Chef/owner Sam Auen is not a conventional character, and Tacopacalypse is not a conventional "Mexcican" restaurant. If you are looking for "Mexican" food replete with tons of beans, cheese, and bad salsa, the good news is plenty of those spots abound in almost any USA town. If you are drawn to good food loaded with creativity and fun, then there are only two places in Iowa where it comes in the form of tacos and burritos laden with asian influences-the original Tacopacalypse now located in Des Moines' East Village, and the new branch in Fairfield at The Orpheum.
During our hour-long conversation Sam and I hip-hopped our way in and around many topics including how his approach to food developed, his daily schedule, upcoming projects, music, and cycling. Listen close and you'll hear the soul of a person who is an outspoken straight shooter with a huge heart.
Sue Conley, one-half of the the amazing creative team responsible for Cowgirl Creamery cheeses along with her collaborator, Peggy Smith, talked with me about their recently published book, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks. It's much more than a cheese book as it is filled with entrancing recipes, kitchen tips, and the personal story of the Cowgirls. Mac and Cheese lovers make certain you check out their recipe for this classic soul-warming dish. You can find it at the end of the post.
If you haven't experienced their organic cheeses made in Point Reyes, California, the Mt. Tam and Red Hawk are currently available at Whole Foods in Des Moines. Gateway Market in Des Moines is expecting their next shipment of the same two cheeses the first week of March. Both stores will have the seasonal special St. Pat cheese the first part of March.
Enjoying the winter weather? Need a little something that will satisfy and fortify while the winds blow? There's nothing that hits the flavor spot better in the throes of a deep freeze than a hearty soup. We've serving up two different soups in the studio this week and another over the phone.
I have to digress because all this talk of soup reminds me of a funny soup story. I was at an excellent Italian spot in New York, Pepolino, a number of years ago. A friend at the table, Stan, was talking about how he only ate soup if it was steaming hot. When the waiter took our orders Stan made certain to tell him that the soup had to be HOT. I took a good look at that cup of soup when it was brought to the table. The steam was pouring off of it. Stan sent it back saying it wasn't hot enough. I'm not certain what they did to it in the kitchen to get it any hotter, but the second try satisfied. That might have been one of those "you had to have been there" stories, but, trust me, it was hilarious.
We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet amazing people regularly because of the Great Taste radio program. Through solar-powered KRUU we get to bring those folks into your home or car or wherever you may happen to pick up the stream.
Right from the beginning of our conversation with our guest this week, Lucy Lean, Kathy and I felt like we had met a kindred spirit on many levels. Lucy is a mother, wife, farmer's daughter, former editor of edible Los Angeles, blogger, photographer, a food judge for the Gordon Ramsay Fox hit TV show Masterchef, and the author of Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food. The book features 100 recipes from chefs located all over the country and with varying cultural backgrounds. The diversity of personalities and Lucy's vision of adapting 20th century regional comfort food recipes to today's ingredients and techniques makes for an engaging read and amazing recipes.
The GREAT TASTE interview this week is with two of the world's foremost experts on Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture (MVOC), Peter and Susie Swan. They have a unique perspective on the global food system, and many practical suggestions designed to rebalance the struture of that system leading to a healthier planet and more vital individuals.
Peter began his research on MVOC in 2003, and since 2008 has been teaching courses on the subject all over the world. Last year he and Susie began offering a new course on MVOC and gardening.
Susie was born and rasied on a farm in Zambia. She had a highly successful Ayurvedic restaurant and taught cooking classes at the Transcendental Meditation Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a passionate gardener and garden designer.
The time I spent with the Swans went by way too quickly. Don't miss this thought-provoking hour. I hope it inspires you to order seeds for the warmer weather coming soon (I hope).
Many people have the mistaken idea that traveling for work to different places is a blast. It can be, but working trade shows is usually more exhausting than exhilarating. After almost three weeks on the road and three trade shows, I am thrilled to be home for a few weeks before leaving for two more trade shows in February.
The good news is I did enjoy some terrific meals-good food and great company are perfect for recharging my system after 8-10 hours of standing and talking. More details perhaps next week, but the standout spots included Tartine, the bakery where Heli Claire Witherspoon works in San Francisco, a surprising meal at The Barrymore in Las Vegas, Nielsens Frozen Custard’s Vegas branch (not Ted Drewes, a St. Louis landmark, but very good), and two other favorite places in Vegas-Otto at The Venetian, and Chada Thai in a nondescript strip mall on the outskirts of Vegas’ Chinatown (not what you might expect-just one strip mall after another filled with restaurants and foot massage parlors).
This week Fairfield’s own Shaktea Kombucha, run by the Dowd family, was awarded a $250,000 grant as part of Chase and Google’s Mission Main Street grant program. Though this interview is from a couple of years ago, it’s the appropriate show to run on Great Taste along with our congratulations to the Dowds and best wishes for their upcoming expansion.
"Kombucha flavored soda alternatives pose threat to Coca-Cola and Pepsi." Well, I think this story is only in an early phase of development, but if you sometimes have a craving for a bubbly beverage that goes well with popcorn, look no further than Shaktea Kombucha. For the most part, I have my soda (or pop depending on where you grew up) attachment licked, but I have to admit that last year I went on a Mexican Coke binge for several weeks. A number of pounds later (that exact number will remain confidential), and well-caffeinated, I broke off the relationship. Now, with Shaktea in my life I have no need to rekindle it.
It might even be good for you? That's way crazy. All I know is kombucha is a fermented tea with roots in Russia, China, and Japan. The local product is a delicious drink that comes in five flavors, has USDA Organic Certification, and contains naturally occurring pro-biotic enzymes. The rest of the story we'll leave to the Dowd family, local brewers, who have refined their process over a 10-year period. Deb (Mom), Jack and Meghan (brother and sister) will share the story of how their micro Kombucha brewery began and has evolved.
One of our greatest pleasures in life is starting off several days each week with a cup of black tea from India, Ceylon or Africa. Rachel adds a touch of milk and a little sugar to our cups. We stir, smell, taste, sigh, and sip. It’s a magical experience.
A great espresso is just that, but it’s not tea. The only other liquid that brings me a simillar type of pleasurable experience is when I am lucky enough to enjoy a special glass of wine. Fascinating. A realization just clicked inside that I connect both tea and wine with romance, which means they are intimately intertwined with peak experiences Rachel and I have enjoyed together-quiet, leisurely breakfasts at home, a tea shop in Paris, afternoon tea at the Four Seasons, a dinner in a corner booth at Vetri, dinner with friends in Rome, and many other entrancing moments.
TONIGHT: LAST LIVE GREAT TASTE OF THE YEAR!
HY-VEE CLUB ROOM AT 7PM
It's the Indian Hills Culinary crew along with musician Tom Allen tonight for 60 minutes of delicious radio. Join us for a menu of holiday fare-turkey and turkey dressing, roasted potatoes, cabbage rolls, Christmas mice(?), and maybe an apple tart.
LISTEN on the KRUU STREAM: Wednesday at 7PM
Friday at 7AM
OYSTERS, DONUTS, AND A YULE LOG!
It's perfect listening on KRUU's Great Taste for holiday party ideas as Chef Julia Punj prepared oysters-raw with a riff on traditional cocktail sauce, baked motoyaki style, and pan-fried with a salsa verde.
LIVE AT HY-VEE-Club Room, 7:00 pm
Our most unusual show/food combination ever!
Chef Julia Punj will demo how to open oysters, and also prepare pan fried oysters with salsa verde, butter baked oysters, and oysters motoyaki style. Oysters for a holiday party menu sounds great, right? So what’s so unusual? Well, that brings us to the other part of the show.
Click on READ MORE below.
Danielle George shows us how to make a simple and fun yule log. Brandon Neil is going to make his fabulous sour cream old-fashioned donuts. Now you understand? Pretty strange, but I’m looking forward to it.
I’m counting on Tom Allen to ease the transition from seafood to rich desserts with fun music and his droll sense of humor.
See you in the Hy-Vee Club Room at 7:00 pm on Wednesday!