: That’s a great motivation.

 

GD: How are your cooking styles different?

Bethany: I just think that I am more of a control freak about it. I’ll have a vision in my head of how something should look, and if its not going that way, I’ll get frustrated. Jason is more fluid and flexible. Which is probably a more fun way to cook.

Jason: I think I have a better sense of timing than Bethany. I’m not saying she has bad timing, but I try to make everything end at the same time.

 

GD: Have you learned anything about each other through cooking?

Bethany: I’ve learned that Jason is very particular. He is a very picky eater as well as a vegetarian.  And he doesn’t really like vegetables all that much, which is ironic.

Jason: But we’ve both learned what we like. So we make the food we know the other person is going to eat and enjoy.

GD: So, what do you like to cook and eat?

Jason: Fish tacos, of course, and homemade macaroni and cheese.

Bethany: It’s not baked. It’s like the VIP version of Kraft macaroni & cheese. We make our own cheese sauce.

Jason: I make huevos for Bethany every weekend. Black beans and eggs and cheese on tortillas.

 

GD: How did you know you were in love?

Jason: When you realize the other person will do almost anything for you and help you out and believe in what you do. That’s a big thing for me because most people don’t believe in artists.

Bethany: We’ve been together for seven years, but I still remember how much fun it was to have a crush, to be nervous and to sweat. When you spend time together you get past all that, but it’s knowing that the grass won’t be greener anywhere else.

Jason: The key is to keep challenging or surprising the other person. You don’t want to get bored. 

 

GD: What’s the secret to keeping your relationship cooking?

Jason: I know you have to listen. After awhile you should learn what your partner likes. If you’re smart and you want to keep your relationship going, you need to know those little things that make the other person happy.

Bethany: I feel like once you stop believing in the other person, forget about it. No matter what crazy, seemingly unrealistic stuff Jason has said he wants to do with his life, I’ve always believed he could do it, and he always does it. He believes in all my ridiculous things too.

Jason: That’s because I’ve been through it…those times when nobody believes you can accomplish it, and it’s not even a popular thing. Going through what I had to go through to reach my goals has made me really patient and able to take the punch (judgment) when it happens. I think between my optimism and Bethany’s realism, we learn a lot from each other.

She’s taller. He’s shorter. She talks. He listens. She has a vision for what should be. He likes to go with the flow. In cooking as in life - differences are beautiful.