Turkey Dumpling Stew

I interrupt my regularly scheduled vacation to post this wonderful recipe that uses up a bunch of your Turkey Day leftovers. A stock made with the roasted carcass of the bird along with a few other aromatics serves as the base of this hearty stew. With this weekend being as chilly as it will be in much of the country, can you think of a better way to warm up?

Turkey Dumpling Stew

Turkey Dumpling Stew
recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

1 leftover roasted turkey carcass, plus 3 to 4 cups shredded turkey meat
1 onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered crosswise (save the leaves for the dumplings)
1 pound carrots (3 quartered crosswise; the rest thinly sliced)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
Dumpling dough (recipe linked below)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 shallots, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Chopped fresh chives, for topping

Directions

Make the stock: Pull the turkey carcass apart into smaller pieces; set the meat aside. Put the bones in a large, deep pot and add cold water to cover, 4 to 5 quarts. Add the onion, celery, the 3 quartered carrots and the bay leaf. Tie the parsley and thyme together with twine and add to the pot, then cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and cook 3 to 4 hours. Remove the bones and vegetables with a skimmer and discard, then strain the stock though a fine-mesh strainer. Return the stock to the pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half, 30 to 40 minutes (you’ll have about 8 cups stock).

About 45 minutes before serving,

Prepare the dumplings . Keep covered with plastic wrap while you make the stew.

Make the stew: Melt the butter in a large, wide pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Gradually add the stock, stirring, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced carrots and parsnips, cover and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in the turkey meat, lemon juice and green beans. Add the dumplings in a single layer (leave as squares or pat into rounds). Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls; top with chives.

Dumplings Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup minced mixed fresh herbs and celery leaves
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk

Directions

Whisk the flour, herb mixture, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until sandy. Stir in the buttermilk.

Turn out onto a floured piece of parchment paper. Pat into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle.

Cut the dough into rough 2-inch squares with a large knife. Cover with plastic wrap.

San Francisco: Day 2, Part 2

So – the rest of day 2. After P. convinced me that I shouldn’t miss an event I wanted to attend because of other people, I walked the 4 or 5 blocks over to the CityView at the Metreon, which seemed to me to be a multi-floor shopping mall. The walk was blissfully short, with very few to no hills – always a blessing when attempting a walk in San Francisco.

The view from the roof of the Metreon was pretty. I don’t know enough about San Francisco geography to tell you exactly what buildings you’re looking at, but I believe it is the Financial District.

SFO Day 2: View of the San Francisco Skyline from the Roof of the Metreon

When they finally let the lot of us loose, it was quite the free for all. Imagine 300 people in a single room all trying to get the same shot, with half of them reaching into your shot while they weren’t taking photos. And imagine this taking place in a room where there’s not much space to be able to comfortably maneuver. It was definitely a bit claustrophobic there, which is why I headed outside to the roof from time to time.

Other than the negative experiences I talked about before, there were things I liked about this event, and things I hated. The likes? I got to talk to some smaller producers face to face, got to try their stuff (although unless I order by mail it’s untenable for me to buy it regularly). The negatives? It was, in some ways, like one big commercial. I understand why they (Foodbuzz) bring big name sponsors on board (to be able to let Featured Publishers attend the conference for free), but it got a bit tiresome when the breakout sessions were “Fresh Express Salad” this or the brunch was “Nature’s Pride” that. Truthfully, I would have rather paid for admission to the conference than deal with the commercialism. Remember Woodstock 94, and how it was sponsored by Pepsi? There’s a reason not many people remember it, but do remember Woodstock 69 – the first was an organic gathering that let the participants determine the vibe and flow, the other was a corporate sponsored joke planned to the gills to satisfy the stakeholders. Not saying that the Foodbuzz conference is/was a joke, but just putting it out there that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

That being said, there were some goodies to be had – like yummy sausages and salamis from Saags. They had some of this in the swag bag that I had noshed on after I got to the hotel on Friday afternoon. Good stuff.

SFO Day 2: Saag's Meats

And yum, more of those delicious Warren Pears from Frog Hollow Farm.

SFO Day 2: Pears from Frog Hollow Farms

And I’ll never turn down a piece of cheese.

SFO Day 2: Cheese

Alexia had onion rings and sweet potato fries. The fries were definitely not my thing, and the onion rings weren’t bad, although I’ve had much better.

SFO Day 2: Alexia Onion Rings & Sweet Potato Fries

Probably one of the best things I had there was this mushroom soup. Unsure of which restaurant made this, although one of the other attendees reading this may know. Anyone? Bueller?

SFO Day 2: Chanterelle Soup

Prather Ranch Meats were handing out Bockwurst with sauerkraut and mustard. Again, good stuff.

SFO Day 2: Prather Ranch Meats

A closer view:

SFO Day 2: Bockwurst

I’ve got to say, I mostly abstained from eating cupcakes during this weekend, but this Swiss Almond Cupcake from Mission Minis was the bomb.

SFO Day 2: Swiss Almond Cupcake from Mission Minis

One of my favorite things I tried during this event was the salad beets from Pick-a-Peck. They were delicious. Unlike most pickled beets which are too sweet, these are just right. Just a little sweet and very tangy. This would be one thing that I would consider ordering mail order.

SFO Day 2: Various Pick-a-Peck Pickled Veggies

I was so not impressed by the Frisee Salad at the Fresh Express stand, but that could just be that I can’t eat frisee without choking on it (not taste, just the way it feels going down).

SFO Day 2: Fresh Express Frisee Salad

The Tyler Florence stand had a squash soup with herbed shortbreads. Yum, wish they’d give the recipe for this.

SFO Day 2: Squash Soup with Herbed Shortbread

I’m not a fan of nori, but really enjoyed this nori salt – it was fantastic on tomatoes that were tossed in olive oil.

SFO Day 2: Nori Salt on Tomatoes

Definitely enjoyed the salt and pepper pistachios, even though pistachios are something I usually cook with rather than eating out of hand.

SFO Day 2: Various Pistachios

Tried this Inna Jam raspberry jam, which I thought also had jalapeno in it, but based on taste, I don’t think they did. Still, an excellent tasting raspberry jam.

SFO Day 2: Inna Jam

You all know I can’t resist chocolate with sea salt…

SFO Day 2: Chocolate Tasting

This brittle from PopCandy is very addictive.

SFO Day 2: Various Brittles

One of the vendors had made a chile gazpacho with shrimp which was a little too spicy for my tastes. But pretty presentation.

SFO Day 2: Chile Gazpacho with Shrimp

There were a couple of other booths (the Alaska Seafood make your own fish tacos being one of them), but the lines were so outrageous that I wanted to get out of there.

I skipped out on the Gala dinner on Day 2 for reasons given in another entry, so I think my dinner in my hotel room of farmers market purchases was just as satisfying. Definitely feeling sleep deprived, I decided to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for travel the next day.

Next Up: My final eats in San Francisco, why you should never eat airport food, and my retrospective look at the Foodbuzz conference.

San Francisco: Day 2, Part 1

To tell you the truth, the best (and the most restorative to the soul) part of my trip to San Francisco happened on Saturday morning. You all know how gung-ho I am about farmers markets, and here I was – visiting on one of the days that one of the country’s most famous farmers markets was taking place – the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

As I approached the building early on Saturday morning right as the sun was coming up, I was struck by how beautiful the clock tower was against the morning sky.

SFO Day 2: Ferry Market Building

Saturday mornings are when the biggest market of the week goes on, where there are upwards of 120 different vendors both in front of and behind the building proper. Many of them are vendors from inside bringing their yummy foodstuffs outside. If you stop by the information booth on your way in, it’s much easier to navigate all there is to offer.

SFO Day 2: Info Booth for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Some sights are very familiar to us here in Columbus – after all, most of what has been available for the past month here is apples and winter squash. So I didn’t get too excited about seeing more apples, although I’m sure they are delicious.

SFO Day 2: Apples from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

On the other hand, pomegranates are something we don’t grow in Ohio, so it was a bit strange for me to see something at a farmers market that I usually buy at the grocery store.

SFO Day 2: Pomegranates from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The only thing that bummed me out about hitting this farmers market was my inability to get anything that required a kitchen, because this broccoli looked absolutely amazing to me.

SFO Day 2: Broccoli from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

OMG OMG OMG. Strawberries? In November? :::sigh::: only 6 or so more months to go until we get local strawberries here in Columbus.

SFO Day 2: Strawberries from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

I’m not a fan of artichokes myself, but aren’t these some gorgeous specimens?

SFO Day 2: Artichokes at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

And grapes, grapes, grapes, as far as the eye could see…

SFO Day 2: Grapes at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Flawless, super colorful bell peppers again made me long for a kitchen and some cookware.

SFO Day 2: Colorful Bell Peppers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Luckily, much of the market stalls offered dried and/or smoked foods. If I weren’t worried about bringing it back on the plane, I would have bought some of this smoked fish.

SFO Day 2: Smoked Fish from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Persimmons are another one of those fruits I don’t see locally. Anyone know what these taste like?

SFO Day 2: Persimmons at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Cure your own olives? Really? P. would have loved this.

SFO Day 2: Olives at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

I did get some eggplant dip from this stand (wish I would have remembered the name of it!) along with some pita bites to eat later on in my hotel room.

SFO Day 2: Various Mediterranean Dips at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Sunchokes are one of those things that I have tons of recipes for, but have never been able to find locally.

SFO Day 2: Sunchokes from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

And I’ve never seen or tasted a kiwano in my life, but they sure look interesting.

SFO Day 2: Kiwanos at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Beans, beans and more beans. And across the way, I stumbled across Rancho Gordo, whose beans I’ve seen in local stores. If I didn’t already have a glut of dried beans at home that I need to work my way through…

SFO Day 2: Beans at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

This is a Buddha’s Hand – a citrus fruit mostly used for zest. At this same stand were some of the most delicious Valencia oranges I’ve eaten in my life.

SFO Day 2: Buddha's Hand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

A little after 9am, I hit up Roli Roti – if I were impressed by the 3 or 4 rolls of porchetta they had going the night before, I was doubly impressed by the collection of chickens they also had going.

SFO Day 2: Lots and Lots of Pork and Chicken from Roli Roti at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The view from the pier behind the Ferry Building is breathtaking. I decided to eat my meal at a picnic table facing this, and could stare at it for hours.

SFO Day 2: Bay Bridge

I got a whole porchetta sandwich this time around ($8.50), and I think it was even better this time around than it was the night before. Part of why it is so good is the roll, which is made by Acme Bread Co., right inside the Ferry Building.  The sandwich was so huge I still could only eat half of it in one sitting.

SFO Day 2: Porchetta Sandwich from Roli Roti at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

I did opt for a small side of their potatoes ($3.50), which when finished with coarse sea salt and rosemary were the perfect accompaniment to that wonderful sandwich. Honestly, folks – if I lived in the Bay area, I’d be getting this once a week, without fail.

SFO Day 2: Roasted Potatoes with Sea Salt from Roli Roti at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

After eating, I moved inside to check out the stores there – I didn’t get to explore as much as I liked, since I had to get back to the hotel, but this is a must-stop for my next trip.

SFO Day 2: Inside the Ferry Market Building

Especially this mushroom store, that had varieties that I have never even heard of or have seen before.

SFO Day 2: Mushrooms from Far West Funghi

Loaded down with bags, I headed back to the hotel. Still wish I could have spent the whole day there, but tourists were starting to pile in, and it got a bit claustrophobic.

Next up – the Tasting Pavilion.

San Francisco: Day 1

Sorry for the delay in getting this up, folks – I had lots and lots of pics from the trip to go through, and then had to edit, organize and upload them all. Finally we get to the fun part, recollecting the trip. I’ll be telling the story in four parts – Day 1, Day 2 (Part One), Day 2 (Part Two), and Day 3. I’ll link to each as I put up new entries. These recaps will be very picture heavy, so please check it out under the cut.

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Why I’ll Never Go to Another Blogging Conference

As you all know, I spent last weekend in San Francisco at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. I got back home on Monday, but it’s taken me since then to process what happened last weekend enough to discuss it. If you read my Twitter postings, or if you’re really good at picking up cues, you may have surmised by now that I had a less than stellar time. Part of that has to do with my state of mind going in, the rest of it has to do with the actions of some of my fellow bloggers. The only ones who are totally blameless in this fiasco is Foodbuzz themselves, who planned out a stellar series of events and planned things (like assigned tables at the event on the first night) that would force people outside the insular groups they were hanging with.

First things first – let’s talk about my expectations for this weekend. In many ways, I see myself as an ambassador for our fine city – when I travel, I love to try to tell and show others that we’re not just some cowtown in a flyover state, that we have tons of creative types that make Columbus a wonderful place to live. I love bringing foodie gifts, especially, because if people can taste for themselves, one bite says more to them than an hour of my talking the city up.

In addition, I wanted to go because many of those going are people whose blogs I read regularly, whose recipes have won raves from my friends and family, and I actually wanted to meet them face to face so I could put a face to the name and vice versa.

Lastly, the events planned sounded amazing – a street food fair on Day 1? Breakout sessions (esp. one on food photography) on Day 2? A Tasting Plaza on Day 2? A lavish dinner in the Ferry Building on Day 2? A Farewell Brunch on Day 3? Sign me up! I couldn’t think of anything more awesome than sharing these things with fellow foodies, people who would understand my compulsive need to journal my experiences and my fascination with photographing every morsel of food that hits my table when dining out. My only experience with other food bloggers before this point had been with the local Columbus food bloggers, many of whom I consider friends because we’ve bonded over a meal (or two, or five), we’ve come out to support each other in events, and because each of us have done our small part to promote things that make Columbus so unique. I may not have been born here, but Columbus and it’s residents have embraced me with open arms and it’s where I consider home these days.

A little bit of back story leading up to getting to the hotel from the airport. Many of you may not know that I have some severe orthopedic issues (degenerative disk disease and spondylolisthesis, carpal tunnel syndrome, frayed meniscus and generally shot knees, lots of osteoarthritis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and some pretty severe peripheral neuropathy, which acts up more when I become inflamed in one of the previous areas) that limits my mobility. I can walk pretty well (although once I hit the steep hills of San Francisco, even that was called into question), but don’t do well at all on stairs of any sort.

So I get into SFO pretty early (10ish) – the plane ride in was fairly uneventful, thankfully – and manage to make it over to the BART station and on a train headed to Powell St, where I hoped to score a Muni pass ($20 for 3 days of unlimited use of the cable cars, buses and Muni trains) so I could hop on a cable car that would be able to let me off right in front of my hotel.

After talking to a surly BART employee who cut me off twice before I could even get my question out, I got on the right train (there were 2 different ones to choose from) Am I the only one who thinks the BART trains smell like pee? And they weren’t kidding about that rapid part. I had a hard time holding on to the pole so I didn’t go flying with my other hand grabbing my bags so they wouldn’t go flying. I had no idea what stop was what (you can’t hear the speaker over the din of the train), so I counted stops so I’d be sure to get off at the right one. The train let me out into this huge underground depot, with me not being able to find an elevator. There was one on the other end of the building,  so about 30 minutes later I manage to make it to the surface – I was unsure which direction to go in (because none of the street signs said Powell), so I picked a direction and walked until I found the cable cars. This is where everything started going horribly, horribly wrong. The step going up into the cable car is so high up, that it took every ounce of upper body strength I had to manage to pull myself up. It took a few tries, but finally I am able to get in, and let the conductor know where I am going to – he promised to let me know when my stop was coming up, and would alert the driver to stop so I could get off. Not having ever gone to San Francisco before this, I wasn’t sure how far the hotel was from where I started. The first clue I had that he had missed my stop completely was when we arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf.

So I had rode the entire route, start to finish. The conductor seemed sincerely apologetic, and made sure I got on the cable car going in the other direction (again with the pulling myself up) and I finally did make it to my hotel, somewhere close to 1pm. I had already been up since 2am so I could catch my 5:30am (Eastern) flight, and by East coast standards, it was 4pm already. 14 hours into my day. I got settled into my hotel room, then wandered out to find something to eat. At first, I headed in the wrong direction, made it halfway up the huge steep hill, felt my legs shaking and threatening to buckle under me, and realized I needed to turn around because where I was going in the other direction. A rather flat 3 block walk lead me to Katana-ya, a ramen shop where I picked up lunch (more about that later).

I took my leftovers back with me to the hotel, where exhausted, I proceeded to take a 90 minute nap before I went downstairs to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus to the Street Food Fair at Fort Mason.

I woke up, freshened up a bit, feeling a little better, and headed downstairs to meet some other people. Except the scene down there was nothing like I pictured. Everybody was clumped together in small groups of 2-5 people, essentially ignoring everything else going on around them. I’m not the type who will insert myself into the middle of a group and conversation, so I panicked a bit. I scanned the room quickly and saw one other person who wasn’t grouped off, and sat down next to him and engaged him in conversation. He was polite and spoke to me for a couple of minutes, then left for greener pastures. So I sat there alone on the couch, hoping some other person who was there alone, knowing no one, would see me and do the same thing I just did – come over and engage me in conversation. Unfortunately, that never happened.

The buses finally arrive, and people start piling on them in preparation for heading up to Fort Mason. I finally get to the door of the bus, and this step is even higher up than the one on the cable car. I was absolutely humiliated, because it took me pulling up with all my might and two people pushing me up from behind to get me on that bus, finally. I skulked off to the back of the bus where I was ready to cry. Even though I’m smaller than I have been in ages (~250 lbs), I felt absolutely huge, the way I always do when I have physical limitations slap me in the face at the most inopportune times.

I’ll talk about street food fair in detail in another post, but other than spending a few minutes talking to some really nice people whose table I was assigned to, I really didn’t connect with anyone at this event. The only way you could identify who was who was by looking at tag that hung on a lanyard around their necks, which almost always ended up strategically located right at boob level. So if you wanted to look at someone’s tag, it was awkward, to say the least.

It was about this time that I realized how utterly cliquey this weekend was going to be. The people who were paired off into groups at the hotel were still paired off at this event too. And right about then it occurred to me that if I hadn’t found someone to hang with by now, it was too late. Peer groups and pecking order had already been established, and to all of these groups, even those that didn’t include the popular bloggers, I was an outsider looking in. It was so very high school, and very much like high school, I realized that I was a loner who didn’t fit well into any group, and that if I hung with any one group, I would still be an outsider who was tolerated but not truly included. So I made my way alone through the event, sitting alone at the table after the foodie gift exchange was over, taking some pictures, waiting in line alone for food, etc. Hoping to avoid the humiliation of the earlier bus ride, I called a cab and went back to the hotel early, about 8pm. I got into jammies and spent the rest of the night getting a couple hours of rest and Twittering about how friggin’ miserable I was.

The next day, I skipped out on the morning session I was signed up for so that I could go to the farmers market to recharge. Those of you who know me know that a good farmers market has healing properties for me – it gives me peace, perspective, and the ability to put trust in people again. The guy from Roli Roti remembered me from the night before, and smiled that I was back for more just as he was opening. I browsed the more than 120 vendors and sampled to my heart’s content. I bought some fruit and other things to eat in my hotel room and to send back home. I talked to some really cool people when I was sitting at the tables with a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge eating my lunch  – an older lady from Walnut Creek who had lived in Columbus in the 1960′s – a lady photographer from Texas who was there for a National Geographic conference and who took an awesome picture of me against the skyline of San Francisco. By the time I left a few hours later, I had a bag full of stuff, and all of the pain and awkwardness and embarrassment from the night before had been washed away, replaced by inner peace and love for the city and for probably the best farmers market I’ve been to in my life.

I was unsure about heading to the tasting plaza – I was a bit spooked from the night before so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to replace the peace with apprehension and nerves. P., on the phone with me, tried to ease my fears and told me I should go, that I shouldn’t miss any of the experience on account of other people.

My experience at the tasting plaza was horrible. I got pushed and jostled around so much that I had bruises all over my arms. While trying to walk backwards out of a tight space someone started saying “beep-beep-beep” and called me “double wide”. People cut in front of me in line like I wasn’t even there. If I walked up to one of the standing tables in the center of the room to eat my food the couple of people already there looked at me, said “let’s go” and moved away quickly. I tried to engage with a woman from Canada whose blog I read regularly and she totally blew me off. I accidentally got in the way of a woman’s shot, immediately noticed and apologized profusely and backed away, and she was  nasty to me in return. It was totally mean girls central. By this point, I said to myself, “I’ve had enough of this shit” and left and totally gave up on attending any more Foodbuzz functions. If you keep putting yourself out there and it becomes painfully obvious that every time you try to engage you get shit on, it’s just totally masochistic to keep putting yourself (and your pride, and your feelings) on the line.

I’m not saying that everyone that attended this shindig was a nasty person. I’m sure that probably 90% of the people who attended are perfectly nice people. Maybe most people, because they were part of a group, didn’t realize how insular and impermeable their groups were. Maybe I had a scowl on my face from being so unhappy (the one picture I saw of me this weekend, I’m the only person not smiling) and that kept people from wanting to know me. For a while, I thought “maybe this is all in my head and maybe I’m the problem”, but others who have been to this and other blogging conferences have had similar experiences.

I skipped out on the huge Gala dinner (was still upset from the Tasting Plaza) and the Farewell Brunch (didn’t have anyone to say goodbye to), and left early on Sunday for a quick stop at the Ferry Building to pick up something I had ordered the day before, and then to the airport for an 8 hour wait to get on my plane. Needless to say, I was happy to be home, although in general my trip to San Francisco wasn’t an entirely pleasant one, mainly because I was there alone and I hate traveling alone. I hope to someday go back with P. so I can wander outside of Union Square and replace some bad memories with good ones that I’ll make with him.

The point of this whole screed is to get it out there, so it isn’t the huge white elephant in the room when I’m talking about my trip, and to maybe bring to light some of the issues so the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else next year. Me? I probably won’t be back to a blogging conference ever again. It took me a lot to come out from behind the computer screen and get involved in my own town, let alone in something as huge as that Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. Once bitten, twice shy, right?

But if any of you are in Columbus and ever want to hang, drop me an email at columbusfoodieATgmailDOTcom. I’m still willing to be an ambassador for Columbus and can show you the time of your life and why living here is so awesome. I haven’t lost my passion for that, or for blogging about my individual experiences, but my group experiences, in the future, will be with people who already accept me for who I am and see that I am worth getting to know, even if the package comes in a brown paper wrapper rather than beautifully wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper and ribbons. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If I missed meeting you last weekend, and if I was someone you wanted to talk to, but didn’t for whatever reason, give me a holler. I still want to get to know you, even if it’s not face to face.

Lots of Exciting Things in Store for November!

First off, an apology for not posting lately. It’s not for lack of drafts. When Bloglines announced they were discontinuing service,  what should have been easy (importing my subscriptions), turned into a nightmare. Since I subscribe to over 7,000 feeds, the file was too big to be imported, and I’ve had to resubscribe to them by hand in Google Reader. So I got really distracted by work in the back end, but have let a bit of time elapse since my last point).

But that will have to wait until Monday, Because I’ve caught the travel bug, folks. 24 hours from now I’ll be in San Francisco, chowing down on street foods at a welcome reception for those of us who are attending the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Festival. I bought the ticket on a whim, even though I don’t know any of the people attending on a personal level. I always love meeting new people, so if you see me there, please say hi.  don’t bite, I promise. So I’ll be blogging regularly while I’m in San Francisco, about the things and bites I’ll experience over the weekend. I’m trying to tuck a couple extra experiences into the limited free time I have – like going to Japantown for a bowl of ramen that uses real homemade noodles and a broth that has been concentrated for 36 hours. I can’t wait! Also in the plans is a trip to the Ferry Market and it’s farmers market. I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed by BART and the Muni, so hopefully one or the other will take me where I want to go. I’m planning on documenting my experiences as I go along.

As soon as I return, Monday is the beginning of Dine Originals Week – a great opportunity to get a good deal,  (all meals are prix fixe at $10, $20, or $30 with several courses)  visit a restaurant that you love, or take this opportunity to try a new one. I’ve gone and written about it a few times  a while back, and for the most part, had an amazing experience. Visit their website (linked above) for more information.

One of the Dine Originals board members was kind enough to donate $30 in Dine Original Dollars, good at any of their member restaurants) to one of my readers. All you need to enter is to look at the menus, and decide which restaurant has a menu that makes your mouth water the most, and comment about it below. The contest runs until the 15th at noon, and will randomly pick a winner.Although I’m not going to go whole hog like I did with my posts on last year’s Dine Originals. Most likely going for lunches, to places I’ve never been to/reviewed before.  But next week, my restaurant experiences will be front and center.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I’ll be going back to my hometowns (Vineland/Millville, MJ) to attend my 20 year high school reunion. I cannot believe that time has flown so much.

But while I’m there, I’m also going to be spending time with friends I haven’t seen years, my father who I likewise haven’t seen in years, and isn’t that what makes going home for the holidays worth it? Sad that I’m going to miss out on eating Thanksgiving dinner, but super psyched about exploring the area.

I swear, though – I need to spread out a bit. Vineland is the land of chains, and those that are not chains are places that have lots of fried food, pasta, pizza, subs, cheesesteaks, seafood (which unfortunately get ruined when they’re battered and fries.

So, inevitably there will be a few local pics, but I’ll end up somewhere else. Like Philadelphia, where I can get a cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks, a romp through the Reading Terminal Market, somewhere at/near the shore – will see. The good news about Millville in winter is that Jim’s Lunch is open so I can get my burger fix.