Fall is the time for harvest and celebration—everyone enjoys the bountiful offerings at the Farmer’s Markets and local produce stands. For the lucky few, they get to visit orchards to pick their own apples and pumpkins. Foodies and food bloggers get very excited by the fall produce, but it’s also a bountiful season of food festivals and food blogger conferences. These are annual gatherings that draw everyone away from their computers and out of the kitchen to share thoughts and conversation about their favorite food topics in person.
On Labor Day weekend, New Yorkers started off with the not so well-known Asian Feastival, a wonderful event with fantastic food from China, Philippines, India, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Tibet. Besides sampling food from across the continent, Kian Lam Kho and Cathy Erway, explained purchasing and preparing the uncommon produce that you find in Chinatown and Asian grocery stores. Guest experts such as Grace Young, Akira Back, Eddie Huang and Bun Lai discussed Asian culinary traditions and how they evolved through migration in new lands.
As September rolled on, food bloggers gathered in Atlanta for the Food Blogger Forum, while foodies and followers flocked to Le Fooding d’amour - San Francisco vs. New York, and to Governor’s Island for the 6th Annual Vendy Awards, given to high-quality cart and truck food vendors. I had the pleasure of attending both events , but the Vendy Award event was a bigger more pleasant surprise. On a glorious Fall day, my friend Stephen and I eagerly took the ferry to Governor’s Island to sample the best of food trucks within New York five boroughs. The venue consists of five savory and five dessert trucks finalists, plus a few visiting trucks. The atmosphere was celebratory. We shared our food thoughts with other diners as we circled the venue and ate until we could eat no more. This event counts as a quintessential New York food experience well worth a visit.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, the BlogHer Food Conference took place in San Francisco this past weekend. The buzz was so strong in the Twitterverse that Chris (@ThePeche) organized a virtual pity party (#BHF10PP) for those couldn’t attend. It offered educational live video segments on working with brands by Jennifer (@savorthethyme) and SEO by Barb (@vinoluci). The randomly selected giveaways included cookbooks and such exotics as chocolate wine. At the same time, the New York Food and Wine Festival spanned four days with multiple events all over New York City.
The next big upcoming event for food bloggers, specifically Foodbuzz Featured Publisher food bloggers, will be the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco held over the first weekend of November. In relation to this event, I have the good fortune to be chosen as one of the finalists of Gourmoo Smoothie Cookoff. Foodbuzz has partnered with Moovision.com to help raise awareness about lactose intolerance.
Even though I don’t have the inconvenience of being lactose intolerant, I understand the frustration of trying to eat right, since I need to avoid other kinds of foods that I crave. When I found out about this cookoff, I was eager to create something good that everyone could enjoy, not just those careful about lactose intake. Upon receiving the sample of LACTAID® milk, I began to think about the elements of a perfect smoothie. Then I remembered the right model—it was not only delicious but it came with wonderful memories of our trip to the island of Kauai.
M and I have been to Kauai three times–the first being the most memorable since it was our very first trip together. I can still recall the sun, beaches, that delicious moist air clinging to you, and that distinct Hawaiian scent in the air. We had so much fun that first trip we keep going back.
And one of the places we kept returning in the afternoon after a spending a day at the beach, hiking, or visiting some the extraordinary natural sites on the island, was a small, brightly painted roadside fruit stand. Everything was fresh and local—intensely flavorful pineapple, mango, papaya, bananas that seemed to be a superior species to their cousins we could get on the East Coast. They also made delicious smoothies and simple sandwiches that drew local surfers and tourists alike. We always took time to decipher the beverage menu, each drink having fun combinations of ingredients. In went the fruit into a blender that made about as much noise as an electric generator and out came a delicious concoction. The smoothies satisfied our post-activity hunger without spoiling our appetite for a later dinner.
I wanted to recreate that hang-loose vacation mode in my version of the smoothie. Tropical fruit such as pineapple, papaya, banana and coconut are a must. I added macadamia nuts to differentiate Hawaii from other tropical locals. The earthy, almost honey like, flavor of dates adds depth to the combination for surprise sweetness.
To create a lactose-free smoothie, I did not use yogurt to produce the thick smoothie texture (of course you can use soy yogurt as an option). Instead, papaya and bananas are sufficient to achieve the same texture.
Hawaiian Surf Smoothie
make a 32 ounce smoothie
5 dates, pitted
8-10 macadamia nuts, unsalted
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2-1/2 cups Lactaid® milk, whole or 2%
1/4 cup pineapple, chunks
1/4 cup papaya, cut into chunks
1/2 banana, sliced
1/2-1 tablespoon honey or agave (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place dates, macadamia nuts, coconut and milk into the blender, cover with lid and refrigerate overnight. This is to soften the dates and prevent them from sticking to the blade of the blender.
2. Remove blender from refrigerator, add the rest of the ingredients to the date milk mixture. Replaced the lid and blend until smooth.
3. Pour into a tall glass and Surfs Up! You’ll be stoked from this sick smoothie.
1. Fresh fruits are best in this shake, but can be substitute with frozen.
2. If you don’t have time to soak the dates ahead of time, put dates in hot water for 5 minutes to soften. Add dates to blender and continue with Step 2.
3. The soaking of macadamia nuts and coconuts gives you a smoother texture.
4. If you cannot find papaya, substitute with 1/4 cup soy yogurt.
5. Feel free to adjust the proportion of the fruits and nut to your liking. Adding a good splash of rum will certainly get the party started.